Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Rod, dedicate your Benedict Option book proceeds to Norcia

We shall surely know Rod Dreher as a good and decent Christian man when we hear the monks of the Monastery of St. Benedict in Norcia, Italy give their public thanks to him for having donated all proceeds of his Benedict Option book to rebuild their earthquake ravaged places of worship.

Not only do the monks feature prominently in the writing of Rod's current book for sale, but in his blog posts - heavily labeled with self-promotional "Benedict Option" tags - he informs us just how heartbreaking their situation is, from

Norcia: The Basilica Is Destroyed

Benedict Option


Every Church In Norcia Is Gone

Benedict Option


And yet, with preorders, Rod Dreher is already collecting a rich revenue stream from having used the monks of Norcia as living examples of the thesis he wishes to promulgate in that very same book.

Return their Christian charity and service to you, Rod, and pledge publicly to dedicate all proceeds from The Benedict Option to the rebuilding of Norcia and its churches.

Don't just use them and discard them when you're done with them as you did with Father Matthew Harrington, the Orthodox priest late of St. John the Theologian Mission in St. Francisville, abandoned destitute, penniless and unemployed, with an expensive special needs child to care for.

Do now for the monks of Norcia what you should have done then: instead of offering superficial, lip-service prayers, show you truly mean it by digging deep into the wealth you are piling on top of your million dollar Little Way book advance with the help of a roaring bull market and a savvy financial advisor like Chris Currin:

We most certainly didn’t have a lot of money to invest when we found Chris Currin. In part because of Chris Currin’s wise stewardship of our resources, we have significantly more to invest now.

So now, Rod, when you not only have significantly more to invest but also a new river of book sale proceeds beginning to flow in into that vast lake Chris Currin is husbanding for you, invest for awhile in God's works instead of Caesar's.

Publicly pledge that you will dedicate all proceeds from The Benedict Option to the rebuilding of Norcia and its churches.

This, in turn, can only help your book sales and thus help the monks even more.

Of course, I suppose you could spend it on food at Torchy's Tacos and other delicious things, as is your habit.

Benedict Option

But maybe, just maybe, this is the moment to think beyond your belly and put your money where your mouth is.Or where it should be.

Monday, October 31, 2016

But, Joe, you just did comment on Anthony Wiener

This is a truly, truly priceless video.

He obviously isn't keeping up with what is going on at this point. I'm not sure he ever was. He's nothing more than a Catholic token, hoping to be replaced by another Catholic token named Kaine. This remains my favorite photo of him.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Retread Ted

Haven't heard the word "retread" in a while, but its use on this anti-Strickland site is apropos. I mean, the only way he even has a ghost of a chance of winning is on name recognition.

Love it. Ted Strickland really is a doofus. Lest anyone forget...

...his finest hour!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Benedict Option: The Main Dilemma

I have an acquaintance who is a member of Opus Dei, a very intelligent person and a devoted Catholic. I have heard him on more than one occasion make the assertion "It's a big Church," usually while he was giving an official talk as a member of Opus Dei. I call it an assertion, but measured in membership numbers, it could probably be called an accepted fact. What are we at now? One point two billion, give or take?

However whenever I heard my friend make this statement, he wasn't drawing focus mainly upon the quantitative measure of the souls on board the Ark, or the Bark, whichever you prefer, but on the qualitative ability of the vessel itself to accommodate every type of "creature", if you will. Obviously the birds who survived on Noah's big ship mainly needed a landing pad and a big bag of seeds whereas the camels and lions needed their own living quarters.

Looking both at Christ's analogy of many rooms or many mansions and at Saint Paul's proclamation that there are "many charisms, One Spirit" we can see what he was talking about. There is a place for everyone in the Church, both the activist and the contemplative, both the ardent intellectual and the extroverted charismatic.

All of these Catholic associations, religious orders, groups, subgroups, "small groups", etc. can be seen as the many rooms, the many gifts (charisms), the many colors of the rainbow — choose your analogy. The contexts in which my friend used this line were several. Sometimes it was in sort of a complementary way since many members of Opus Dei are active in groups like Catholic Worker Movement and Knights of Columbus. So it was kind of a "yeah, you can be in Opus Dei and do that also."

Other times it was in a more differentiating way; e.g., "this other group does this thing, we do not, that's okay, after all it's a big Church." St. Josemaria the founder of Opus Dei has a point in one of his writings about those who might seek to make the world into a cloister. On the other hand, the greatest respect is shown to the religious orders in Opus Dei and all Catholic lay groups I've ever encountered. Likewise I've never run into a religious sister or religious brother who dissed the sacrament of marriage or the local parish church even though they were given a completely different vocation than lay people.

A quote attributed to saint Therese of Lisieux is one way to summarize Catholic both/and thinking as it relates to the place of each individual Catholic in the mission of the Church: "Some give by going to the missions, some go by giving to the missions. Without both, there are no missions." Another example of how devoted Catholics are to this "both/and" concept for vocations, check out the Devotion to St. Martha. Even though everyone would agree that Martha ends up looking like sort of a loser compared to her sister in the Gospel story, she gets to kill the Ancient Serpent like St. George and St. Michael, making her kind of the Wonder Woman of the saints.

The Benedict Option, as I see it, has to represent one of two things. It has to represent merely another charism in the Church or it has to represent an absolutely indispensable part of each Christian's life, like prayer, the practice of the virtues, reception of the sacraments and weekly attendance of the Liturgy. There might be a third thing, a return to something which existed in the past within Christendom but which no longer does. However as a practical matter, that would still seem to place it into either the first or second category. Either it is truly only an option or it is a necessity.

Looking at the first case, and let's call it the Subgroup Option, what if the Benedict Option is one of many ways to live out one's life as a faithful Christian? It would mean living in a community with other like-minded people, celebrating the Sacraments together, praying together, eating together and celebrating together. Perhaps working together in a cottage industry and running a school for the children as well. These things exist already for both married and celibate people. It is true, more often these are for celibate people for obvious reasons, but there are groups of families living in close proximity. The forthcoming Benedict Option book could, in theory, become a good — perhaps even invaluable — instruction book about how to achieve life in this type of community for anyone aspiring to it.

What are the problems with this approach? As I can see it the problem is limited appeal which would translate into limited book sales. People wanting to do this stuff might want to have a lot of source material in one place and they might scoop this book up right away. My prediction is that they will. But the normal Joe Six-pack won't really "get" the Benedict Option as something to pursue. If you doubt this, talk to someone in any Christian subgroup about how hard it is to get people involved in existing groups. Add to that the conceptual, I would even say ethereal, nature of the Benedict Option as a separate charism and it is going to be hard for it to compete with concrete established groups like Miles Christi, K of C or Opus Dei in the Catholic world or Intervarsity Fellowship in the Protestant world.

