Saturday, May 16, 2015

Rod Dreher's Benedict Option™: the blue pill of world-aversion

Rod Dreher's Benedict Option™ is your response to the challenges facing Christianity if you've become grumpy and world-averse, not because of  "Low T" (No, really, he tells you himself, and see the beard? He's a lumberjack), but because you share the traits and values of a latent autistic-spectrum middle-aged man:

I told my wife the other day that as I’ve aged this last few years (I’m 48), I have seen latent autistic-spectrum tendencies within myself manifest more acutely. The other day I went into a restaurant in town to pick up some take-out food, and didn’t realize till I walked out how strangely I had behaved. I kept my eyes on my smartphone as I walked in, and barely looked up the whole time I sat at the counter and waited. I didn’t want to meet anybody’s gaze, because … why? Why was I so anxious?

This is happening more and more. I used to be very social, but I find now that solitude is what I crave most of all. I don’t think I’m seeking solitude from a position of strength, but from a position of weakness. I find it increasingly exhausting to be out and about, and I’m not sure why. I know I fought depression a couple of years ago, but I don’t think that’s what this is. You know what I think it is? Living most of my life online.

While we here at EQE may have been the first to point out that the ontology of Rod Dreher's Benedict Option™ perfectly mirrors and recapitulates his peculiar psychology - Rod Dreher's Benedict Option™ is nothing more or less than a visionary world 3D-printed from Rod Dreher's mind - we are hardly the only ones. Commenters on his own blog are saying the same thing to his face:

But I have to ask this, perhaps as the devil’s advocate. Is it possible that this aspect of your inner life is also partially behind your advocacy of the Benedict Option? I personally have always been attracted to the notion of a life of study and contemplation with like-minded fellows, cut off from the larger outer world which is going to hell in a handbasket, much as I imagine the monasteries of Europe functioned as the Dark Ages came crashing down upon the carcass of the Roman Empire. As appealing as I find this—I would love to spend time boning up on Latin and Greek—I always run up against the wall of the Gospels. As far as I can tell, Jesus called upon his followers to go forth and engage with the world, not withdraw from it, even in times of persecution—turning the other cheek and all that. We are supposed to be busy loving our neighbors, who are essentially defined as those as far removed from us as possible in society. How does something so fundamental become reconciled with the Benedict Option? And perhaps your personal inclination to live “not in the real world”?

However, if you're a woman in one of Rod's communes of petulant retreat, here's how you can probably expect to be treated if you don't tread the prescribed line:

amanda says:
May 15, 2015 at 6:23 pm

“… but I honestly don’t know if it will come down to actual persecution,…”

In Para 1 you are qualifying your persuecution …


“Or, less kindly, it’s about telling the unwilling woman to lay back and enjoy it, because it’s really not so bad once you get used to it.”

… Para 4, you are comparing your situation to being raped.

Something very odd and insulting happened here.

[nfr: my, what a delicate flower. If you read in the newspaper someone accusing big business of "raping the environment," do you fall to pieces? -- rd]

The whole point of pursuing Christian religious liberty is to achieve Christian religious liberty, not to end up in a snark prison ruled by self-appointed cult patriarchs like Rod Dreher.

If you no choice but to share the traits and values of a grumpy, petulant, misogynistic latent autistic-spectrum middle-aged man, God bless you and keep you, and best of luck following the leadership of someone who's latest book on Dante is about the dark wood of consequences he found himself in when he tried to retreat to his home town and conduct a trial run of his Benedict Option™ among his family and friends, the people closest to him and who know him best.

However, if you don't share or can overcome those stunting traits which have led Rod Dreher on a spectacular career journey of bad reasoning and even worse choices, why not choose the Red Pill of reality instead?

Instead of the Blue Pill of Rod Dreher's solipsistic, latent-autistic Benedict Option™, choose the Red Pill instead, the Murray Option.

