I lifted this comment wholesale from Rod's blog. You know, like Rod himself frequently does.* It really doesn't get more concise than this.
April 26, 2016 at 3:35 pm
I don’t understand what the Benedict Option entails on a day to day basis. I don’t really understand what it is at all, except for a mental rejection of whatever is “wrong.” And I don’t understand how that can be a movement or a culture. And if it can’t be a movement or a culture, I don’t see any relevance in discussing it as any kind of an “option.” Seems to me it is just as well to say, “keep praying every day and go to Church every Sunday and avoid morally pernicious influences as best as you can on yourself and your family.” And to me, that is synonymous with leading a religious life. So, what is new or different about the “Benedict Option,” compared to just trying to lead a religious life, if it does not entail some kind of co-ordinated, communitarian effort?
But, if it does require the latter, then, didn’t Monaghan the pizza guy attempt to set up some Catholic community in Florida at one point, and didn’t the federal gov’t say that they way he wanted to run things violated the Constitution?
If that is the case then the issue is not just culture/community, because you aren’t going to be able to create mini-cultures. The law won’t allow it.
Any kind of Benedict Option that involves community won’t be outside the reach of the law. And that’s the real problem. A real Benedict Option would mean illegal communities.
Like the days of the catacombs. If that’s what you mean by a Benedict Option, then please let us know. I’m just trying to get some clarity here.
What can I say, yan? The Benedict Option is bogus. A placebo. A will-o'-the-wisp. There is no there there that wasn't there already. The only thing new is a catchy new marketing phrase.
Like the chains that bound the mighty wolf Fenris, the Benedict Option is forged of impossible things: the sound of a cat's footfall, the beard of a woman, the roots of a mountain, the sinews of a bear, the breath of a fish, the spittle of a bird. Oh, and for good measure, a smokin' hot cover of Kiss.
One of the perennial characteristics of the defrauded is that, deep down they know they're being had as the process is occurring, but the psychological desire to believe that they're getting greater value (relief from all that bad culture stuff) at a very good price (an easy to acquire sugar pill called the Benedict Option that doesn't even make you larger) is strong enough to push any doubts out of mind long enough for them to be had. Afterwards, of course, they are victims, but at the time, they are actually eager co-conspirators. Fortunately, it sounds as if yan here may end up walking away with his wallet intact.
In the main post itself, Rod whips out his kid gloves and slaps conservative Christians with derision - slap!, slap! - for not signing up for his mystery meat from the bed of his pickup truck,
Anyway, Ross’s last bit — reaction as an artistic and religious stance, but not a political one — seems to be more or less where the Benedict Option is. You have to be fairly alienated from liberal democratic culture to find the Ben Op appealing. In fact, I think that’s why so many conservative Christians resist it. They know that things are bad, and getting worse for us, and they know that the center is not holding, and cannot hold. But if it’s true, then they would have to do things that are really difficult. It seems easier to live with the cognitive dissonance. Many of us are like the conservative Episcopalians who say, “One more thing and I’m out the door!” — but then the one more thing comes, and we redraw the red line.
finally ending this interminable scarf quilted from the thinking of others with this ultimatum:
Sooner or later, religious conservatives will have to take the Benedict Option, or be assimilated. I know of no feasible alternative. The longer you put off the decision to start thinking and moving in the Ben Op direction, the harder it’s going to be.
Well. Winter Is Coming, you bloody fools, and if you don't purchase the Emperor's New Clothes right now, your willies and boobies will promptly freeze to a crisp and fall right off. This is a limited time offer, folks. Act now.
But wait. Let's examine just how fraudulent Dreher's Offer You Can't Refuse actually is: no one yet knows even what the Benedict Option IS, least of all Dreher, who's still in the process of inventing it.
How do we know this? Dreher himself explains just how the sausage is being made earlier in the same post:
As part of my Ben Op research, I’m reading now a dense book by social anthropologist Paul Connerton, whose 1989 book How Societies Remember I blogged about here.
Having had no urgency himself with respect to the Benedict Option for decades until a book contract materialized - not to form any sort of coherent thought simply for his own understanding of his own to-be wares, not to save his own family, not for any reason which might have displaced the other pleasures in life he chose to pursue instead - Rod nonetheless wants you to know now he's doing the heavy mental lifting you probably can't by tackling this "dense" book.
But, exactly as with the invention of Obamacare, Christians will have to first buy Rod's not-as-of-this-moment even coherently understood account of the Benedict Option to find out what's in it. Shouldn't commitment this far in advance of delivery carry at least some sort of deep discount?
