Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Early returns for "The New Christian Paradigm"

In the comments I have already pointed out that Rod Dreher, in some euphoric rush of unknown provenance, has most recently elevated his Benedict Option book to the grandiose status of "The New Christian Paradigm".

Here he is last night on Tucker Carlson's show revealing this epochal transformation of Christian civilization to America at large:

Discerning viewers will note Carlson's treatment of the transformational prophet Dreher.

Polite. Solicitous. Charitable. All completely appropriate for a conservative Christian talk show host. Also, as Dreher brings the beige, indistinguishable from Carlson probing either a seven-year-old nephew or Triumph the insult comic dog over the technical workings of a gamma ray burster.

Meanwhile, the Lord God Almighty has determined that one of his n-grandnieces, Stella Bombogenesis, should cover Rod Dreher's week long NYC media launch extravaganza as well.

Benedict Option

As Dreher himself remarks as to the launch of his book on the feast day of St. Benedict: coincidence.


  1. Thanks (/sarc) for getting me to click on the Dreher blog for the first time in a long time, Keith. From that brief visit today, I now see that Dreher has moved into the "enough about the BO -- let's talk about what others are saying about the BO" phase.*

    One thing I did see was that Dreher's buddy Damon Linker earned his way into Dreher's heart forever by writing that the book:

    may be the most important statement of its kind since Richard John Neuhaus’ The Naked Public Square, the 1984 book that Dreher’s implicitly seeks to supplant. Like Neuhaus, Dreher provides devout Christians with a gripping metaphor that both describes the present moment and sets out a course of action in response to it.

    Book sales, TV appearances, and a post-mortem shot at Fr. Neuhaus, indeed by "supplanting" his book and idea? It doesn't get any better than that for RD.

    On second thought, yes it does get better with the topping of: The "New Christian Paradigm"? Wow -- move over Great Commission and this business of going therefore and making disciples. That is so 1st century.....

    *Formulation borrowed from a Mark Steyn comment on an Obama speech

    1. Jake Meador is obviously a denizen of the Benedict Option "deep state".

    2. Jake Meador hopes that if he sticks the sucker pad atop his head to the belly of a much bigger fish like Dreher, there will always be scraps, and he'll never have to work in an orange apron alongside a retiree named Earl sorting turnbuckles.

    3. Why not just read all the writers that Jake Meador cites and skip this late addition to the whole pile of non-alarmism? You could probably read it all free online or pick up hard copies at an estate sale of a newly deceased Dutch reformed preacher.

  2. More snow

    But that’s not what my book says! The “Dark Age” is an allusion to the remarks of both Alasdair MacIntyre and Pope Benedict XVI, who likened our own time to the fall of the Roman Empire in the West. Neither one of them was talking about same-sex marriage. They were talking about the spiritual acedia and social fragmentation overtaking the West. Same-sex marriage is a part of the whole, but is by no means the whole. I thought I was pretty clear about that in The Benedict Option. For Christians, as I attempted to say in the book, the potential for persecution is real, but the far greater threat now is the loss of the faith — and that is not something outsiders are doing to us, but that we are doing to ourselves.


    Anyway, let me repeat: the thrust of the book is not about persecution, but about the loss of Christianity. It’s not a book about how to resist Robespierre as much as it is a book about how to keep your kids and your church from turning into Rachel Held Evans, which would be a precursor to losing the faith entirely.

    but but

    Given Derher’s constant knocking of Evans’ assumption that Dreher has a persecution complex, I’m rather surprised at the lack of introspection on Dreher’s part regarding how his concluding paragraph might look:

    "I’m not worried about what Rachel Held Evans has to say about The Benedict Option, though if she actually reads it one day, it would be interesting to see if she still stands by her erroneous prejudices. No, what I’m worried about is that far in the future, should the police come looking for dissident orthodox Christians hiding out from state persecution, the Rachel Held Evanses of the world will point helpfully and patriotically, and say, 'They’re in the basement, officer.'"

    Yes, you read that right. Dreher fantasizes about a future in which orthodox Christians are forced to go into hiding from the police, and suggests that in this scenario individuals like Rachel Held Evans would turn them over to the authorities. This is how Dreher ends a post spent criticizing Evans for (he says) falsely assuming that the Benedict Option is the result of a Christian persecution complex.

    Doggoneit, bunkie, when you go to up and write the whole brand new and improved Tide Christian paradigm all by your very own BA from the LSU J-School lonesome, you sure as shootin' better write it right so that everyone on God's green earth who reads it understands exactly what you mean.

    That's if you want to call yourself a writer.

    But, then, of course there's HVAC. Everybody needs a good HVAC man. Can't outsource it to China. It's gonna get hot, and it's gonna get cold, and sooner or later everyone's gonna need the HVAC fixed. Maybe even a new one. With a real high SEER.

