Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Benedict Option is now officially closed to new inquiries

Like a mutual fund closed to new investors, with this declaration

You are right about that. The Benedict Option discussion has become so big now that I have decided no longer to publish comments that take random potshots, or that say things like, “I still don’t know what you are talking about” and “So you want to take your football and go home, is that it?” There are plenty of posts archived on this blog in which we talk at length about what we think the Benedict Option is, or might be. If anybody cares to read them, they have the ability to look them up. I’m not wasting any more time answering questions and criticisms I’ve dealt with many times before, or answering questions and criticisms that I don’t think are serious or constructive. By all means criticize; it will help me and readers think more clearly about the Benedict Option. But don’t come here to post the same old stuff and expect me to approve of the comment. I leave you with the words of my spiritual adviser in such matters.

Rod Dreher has closed his Benedict Option book income project to new inquiries and explanations. Those wishing to passively accept whatever the Benedict Option might be beyond a book marketing gambit remain welcome to add additional blog hits to his posts on The American Conservative. Such efforts, of course, will still not include Noah Millman's questions and criticism, which remains available here.

As for the rest of you, Rod Dreher doesn't need you any more. He now has all the potential investors in his book marketing gambit that he needs.

As we at EQE (and many others) have recognized and maintained all along, from the beginning Rod Dreher's Benedict Option has always been nothing more than a dimensionless, self-referential meme designed to attract potential purchasers to yet another book for him to write, given the successively poor outcomes of his prior two.

With this most recent declaration that the gates of explanation of the Benedict Option will be formally closed, Dreher is signalling that he believes he has accumulated enough believers in whatever his Benedict Option might be to fund a book on the subject. As for a publisher, one that believes that at the bottom of all this there surely must be a pony to be found somewhere has yet to step forward.

Christians who wish to continue passively about Dreher's word singularity - the rhetorical equivalent of a black hole, where words and ideas circle a self-referential event horizon until they are ultimately sucked into an abyss from which nothing, not even thought, can emerge - are no doubt encouraged to do so; after all, there is no such thing as bad advertizing.

Rod Dreher's Benedict Option

Those still holding out hope of understanding whatever his Benedict Option might be are now officially out of luck.

The Benedict Option Fund is now officially closed to new inquiries.


  1. It is an incredible assertion that one should no longer bother answering questions about a matter one has deliberately obscured in ambiguous verbiage. Let me emphasize that last word, verbiage. Mr. Dreher writes often and at great length. He is a man of many words. In those many words, however, he has never offered anything even remotely resembling a pithy or clear explanation of his Benedict Option. That there are numerous questions and criticisms is entirely on account of his methods. Now he says that anyone who wants to know should just wade through his overwhelmingly large output in order to put together an answer? An incredible assertion.

    1. You can say that again. One part hubris. One part severe insecurity. But maybe they're the same thing.

    2. The way to understand what Dreher is trafficking in is to understand the difference between a political campaign utterance - Dreher is, after all, campaigning to elect his BO book - and a concrete policy proposal which can be analyzed, critiqued, and ultimately actually implemented.*

      Dreher is trafficking in the former, open-ended political exhortation, the equivalent of: "We need to see that all our young people are able to get good jobs and live fulfilling lives! Elect me and I will see that no child need drop out to spend a life as a Walmart greeter again!"

      Naturally, many would like to know how Candidate Dreher proposes fulfilling his campaign promise. This can get tricky on several levels. Even if he did know - and Dreher is only a writer, not a thinker, the difference between being a baker and being an organic chemist - different constituencies might vehemently require different, even conflicting solutions to satisfy them. Hence, Dreher necessarily proposes there must be many different paths (a situation, coincidentally, universal among never-to-be-specified realities): we will boldly charge into the world to protect our interests even as we retreat from it; and, because the BO is essentially anti-modern, it can handily avail itself of such moonwalking mysticism rather than find it self victim of the ugly sterility of rational analysis.