After all, our response to the challenges faced by Christians today should actually lead us to true religious liberty - and sooner, not later. It's not supposed to be just one more thing about the failing ways in which a Rod Dreher tries to apprehend the real world.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Solomon on the Benedict Option

It is said that many wise sayings have been attributed to Solomon when the original author is unknown. And so it is in this case, when Solomon comments insightfully on the Benedict Option while choosing to remain anonymous:

So, Christians, either you marinate in Rod's BO, or you have no future. Accept Rod, the author of the "How the World Wronged Rod Dreher" series, as your Highmost Patriarch, or the meanies on Twitter will tweet at you so often that you'll be forced to buy a cupcake from a gay person. Or something even more horrifying. Deeply inhale his BO, the BO of Truth! Only Rod's BO will repel the gays and liberal Christians enough to allow the establishment of Rod's long-prophesied New Jonestown... sorry, New Jerusalem, in which Rod will never get picked on again, and will forever be able to make fun of his family and the rubes in his hometown without being called on it (oh, and also where no one will ever mention the name "Harrison Brace", either).

Got it.

On a related note, people are complaining about his use of "apocalypse", pointing out - quite rightly - that if he has to continually explain and redefine a common word for his own uses, maybe he should just say it in a way people understand. Similarly, he should really, really coming up with a better acronym for his project than "BO". At that moment, I literally couldn't get through typing that sentence without an outburst of laughter. There has to be something else in "After Virtue" that will make him feel sufficiently philosophical. It'll give him a chance to actually read the rest of the book other than just the last page.

Harrison Brace showed up on the blog here about a year ago by the way.

This is a key point: "...if he has to continually explain and redefine a common word for his own uses, maybe he should just say it in a way people understand." Yes. Writing is supposed to be a form of communication after all, and, in my humble opinion, it can be done even in the context of 21st Century content provision. If many people continually misunderstand you then maybe you're doing it wrong.

I love "apocalypses". The best part is the commentary and analysis afterward.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

An Option to the so-called Benedict Option?

While Dreher has spilled a tanker-load of virtual ink over at his blog about his so-called eponymous "Benedict Option", he hasn't yet figured out what he means by it.  OTOH, our discussions have identified at least two salient characteristics:  it's self-promoting if not self-aggrandizing (Dreher being the "self"), and it is essentially rolling into a ball and letting others do the fighting.

But just like the question of what the Repubs in Congress are going to propose in place of Obamacare should the Supreme Court (rightly) drive a stake into Obamacare, it is a fair question to wonder whether there are any options to the utopian Dreher Bunker Option.  Only here at EQE, unlike the weak-kneed GOP leadership in Congress, we're going to try to answer that fair question.

Some time back I linked to a blurb of a new book by Charles Murray, author of Coming Apart (which I highly highly recommend) and co-author of the much-discussed The Bell Curve.  The new book is By The People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission:

In last Saturday's Wall Street Journal, Murray contributed the Saturday Essay (read the whole thing, as they say -- no paywall) in which he summarizes this promising concept. Here are a couple of pull quotes:

It was our boast that in America, unlike in any other country, you could live your life as you saw fit as long as you accorded the same liberty to everyone else.... Americans were to live under a presumption of freedom.... 

We now live under a presumption of constraint....The number of federal crimes you could commit as of 2007 (the last year they were tallied) was about 4,450, a 50% increase since just 1980.  A comparative handful of those crimes are "malum in se" -- bad in themselves.  The rest are "malum prohibitum" -- crimes because the government disapproves....

Whether we are trying to raise our children, be good stewards of our property, cooperate with our neighbors to solve local problems or practice our religious faith, the bureaucrats think they know better. And when the targets of the regulator state say they've had enough, that they will fight it in court, the bureaucrats can -- and do -- say to them, "Try that, and we'll ruin you." 

For example, see the sub-headline here :

"relatively unregulated, but that could change".  I bet it could, and I bet it will.

So what to do?  Here's his proposal:

And so my modest proposal:  Let's withhold that compliance through systematic civil disobedience. Not for all regulations, but for the pointless, stupid and tyrannical ones....

The risk in doing so, of course, is that one of the 70-odd regulatory agencies will find out what you're doing and come after you.  But there's a way around that as well:  Let's treat government as an insurable hazard, like tornadoes.

Sounds promising.

At the nudging of others (thanks!), I'm about to start reading Murray's book on the subject.  I'll drop a post here every so often during the process for comment if you are so inclined.  No, not in Dreherian canto-by-canto-Dante style so you can tell me how awesome I am.  Nor will I be fishing for a publishing deal on my book about how someone else's book helped me deal with (sorta, kinda, but not really) my peculiar problems that others caused me.  But maybe, if this makes sense, we few -- we happy few -- can find a way to take action instead of heading to the bunkers.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE (already) :  Great minds ... etc.  Pauli's contemporaneous post immediately below hits this very same point at the very same time.  This passage he quotes is right on point with the above:

...the Catholic enclaves will have to be defended by Catholic lawyers and political activists.