    Could be you, Rod. Just sayin'.

    1. Everybody needs a good HVAC man

      While it certainly would have made his daddy proud, I really can't see Rod (or any of his peanut gallery for that matter) doing something so, you know, practical. I have some friends in the HVAC business and there is a lot of dust involved; that would send Rod the house kitty straight to the ER

      Plus when you see "Rod Dreher" and "man" in the same sentence its usually qualified by a phrase like "less than a", "not much of a", "wishes he was a", etc.

      -Anonymous Maximus

  3. And if Dreher had any introspection, he'd ask himself about what it is in his writing that causes so many literate readers of his work to keep missing the point.

    1. As if Brooks' lesson in humility for Dreher assuming Brooks would be his patron for life weren't enough, the image caption accompanying Kathryn Lopez' interview today with Dreher in NR reads "Headshot courtesy of Rob Dreher". How soon they forget.

      Sometimes, Rob, God just decides it's gonna snow.

    2. The problem is there is no point to Rod's writing; it's just random thoughts on quotes from real writers who he thinks he can name drop to add gravitas to his undergrad level musings.

      A few months back he actually chastised a commenter in a NFR beginning with "Remember your MacIntyre...." This would, of course be the same MacIntyre who wrote " We are waiting not for a Godot, but for another, doubtless very different,
      St. Benedict" which Rod missed the point of entirely and read as a call to embrace the old, and very same, Benedict. Because a new Benedict wound't already have a Rule that Rod could crib from.

      -Anonymous Maximus

  4. More more snow

    Am I piling on? I worry at times I might be piling on. I have decided that this won't be regarded as one of those times, but at some other time in the future do warn me if I seem to be piling on.

    So here is where we have now arrived: the professional writer who has invented and now finally published his own self-proclaimed strategic "handbook" for "the new Christian paradigm" has just now proclaimed that his Benedict Option is...something one either "gets" or does not "get".

    Hmmm. What other things might similarly fall into this random category of something one either "gets" or "doesn't get"?

    - Ear gauges. I don't "get" ear gauges, but apparently some do.

    - The I Ching. I don't "get" the I Ching, but apparently some do.

    - Gender fluidity. Nope. Don't get that at all.

    Protip, Rob: if your "new paradigm" for Christians is no more than something one randomly either "gets" or doesn't "get", like the latest tween argot, it's, um, not really a paradigm. It's, at best, your opinion of the moment, probably one still looking forward to its adolescence.

    * * *

    On the David Brooks post one Potato points out

    "Potato says:
    March 14, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”

    That belief is the enemy of true religion.

    Well, not really, because everyone must first exercise that liberty to choose which religion to which one must submit.

    The world is full of bishops, partriarchs, imams, medicine men, Hindu priests and others who clamor for our allegiance. They are all very certain (or claim to be certain) that they are right, and all the others are wrong to some degree or other. In this country we have the guaranteed right to pick the one we like.

    Would all the orthodox Christians here prefer a regime which picks one for you, and enforces that pick by force? They’d like it I suppose if the choice fell on their particular flavor of Christianity. If the State decreed that we all have to be Muslims, not so much.

    I just don’t see that the individual freedom to make that choice is “the enemy of true religion.”"

    Like, well, the liberty to be, first a Methodist, then an atheist, then a Catholic, then Russian Orthodox, now...what? Generic pan-small-o-orthodox Christian, the better to appeal to the optimum number across the Internet?

    Rather than "the new Christian paradigm", I'm getting the feeling that what unbiased readers of Rob's new BO book are discovering is his current, idiosyncratic psychological paradigm for the world he finds himself in at 50.

    One that contains the liberties that align best with Rob's personal lifestyle paradigm.

    And you out there! You better hope you're in one of the boxes Rob likes! Especially if you hope to call yourself a Christian!

    Or you might be tagged as someone that doesn't "get it"!

    And then who would you eat your lunch with?

    1. LOL!

      After I posted this, Rob changed "getting" in his post title to "understanding". But the original URL still reads "getting".

      Our Christian paradigmer.

    2. All Rod's "books" are this kind of narcisist/solopsist BS. His book about his dead sister was really all about him, and why everyone in his hometown, including his own family, don't like him. But then God decided that Rod, who, coincidentally, wanted to return to that town, should return to that town. His previous "Crunchy Con" book was an attempt to square the circle of big city hedonism, which is where he was at at that time (ie before God "called him home" back to East Podunk), with whatever brand of conservachristian bullshit he happened to purport to believe in at then. "How Dante Can Save Your Life" was really all about how
      Dante "saved" Rod's life from mono and ennui. It is no more about the real Dante, the historical person or the author, than it was about the Man in the Moon. Rod's understanding of Dante, of his historical circumstances, of medieval and renaissance Florence and Italy, of its politics and society, of Ghibelines and Geulfs, of theology, and so on, is non existent. Rod: Dante believed in God, Dante good. At best, Rod looked at some pictures of "Dante's Inferno" and got a hard on for the torture porn.