The second case I would like to call the Apocalyptic Option. This is the way I see the Benedict Option marketed and presented most often by Rod Dreher himself, as Keith has noted here. Rod says in the quoted post,

"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."

This definitely presents the Benedict Option as an absolute necessity, and asserts that the results of not doing so are cataclysmic. The problems with this approach are many more and much greater. First of all, why is the architect of this last, best hope for an escape plan Rod Dreher, a man who left the Catholic Church over Papal Infallibility and contraception and who incessantly reacts to the kind of seedy gossip/news that most Christians turn their heads away from? Why has this plan been revealed now rather than during the sexual revolution in the sixties, or in 1930, or in 1917, etc.? Why does all the breathless hype over this still seem more like that around the new Robert Langdon movie, or one of the author's other book releases? I mean he has pretty much done the standard book thing, e.g., thrown out teasers, refused to reveal too much — that sort of thing. Kind of fishy if there really is impending doom around the corner.

(Just a bit of an aside. It always struck me that "prophets" like Harold Camping always predict that the world will end in the near future. I mean, I think Nostradamus was a bit kooky, but I'm not sure he even lived to see half his predictions come true or not. There is a difference in the ickiness factor between pure kookiness from a true believer and kookiness sold for filthy lucre to true believers. I have to believe that there is a difference in the punishments doled out on Judgment Day as well....)

Another question comes to mind when I read all the negative aspersions cast upon those who are skeptical of the Benedict Option. Can you blame any Christian for not "taking the Benedict Option"? Are missionaries who are sacrificing comfort, seminarians preparing to sacrifice married life and Catholic families willing to sacrifice European vacations to have lots of kids really dropping the ball if they don't drop everything to go "take the Benedict Option?" It seems like the Benedict Option entails doing a lot of extra material actions to the detriment of spiritual actions whenever it becomes an absolute necessity. It also seems to superimpose its own authority structure over the normal hierarchy of faith and family for "the normal, average Christian". Plus all the things I mention here are things which the architect of the Benedict Option has refused to sacrifice in the normal, average Christian world. So this Benedict Option seems to be a new way which is on par with celibacy and living conjugal unity.

I admit that most of my questions are rhetorical and that no one is going to convince me that the Benedict Option is any more than what our friend, Tom, stated about it long ago:

If you ever come across the term "the Benedict Option," there's really only one thing you need to know about: It's nonsense.

More precisely, it's a meaningless term, a cypher. The thing it refers to is a non-thing. As such, it can mean anything. And a term that can mean anything isn't worth talking about.

But the Benedict Option has a long and storied history of having rhetorical questions asked about it, and generally, the frankness experienced by Nicodemus when asking his sincere question of Christ about Baptism has been missing from the responses. Keith detailed some over a year ago:

Mike W says:
March 19, 2015 at 12:25 pm

A few questions. As a practical matter, how would the Benedict option look? What would be the general attributes of someone (or a community) following the Benedict option? How would you know if you were actually doing it properly? How do you “modernize” the approach to deal with 21st century pressures such as 24/7 media, etc. Who’s doing it now? How successful are they (and how do they define success)?

And the response...

[NFR: All great questions ... but ones I am not prepared to answer. All of them I have to explore while working on the book. -- RD]

Yes, well, we eagerly await this book and it will be read and reviewed at the time of its release. And lest anyone forget, here are some other questions the author was not prepared to answer from a colleague, Noah Millman who is also, as was Nicodemus, a wise, Jewish man.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Brand confusion about the Benedict Option

I had been meaning to post on this for awhile, but better late than never. I was reading a post from Father Shenan Boquet of Human Life International when another of his older posts caught my eye about Sanctuary Cities for Christians. Immediately I though "Hmmm, sounds kind of Benedict Option-y." And since he invokes the term and links to Dreher's blog, it seems upon a quick, first like he's getting on board the BenOp train. Except:

Still, it’s time we give this a shot before it is too late, if for no other reason than to help awaken those believers who are still sleepily going along with the culture. As one LGBT-celebratory Christian leader has recently argued, the “middle ground is disappearing.” Writer Rod Dreher and others have noted this has been underway for some time. Dreher reports on his blog how a growing number of parents are surprised to find themselves having to pull their children out of grade school as gender ideology has become dogmatic seemingly overnight, and schools are constantly undermining parental rights and privileges.

He even throws in the obligatory Benedict Option "we're not cutting and running" disclaimer which we are used to hearing:

I want to make this perfectly clear: There is a difference between running in fear and trying to escape reality, and a strategic retreat to a place of strong footing, from which a community can act in love and truth and build a real culture again.

Upon a closer reading, however, Father seems to be asking for a greater civic involvement of Christians and other people of good will who respect religious freedom to achieve the goal of justice and spiritual flourishing. The tone of the article is much more akin to "taking the country back" than the building of religious Christians-only safe spaces. One of the reasons it's difficult to see this first is that Fr. Boquet is very careful not to call for any direct political action, but instead uses the illegal-alien sanctuary city concept analogically:

....We need sanctuary cities for Christians.

There is a precedent for this: There are some 200 cities in the United States that have decided, through official policy if not in law, to not enforce federal laws on immigration. In essence, these “sanctuary cities” refuse to cooperate with federal agents when it comes to reporting crimes committed by those in the country illegally, arguing that such reporting would create a climate of fear and would ensure a lack of cooperation between migrant communities and local law enforcement.

There is an insinuation between the lines that in his proposed Christian sanctuary cities, officials would look the other way when someone refuses to sign a same-sex marriage license or break any other ordinance which violates a federal ordinance and yet upholds the moral law. That is his clear intention, yet, as I stated, he is careful not to explicitly lay out this rebellious course of action.

I think that Fr. Boquet is "glomming onto" the Benedict Option because it is a term out there already, but there is a pretty big difference between it and what he is advocating. A Christian Sanctuary City as he describes is would be a place where you don't have to be a Christian to live in or belong to the way a Benedict Option community is described. These cities would become strategic outposts in the culture wars rather than strategic withdrawals from the culture wars.

It has become unfashionable to speak of the "culture wars" due to the scorn of the elite cultural leftists who are claiming victory, those like Dreher who are advocating surrender and those still fighting in the ranks but tempted by war-weariness to cease. But this war is merely a part of the ancient War of good versus evil, and there is no reason to shy away from calling it a war. We didn't start it, and it will never end until Judgment Day. Each Christian and person of good will must fight these battles in the way he sees fit, trying not to rebuke others who fight it differently, at least not publicly.

On the other hand, I will continue to rebuke the Benedict Option because it represents a refusal to fight, withdrawing from the battle to instead hurl inane insults from their towers at those still fighting on the ground like those Frenchmen in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The rest of us will continue to fight the culture war, even if to many it seems like we're merely banging coconuts together.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Monday, September 19, 2016

Gabriel Sanchez is not writing a book on the Benedict Option

Just glanced over at Opus Publicum and saw this post referencing an "ever-expanding book manuscript" on which the blogger is working.