The reference to Catholics is because the piece quoted was written to Catholics.  But as we of course know from history and as Murray notes above, it isn't just the Catholic enclaves that will have to be defended, but the founding idea of the Nation.

UPDATE 2nd:  Thanks, Pauli, for pointing out that I omitted the title of the Murray book.  Fixed that above.

Carson Holloway on the Benedict Option

Catholics are practical people, even though we have some strange beliefs and practices. Carson Holloway provides practical advice about the Benedict Option and how the special snowflakes who live in the Benedict Option compounds will have to be protected from the wolves in our society even as the Hobbits in Tolkien's Shire were protected by his Dúnedain. Excerpt:

At the same time, I don’t see how, realistically, the Benedict option can be an option that excludes political activism for American Catholics. That activism will have to continue, for a couple of reasons.

First, Catholics will have to do what they can to help the larger society as long as they seem to have any chance of success. To take the most obvious example, Catholics cannot responsibly withdraw from politics while there is still some chance of effecting change with regard to abortion. If abortion kills innocent human beings, then Catholic cannot just shrug it off and walk away from the grubby business of politics. They will have to stay involved.

Second, I suspect that political activism will be necessary in defense of the Benedict option. Successfully living the Benedict option requires that the larger culture will leave you alone to do so. There are fairly powerful forces in the culture that would be happy to leave Catholics alone to do so. But there are also fairly powerful forces–forces of fanaticism–that won’t want to leave Catholics alone to live their lives according to their own standards. So the freedom to live the Benedict option is attainable but also in danger.

Accordingly, the Catholic enclaves will have to be defended by Catholic lawyers and political activists.

This all stands to reason for anyone who understands the history or the world and the nature of evil, which are of course inexorably linked. Some Catholics will have to opt to be sheep dogs to use Lt. Col. Dave Grossman's analogy, an analogy recently popularized by the American Sniper book and movie. These people will not have the luxury of Benedict Option-ing.

I am planning to write more extensively on just how closely the Grossman/Kyle sheepdog analogy matches Tolkien's view of goodness, evil and just warfare in his Middle Earth, mainly because it is amazing to me how many Catholics who claim to know Tolkien's philosophy on these matters utterly misunderstand it. This was evidenced in spades during the Facebook conversation I recently mentioned. But I just want to conclude now by pointing out that if things are bad enough to describe them in apocalyptic language, then how can the planned withdrawal to little enclaves and platoons be anything which can be described as strategic when you are basically broadcasting this intention where your enemy can hear you loud and clear? Or, well, maybe I'm not being invited to all the clandestine planning meetings where they discuss secret tunnel entrances, etc. That's probably it.

Rod Dreher's Benedict Option™: Christianity's Don Draper in action

Because, as Pauli and Pikkumatti have each just amply demonstrated above, the one thing Rod Dreher's Benedict Option™ simply cannot be about logically is the defense and preservation of traditional Christianity in turbulent times, at the end of the day what is it?

Pure, unadulterated Madison Avenue, baby, where the Mad Man and his product are one and the same

Let's understand a reality at the outset. Like the very best whores, who don't present themselves as whores at all but as that woman you've been waiting for all your life (maybe a little bit of Mom, maybe a little of the Girl Next Door, and just enough of that one you really should have asked out but didn't but next time if there is one you betcha), the real Don Drapers of the world don't look or act like Don Drapers. They don't look like this:

That's what a TV show about a Don Draper Don Draper looks like.

Instead, a real Don Draper looks like this:

Awwww?!?! Like he just found a puppy! To the insecure, elderly lady who would easily drop kick the phone when the Jamaican scammer calls, this looks like what the aging, underutilized bosom has been waiting its whole life to embrace with a big old hug. What a sugar lump! Book ordered!

Similarly with other unfortunates of all stripes, from the revengeless nerd to the tenureless adjunct professor, this is the Online Friend, more important than they are, to be sure, but Not Too Good to like them. And to want to tell their story. And show them how to be saved.

Puppy Lump above is popularly known as a writer, occasionally mistakenly referred to as a journalist, but what he has in fact been for most of his career is a Don Draper, a packager and marketer of hopes, fears, anxieties and ideas, scavenged from others usually, but always in the service of his biggest client, himself.