      Now that Rod is nicely settled back in East Podunk, Dante has "saved" his life, and has bought his own miniature version of Eastern Orthodoxy to confuse his Baptist and Methodist neighbors, and his wife is home schooling his kids, far, far away from all those libs he used to hang out with back in the big city, well, waddayaknow, just that kind of lifestyle is what God wants for all his good little Christians.

      In a year or two Rod will probably get a different bug up his ass. Then it will be some other saint or Catholic writer who "saves" his life, or provides the model for the "new paradigm" or "option" or whatever.

      But, plus ca change, etc, you can bet the main point will be that such and such a thing happened to Rod, or occurred to Rod, or presented itself as an opportunity to grift to Rod, and so that thing is now The Big Thing, and the thing that everyone else needs to glom onto as well.

      And keep those royalty checks a'comin'.

    3. Top Ten Quotes from Rod Dreher’s The Benedict Option

      March 14, 2017 by Red Zimmerman

      1. A crisis equals opportunity. . .

      From Ch 1: The Great Flood

      2. . . . but pray that it’s not too late

      From Ch 2: The Roots of the Crisis

      3. Don’t only tear down; build something new

      From Ch 3: A Rule for Living

      4. Power can be made perfect in weakness

      From Ch 4: A New Kind of Christian Politics

      5. Beauty is more convincing and converting than intellect

      The first Christians gained converts not because their arguments were better than those of the pagans but because people saw in them and their communities something good and beautiful – and they wanted it. This led them to the Truth.

      [NFK: Dreher converted to Catholicism because of the beauty of Chartres; thus this is now a Universal Truth. -KH]

      From Ch 5: A Church For All Seasons

      6. We’ll need each other more than ever

      From Ch 6: The Idea of a Christian Village

      7. Rediscover discipline and temperance – in all things

      From Ch 9: Eros and the New Christian Counterculture

      8. Don’t succumb to the lure of new technologies. . .

      From Ch 10: Man and the Machine

      9. . . . rather, rediscover old ones

      From Ch 10: Man and the Machine

      10. The Benedict Option can provide a roadmap forward to a new humanity

      From Ch 10: Man and the Machine

  5. Sadly, I think this book might actually sell well -- assuming it's not Rod's usual overwritten swill. Too many people are looking for noble-sounding panaceas.

    1. Diane, it will sell well to all for whom being able to talk about it chapter by chapter will be worth more than the cover price, and it will sell well to all those church book clubs headed by someone able to command that the club purchase it.

      And it will sell unpredictably to anyone desperate or foolish enough to believe the secret sauce to solve modernity might be contained in a book written by Rod Dreher.

      And it will sell unpredictably to any able to keep "this provocative idea, the Benedict Option" alive and kicking amongst other similar provocative idea kickers.

      And, after that - like the original pressing from its template, Crunchy Cons - it will hit the remainder tables, probably before December, 2018.

      There is simply only so much one can do with a purely formal marketing concept devoid of content of its own.

    2. Judging from the number of readers that don't "get" the point of it, the book sounds to be exactly Rod's overwritten swill. Probably the usual style of Dreher telling-rather-than-showing.

      I'll join Keith's prediction. After all, his previous book was on the critical topic of how to save your life, and it rapidly disappeared into irrelevance. No doubt this screed on how to save civilization will follow the same path.

      P.S. I guess one of us here will have to "take one for the team" and read this thing. I'm busily in the midst of a Western right now, but maybe I'll rethink once all the buffalo have been skinned....

    3. Pik, the main reason I predict that the BO book will fade rapidly is that for other than those who believe in a silver bullet and look for one in the book, the rictus grin of the BO book's effective message is not buried that deeply and will surface and break through the skin rather rapidly.

      It may be one thing for Dante to save Rod Dreher's life, but the BO book is Dreher's explicit assumption that he's the one to save our souls by telling us how to be the better Christians we just aren't yet by his standards.

      That's the message of the BO: everyone had better start being better Christians, tout de suite.

      And who defines better Christians? Why, Rod Dreher does; he's the template; he's got this down, brothers and sisters, and now he'll share it with you for the low, low price of his book.

      And not only will he share it, but he'll damn us all to the Dark Ages if we don't obey his commands to follow it.

      It's one thing to be told to shape up by one's priest or pastor; that's what they're there for.

      It's quite another to not only be told the same thing by a glib, if popular, neurotic blogger but in the same breath to be told that one's priests and pastors themselves don't measure up to the glib, neurotic blogger's (unaudited) personal lifestyle standards.

      So, at the end of the day, it rapidly becomes readily apparent to all but the most smitten that the BO is ultimately nothing more than the Prophet Rod Dreher's Judgement on The Age He Lives In and the Nasty Seculars and Those Other Church People He Has to Put Up With from The Standpoint of His Wisdom at 50.