      If one thinks of Dreher and his BO, then, as him running politically for the position of, not Sheriff, of course, but rather something like Civil Defense Warden of modern Christianity, his entire political campaign begins to make perfect sense.

      *A real Benedict Option would have a real Space-Time Log. If Rod Dreher were actually engaging in his Benedict Option himself, he would be doing A now and everyone would know what A is; then his goal would be to do B by x,y coordinates in the space and time real people and things operate in and everyone would know what B is; etc. It wouldn't matter if A and B weren't universally applicable, at least they'd be real. But I can't think of an instance of Dreher saying "I did/am doing this" in lieu of declaring "Christians must...". Show me, Slick, don't just tell me what to do. Show me.

    3. But he has shown you. The BenOp consists of:

      - Leaving home in a huff after an argument with some family members
      - Casting about for several years in several different cities while failing miserably at your chosen employment
      - Landing a cushy job that seems to be custom made for you, only to blow it by not being able to keep your mouth shut at the right time
      - Finding a sugar daddy to bail you out so you can write as you please without concern about marketing or making sense
      - Moving back home to "reconcile" with the family after dragging their name and the name of your recently deceased sister through the mud
      - Fumbling around with a true classic and writing about how it changed you, how it helped you forgive those poor, ignorant family members who just didn't understand you
      - Leaving your wife at home with the kids so you and a hirsute male traveling companion can tour Europe multiple times on "research trips"
      - Finding, publishers for your drivel
      - Writing about your gluttony and asking other gluttons to send you pictures of their gluttony so you don't feel lonely about it
      - And all the while you church hop and backbite your prior church, and having found none of them are "just right" you import your own priest and make your own version of an congregation that claims an ancient lineage but is actually about as old (and nourishing) as last week's creme brulee you found behind your $17.95 container of fancy French salt.'ve clearly missed what the BenOp is Keith. The Working Boy has been living it in front of us all these years. Now, go find a family member and start a fight so you can get a good case of butthurt and start living the BenOp for yourself!

    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    5.'ve clearly missed what the BenOp is Keith. The Working Boy has been living it in front of us all these years. Now, go find a family member and start a fight so you can get a good case of butthurt and start living the BenOp for yourself!

      There's a great deal of truth to what you say. With his "But I'm a poseur!" comment, Dreher is laying the marker down that any criticism of his BO he doesn't approve of is really personal persecution, and this lifelong defense Dreher has used against a world which frequently refused to conform to his fancies in turn can be thought of as the Butthurt Option, Dreher's philosophy for Christians as little more than a recapitulation of his psychologyy.

      To this extent and degree, our newest prophet Dreher's vision for Christianity is a variant of paranoid schizophrenia:

      "They're all out to get all of us, and they'll stop at nothing! But (inexplicably) we will become pods invisible to them while they destroy themselves, then they'll see! We'll come out of our pods of invisibility and everyone will do what we say!"

      I imagine there was more than one episode like this with Mam and Paw growing up, and you don't get your poor rural parents to scrape together enough to send you off to a boarding high school if you haven't already become adept at selling and bullying others into accepting it. Now its the turn of Christianity as a whole to cope with the psychological world view of Rod Dreher.

    6. Great comment, Keith, and I heartily agree, but one small correction: The Louisiana School is state-funded. The state pays for it; the parents don't (except via taxes, of course). So Maw and Paw didn't have to pay for much more than clothing and care packages. :)

    7. Thanks for the correction. I was really thinking as much of a typical spoiled child victim-bullying his parents into an alternative to learning to face life like other kids, but I probably should have tried to check before assuming about the tuition.

    8. "So Maw and Paw didn't have to pay for much more than clothing and care packages. :)"

      An how much could hair mousse and the occasional Cure or Smiths album really cost?

    9. No longer as free as it used to be, apparently. Back in our (and Rod's) day, the state covered everything except books -- room, board, fees. But now it seems room, board, and fees are no longer state-funded:

      For Louisiana residents, tuition is free. Since tuition is covered by the state of Louisiana, students only need to pay fees to cover room and board, computer usage, and various lab fees. The total cost for the school year is around $1,200. This price also includes your meals in LSMSA's cafeteria. Using federal guidelines for the Free and Reduced Lunch Program, families may apply for a reduction or waiver of the room and board fee (Fee Waiver Reduction Form).