His first book, Crunchy Cons, was just such a granola of disparate lifestyles and ideologies arbitrarily pulled together, slickly packaged, with a VW minibus and a Republican elephant (although Dreher has nothing but contempt for Republicans) on the cereal box cover instead of a toucan. And, of course, his breakthrough trademark brand: Crunchy Cons™.

Failing in the political counter-culture genre, he turned to the more dependable arena of bereavement: not everyone wears Birkenstocks, but everyone has family who die.

The rather foreseeable family backlash from turning his deceased sister into the next big breakfast cereal proved not to be a crisis for Don Puppy Lump, tilter at markets for himself, but another breakthrough opportunity: Ecce Puppy Lump, behold the victim, unjustly scourged by his own family, betrayed by his own body, ultimately to be saved by Dante - because Dante is quite trendy right now if you didn't know, but, more importantly, because a Medieval Italian poet provides a gateway back into the marketplace for Big Ideas.

Don Puppy Lump's first charge at the Big Idea market as editor of The John Templeton Foundation's new at the time Big Ideas Online blog (since reinvented at the liberal Slate) didn't fare that well. It seems someone named "Muzhik" couldn't keep his eye on the windmill and tried to run a squirrel up a tree instead.

But now he's back, making another run at the Big Ideas market with a brand pre-registered in the public consciousness as The Benedict Option™.

No one is quite sure what The Benedict Option™ product or service actually is or will be, but we are all already well-aware of its primary quality: it is as adhesive as The Booger from Hell. If you have an idea, or if a word is so reckless as to escape your mouth, The Benedict Option™ immediately sticks to it and incorporates it into itself like an amoeba absorbing its prey.

Unfortunately for Christians, somewhere along its travels this amoeba absorbed Christianity as its driving RNA. Conglomerated with everything else this amoeboid BO has accumulated along its eating tour - including not a small amount of its marketer's paranoid apocalyptic secular millenarianism - the Christianity of Rod Dreher's Benedict Option™ is now expressing itself genetically like this from the apocalyptically entitled Christianity in Collapse:

Again and again: these are not normal times. We can’t be about business as usual. The future of Christianity in America will be Benedictine — as in Benedict Option — or it won’t be at all.

Well, there you have it, folks. From Christ's lips through Don Puppy Lump's white board to - who knows? - Guyana and beyond.

This is how a Don Draper repackages and markets ancient Christianity in an anxiety-ridden 21st CyberCentury. Call today! Operators are standing by.

Of course, you know, you could just go to church or Mass instead.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Brother Boris on the Benedict Option: "The Church as a Purity Cult"

The Internets are truly amazing. Yesterday Tom throws out the phrase "creepy culty", which naturally reminds me of Boris the Spider. This morning I find some musings about the Benedict Option as a "purity cult" by someone calling himself Brother Boris.

I am not sure what to think about Rod Dreher. To be honest, I really don't know that much about him. I have no strong feelings either in favor of him nor against him. From what I have researched on the Internet, Dreher was raised as a Methodist. He converted to Roman Catholicism in 1993 and then to Eastern Orthodoxy in 2006.

Forgive me for being so blunt, but I do not think it is in good spiritual form for recent converts to the Orthodox faith to tell others (especially those outside of the visible Orthodox Church) how to live or to dispense ecclesiastical or spiritual advice. Dreher has been Orthodox for less than a decade. He is still taking his baby steps in Orthodoxy. He is still in the process of acquiring an Orthodox phronema (mindset). This is a process that takes many years, especially for adult converts and especially for American Orthodox converts. The Orthodox Church in the United States is exceedingly small and marginalized. Less than one-half of 1% of Americans are Orthodox.

Brother Boris then explains how he had talked to an Orthodox Bishop about his interest in the monastic life soon after his conversion, and how the Bishop advised him to go live at a monastery for three years, then come back to the United States and go to seminary, get a degree and then decide whether or not to take monastic vows. This makes sense to him now as being wise advice, but at the time he felt it was unrealistic. The insinuation is that he was impatient and wanted to start something before he knew or understood anything about it. Then he goes on:

I say all this just to caution people, especially people who are not Eastern Orthodox, to be cautious about taking spiritual advice from new converts to Eastern Orthodoxy. Our new converts often have zeal, but it is not always a zeal born of knowledge or spiritual discernment. Often it is simply the passion of the neophyte. It can also manifest itself in what political position or cause this neophyte happens to embrace. Be especially cautious about Orthodox converts who take dogmatic political positions on any issue. Remember that politics, of whatever nature, is not and never has been dogma.