      I predict the talking about the BO book will actually far exceed the buying and reading of it, even if Dreger rebukes people - rebuke! - for talking about a book they haven't bought and read yet, and now that the publication date has come and gone, the talking itself will fall off. Life is just too short.

  6. Lol!! I believe you. And "secret sauce" cracked me up. You've been missed, Keith.

  7. Did you see this post today? I bet St. Benedict would be so proud.http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/view-from-your-table-460/

    1. Nothing says Dreher like drinking cru burgundy rather than vin ordinaire with a peasant dish like cassoulet.

      Look at me
      Look at me
      Look at me

      -Anonymous Maximus

    2. Here's THE question:
      How many posts will simply be deleted? That bottle of wine in a restaurant will be $100+ There's lenten discipline for ya. The Orthodox understanding of "feast" day is radically different from a Catholic one, especially in lent. Will any of his readers point this out? And so on and so forth. It contains the veneer of BO piety but the roots of hypocrisy. I hope we evenagelicals reject this trash.

  8. The “Benedict Option” Puzzles a Benedictine

    OTOH, the monks of Norcia are on board with the BO. I wonder why. Oh:

    Hey Dallas! Help The Norcia Monks

    "This was announced from Norcia today" LOL. Announced from Norcia. Hmmm...does that mean the monks of Norcia thought this up all by themselves? With no help from Sentinel Press or Rod's publicist? Or, like Syrian orphan girls, were they simply made an offer they couldn't refuse?

  9. But if you get a bug up your ass, and are prolific and hard working, you can make so much money. Millions. And others will be nasty and say mean things, but who cares? You can enjoy the good life and your children will benefit. Meanwhile, the people who think they are so much smarter and better just have pathetic little blogs that make zero dollars.

  10. The most disturbing thing about the launch of Dreher's book, however, isn't Dreher or his book themselves, though. It's cant like this:

    “The Benedict Option,” is already the most discussed and most important religious book of the decade.

    Even discounting the fact that Brooks is an in-house intellectual poofter of the highest order, this is a breathtaking abandonment of perspective by the community itself for which and into which Dreher's book is being offered.

    To describe a repurposing of the Crunchy Cons template to now collect up religious communities instead ("How many striped animals can we name, Amy? That's right, a tiger, a bongo, a zebra, a numbat - they're all alike!") as "The most important religious book of the decade" is to have become unmoored from the possibility of perspective itself and to have instead become marooned in the fevered interior of one's own mind.

    This is the definition of post-Christian Homo novus: the audience for Dreher's book itself defines that set "post-Christian America".

    In a sentence, it will never be possible for a blogger with only a J-school bachelor's degree from a Southern party school and a penchant for peregrinating among denominations according to whether he finds the temperature of their soups to be too hot, too cold, or just right at any given moment to ever write "the most important religious book of the decade", any more than it would ever be possible for Keith the money blogger at EQE to produce "the most important nuclear reactor design of the decade".

    The possibility itself is absent.

    What does this suggest to us? That those anticipating finding "the most important religious book of the decade" as a passing Amazon offering have already voluntarily compromised themselves to the point that such easily available panaceas, as Diane so astutely first pointed out will do just fine.

    This isn't the barbarians storming the gates of their religious liberty. This is that population itself having voluntarily abandoned its liberty to be responsibly discerning about its own religious awareness and rooting in order that a passing mac 'n cheese vendor might comfort them with an opportunistic tummy offering.

    Might as well sign up for some nitrogen-filled tires, rustproofing, and an interior protection package while they're at it.

    1. Ooops - that was supposed to be "Keith the monkey blogger" - not money blogger.

    2. ...the most discussed and important religious book of the decade...

      I wouldn't think it would count as "most discussed" when the one doing the lion's share of the discussing is the author himself.
      But what do I know?

      On "most important", I await to learn how David Brooks changes his life in response to the BO book. Or how any of those doing all that discussin' about the book change their lives as a result. My guess is that, among the (pseudo-)intellectual crowd, this book is the most important because it is the most discussed among themselves in their crowd. I refer to Thomas Sowell's Intellectuals and Society in that regard.

      No, the most important religious books are those that cause people to change their lives for the better, becoming closer to God. If the BO book does that, well then God bless Dreher. But for the BO book to have done that already, on this Day #3 of its release, is simply hype.

  11. https://www.cardus.ca/comment/article/5039/the-benedict-option-or-the-augustinian-call/

    1. And, naturally, our Passive-Aggressive Prophet of Pusillanimity slaps back at Jamie Smith through a dependaby anonymous voice, like a ventriloquist.

      Oh, for sure, this sort of leadership will rally the faithful nationwide!

  12. Whoomp! There it is!