Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Is your faith Benedict Option compliant?

Not all are, you know.

Many people while believing they are faithful Christians may actually be infested by a dreaded wasting heresy, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, a pestilence far less objectively real than termites but far more damaging to one's soul.

Fortunately, there's a remedy for that: Rod Dreher's Benedict Option™.

Benedict Option compliant
The cure for what ails ya

If you're Russian Orthodox like Rod, you're almost certain to be Benedict Option compliant automatically, but, if not, why take chances?

Schedule a 12-point Benedict Option audit today for your church, faith, meeting group, Sunday School class, or just yourself personally by emailing God's Own self-appointed Vicar of Benedict Option Compliance today at


and be sure your subject line reads simply

Benedict Option

That's all there is to it!

When your email is received, Benedict Option founder and spokesman Rod Dreher will immediately schedule your Benedict Option audit, meet with you personally to review both your personal errors and sins as well as those of your entire faith, and prescribe a course of action to get you back on the approved Benedict Option path in no time at all.

No matter what your failings, Catholic, Episcopalian or just someone who prays sitting down, Rod is there for you to help you get back on track - today.

Don't wait a moment longer - email Rod today!


  1. Oh oh. Looks like a major competitor has entered Dreher's market. I say that because everything the quoted passages say about the O Church could be applied as well to the BO without too much of a stretch.

    Dreher could, of course, distinguish the BO by establishing what it exactly is, rather than seeing someone here, someone there, someone anywhere, who is doing something that he finds BO-worthy (usually posting something nice about Dreher or citing the BO). But then there'd have to be a There there, which there isn't so he can't.

    Only one thing for him to do when a competitor pops up, especially one as formidable in popular culture as the O juggernaut. Screech "Apostasy!" -- better yet with a cute twist, as you'd expect from that clever boy.

  2. Dreher doth protest WAY too much this time. His "Benedict Option" represents exactly, precisely the kind of do-it-yourself armchair theology the article on Winfrey's documentary describes. Dreher isn't an ordained clergyman nor is he grounded in any particular religious tradition, having been a United Methodist, then a follower of Hal Wallis, then an atheist, then an Episcopalian, then a Roman Catholic, then a member of the Orthodox Church in America, and now a member if the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia in successive turn. Dreher has no formal academic background in theology, philosophy, religious studies, history, or sociology, yet he puts himself forward on the internet of all places as the last best hope for Western Christianity and by implication the souls of Western Christians. It's New Age flapdoodle of an Oprahesque kind and there's nothing traditional, catholic, or orthodox about it at all. Dreher is a heretic, but an unwitting one, because he isn't well-educated or intelligent enough to know he is.

    1. "Dreher has no formal academic background in theology, philosophy, religious studies, history, or sociology..."

      Those of us who do have those formal academic backgrounds find his blogging on culture religion and society an incomprehensible mish mash of poseur nonsense leavened by excessive moralism. I will give him credit as a very good writer but talent in writing does not make up for a mind overflowing with badly formed ideas

    2. Ultimately the Rod Dreher's Benedict Option™ book will be a rehash of Crunchy Cons: an introductory chapter or two with some deep quotes that he may or may not interpret correctly, a middle section of reporting from the BenOp trenches (such as they are), and a wrap up with ten thing you can do to start your own option today (invite a few friend over for dinner, memorize a poem, and pray...Christianity hangs in the balance).

      Ultimately Rod's a reporter not a thinker; a blogger not an essayist. The book (if it ever appears) will be the literary equivalent of the Reflecting Pool on the Mall in DC; something shallow (and filled with waterfowl crap) simply reflecting something build by greater craftsmen of monumental scale and grandeur.

      Anonymous Maximus

    3. AnonMax, today we have a fourth thing for him to include in the eventual-if-ever book:

      Here’s an idea: start websites or blogs in particular locales that function as a kind of bulletin board for Catholic (or general Christian) meet-ups for prayer, singing, meals, and so forth....

      Mind you, this isn't attend or host "meet-ups for prayer, singing, meals, and so forth" as so many do and have done for centuries. But no, it's start a website or blog to have an online bulletin board -- that's what's needed now, when Christianity hangs in the balance.

    4. Opportunistic hucksters swarm to crises the way egg-laying flies gather at wounds, and Rod Dreher is no different. All these cries about Francis and MTD only serve to preempt questions about what he's doing cheerfully rubbing his little forelegs together over the opening. An excellent title might be A Cassandra's Crunchy Christianity.