Checklist time; let's see. Zeal without spiritual discernment: check, passion of the neophyte: check, dogmatic political positions: check. I admit I said a lot of dumb things when I was converting which I truly wish I could go back and do over, usually by following the advice of St. James: STFU.

Then Brother Boris delivers a warning based on the derangement of another Orthodox convert.

When I became Orthodox twenty years ago, Franky Schaeffer was all the rage. He had just published his book, Dancing Alone, and he had all the answers. He was angry, self-righteous, and he had all the answers to society's shortcoming and yours as well. He was very much a finger-pointer. Now look at him. He's nearly burned out on his own rage. I sincerely wonder now if Franky is even a Christian, let alone Orthodox. In the last youtube videos I've seen of him, he sounds so incredibly depressed and agnostic, almost bordering on being an atheist. It made me wonder if he embraced Orthodoxy because he thought it was true, or because he thought it was the PERFECT Church or the PURE Church. Making the Church into a Purity Cult is always a danger to the adult convert, and perhaps part of Franky's Calvinist heritage that he never could leave fully behind.

I see a similar strain of "Purity Cult" thinking in Rod Dreher's "Benedict Option" and it concerns me. The very idea that Christians should separate themselves from the rest of society and live in intentional communities reminds me a whole lot more of Calvinist New England under the Puritans than Byzantine "symphonia" in Constantinople or Holy Russia. In addition, Dreher's rigorism concerns me, especially where he says:

The community is going to have to be the center of your life, not just something you do on Sunday.

Please don't misunderstand me. I am not advocating nominalism, casual church attendance and spiritual lukewarmness. Its Dreher's tone that concerns me. It's the tone of the fanatic. The Church, especially the Orthodox Church, has always been "here comes everybody." In Orthodoxy it is the whole village at worship, not some sectarian conventicle of the elect few and holy. Again, this seems to go back to the same theme I saw in Franky Schaeffer, the Church as a Purity Cult.

Personally I can't see Dreher ever becoming as deranged as Schaeffer, although anything is possible. Schaeffer did write books slamming his family post mortem, and he has seemed to be driven as a sort of contrarian no matter where he is as we had been discussing.

There can be no doubt, however, that Brother Boris's words are insightful written as someone who has witnessed the effects of flighty zeal without the foundation of experience and discernment.

One more observation and I'll leave the rest to readers. Brother Boris mentions Dreher's "rigorism". I would point out that it is selective rigorism as so much else is with Dreher and as I've noted before.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Answers for Kemetica

In a previous thread, our new commenter Kemetica posed a few questions:

My point was that those who oppose SSM must be very clear on what it is that they want:
Just to be allowed to dissent (e.g. a clerk doesn't have to file an SSM marriage license) because of conscience?
To be allowed to refuse gays service for arguably expressive activities (e.g. cakes and photos and flowers)?
To be allowed to reject any service to gays in any context (e.g. housing)? 
To eventually be able to ban SSM?
To eventually be able to ban domestic partnerships? 
To eventually be able to reinstitute the closet?

My answers are a bit too long to be conveyed in a comment in that thread, not to mention that the comments are taking off in a different direction from Keith's original post, so I'm answering them in this new post.

But to answer fairly, I'll need to reframe the questions differently. Actually, they fall into two separate questions.

1.  "To eventually be able to ban SSM?" 

The short answer is:  unquestionably yes.

As I discussed here, IMO and under current equal protection law, a State can have a perfectly rational basis for establishing a special status for one-woman-one-man committed relationships (i.e. marriages).  To rehash briefly, biology matters in that men and women are different in ways that complement each other -- and that complementarity not only results in procreation, but indeed has shown through history to be the basis of stable and prosperous societies.  A State can (and should) recognize the importance of these facts, as based in biology, by favoring such arrangements.

Secondly, under our constitutional system, a State may, through its duly elected legislature, choose to define marriage to extend to same sex arrangements.  I don't think they should, but under our system they can. But the electorate and their representatives ought to be permitted to work out this question one way or the other, so that those who are disappointed by the result can at least respect the process. But if the Supreme Court rules that a State cannot define marriage as one-woman-one-man, that process is taken away from the electorate -- rather than settling the question, preventing the question from being settled  See the political effects of Roe v. Wade if you don't believe me.

