Over at Disputations, Tom's not in the mood to waste words on the Benedict Option.
If you ever come across the term "the Benedict Option," there's really only one thing you need to know about: It's nonsense.
More precisely, it's a meaningless term, a cypher. The thing it refers to is a non-thing. As such, it can mean anything. And a term that can mean anything isn't worth talking about.
I agree with this assessment entirely. And yet the correction of errors often requires the dealing with non-things patiently and tirelessly. For example, the monster under the bed is a non-thing, but some people require night after night of sleeping in their parents' bed because they are obsessed with that non-thing, until finally they figure out it doesn't exist. Also some people don't want to go to the basement without at least their big brother because there's something scary down there if you happen to be alone.
Those are two examples that come to mind immediately, and it hasn't escaped my notice that they pertain to very immature minds. This is probably accordant with the whole point; Tom goes on:
"The Benedict Option" was a cypher when Rod Dreher coined the term nine or ten years ago, a contentless label generated as a placeholder for the idea he hoped would follow from his feelings on reading the last paragraph of Alasdair MacIntyre's After Virtue.
Waiting, waiting, waiting for an "idea he hoped would follow from his feelings". Waiting not for Godot, not for Benedict.... merely waiting for an idea that never took any discernible shape....
Since then, Rod has written a lot about "the Benedict Option" without managing to define it in a way anyone who doesn't find what he writes convincing can comprehend. These days, although he still can't say what it is, he does insist it's hugely important to every Christian in America:
Again and again: these are not normal times. We can’t be about business as usual. The future of Christianity in America will be Benedictine — as in Benedict Option — or it won’t be at all.
That might give one pause.
The Pause it gives me is akin to the town council's pause after Corky St. Clair announces his dollar figure in Waiting for Guffman.
The Pause is more real than the non-thing that is the Benedict Option because it actually does something. It asks a single, one-word question:
Read the whole thing over at Tom's. He really does have a great blog, and I don't check it out nearly enough. I'll just leave you with one more line of his which could serve as a conclusion to any and every post we do on the Benedict Option:
My advice to anyone who might be interested in "new forms of community within which the moral life [can] be sustained" is to think about them without reference to Rod Dreher or "the Benedict Option."