      When I hear others so dutifully trained already that they're actually making the ridiculous sound "Ben Op" in person or in print, I assume they're in either one of two camps. Either they've been overlooked as excellent candidates for a pigeon drop for far too long, or else they've formed a queue hoping to get their own little taste of some of Rod's online gravy.

      God may be merciful, but He's not a chump, and He gave us free will to separate some destinies from others, in particular those who end up dropping $20 on Rod's book (assuming there's a greater fool theory in publishing as in everything else) and then find themselves waiting and waiting and waiting...

    5. On Facebook, someone linked to Rod's Libresco Option piece, with the pull quote, "One of the great regrets I have from my time as a Catholic is that I spent lots of time (as did my friends) griping about the failures of the Church. We didn’t often think about what responsibility we had, as part of the Church, to remedy that. One of the things we complained about was clericalism, but we were guilty of it too.”

      Which received the comment (not from me), "Yes, Rod, we all noticed that."

      Rod admits he didn't know what he was talking about back when he made a name for himself -- as many, many people constantly pointed out to him at the time. He's still saying the same things, but he can't see that he still doesn't know what he's talking about.

      Nothing new there. What baffles me is that significant numbers of Catholics can't see that he still doesn't know what he's talking about.

      On the other hand, I'd be surprised if those numbers weren't dwarfed by the numbers of Catholics who think Oprahnity and MTD are perfectly compatible with Catholicism. As a class, Catholics aren't distinctively bright.

  3. Let's recall Rod's correction of Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, a New Monastic who had reached out to him to have a dialogue about the Benedict Option.

    Wilson-Hartgrove's apprehensions:

    But we do not do this in a vacuum. At the moment in America, we are trying to follow the way of Jesus (with the help of Benedict) in the face of economic and political powers that tell us we cannot be “Christian” without some common enemy. Some say it’s the Muslims we have to hate in order to know who we are. Some say it’s the liberals. Others that it’s the gays. My concern about the enthusiasm with which some have adopted your “Ben Op” is that it could easily be manipulated to perpetuate this other-ing. Maybe this is part of what your wife is getting at when she warns against fundamentalism. I mean, in a world where the powers thrive via a divide-and-conquer strategy, nothing could be more dangerous than circling our wagons and retreating with those who share our bias about the world (be it “liberal” or “conservative”).

    Dreher corrects him:

    About “other-ing,” I don’t like the term, especially used in context of the Ben Op. It strikes me as politically loaded. True, all Christians have to be very careful about drawing lines between us and others, lest we fall prey to the temptation to see them as less than human. That said, to be a member of any community is to draw lines around that community, so that we can know what it means to be part of it. The sociologist Philip Rieff said that a culture is defined by its “remissions” — that is, it’s “thou shalt nots”. That’s a simple but useful definition, I think. Every community has them.

    Sociology is about the highest level of intellection Rod has mastered, Philip Rieff is his go-to guy, and, doggone it, there is a inescapable if hell-bent logic here Rod has to follow once he's made that buy in: in addition to all the other kinds of mean, nasty ugly-lookin' people on the bench there, mother rapers... father stabbers... father rapers, well, truth be told all of Christendom is going to have to be re-vetted one soul and one parish at a time to see who out of all of them meets the new community standards of the BO. To do otherwise would be to be remiss in our remissions.

  4. It was Hal Lindsey I was thinking of, not Hal Wallis - the author of The Late Great Planet Earth. I think Dreher's having read that as an adolescent, at about the same time he started getting homosexual feelings, accounts for his religious perspective now much more than his time in either Catholicism or Orthodoxy or any reading he's done in Rieff or MacIntyre.

  5. Perhaps I am being too cruel. I have just read that Rod has disabled himself in the process of attempting to feed, a definition of a pathetic and pitiable man new to me. Let us pray for the sake of his wife and children that he retains control of his bowels. Still, there may be a pattern in Rod's behavior where he lays down a flurry of attacks on others, then reveals a reason to pity him, lays down a flurry of attacks on others, then reveals a reason to pity him that could be as instructive to him as it has long been to me.

    1. Given that this will no longer allow him to pray standing up, an apparent requirement for true BO compliance, will we now see him begin to apostatize from his prior faith and begin to preach against himself?

      This entire debacle reeks of a Monty Python skit.


  6. Annoyingly perceptive commenter Eamus Catuli echoes both Pik and Anonymous:

    Still not clear on something. Why is this a threatening example of “apostasy,” while (small-c) conservative Judaism is great, in fact something whose family and community traditions — as we heard a day or two ago on another thread — need to be celebrated and nurtured? Suppose a faithful, conservative RCC or Orthodox Christian, worried about current trends, cast an admiring eye on Jewish respect for tradition and decided to convert in order to share in it. That would be apostasy too, right, in the most literal sense, at least as clearly so as anything that Oprah is peddling?