Last Friday I gave a talk on integralism for a Catholic men’s group here in Grand Rapids. It was my fourth talk for them, the most “popular” being my lengthy lecture on the (in)compatibility of libertarianism with Catholicism. Much of what I had to say was built upon articles, blog posts, and my ever-expanding book manuscript. At the outset of the talk, I half-jokingly said that integralism is nothing more than Catholics following what the Church has always taught, not just with respect to politics and society, but all facets of natural and supernatural life. It became clear to me over the course of my 90-minute speaking engagement that I wasn’t saying anything “new.” That is, I was not attempting to advance a pet ideology or catchy socio-cultural posture; I was imply explaining, inter alia, the relationship of spiritual and temporal authority; the social kingship of Christ; and the duty of all Catholics to follow divine and natural law, even when they conflict with civil positive law.

So Gabriel Sanchez claims that he's not "saying anything new" or "attempting to advance a pet ideology or catchy socio-cultural posture". I take him at his word and from this I conclude that he is not writing a book about The Benedict Option. We'll call his words "the new standard disclaimer".

Monday, September 12, 2016

Life before and since The Day That Rod Was There

Rod Dreher
No matter which way he was heading, or what he was actually doing, on The Day That Rod Was There, he was definitely doing something.

Has it really been fifteen years?

Rod's recent post, Life Before 9/11, made me suddenly realize that it really has been fifteen years today since The Day That Rod Was There.

And as that realization dawned on me, I began to look up slightly, into the middle distance, stroked my chin thoughtfully, and, as harp music from somewhere began to ripple and the background became all flashback swirly, I suddenly found myself magically transported back into Kathleen's marvelous record of the many subtly different first person accounts of The Day That Rod Was There:

Hey everyone, let's not forget: the fifth anniversary of The Day That Rod Was There is coming up on 9/11. Of course, whether The Day That Rod Was There was also The Day That Rod Saw The Towers Fall Before His Own Eyes depends if you are reading Rod from March 2006 ("I stood on the far side of the bridge watching the tower collapse) and April 2006 ("having been a New Yorker on 9/11, and seen the south WTC tower collapse in front of my own eyes") or the Rod from 2002 ("Though I didn't see it with my own eyes, others did.") Good thing he had that handy reporter's notebook he kept writing in so he could record what he was seeing before his own eyes [cough] .... or maybe just hearing? .... But hey, details, details. What's important is that 9/11 is The Day That Rod Was There. Not that he would give you the chance to forget:

9/8/06, Beliefnet Crunchy Con blog: "I'm sitting here at my desk in downtown Dallas, almost five years and half a country away from 9/11, but I can still remember exactly how it sounded when the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed. I was standing on the Brooklyn Bridge, just about to run off and into Manhattan, and had just told a colleague that the towers wouldn't fall. Suddenly, the south tower fell. It fell with a faraway roar that sounded exactly like what it was: a Niagara of dust and glass."

8/06, Beliefnet: " All 9/11 did was show who they really were when put to the test. It happened to me, in my own small way. I was a columnist for the New York Post that morning, and hustled from my waterfront apartment across the Brooklyn Bridge, notebook in hand, to cover the catastrophe. I made it as far as the Manhattan side of the bridge before I ran into a Post colleague. “Don’t go down there,” she said. “Those things are going to fall.”“Oh come on, they’re not going to fall,” I said, genuinely disbelieving her. “That’s the World Trade Center.” Moments later, down came the south tower. I staggered backward, and held on to her to keep my knees from buckling. I scrawled these words on my reporter’s notebook, which I still have: “the building isn’t there it’s gone.”

5/1/06 Beliefnet: "I remember that morning, rushing from my apartment on the Brooklyn waterfront across the Brooklyn Bridge toward the fires in lower Manhattan. Every step of the way I was in denial about what was happening in front of me. Halfway across the bridge, a man with a portable radio shouted to the crowd, "They've hit the Pentagon!" And I thought, "You jerk, quit scaring us with false rumors." On the other side of the bridge, a colleague of mine from the New York Post told me not to go down there, that those buildings were going to fall. I told her don't be silly. Within a minute or so, down came the south tower.

4/17/06, Beliefnet: "I realize in bitter retrospect that, having been a New Yorker on 9/11, and seen the south WTC tower collapse in front of my own eyes, I wanted vengeance."

3/29/06 NRO Crunchy Con blog: I’ve told the story before, so I won’t go into it in detail again, but I will never forget as long as I live the experience of that morning. When I walked out my front door on the Brooklyn waterfront and saw the towers burning, I ran for the Brooklyn Bridge, to get over to the site to cover the story. Within the hour, I stood on the far side of the bridge watching the south tower collapse. Seconds before it came down, a NYPost colleague told me not to go down there, that those things were going to fall. I looked at her with total sincerity and conviction, and said, “Come on, that’s the World Trade Center, they’re not going to fall." Nothing that ever happened to me was as traumatic as what followed”

7/05 Dallas Morning News: Over and over that morning, even as I ran with my reporter's notebook across the Brooklyn Bridge toward the burning towers, I effectively denied what was happening, literally disbelieving my own eyes. When I made it to the Manhattan side of the bridge and was about to go down into the city, I ran into a journalist colleague. "Don't go down there," she said. "Those things are going to fall." "They're not going to fall," I told her with utter confidence. "C'mon, that's the World Trade Center." Seconds later, there was a terrible roar, and down came the South Tower,..."

9/04, National Review Online, the Corner: "POSTCARD FROM THE PAST [Rod Dreher] A friend forwarded to me today the e-mail I'd sent to some friends that morning three years ago. It's startling to me to read this now. Notice the date and time stamp. I'd just walked in out of the conflagration: Subject: Unbelievable Date: Tuesday, September 11, 2001 10:09 AM I'm not going to tie up the phone lines long, but I wanted to tell you that we're okay. My dad phoned this morning to say, "The World Trade Center is on fire. Go look out your front door." You can see them clearly across the harbor from our front door. "Oh my God! Julie come see!" I said. I ran down to grab my reporter's bag, knowing I'd have to go over to the fire. At that point, we didn't know what caused the fire. Then, while downstairs, I heard a tremendous explosion and screams. I ran out to the street. "A plane just hit the second tower!" a man screamed. I knew the subways would be out, so I decided to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge to get to the scene....I made it to the last pillar of the Brooklyn Bridge before going into downtown. I ran into a colleague of mine. She said, "We better not go over there. Those towers are going to blow up. One minute later, the south tower fell in on itself. I nearly fainted. It ... well, I can't describe it now. I'm too shaken. Everybody on the bridge screamed. Some collapsed in tears. A woman started to vomit. My knees went weak, and a huge plume of soot and smoke barrelled toward us. I decided to turn around and go home."