2.  Why should you not be compelled, under penalty of law, to offer services to those selected by the State?

On the questions about "rejecting service" and the like, your questions are framed incorrectly IMO.  What you are asking is why the State shouldn't compel any business to offer their services to those identified by the State.

Here's where I'll earn some libertarian points, maybe.  IMO, the starting point should be:  no person shall be compelled, under threat of law, to perform services to anyone who he or she do not want to, unless there is a damn good reason.

As I mentioned here, race is a damn good reason.  We fought a Civil War in which hundreds of thousands of our citizens lost their lives over this issue, and we have express constitutional amendments on this issue.  And MLK showed us why racial discrimination is contrary to reason and God's laws.

I would pose that there are few other "damn good reasons" to compel businesses, under penalty of law. Preventing discrimination based on sexual orientation falls short of a damn good reason, IMO.  And as Keith mentioned, the market and social stigma can provide excellent motivations in this regard.  Few businesses will turn away willing customers -- and if some do for illegitimate reasons as judged by the consuming public, competition will take care of the issue.

But in any case, the law should never require one to violate one's religious tenets (facilitating sin) in order to comply with the law.  We must not entertain a regime, as we have now with Obamacare and in the Indiana situation, in which the approach is to enact and enforce such a law, with the possibility that waivers or exemptions may be granted for religious reasons.  No -- a law requiring compliance by violation of religious tenets is an unjust law, and "an unjust law is no law at all" (St. Augustine).

Does this mean that a homeowner renting out a room or half of a duplex via AirBnB can choose not to rent to practicing homosexuals so as not to facilitate sin?  Of course.  Does this mean that a Muslim restaurant can require men and women to sit in separate rooms if required by their flavor of Islam?  Sorry, but it means that too.

There you go.  Have at it. Convince me of my error.

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What is Rod Dreher's Benedict Option™ like?

Question: What is Rod Dreher's Benedict Option™ like?

(Answer below. Turn screen upside down to read.)

(A) A monastery

(B) The Walrus

(C) Marriage

(D) A puffin

(E) Mowing the lawn

(F) Tiny, early peas

(G) Christian families

(H) Everything, man

(I) All of the above

∀usʍǝɹ: (I)

Monday, May 11, 2015

Martyrdom Is Not Optional

Martyrdom is not optional, but it comes in several colors.

The word "martyr" is Greek for witness. The early Christians gave witness to Christ through their death, hence they were honored with the title of Martyr. But every Christian has to give witness; that's why Pope Francis recently said this:

He encouraged Christians to turn to the Holy Spirit to remind them of Jesus' words, and guide them in preparing to be witnesses “with small every day martyrdoms, or with a great martyrdom, according to God’s will.”

So, red or white. But not both. And unlike wine choices, God makes the call.

When I first read this I thought "Huh. This fits in with something Diane and I were discussing on her Facebook page. So the Pope must want everyone to read my blog!" Actually I didn't really think that last thing. But one of Diane's friends wrote something which I thought was pretty good:

The problem with the Benedict Option (whatever it may mean as a withdrawal from general society in order to preserve the Church and the culture and society that springs forth from Her) is that it is a fundamentally incorrect analogy to apply to the societal problems of post-Christian cultures.

The Benedict(ine) option, and monasticism in general, developed as a *response* to the CHRISTIANIZATION of culture. No longer able to pursue a martyrdom of blood, Christians pursued spiritual martyrdom alone, in the desert, and eventually, with other ascetics in community. Monasticism started in Egypt, and eventually spread throughout Christendom. It did not develop as a result of the loss of faith, nor did it develop as a response to the fall of Roman civilization.

Just as the Church within a society that has become Christian creates monasticism, likewise the Church will no longer produce many monastics within a society that de-Christianizes. Small parishes, house churches, and underground churches will be the places that the faith survives, and saints are made. Monasticism will become less and less necessary, because martyrdom and ascetic challenges will no longer have to be sought out in order to be found.

Benedictine monasteries, of course, did thrive, survive and preserve culture in a West being ravaged by Pagan invasions and piracy, but to try to apply the lessons learned from "Paganism vs Christianity" to "Christianity vs post-Christianity" is to fundamentally misunderstand what post-Christianity *actually* is, how it relates to Christianity, and how it will need to be endured.

The fundamental difference, of course, is that Pagans can be converted.

