|It will all be explained in the book|
In We Have Been Warned, Rod Dreher gives us his most succinct and salient explanation for his Benedict Option to date. All emphases in the paragraph below are Dreher's:
I find that even at this late date, it is difficult to get ordinary Christians, including pastors, to understand the reality of what’s coming. You should believe David Gushee. He has done us all a favor here. He and his allies — that is, the entire American establishment — are going to do everything they possibly can to eliminate any place of retreat. When people say that if the Left has its way, there will be no Benedict Option places left to retreat to, I agree. That does not mean they will succeed, at least not at first, but it’s just a matter of time. This means that we will need the Benedict Option more than ever. The Ben Op is not about escapism; it’s about building the institutions and adopting the practices required for the church to be resilient, and even to thrive, under harsh conditions. The church will be under unprecedented pressure, legally and socially, to capitulate. But it will be possible to resist, though not without paying a high cost. I talk about how to do this in my forthcoming book.
Because this is such a rare gift of plainly stated gold, let's unpack it one logical line at a time, shall we?
When people say that if the Left has its way, there will be no Benedict Option places left to retreat to, I agree.
So there will be no Benedict Option places left to retreat to?
That does not mean they will succeed, at least not at first...
So there may be Benedict Option places left to retreat to?
but it’s just a matter of time.
So there won't be Benedict Option places left to retreat to. So...because there won't be Benedict Option places left to retreat to,
This means that we will need the Benedict Option more than ever.
The Ben Op is not about escapism; it’s about building the institutions and adopting the practices required for the church to be resilient, and even to thrive, under harsh conditions.
Very well. In this place from which the church has no escape from or means of avoiding the predations of the Left, we will nevertheless need Rod's Benedict Option more than ever to show us how to build the institutions and adopt the practices required for the church to be resilient, and even to thrive, under harsh conditions.
Let's make sure we clearly understand the meaning of some things right now.
If there really is no escape - Rod's own premise*, which we're following; and even if there were a means of escape, the Benedict Option wouldn't be about taking advantage of it anyway - then this means the Left potentially seizing property and bank accounts of non-compliers and even having Child Services remove children from the homes of non-compliers (ask the radical LDS church about this).
That's what no escape means. That's what happens to those with no escape. It doesn't mean that, because you can't relocate to Lichtenstein or Monaco, that there will still be a pinky promise floor supporting what you don't need to worry about escaping from.
If Rod is being serious, what I described is what he means by "no escape" - ultimately, the possibility of renouncing either your faith or your children.
If he's merely being dramatically hyperbolic in order to sell a book, then his Benedict Option becomes as optional as that book purchase.
So when Rod proceeds to talk about "building the institutions and adopting the practices required for the church to be resilient, and even to thrive, under harsh conditions", he is very clearly now not referring to material things or means. Remember, in a "no escape" scenario, the Leftist State has just run its Komatsu D575A-3 over your church's remaining bricks.
He is referring to something else. Non-material things and means to build solely mental/spiritual institutions and adopt solely mental/spiritual practices required for the church to be resilient, and even to thrive, under harsh conditions.
In sum, Rod's Benedict Option is being offered as, in essence, your conceptual Christian AndroGel, the solution to the problems your unfortunate Christian "low-C" will clearly enable in the face of the ultimately inescapable predations of the left. Had your Christian faith been, like Rod's, sufficiently potent to begin with, obviously none of this Leftist predation would have been allowed to happen.
Very well. Logically, we have finally come face to face with the real enemy, and he is you and your feeble, low-C Christianity.
Now this is actually plausible, at least in part. Feeble Christians who end up allowing an ultimately inescapable and irresistible Leftist State to overrun them could very easily, at least following these logical premises that Rod lays out, find themselves in the conundrum of renouncing their faith in order to retrieve their own children from Leftist State Child Services foster care.
So the questions remaining unanswered are
2. If the material, political realm (including, implicitly, armed revolt) has already been foreclosed upon, or if you have already written it off as lost, through what avenues other than prayer do you intend to act to ensure you're never forced to choose between your faith and your children?
1. If, as Rod's logic leads us inescapably to conclude, the problem is ultimately your own insufficiently potent faith (because every possible alternative has already been written off conceptually, in Rod-tendered despair), what reason do we have to believe that blogger Rod Dreher is the person with the magic cream to cure what ails you and, reciprocally, your very church itself?
But, really, if you accept that you and your church truly are Rod-defined impotent, and if you're still foolish enough not to call Rod, who ya gonna call?
Epilogue: In the scenario of Rod's Benedict Option logic and the settings he ascribes for it, there is no way to account for the timeline of the Leftist State finalizing its "just a matter of time" and the timeline of Rod himself triumphantly having implemented his Benedict Option becoming benevolently synchronous in Rod's favor.
So if the Leftist State has already moved to foreclose his escape and, because he is obviously a high-profile troublemaker, Child Services already has his children, which will Rod himself choose?
1. He weeps for his lost children, but he refuses to publicly renounce his faith.
2. He publicly renounces his faith, and his children are returned to him.
I believe I'll coin this the Benedict Option Choice.
*In this post I am following Rod's own clearly stated premises to their logical conclusions. If his Benedict Option is salted with an open-ended number of handy ad hoc sophistic escape hatches and do-overs instead, then his Benedict Option remains what we always cynically believed it was, that is, whatever he says it is, on any given day, as long as it lures you into giving him your money in exchange for his book about it.