National Review 3/03: "And there was one of the towers, billowing smoke and paper, which was being carried by the wind right over our house in Brooklyn. While I was downstairs gathering my notepad so I could run across the bridge to cover the fire, I heard the explosion of the second plane hitting. It shook our building. I opened the door, saw the second tower burning, kissed Julie goodbye, and told her, "I'm going to get as close as I can. ...There was an exodus of workers crossing the bridge out of Manhattan. I stopped to talk to some of them. They were gasping and sobbing, talking about having seen people jumping to their deaths from the upper floors. I have never seen that kind of trauma in anyone. They were very nearly in shock. I am fortunate that I stopped to talk to them, because I had plenty of time to have made it to the south tower. As it was, I was standing on the bridge watching the fire, about to begin my descent into Manhattan, when the south tower collapsed. My knees nearly buckled. I was sure I had just seen tens of thousands of people die. I turned back toward home, because there was no getting into Manhattan now."

National Review 9/02: " Nor shall I forget the sound of my voice telling a New York Post colleague I was trying to coax to follow me off the Brooklyn Bridge and into lower Manhattan, "Oh, come on, they're not going to fall." I believed it. Thirty seconds later, the south tower fell. Though I didn't see it with my own eyes, others did..."

Crisis Magazine, 11/01: "I live on the Brooklyn waterfront, just across the harbor from lower Manhattan. On that horrible morning on September 11, my father phoned me from Louisiana to tell me to look out my front door, the World Trade Center was on fire. It was, and I ran down to the basement to grab my reporter’s pad. Then I heard the explosion from the second crash and scrambled upstairs and out my front door. A stunned and cursing plumber from the hospital next door screamed, "It was a passenger plane!" He must have that wrong, I thought. But he wasn’t wrong. None of us was conditioned to understand what was happening. Twenty minutes later, I was hustling across the Brooklyn Bridge toward the calamity—wending my way through the exodus out of the city—when a man with a radio screamed, "They’ve hit the Pentagon!" That can’t be true, I thought; it’s too cinematic. I am a professional movie critic, and I tend to think of movies as simile and metaphor. Don’t most of us? The movies are our common language, the only interpretative framework any of us have for a disaster this spectacular. And as we all know—or knew until recently—real life isn’t like the movies. Eight minutes later, I watched the first tower come tumbling down in a cataclysm of flame, concrete, and glass"

As the man himself says, read the whole thing.

Tragic as the events of 9/11 were, though, what can we learn from narratives like this going forward?

Why, that, like life itself, many narratives ultimately end up being fluid, protean, anecdotal butterflies tossed by the mind's tormented winds of desire for a really good, knock-'em-dead line or maybe a tasty snack. As Heraclitus of Ephesus himself pointed out some 2,500 years ago, "τὰ ὄντα ἰέναι τε πάντα καὶ μένειν οὐδέν" - "no man ever steps in the same Benedict Option twice, for it's not the same Benedict Option and he's not the same man".

So, as we solemnly commemorate the horrors and the losses of fifteen years ago, let us at the same time try to take away at least one optimistic sliver of hope that maybe, finally, we have learned a lesson about powerful narratives and those that tell them.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Benedict Option: the sound of one hand clapping

Benedict Option
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.

Monday, August 15, 2016

"On this one, Trump is absolutely correct."

An NRA article about Clinton on gun rights quotes a piece by Charles C. W. Cooke. Both are good, here's an excerpt from the NRA article:

As Charles C.W. Cooke writes, “As anybody with an elementary understanding of American law comprehends, one does not need to call [a constitutional] convention in order to effectively remove a provision from the Constitution.

Cooke explains what it would mean, if Clinton were elected and appointed even one anti-gun judge to the Supreme Court, and thereafter the Court overturned the Heller decision and declared that the amendment doesn’t protect an individual right to keep and bear arms.

“Should Hillary get her way, that right would disappear (at least legally), and the government would be freed up to make any policy choice it wished — up to and including a total ban. Who can say with a straight face that this wouldn’t be ‘essentially abolish the Second Amendment’? Who can claim without laughing that a reversal of Heller wouldn’t render the right a dead letter? On this one, Trump is absolutely correct.”

As we noted in October, Clinton has said that the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller(2008) was “wrong,” and as we noted in June, Clinton has also said that it was “a terrible ruling.” When asked on national television “do you believe that . . . an individual’s right to bear arms is a constitutional right,” Clinton refused to answer. She said only that the right “is subject to reasonable regulations,” and implied that “reasonable” would allow for every onerous gun law that came down the pike before Heller, including the handgun bans of the District of Columbia and Chicago, “assault weapon” and magazine bans in several states, and prohibitions on the carrying of firearms for protection, just to name a few.

Clinton refused to answer. We're used to that by now. Trump ought to try that now and again, you know, to mix it up a little. But Clinton's silence speaks volumes. I know I've noted it before, but a local Democrat Party leader I knew in Pennsylvania was also a life-long NRA member. And a single mom. When Obama made his famous clinging to guns remark he was not talking about Republicans or "right-wingers". He was talking about Americans.

Ownership of guns is a freedom issue, a security issue and a size of government issue. If no one is allowed to personally own a gun, government will have a bigger job protecting everyone. If personal gun ownership is ever made illegal it will be time for civil disobedience. Everyone has the God given right to defend themselves and their family.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Why Rod Dreher is pushing a Hillary Clinton victory

Rod Dreher Hillary Clinton

Various email discussions over the past weeks have pondered who Rod Dreher will be voting for in the upcoming presidential race and have given several plausible reasons why, although Dreher himself has been coy about the matter on his blog in order to technically protect TAC's tax-exempt status.

Regardless of which candidate Dreher actually ends up pulling the lever for, here is who he is pushing to win, and why.

Who: Hillary Clinton

Why: The candidate most damaging to Christians will do the most to promote sales of his forthcoming Benedict Option book, delivered to the publisher just today, a book about, as Dreher himself touts it, the last, best and only hope for Christians at the end of the cultural line.

The better things are for Christians, the worse a book about a pointless and needless Benedict Option will sell. The worse things are for Christians, the better a book that purports to offer any hope at all will sell.

Demand, meet Supply. Or, rather, Supply, meet a Demand massaged as best the Supplier can manage to massage it.

Well, Keith, why do you say such a thing, readers may ask. Rod has already told us he cannot tell us who he favors for President. Why shouldn't we believe him?

He doesn't have to. His actions speak louder than any words ever could. And besides, it doesn't even matter who he votes for. What matters is how many votes he can steer to the candidate he needs to win to maximize his personal book sales profits. He doesn't need to vote at all so long as he steers enough votes to produce a Hillary win.