"Christians and Pagans had much more in common with each other than either has with a post-Christian. The gap between those who worship different gods is not so wide as that between those who worship and those who do not…” - C.S. Lewis

The Church will return to something closer to what She was in the earliest days. Branding it the "Benedict(ine) Option" may make the future more palatable for some Christians, and it's got a nice ring to it, but as a concept it is essentially, well, pointless.

If the person who authored this wants attribution I can provide it, but I'm starting off by just stating that it didn't originate with me. I think he makes a strong argument for why there is nothing really Benedictine or monastic about this thing we keep hearing about called the Benedict Option. In fact, the very absence of any type of rhyme or reason—never mind a rule—in the chaotic descriptions of the Benedict Option by those who claim to favor it demonstrates it's dissimilarity to anything Benedictine. They are called Orders for a reason, you know.

We've pointed this out again and again but I am convinced there is no reason to stop. This is reinforced constantly; there were other people chiming in on the thread who were obviously serious, educated Catholics but who were utterly unable to explain what was even meant by the Benedict Option. They did, however, display some classic behaviors of people who are losing an argument:
  1. The first reflex was to call Diane a "hater". So the conclusion is that Diane hates the Benedict Option because Dreher preaches it rather than considering that maybe Diane has contempt for Dreher because ideas for which he is responsible—like the Benedict Option—are so incoherent and cockamamie. *
  2. Then there was a classic line from the Benedict Option defenders: "If you've home-schooled your children then you've used the Benedict Option." Wow, so that makes me an idiot or a hypocrite or both for ever criticizing the Benedict Option since I also home-schooled my kids at one point. I might as well be saying "hands off my medicare!" It's also sort of daunting to realize that Adam and Eve, Noah and many other Bible personages were practicing the Benedict Option thousands of years before the birth of St. Benedict. I guess they kind of got us there.
  3. Then I was accused of possessing a "deep ignorance of what the Benedict Option is" because I pointed out that whenever someone mentions some example of Christian virtuous practice the Benedict Option people claim it and say "Yeah, Benedict Option! Benedict Option!" Because, well, they do—see point number 2. But actually I won't doubt my ignorance about something that no one can define.
  4. Then Diane tried to order up a short overview summary of the Benedict Option and was told that there was no such thing since the Benedict Option is "merely an ongoing conversation among Christians about strategies for withdrawal from an increasingly hostile liberal society and state." So while it might be that coming up with a explanation isn't too difficult a task for their communication skills, it is too condescending an undertaking for their powerful minds.

Diane can provide other highlights from the exchange. Others added remarks which were insightful and, in Maclin Horton's case, borne out by experience. There is still the need to correct a knee-jerk proposal of the nebulous Benedict Option as a panacea in holier-than-thou circles and possibly in more sincere circles.

The man who wrote the passage I first quoted later stated this: "Saints have been made in many places throughout history - but arguably the majority have come from the ranks of the monastics since Constantine." Well, that's where people were paying attention the most—that's where they were looking for saints. It is well to familiarize one's self with a 1988 writing by JP II titled Christifidelis Laici which undertakes the hard task of describing "The Vocation and the Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World." It's an actual blue-print to follow. Once you read it you realize that you don't need a "Benedict Option".

* - Yes, I know who Alasdair MacIntyre is. That was one of the questions thrown at me. But Googling Benedict Option produces one name over and over again and it isn't MacIntyre's.

Apparently, now "we" will be fighting the gays for Rod Dreher's religious liberty

while he reclines in the Cozy Corner with a Calvados and coffee.

As they say, "let's you and him fight". Remember, this is the feckless boy-child still wailing into his 40's about teachers not doing his fighting for him in high school.

Just today, here, we had a discussion of why Dreher's provocative lunacies matter. Here is a prime example of classically provocative Dreher imbecility: there are no "gay rights" - only constitutional rights for all - and "religious liberty" is available to all who will assert it; but unfortunately unavailable to those like Rod Dreher who can't be bothered to assert it himself.

By Dreher's distorting and subsuming the pursuit of religious liberty by any who would have it within his own personal and cynical effort to drive hits to the blog he's paid to write, Dreher knowingly sells out the very social conservatives he so piously appoints himself spokesman for.

This, Kemetica, is why I continuously criticize him, because he persists as a septic boil on the body politic and particularly on the corpus of those social conservatives he attempts to traffic in.