Saturday, April 25, 2015

Caption this photo

I imagine this might be what Helen of Troy's little sister would look like if held for ransom at the court of PeeWee Herman, but that's just me, and because I've enjoyed Mollie Hemingway's writing to date.

Let this be a warning to all: a "selfie" is anything but. It captures everything in its gaping optical maw, Federalist princesses, the defiled corpses of innocent oysters, anything and everything, and yokes them to its agenda of the moment for eternity

But now it's your turn. Write the caption of what this photo is saying to you.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Some additional perspective on General Rod Dreher and his Benedict Option™

While attorney and Iraqi War vet David French and professional foodie Rod Dreher debate the sense of the latter's Benedict Option™, let's not forget that currently self-appointing General of his Benedict Option™ (GBO) Dreher already has a book just freshly out, not the one he is using this debate to generate future publisher interest in, of course, but rather his previous, already written Dante book.

What, you might ask, is this Dante book about?

As followers of Dreher's blog over the course of his developing and promoting the Dante book only know too well, the book is about how Dante saved Dreher from the "dark wood" of depression and allegedly stress-induced mononucleosis caused by his family - those who know him best - not sharing his own vision of himself. His wife finally tired of his taking to his bed to sleep interminably and demanded he get professional psychological help.

Let this settle in for a moment. The general who is proposing to develop and lead us through our culture war campaign was driven to his fainting couch by his in-laws not liking him the way he wanted and ultimately booted from it by his long-suffering wife.

Is the phrase "folds like an origami under pressure" really adequate to describe this sort of petal-like character in a would-be leader of any sort of war?

And when contemplating the sympathy-sucking milquetoast depressive Rod Dreher of the Dante book versus the guerrilla general-to-be Rod Dreher of his Benedict Option™, the question obviously forces itself upon us: which, if either, is even the real Rod Dreher?

But, hey, I say follow him as far as the parking lot, at least.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Why Rod Dreher's Benedict Option is a capitulation for Christian conservatives

Rod Dreher, Christian conservatism's Marshall Pétain, writes in his post The LGBT vs. Orthodox Christianity War

My friend Ryan Booth speaks my mind on this on his FB page:

That’s part of why I resigned from the Republican State Central Committee and am planning to enroll in seminary.

In other words, he's electing the still-unemployable-Charles-S.-Featherstone-Option. Has Dreher's protege Featherstone found a job yet? If and when he does I'll be happy to update this.

In the meantime, those voluntary Christian unemployables among us are going to need a safety net. What might be another word for such a thing...oh: a big government welfare state. And I'll bet there would even be politicians willing to help out voluntarily unemployable seminarians with extra netting in exchange for their votes.

You go, Ryan. Go to your room like a teenager, shut the door, stamp your feet, and say, "You just wait, mean Mom and Dad. One day you'll get yours. Then I'll come out and it will all be mine."

Except, well, until they (oops, looks now like that won't include you, Ryan) change the Constitution to make the seminaries the levers of government power, then the only people passing laws and filling judiciaries will be the non-Ryan evil Moms and Dads. Who may legislate and vote, while Ryan and Rod hide out in their teenage rooms, to change the tax status of seminaries, making them economically untenable entirely. Or in their absence legislate and vote on any number of other anti-Christian things.

And, hey, get this: the only culture sure to collapse by the voluntary resignation of Christians from the public square is Christian culture. Or do you subscribe to the psychotic delusion that anti-Christians will lovingly maintain Christian enclaves among them at their own expense like little tanks of sea monkeys?

To put this in some perspective, just try to imagine an Islamic Benedict Option:

"Verily, my brothers and sisters, even though we are a dominating presence there, I fear all our lands of the Levant as well as Europe and even Dearborn, MI will inevitably be lost to the Infidel. I know, who are you to believe? Me? Or your lying eyes? Trust me, not your lying eyes. All is lost. Let us be happy in our prayers and in our delicious hummus. By the way, my new book, The Hummus Option, will be available from Monday."

But maybe I'm being too short and too cruel and taking Ryan out of context. The Facebook page Dreher excerpts ends

And we can’t show people the life-changing power of Christ if we’re fully enmeshed in the culture. If our lives don’t look any different than those of non-Christians, then why would anyone decide to become a Christian?

Gee, I don't know. Why would anyone decide to become a Christian? Anybody know? Maybe if we all wore Mohawks (you, too, Diane) even more people would want to celebrate us and and join us. Because of our cool differentness.

Dreher migrated out of political arguments in his blogging into ultimately now this pseudoreligious I Am the Eggman Generic Mahdi Tune In Turn On Drop Out Maharishi guru babblelogue of his Benedict Option because, frankly, cogent, coherent political arguments are harder to make than it is to play the mystical neo-Benedictine guru to the easily cowed and easily suggestible types who get approvingly "curated" into his blog.