If one reads his posts over the last year, they are Trump-this and Trump-that out the wazoo, most of them either actively or passive-aggressively negative, with virtually no posts at all about candidate Hillary or any of her sins dating back decades.

Debbie Wasserman Schulz herself could have scheduled these non-existing Hillary posts in the same manner and for the same reasons she made poor Bernie Sanders try to make his case on television on a Saturday freaking night, for goodness sake, in order to effectively render the subject - in Dreher's case Hillary, in Schulz' case Bernie - virtually invisible.

But isn't Donald Trump just naturally more..."newsy"?

Sure enough. Trump is always saying things to make people's tongues wag.

But, although his style will always be Gawkerish at heart, believe it or not Rod Dreher's current beat really isn't the juiciest, most gossipy newsy tidbits of a TMZ or a Gawker. According to Rod, his passion and focus is being ostentatiously hip-deep in his own personal Christian holiness and, above everything else worldly, religious liberty and a fierce dedication to the protection of that religious liberty.

A religious liberty a Hillary Clinton presidency would end up stomping like Godzilla, before Godzilla then ate whatever mush remained.

But he hardly ever mentions Hillary Clinton. Why not? Why does he never mention the one candidate that everyone knows and every liberal dreams will do the most to damage the religious liberty of Christians in every way possible?

Because he needs a religious liberty stomped to mush by a Hillary Godzilla Clinton in order to drive sales of his prescriptive solution for mush-stomped religious liberty - his Benedict Option. If the financial motive were not so glaringly obvious, one might suspect Munchhausen by proxy.

To follow Dreher's comparative interest in Hillary Clinton is to be led to the belief that Hillary is spending her time only doing yoga and playing with her grandchildren, not trashing national security, not selling access to government for personal gain, definitely not working every angle available to change "...deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases..."

Prove me wrong. Watch Dreher's past, present and future posts about the presidential candidates and score things for yourself. Trump will be held up as an appalling pariah; Hillary will be invisible; and a dependable percentage of Dreher's readers will end up voting for the major party candidate who has not been held up as an appalling pariah.

And, then, after Hillary ends up doing enough of this and that, particularly with the help of her newly energized Supreme Court, even you might fall into enough despair to buy Rod's Benedict Option book, if only as the worthless placebo you nevertheless desperately need in lieu of no other hope at all.

This is the true cultural wasteland for Christians, what Hannah Arendt called the "banality of evil": in this case, casual, premeditated betrayal by those you trust most. Your mother sells you to the biker gang passing through for a bag of meth. Your ostensibly most (self-declared) Christian hero sells you out with a smile to line his own pockets.

By the way, I hear Rod's Benedict Option book goes on sale shortly after Hillary's inauguration. Just in time.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Tim Kaine: Another Pro-abortion Catholic VP Candidate

Wow, what a coincidence. Hillary picks another souper candidate—a pro-choice Catholic in the mold of Joe Biden. This is obviously meant to secure the Catholic vote which is already eluding Trump as this piece points out; excerpt:

Consistently reliable Republicans who attend Mass weekly supported Mitt Romney four years ago by 15 percentage points. Clinton is winning this critical slice of the Catholic electorate by a whopping 19 points. The Republican ticket also usually performs well with white Catholic voters, who supported Romney by 9 points, 53 percent to 44 percent. Clinton has halved that gap, trailing Trump by only a few percentage points, 50 percent to 46 percent.

John Zmirak sums it up for me. My thoughts exactly, man.

As a Catholic who considers human life the first and most critical issue, with freedom a very close second, I can cut some slack to secular atheists and agnostics who don’t see what’s wrong with abortion. Their worldview tells them that life is cheap, man is a mutant, and we should grab what pleasure we can before our skulls fall to rot with Darwin’s. That’s an ugly view of life, but at least it makes sense. I feel profoundly sad for people who see their own lives this way; they’re like a primitive tribe that forgot why cannibalism is wrong, which proudly shows a visiting missionary their jewelry made out of human fingers.

But when a highly educated Christian, himself a former Catholic missionary, slaps on such a necklace because it will help him win elections — that’s something else entirely. Tim Kaine’s is the face of a man who knows better, who by his own admission realizes exactly what Planned Parenthood is doing, and who they are doing it to: innocent children, who hide in the womb as each of us, and as the baby Jesus, once did. It should be the safest place on this fraught and fallen earth — but in America, it has become a killing field. Not because of men like Lenin, like Hitler, or even like Hugh Hefner.

Because of men like Senator Kaine.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Barack Obama has become the Anti-cop President

City Journal's Myron Magnet points out that Obama had a chance to use his good fortune as the first black President to correct the impression that in the United STates blacks will always be an underclass of victims. It is so sad that he chose instead to stoke resentment among hate groups, even inviting representatives of one of them to the White House.

It seemed to me that Obama had a unique opportunity to speak about values and virtues to this minority of African Americans—to tell them that his own life exemplified how in twenty-first century America you could get an education, work hard, get married, be an attentive husband and father, and maybe even become president of the United States. How disappointing that he chose the other tack, stoking grievance and resentment over supposed victimization by all authority, whether from teachers, cops, or potential employers. He and his attorneys general went sniffing out evidences of racism everywhere, and demonizing the police. Even after five officers were assassinated by an enraged black murderer in Dallas, he said, inaccurately, falsely, and callously: “There are legitimate issues that have been raised, and there’s data and evidence to back up the concerns that are being expressed by these [Black Lives Matter] protesters. And if police organizations and departments acknowledge that there’s a problem and there’s an issue, then that, too, is going to contribute to real solutions. And, as I said yesterday, that is what’s going to ultimately help make the job of being a cop a lot safer. It is in the interest of police officers that their communities trust them and that the kind of rancor and suspicion that exists right now is alleviated.”

Obama was offered this chance, and he blew it....

Monday, July 18, 2016

Followup from David Clarke on the nature of Black Lives Matter

As an apt followup to my post about what Black Lives Matter is really all about, this is a short exchange between a journalist who is too limp-wristed to condemn a hateful ideology and a Sheriff, David Clarke, who is not.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Don't Take the Bait

If you are a mouse or a 21st century American I have some advice for you: learn to identify traps, then don't take the bait.

While driving down the road, several of my sons and I were watching some 20-somethings put up Black Lives Matter yard-signs in a neighborhood around West 150th Street in Cleveland. My oldest son stated it best. "Everyone believes that black people count just as much as whites, except for racists. So when someone says to you 'Black lives matter' what they really mean to say to you is 'You're a racist.' It's just an accusation."

He's right obviously. It's the same leftist abuse of language which infects the pathetic chant of the Occupy Movement "We. Are. The Ninety-nine Percent!!" But they're not; they are a tiny sliver of the American populace. They may speak for somewhere between 5% and 15% of the victicrat population, but that's probably generous of me.