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. BTW Pauli and Keith -- I hope it was OK that I posted the new Zmirak piece at FB. It was just too good. Of course the usual suspect responded. I will never understand what Catholic integralists see in Dreher, a guy who uses them while routinely insulting their religion. Good grief.

  4. The BO is a Ponzi Scheme for Mr. Dreher. Jonathan Carpenter

  5. Generally, people come back from long vacations refreshed and relaxed. Not Rod - Rod's gone into overdrive with his personal persecution mania.

    95% of all criticism of his BO is driven by hatred of orthodox Christianity (defined, of course, by Rod himself), Rod says. Nobody can just, you know, disagree with the guy. No, disagreeing with Rod is malicious and literally Satanic (check his archives - I'm not exaggerating).

    I think what Rod really needs is some more Sordello time - that might loosen him up a bit. He seemed so happy, so free, so himself on his recent trip sans wife or other feminine influence.

  6. Just in case you thought the BOp was about something real, and not just about Dreher himself, his "UPDATE" to the post Keith linked should dispel any such thoughts (Dreher's emphasis removed, my emphasis added):

    UPDATE: As some of you will already have learned this morning, I really am done posting the same old trolling crap on the Benedict Option from the same people. If you have something critical to say, I welcome it, as long as it’s constructive. But do not waste your time saying the same gripey thing that you’ve said a thousand times, because I’m not going to approve the comment. I’m using this ongoing Benedict Option conversation on this blog to help me think through the book I’m going to write on it. Constructive criticism helps me. Bitching and moaning just bores me.

    1. With the closing of the castle gates, the time now is probably both peak Benedict Option and time to start the popcorn.

      It's difficult to think of a Dreher effort online that hasn't been essential some variation of a lonely hearts club, and this latest BO effort is not looking much differently at this point.

      The novelty of the phrase has worn off, the sites that would promulgate the notion have already done so, so what remains now is little more than the beloved preaching to the vetted choir and trying to sell them a book. His recent repudiation of objective, outside criticism will assuredly cost him either marginal book sales, marginal sympathetic reviews, or both. And have I mentioned that a publisher to sacrifice on the altar has yet to be chosen?

      Right now he's in one of those amyl nitrate-like highs he periodically cycles through because he just announced that he can control comments on his blog and because his appearance next week at the Circe Institute (apparently not named for the incestuous queen in Game of Thrones, but that's got to confuse the teenagers) only underscores his growing belief that he is becoming one of the major influential Christian thinkers of our time. But, like his own Walker Percy Weekend, the CI just needs product as well, and he'll do. He'll talk within a safe, comfortable environment, people there will be polite to him, but the questions unanswered and unanswerable now will still be there the following week.

      I think Pauli's correct overall: like watching Evel Knievel, whatever happens will be entertaining.

    2. Still, here's the good news: with his Benedict Option, Rod will save Christianity:

      [NFR: Not really. Secular liberalism, even the kind *not* pushed by obnoxious ACLU types, is corrosive of Christianity *by its nature*. Secular liberalism is what we have, but we in the Church have not figured out how to live in it and keep our religion strong. — RD]

      But as I recall, it was Rod, not the Church, who succumbed to a pearl-clutching implosion of faith.

  7. Alternate titles for Dreher's books:

    The Little Way of Ruthie Leming - "These are the People who Butthurt Me"

    How Dante Can Save Your Life - "The Butthurt Is Real, But I Can Beat It"

    Upcoming book on BenOp - "I'm Taking My Butthurt and Playing Over There"

    1. the man gets paid for his butthurt. that's more than I can say about you guys.

  8. Count the layers of competing ironies:

    [NFR: But I’m a poseur! Ain’t you figured that out by now? — RD]