    So: Would it be bad? Sinful? Regrettable? Why or why not? It seems like if those Jewish traditions are a good thing, then consciously choosing to embrace them in adulthood must also be a good thing, even though they involve denying Christ. And if that’s the case, what’s wrong with a sincere, committed New Age spirituality, of the kind I would guess that Oprah has found some people practicing? “It denies Christ” can’t be the answer if being Jewish is considered perfectly fine.

    When Rahm Emanual gave Rod his marching orders - "You never let a serious crisis go to waste" - I'm thinking he assumed that any of those thinking of capitalizing on their respective crises of opportunity would be possessed of a plan at least a smidge more refined than this half-baked porker of a BO.

    1. The answer to Eamus's question is, it is wrong to choose a lesser good over a greater good, and Jewish respect for tradition is a lesser good than faith in Christ. That, and to deny Christ is damnable (Mt 10:33, 2 Tim 2:12). Which isn't to say a particular Jew might not be closer to Christ than a particular Christian.

    2. I believe Catuli's overall point was that all apostasy is relative to the particular faith being abandoned and that any changing of religious horses at all necessarily involves such apostasy.

      Maybe, as the ultimate divine cool kids club, this is really the problem Rod's BO was invented to solve: once your particular existence is Rod-certified to be apostasy-free you are forever raised above it all and freed from this maelstrom of respective contradictions.

    3. ... any changing of religious horses at all necessarily involves such apostasy.

      Right. And the answer to his question, "Would it be bad [to apostatize from Christianity to Judaism]?... Why or why not?" is, "Yes, because (among other reasons) that's choosing a lesser good over a greater good."

      The fact that a day or two earlier some things about Judaism were admitted to be good doesn't change that answer.

    4. Well, only if they were still Christian, Tom, in which case they wouldn't be changing and the point becomes moot. Once they begin changing to Judaism, what you say becomes to them only out-group name-calling relevant only to you, not to them.

      One can't have a condition of reciprocal relativity wherein all sides nevertheless still recognize the beliefs of only one side as absolutely and objectively true.

    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    6. Keith makes a valid point. It's kinda like the way we Catholics regard conversion to Orthodoxy. If you convert from Nothing or from militant atheism or from Protestantism to Orthodoxy, that's a Really Good Thing. But if you leave Catholicism for Orthodoxy, that's schism, and it could be problematic. :)

    7. Well, only if they were still Christian, Tom

      The answer to the question, "Would it be bad to apostatize from Christianity to Judaism?," is, "Yes." The answer to some other question -- like, "Would someone who apostatizes from Christianity to Judaism think it's bad?" -- may well be something else.

  7. One of the quoted passages in Dreher's post is:

    The show reveals how religion itself is shifting, how we are living through a period of intense spiritual democratization. In all the world’s religions, older forms of remote and hierarchical authority — not to mention the very idea of a distant and monarch-like God — are being challenged by ordinary people as they pray, worship, walk pilgrimages and seek the divine in nature and neighborhoods.

    Dreher yells "Apostasy!" toward the Oprah show, apparently for this among other reasons. But isn't this precisely the very thing that Dreher writes several times daily? Particularly about his favorite targets of Pope Francis and other Catholics asserting one form or another of supposed "MTD"?

    And to the extent we know anything about the BO, it involves such things as "ordinary people as they pray, worship, walk pilgrimages and seek the divine in nature and neighborhoods." Except maybe for the nature part (Dreher being a "bookish" hot-house plant, else it would otherwise apply). Indeed, the "neighborhoods" part especially applies to Dreher, the "apostle of New Urbanism" at TAC. The O Church is more kin to the BO than it is antithesis to it.

    So the more relevant point to me, beyond Eamus Catuli's point as elaborated by Keith, is not so much that the alleged apostasy is relative to a particular faith, but that the alleged apostasy by the Oprah show is relative to the peculiar tastes of Rod Dreher.

    This is the logical end when you set out to preserve "Christian culture" rather than follow Christ wherever He leads. The Christian part gets lost in favor of the culture, and more particularly in favor of one man's cultural preferences.

  8. Y'all, slightly off-topic, but you have got to check out this:


    The money quote, from Gabriel:

    Assuming [Rod] has read his Florovsky, Schmemann, and Meyendorff carefully….

    My response: I think this ranks as one of the funniest things I have ever encountered on the Interwebs.

    1. Somenonymous or otherOctober 21, 2015 at 8:25 PM

      Diane, I thought the same thing when I read that the other day. Hilarious, in a dryest-of-all-dry-wit way.