Unfortunately some people who aren't anywhere near the fringe left have taken the rhetorical bait. The group Blue Lives Matter is one which I heartily support, but Oh! how I wish they hadn't named themselves that. Once you realize that saying "Black Lives Matter" is really a challenge which could be phrased as the question, "Are you going to support us or the police?", then saying "Blue Lives Matter" can be interpret as answering "No, I don't support you; I support the Police." It is a way to inadvertently perpetuate the perception that the police are out to get anyone who is black. That perception is a win for BLM and left's booming victim industry.

The latest abuse of this comes from the Charles Sheldon-style Protestant Socialist contingent in the form of WWJD-ing the rhetoric. The first place I saw this was a Facebook placard which simply appropriated the voice of Christ saying things like "Jesus didn't say all lives matter, He said leper's lives matter. Jesus didn't say all lives matter, He said the poor's lives matter." And on and on. The truth is that Our Lord didn't speak in hashtags and soundbites at all, and that is the best counterpoint here. One could point out the many times that Jesus used universal language (ever hear of John 3:16?) but I'd be wary of taking the bait.

The other place I saw something similar was a Patheos article which I won't even link to. It actually uses the Beatitudes in an attempt to make a similar point. It has a cartoon of Christ saying "Blessed are the poor in spirit," and a listener objecting "No, Jesus! Blessed are we ALL!" So the message is that anyone who says "All lives matter" is telling Jesus to shut up. One could point out that none of the Beatitudes mention race, but again, I think that getting into a theological discussion on this is getting into pearls/swine territory and we know how that ends. It's best to stay in one piece.

So the best comeback to shouts of "Black Lives Matter!" is not "Blue lives matter" or even "All lives matter". Calling out the Black Lives Matter movement for what it is, an organization profiting from civil unrest and organized by racist agitators, is the best reaction to anything touching which smells of their caustic rhetoric. Christians and especially American Christians have to become aware of real motives and quit being so gullible. Jesus instructed us as much.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The rules about blowing bubbles

Just a quick review...

Friday, July 8, 2016

Educational Video about Islamic Jihad and Sharia

Hat-tip to the Clarion Project for this succinct and accurate video about the threat of civilizational jihad and sharia as the motives behind terrorist acts. This is the sort of thing people in the west need to know. So what did YouTube do. They banned the video. read more about that at the Counter Jihad link.

This video was produced by the Center for Security Policy, an excellent organization started by very knowledgeable people in the world of fighting Islamic terrorism.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Open Comment Thread (2016-07)

Here's a new open comment thread you all, my friends! Speaking of friends....

Stop the madness, or proceed with the madness, or go halfway or maybe two thirds... Or, how about do 3 sets of 12 madness lifts twice a day. Or maybe have a madness shake with some kale and blue berries? Or something.

I was thinking that maybe a good topic to discuss here is frenetic, undisciplined migrations to nearby towns and whether that is a conservative value. Or maybe moving because no one understands you or sour cream vandalism going on that you can no longer protect your family from. This might be a good post to review for starters as well.

BenOp PineApp

One of the ways I keep up on what's going on with Rod Dreher is by reading a Topix forum dedicated to him by the residents of St. Francisville. Here's one of the latest entries, suggesting that Dreher flew to Hawaii to bring back a parting gift in the form of a pineapple for his priest who's leaving his backyard church. The real story will be forgotten, though, while the memory of that picture lives on forever....

The natives were so grateful for his missionary work they gave him a pineapple.

You just can't get a pineapple worth eating around here, you know.

Too funny.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Not evil, just awful

Kotkin sums up exactly the way I want to respond every time I hear a Trump supporter/defender say "he's not racist". Okay; walking like a duck is something our intelligent species can do without becoming ducks, but why would we do it? Maybe to get some really gullible ducks to follow us around.

In reality, Trump is not a classic racist, but rather an ugly opportunist willing to use ethnic divides for his own benefit. He’s been compared to Adolph Hitler, a monster whose philosophy revolved around race, but Trump has no real theory that extends beyond self-glorification, resentment, and attracting the fetching female; “The Art of the Deal” is not “Mein Kampf.”

Trump will play the race card as a way to satisfy his narcissistic need for enthusiastic admirers. This does not mean his approach does not echo the racism of the past. His claim of bias by a U.S.-born judge of Mexican descent, as well as his suggestions that Muslim jurists are incapable of ruling independently, recall the worst of the pre-Civil Rights South. His proposals to ban Muslim immigrants in general recall approaches in the late 19th and early 20th centuries which targeted Chinese, Japanese and, ultimately eastern and southern Europeans.

In short, you don't have to be Hitler to be awful, or to have bad intentions, or to be a wrecking ball for your own movement. When people were calling Obama a communist back in 2008 I was cringing because I knew it would be pretty easy to dismiss the charge. After all, what communist would save General Motors? Barack Obama had to have been secretly smiling every time someone tossed that accusation at him or its even stupider twin sister—the charge that he was born in Kenya. Leave the fact that it wouldn't have mattered if he had been (his mother is an American citizen), it just made everyone making it seem like an instant racist to the general populace.

Yes, Virginia—that general populace. The one which elects Presidents. Not the subsection of critical thinkers or people with degrees in the hard sciences.

So when I heard people saying Trump could be the next Hitler I cringed as well knowing that a few black and Jewish friends will effectively dismiss that charge while a host of others would point at the media, shout "See they call us all racist!" and reflexively support Trump even though his rhetoric is incendiary.

I am not the only person who sees it this way. Larry Elder had been more generous to Donald Trump than many of the other Salem Radio hosts, but boy, did he about lose it when the whole thing about the "Mexican" Judge came out. This all happened shortly after Trump had all but secured the GOP nomination. Elder's conclusion is worth noting: "As found as people are of Donald Trump, if you give him a pass on this it means you have no integrity."

I should probably just accept my new status as politically homeless. Get out the cardboard and lets light a barrel fire.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Ah! So the Benedict Option is...Oh...

...I tell everybody I can that yes, the Benedict Option is simply the church doing what it ought to have been doing all along, but hasn’t been,...

Oh. Well...

Still, who better to instruct the church - which church? why, any church - how to do what it ought to have been doing all along, but hasn’t been than lifelong religious buffet nibbler Rod Dreher?

But to find out how to fix your broken church and maybe even remove that stubborn hard water residue you're going to have to wait until next year when the cure is finally bottled and for sale.

Benedict Option
The essential additive without which your church cannot function properly
This will give you ample time to resolve in advance the obvious ethical dilemma which will confront you at that time: give that $20 which can only be spent once to a person in need who is not Rod Dreher, or give that $20 which can only be spent once to a person in need who is Rod Dreher.

If you give your $20 which can only be spent once to a person in need who is not Rod Dreher, you obviously risk cultivating in that person a dependency on handouts over personal industry.