In addition to the typical Dreher thoughts-of-others-quilting and tacit narcissistic apple polishing, the main thrust of the post is a put-down of liberal democracy. You know, the sort of liberal democracy Christians across the lands of Christ's birth were sneering at themselves - ptui! - even as ISIS was cutting them and their children down like wheat. Well, weren't they sneering? No? You mean they wanted more than anything else a space of liberty to worship as they pleased? Huh.
When one puts any effort at all into examining what turns out to be this layer cake of fraud, one finds that the foundational layers are self-delusion: arrested adolescent rebellion against the very sort of spaces and processes supplied by older, wiser others enabling the adolescent's rebellion to even become possible. The aging, bearded teen, fuming, liberal democracy-enabled belly full in his warm, safe liberal democracy-protected bedroom, with latent Daddy issues about how uncool and decadent the bubble within which he exists is.
And so, like those un-self-aware jellyfish marooned in a lake in Micronesia, Rod will write his Benedict Option book and sell it to fellow Christians of similar oblivious bent, greater fools eager to co-conspire in the self-congratulatory exercise of thinking Benedict Option-flavored thoughts.
Will the book offer anything of practical value to anyone? At this point, the word from the author's mouth seems to be no:
Q: Not sure if you’re there yet in your book, but I’ll be interested to hear your thought on how the concepts of liberal democracy come into play in the self-governing structures of the BenOp.
I understand you’re not talking about setting up some sort of weird shadow government. However, the community would need some sort of rules for who’s in, who’s out, who should be eldered/discipled, what behaviors are unacceptable, etc. There will be real questions in any community about how those rules are set and those decisions are made. Since we’re pretty much talking about Westerners here, there will be a strong bias towards a more or less democratic process as people’s default approach to self-organization.
A: [NFR: I don’t want to mislead you about the book. I’m not going to get that granular about it. — RD]
Probably the smartest move, Rod. The less detail you offer, the easier it is to sell a lie.
But, Keith, you ask (I know you ask this because I get literally thousands of anonymous emails daily, each beginning "But, Keith..."), what sort of person is likely to buy the hot mess of thinking you just described above?
Well, people like this guy:
Hector_St_Clare says: April 27, 2016 at 12:09 am
Here’s where I think neo-reaction’s critiques of democracy are serving a useful purpose (amidst a bunch of noise and provocation). Neo-reactionaries say they would prefer a form of government where Hobbes’s Leviathan is not required to constantly persuade those it guards of its legitimacy through a system of voting that fixates on short time horizons.
Oh my goodness. This is the heart of why I dislike liberal democracy, and it says more pithily what I would just love to say but couldn’t express so neatly. Well, that and then there’s the fact that liberal democracy is ultimately a morally hollow form of governments: it grounds its authority on the will of the people, whether that will be for good or evil. And then of course there’s the fact that setting adults free to compete for political power ends up in the same place as unrestricted economic freedom. Most adults, like most children, don’t really have a good sense what’s good for them, and allowing them to govern themselves is just going to end up with the bullies and smooth talking sociopaths in power.
Here’s a decent example of why liberal democracy doesn’t make a lot of sense when you carefully examine its premises. We know that the popular will is just flatly wrong about a great many questions, we can see that from looking at questions which actually do have a scientifically correct answer. If 60% of the population can be wrong about a basic scientific question of fact, why would we expect them to be right about questions which are harder to answer, like "what sort of society would be optimal"?
And we wonder why ISIS is so attractive to so many effete young people world wide.
*If Rod or yan has any copyright problem with me lifting this comment wholesale, simply let me know in writing care of Est Quod Est and I'll be happy to remove this post. As I mentioned, Rod frequently uses reader comments - intellectual work created by others - as the mainstay, even the entire content of posts that pad out his contractual obligation to The American Conservative and from which he earns his salary and the medical and other benefits his family enjoys. So I don't see why I'm not entitled to the same liberty to take yan's comment that he enjoys, particularly since I'm not earning a dime from doing so. If it is the case that either Rod himself or the commenter yan believes one or the other owns the copyright to yan's comment, however, let's see that claim presented in writing. I'll be happy to participate in any such defining moment.
(Astute readers may detect a certain pattern of parasitic repurposing for profit common to both Rod's frequent lifting of his blog readers' comments to then become his own bylined blog posts and the re-branding effort which exhaustively defines his Benedict Option.)
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