    2. I know! Gabriel obviously does not really know our Working Boy, who probably could not read a graphic novel without falling asleep over page 2.

    3. Somenonymous or otherOctober 21, 2015 at 9:19 PM

      Hmm. I thought that what was so funny about it was that Gabriel probably knows darn well the likelihood (near zilch) that Rod "has read his Florovsky, Schmemann, and Meyendorff carefully." But what do I know?

    4. Lol, you're undoubtedly right!

  9. Gabe does have that finely tuned snark meter, now that you mention it. Sorry, I got snookered by masterful Poe.

  10. Off topic: How is Concern Troll Catholic-Bashing Rod Dreher dealing with the fact that the Synod on the Family has just concluded with absolutely NO changes in Catholic Dogma or in praxis (WRT admitting divorced/remarried to Communion)? I mean, this is the guy who was seriously (riiiiigggghhhht) wondering whether the Pope and the Catholic Church were on the brink of apostasy and whether it would therefore make sense for Catholics to embrace Orthodoxy (which already allows Communion for the divorced/remarried, but hey, details, details).

    His dire predictions have been proven completely false. Has he humbly acknowledged this?

    Yeah, get real, Diane.

    1. Rod's interest in the Synod was simply another manifestation of widely used The (Your Pariah Group Here) Problem technique to distill those Who Ain't Gonna Be A Victim Of That (Your Pariah Group Here) Problem, Nossirree for salvation by Rod's latest interest.

      1) Heighten anxiety among the susceptible
      2) Identify a source of that anxiety
      3) Propose a solution to that anxiety
      4) Drive the herd into the canyon created

    2. Having dropped a Synod that has no further current utility for him, Rod nevertheless now offers readers a glimpse into his creative process for the BO book: his mind as an Irish setter galloping with joy and abandon through the weeds of whatever book turns up in his hands next. Nominalism - no, Zoroastrianism - no, Manicheism - no, vegetarianism.

      Remember, this is the guy who more than once in recent months has announced to his readers that, in middle age, he has not yet learned the lesson of not typing a 5,000-word blog post directly into the blogging software where it can - burp! - imminently vanish.

      What we're beginning to understand about Dreher's book career is that, basically:

      a) Rod types a bunch of stuff out
      b) his editor takes that and his name and carves a book out of it.

    3. Of course not, Diane. It's pretty much Pope Francis as punching bag.

      Dreher shows his brain is tied up in knots in his discussion of the speech by some Met. Hilarion to the Synod:

      The Moscow Patriarchate is well aware of how weak the Christian faith is in Europe. It knows too, obviously, that the forces within the Roman church that seek to liberalize are the ones who would have Rome adopt an approach to marriage, divorce, and communion that’s more like Orthodoxy’s. My guess is that Moscow recognizes that given the current crisis of Christianity in the West, and the different way Catholicism approaches matters of doctrinal truth, for Rome to adopt a policy closer to Orthodoxy’s at this particular time and under these circumstances would, paradoxically, weaken Catholicism’s witness to the larger truth of family and marriage. This is why I actually think Orthodoxy has a more reasonable and compassionate way of handling it, but I hoped that the conservatives would win at the Synod, because the idea of Rome taking an Orthodox tack in the present situation struck me intuitively as a bad move from the interests of Orthodoxy.

      Ohhh-kaay. Dreher says the RCC shouldn't follow Orthodox teachings on this, even though Orthodox teachings are more reasonable and compassionate, because to do so would be bad for Catholicism and bad from the Orthodox perspective. "Paradoxically", indeed.

      As usual, the question of what is true and right (i.e., what ought to be done and taught) doesn't appear in Dreher's output, except when conflated with Dreher's personal tastes. No doubt that is what's going on here.

    4. Mama mia. I hope and pray that this creep has as little influence as Tom says he does. I fear that he has much more.

    5. Diane, the rewards of skimming the pot for blog-click and book-buying paying heads is always relative to the size of the pot, even for a south Louisiana boy with limited intellectual ambition inclined to use an image of Wile E. Coyote colliding into a surface as shorthand for his regard for his former communion and its formal deliberations.

      If the pot is only 1,000 individuals, there's no ROI whatsoever. If the pot is a billion Catholics - and in the global digital Internet age any of those billion who read English become immediately accessible (think of the Internet as the Gutenberg press of access connectivity) - just a dissafected .0005 of that gross billion is an audience of 500,000 souls to be manipulated to Dreherian ends.

      It's really not Dreher himself, it's the numbers and Internet accessibility of extra-Catholic influences.