On the other hand, if you give your $20 which can only be spent once to a person in need who is Rod Dreher, you obviously risk cultivating in that person a dependency on handouts over personal industry, for example the industry of having made any effort at all over the prior ten years to think about, midwife, shape, create, critique, test, re-examine, and in any other conceivable way produce anything remotely resembling substantial content to back the hollow marketing phrase "Benedict Option" prior to having finally landed a book contract and being forced to dash out the needed filler for it over the space of a few months.

Still, if God can create the earth in seven days, why can't the next best thing for your church, Rod Dreher, invent the Benedict Option out of whole cloth in just seven months to meet a contract deadline?

Boy, tough call on that $20, I know.

Hey...here's an idea. Maybe just give it directly to your church.They've been invested in this whole Christian thing quite a bit longer and view it through a lens somewhat larger than merely hustling a book contract.

UPDATE (as they say): I'm tacking this on here because it's not enough to fill a post of its own, but mainly because it's the essential question implicit in this post itself.

Why is the Benedict Option for sale?

Why is, according to its inventor, Rod Dreher, the only remaining hope for orthodox Christianity being peddled as just another market commodity, like a  Hula Hoop, a pack of condoms, or a six pack of light beer?

Because it is for sale. According to Rod, he put the finishing touches on the only definitive prescription to save orthodox Christianity last night.

But it's not as if Rod and his family would starve if this one salvic treatise  were simply given to the faithful like Christ's sermons themselves. Rod gets paid round the clock for his writing.

So if the Benedict Option is the only real hope for millions of Christians, why is it being strategically priced and peddled the way Martin Skreli hustled Daraprim?

But if its just another Dreher book meant to keep its author in wine and oysters, how important can it really be?

Monday, June 27, 2016


In today's output, Dreher offers an early peek into the Benedict Option book, using his standby mechanism of a quote from an alleged reader:

Millenials are like the Bynars from one of the early episodes of Star Trek: the Next Generation.  They are so merged in with their technology that one does not know where the human begins or ends and where the technology is.  Their memories, both short and long term, have been altered.  They have no idea of what community is because in the real world it does not exist.  And changing genders is part of high tech.  Shape shifting is part of this generation.  Look at the popular media.  If you don't like who you are, you can change yourself by being a super hero, or zombie, or become something else.  So, in a way it is not surprising that this is happening.  Alot of the changes in society are here because of technology and how it has become a master over us.

To which Dreher adds this analysis (emphasis added):

I think this is true.  The Technology chapter of The Benedict Option explores this insight.

He thinks what is true?  That "alot of the changes in society are here because of technology and how it has become a master over us", say, as opposed to our human nature that has persisted since the Fall?  Or is he agreeing that millennials "are so merged in with their technology" that they don't know "where the human begins or ends and where the technology is"?  If so, someone's been hiding bad sci-fi inside their MacIntyre so the Mrs. doesn't yell at him to get off his duff.

Anyhow,  if you can figure out what this is about, please enlighten.  To the extent it makes any sense (not much), it's patently false.  In any case, the "Technology chapter" ought to be a doozy.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Response to Alan Jacobs on the Benedict Option

Matthew Loftus writes a good article, mostly stuff we've already said here. Excerpts:

[T]he potential for good-hearted Christians to go to war with one another about anything seems to be elided in most BenOp discussions. Every Christian community I have ever participated in has seen heated debates about theological or practical issues drive friendships apart; the more intense communities seemed to be the ones with the greatest potential for enmity. There is no amount of liturgy or localism that will address this fundamental defect in the human heart that is one of Satan’s greatest strategies against ministries all over the world. I cannot say for certain that it is any worse in modernity, but the discipline of Christian love for one another deserves more serious consideration as we talk about how to form more intense Christian communities. How would parachurch organizations, nonprofits, and churches work together in a BenOp vision, and how would the BenOp schema alter the tendency towards petty infighting that often besets attempts at such cooperation?

That bit reminded me of this. Here's another:

After all, another theme that dominates Dreher’s writing is the cultural morass which various communities in the West seem to have found themselves; presumably many BenOp communities would find themselves in proximity to the people drowning in the waste products of promiscuity, drug abuse, and self-centeredness that cultural elites have flushed downstream. It seems obvious to me that for every BenOp community nestled into an isolated riverbend, there should be two in a trailer park or neglected inner-city neighborhood. Yet I still get the sense that the BenOp is trying to protect us from lost people as much as it is trying to be a light to them. The Bible clearly teaches both, but it always speaks as if the lost– powerful cultural elites and powerless victims of sins– are a present fixture in our lives to bring the Holy Spirit to bear upon. I suspect that the healthy fear that animates much of the BenO might lead us to hide our light under a bushel unless we clearly plan ahead to do otherwise.

Rod Dreher Orlando Confidential

Rod Dreher
What Rod Dreher thinks may have killed 49 in Orlando

Rod Dreher writes:

1. He was likely a closet case.

2. He was probably mentally ill. 

3. He was filled with rage at everybody. 

Before I go any further I need to stress for readers who may be confused that this is not a confession. Rod is not talking about himself, but rather about Omar Mateen, the self-professed ISIS martyr who killed 49 in an Orlando gay club and wounded at least as many more.

Rod takes pains to elaborate under 1.

What kind of devout Muslim goes drinking booze at a gay bar? You’re going to blame Islam for this guy? Really?

Um...well, yeah, Rod...really.

The guy whom the FBI investigated twice previously for Islamic terrorism. Yeah, really.

The guy who shouted "Allah hu Akbar" as he methodically shot gays - who are routinely murdered in Islamic nations when not formally sentenced to death by their various governments - yeah, really.

The guy who calmly pledged allegiance to ISIS on 911. Yeah, really.

Commenter Fran Macadam points out:

He’s not the first Islamist terrorist to enjoy a libertine Florida lifestyle; so did the 9/11 perpetrators.

Yeah, really, really, really.

But Rod has a big problem that desperately needs a solution. His blog boasts more than a few Muslim and gay readers, and so he needs a narrative solution to Orlando that won't dare alienate even one of them, because they might also purchase his upcoming Benedict Option book, if only out of fondness for his blog or curiosity.

So Rod needs an Orlando narrative that pops into our universe, does its dirty work, and then vanishes back into the mysterious alternate universe from whence it came - sort of like the Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man in Ghostbusters.

What can pull off this neat trick of producing a mysterious one-off, other-dimensional, self-extinguishing injection of mass murder into our universe?

Why, a unique, mentally ill, self-loathing homosexual.

Rod's Muslim commenter Jones? Not implicated. Rod's mentally "healthy", butt-humping gay commentariat at large? Not implicated.

Just Sta-Pufty Omar Mateen, random, idiosyncratic, incomprehensible hate-bot.