The problem is that the fantasies of developmentally-arrested adolescents* like Rod always tacitly assume that the behavior of Mom and Dad will remain the same, unchanging indulgent supportiveness they've always known while they're petulantly sulking in their room, that they won't crack the door and find out, dang!, Mom and Dad have said good riddance to Rod and Ryan, sold the house, and moved to Fiji with the proceeds, leaving R & R faced with flipping a coin to determine who will have to kill little Skippy the hamster with his bare hands if they're going to eat that night.

I know, I know. The narrative Dreher's surfing is that the Benedict Option he has now appropriated as his own supposedly has a legitimate and venerable pedigree in Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue.

“We are not waiting for Godot, but for another—doubtless very different—St. Benedict.”

Read all of Goerke just to scratch the surface of the difficulties of translating that sort of romantic academic apocalypticism into practical action for everyday people. For example, in a recent post, The Accidental Benedict Option, Dreher had originally concluded with

"I’m taking my stand there. I have made more progress towards healing and wholeness in the past two years at that mission than at any time in my life. St. John the Theologian Mission really is a “school for conversion,” to use St. Benedict’s phrase from his Rule. Without even knowing what we were doing, and by following standard Orthodox liturgical and spiritual practices, we have build a community institution that, in my view, keeps its members focused on what the church is for.

If you’re Orthodox or Orthodox-seeking, and looking for a solid parish in rural America for Benedict Option reasons, come see us."

When updating it, Dreher removed that last paragraph, and for practical good reason: how many people can really move to a rural parish in south Louisiana before it becomes exactly like the place they're fleeing? We can think of this as the Tragedy of the Benedict Commons.

And, as I pointed out previously here, implicit at the heart of Rod Dreher's Benedict option is the savage misanthropy of the petulant, passive-aggressive adolescent ("Oh, I wish a post-Enlightenment apocalyptic breakdown would just wipe them all out!"):

 At some point on our journey through the logic of the Benedict Option we really do have to ask: if all society but the cells of the Benedict Optioneers themselves collapses into chaos and barbarism, that is, into that seed bed now fertile enough for the Benedict Optioneer to finally re-emerge - what sort of Christian does that leave the Benedict Optioneer being himself - if any sort at all? Everyone else finally in misery, so he can finally triumph. Exactly what sort of Christian is that?

Until then, who wants to juggle the emperorography of presenting himself as that another—doubtless very different—St. Benedict?

Why, probably someone who has this as the formative, enduring focus of his world view:

*When I think about the bullying I endured in high school, the most indelible image on my mind is being pinned to the floor and tortured in a hotel room on a school trip, and the two adult women chaperones in the room literally stepping over me, lying there screaming for them to help me, as they left the hotel room.

Like the special snowflakes of academia, all Rod Dreher wants is some other, adult to provide a safe place for him where he can be whatever he wants to be, without criticism and without fear of anyone being mean to him. But to render that psychological obsession objectively legitimate, he needs you to believe in and create a functional Benedict Option for him - so he can then write a book about it and sell it back to you.

To cut to the chase, for the adults reading, here's our real Option, or at least the non-emperorographic basalt bedrock upon which it must be built: the Constitution of the United States of America. There has never been anything like it and there probably never again will be.

There's only one problem. You can't be Christianity's or conservatism's very own passive-aggressive special snowflake like Rod Dreher or Ryan Booth and operate it. It just won't work for invertebrates of that sort. You have to assert your rights under it.

Actively. Politically. Yourself.

As for "The LGBT vs. Orthodox Christianity War"? Unless you're a socially and politically passive Christian conservative like Rod Dreher, perched on your hands and knees, simpering back over your shoulder in the hopes of selling a Benedict Option book based on that posture, there isn't one.

Instead, like Kevin and Crystal O'Connor of Memories Pizza you're already exercising what I'd like to call...let's see...oh, I know - The Christian Option.

Loving. Treating everybody equally, under God and under the Constitution.

Uncompromising with respect to your Christian principles. Unmovable.

Not whining, "lying there screaming for them to help me".

Selfless and generous. When other Christians come to your aid, sharing the excess with those even worse off than you, not filling your belly at Galatoire's or sucking down oysters like the Sun King.

The Christian Option. Sort of has a ring to it, doesn't it? Sort of old-timey, some might even say authentic, yet at the same time, timeless.

But, darn. Somebody beat me to it. There's already a book out about it.

UPDATE (as they say): More David French

Great pictures of Cleveland

The guys at Cleveland Aerial Media really take awesome pictures of the Cleveland, Ohio area. Check them out on flickr.

These dudes are the Drone Cam Gods.