"Dangerous faggot" Milo Yiannopoulos, an actual conservative not needing to desperately suck up to every possible Muslim, liberal, or even gay reader, sees things a bit differently
Milo will be expanding on this epiphany today at 6:00 PM EST at the University of Central Florida, Orlando.

Rod's newly discovered existential innocence obviously has implications for his Benedict Option - or does it?

Come to think of it, Rod's Benedict Option has always explicitly declared it was never about resistance to, well, anything other than those particular elements of contemporary culture each BOpper decides for themselves they find aesthetically unattractive.

Instead, it has always instead used the vague term "thickening", which cynical readers can't be blamed for believing probably refers to over-consuming the delicious goodies featured in Rod's regular food porn posts.

So...eat, drink, and thicken, pretending you're invisible to everyone else, and hope that Sta-Pufty doesn't suddenly burst into your universe inexplicably shouting "Allah hu Akbar" while pumping slugs into your little girls head.

UPDATE (as they say):  Beyond Rod's immediate publishing interests, what other factors might be contributing to the fantasy balloon commenter Fran Macadam so neatly popped?

Hmmm...what does Wick Allison, the guy who ultimately pays for Rod's health care and other family benefits think about this?

Well, he thinks, through his FrontBurner blog puppets, this:

Dan Patrick Biblical Tweet, conceivably but not at all necessarily pointing to Orlando - bad.

Lovely gay marriage celebration as Dan Patrick-cleansing mouthwash - good.

So good, in fact, that new D Magazine Executive Editor Kathy Wise comments

 Beautiful. Thanks Peter! Reminds me of my wife's wedding proposal. Minus the blindfold. And the dancers. And the ribbon wavers. And the choir robes. #loveisloveisloveisloveislove

So, if Rod wants to keep his kids in braces, he'd better understand how the cow eats the cabbage: the people who buy the fabulous, high end stuff Wick Allison depends on to keep his magazine afloat have the tastes and disposable income concentrated in gay communities, so Orlando must implicitly become an act of "homophobic terrorism", not something divisive and distracting like Islamic terrorism.

And besides, Sta-Pufty can't be killed by a Sig Sauer MCX, not even by "a Glock with a lot of clips in it".

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Alan Jacobs explains why the Benedict Option is authoritarian

Benedict Option

There's only so much room on the Benedict Option Ark. Know nothings, ye of bad faith, and unscrupulous vendors of content-free grumbles need not apply for safe passage through the unsavory waters of our disgusting common humanity (and - shhh!!! - it probably helps if you're white.)

In his most recent post, Benedict Option apologist Alan Jacobs explains how dissent from and disagreement with Rod Dreher's Benedict Option - though fully embraced as a response by the white suprememacist Alt-Right - will be tolerated: why, not at all.

Mr. Jacobs hurls questions at potential dissenters, but lacks the courage to entertain answers. His blog doesn't accept comments, not even the finely sifted residue of sycophantic assent Rod Dreher himself publishes. His questions, then, not intended to be answered, become purely rhetorical.

Alan, if you want people to believe you still identify with the genitals you were born with, don't pick fights with people by hiding in your house and taunting them through the mail slot like a little bitch. (Or - could I have missed something this sublime? - the Benedict Option as demonstrated by Jacobs is simply this: hiding alone, muttering to oneself.)

But what if someone does attempt to answer in another forum, as Greg Forster, target of Jacob's irritation did here?

As with Rod Dreher's characterization of dissenter Shaun Kenney as a "know nothing", Jacobs in turn tags Forster as a "Humpty Dumpty", finding reflexive comfort in dismissing his response as a "content-free grumble".

In psychology, this is recognized as a "double-bind", made famous in Joseph Heller's Catch-22.

First, it's very difficult to respond to the Benedict Option directly. Rod Dreher scrupulously prunes his own comment section of any but the most fawning agreement or softball criticism and, as noted, Jacobs flees from responses entirely.

 If one does answer affirmatively, whatever one says, even the Alt-Right, supports the Benedict Option, because there's nothing that the Benedict Option's is not; the Benedict Option's only content is the Benedict Option affirming the Benedict Option, whatever the Benedict Option happens to be at any given random moment. There's no way to actually do the Benedict Option wrongly, but if one should ever happen to disagree or dissent, one becomes, by definition, a "know nothing" offering "content-free grumbles" in "bad faith".

So why not agree and assent? If you agree and assent, you'll always be right, no matter what you do; if you disagree and dissent, you'll always be a "know nothing" offering "content-free grumbles" in "bad faith".

In this way Rod Dreher's Benedict Option becomes self-evidently revealed truth, needing no conceptual underpinnings, arguments, or architecture. One either "gets" the Benedict Option osmotically, or one is self-evidently a "know nothing" offering "content-free grumbles" in "bad faith".

What could be more tautologically pure, its own tail-in-mouth Alpha and Omega?

The newest front by apostles of the Benedict Option traffics in amazement at the "hostility" to the Benedict Option. This sort of passive-aggressive victimology script - "If you don't agree with me, you hate me, you HATE me!" - is straight out of the contemporary disagreement-as-mental-illness political correctness playbook: if you disagree with President Obama, you are, ipso facto, a racist. The BenOp Way above doesn't point left by accident.

Jacobs' and Dreher's Benedict Option in three words: Christian political correctness.

So this is what we can expect Benedict Option Communities to be:

- monasteries,  like the one in Nursia, Italy. Well, actually, no; that predated the Benedict Option. Rod Dreher just superimposed his brand on it

- monastery-centered communities like that around Clear Creek Abbey in northeastern Oklahoma. Well, actually, no, again. Like the monks in Nursia, that also predated the Benedict Option and will no doubt persist even after Rod's book is mothballed in the remaindering house. Besides, as Rod has said, Alasdair MacIntyre was just a springboard for Dreher's own unique, proprietary formulations, monastic or not monastic, white supremacist or not white supremacist, .38, .39, whatever it takes.

- African-American...um...hard to imagine 21st Century African-Americans voluntarily yoking themselves anew to the new sort of Caucasian-led authoritarianism Jacobs and Dreher tacitly espouse. Besides, many of them have to work for a living.

- Latinos. Much like African-Americans, one might imagine. Streaming north from the southern continent in search of opportunity, a better life - all in order to finally be told by gabachos named Dreher and Jacobs to reject the poisonous culture they crossed the Rio Grande and the Sonoran desert to find a place within. Not quite feeling that one.

So who's left?

Maybe a few white boys like this guy

Benedict Option
A true believing BOpper

establishing their own special Greg Marmalard-brand Christianity table in the cafeteria, where they can put ordinary Christians and anyone else they decide to look down upon on double secret Benedict Option probation.

How is all this silliness really likely to end? Yep:

Benedict Option
Alas, an ordinary Christian

'Cept the Alt-Right BenOppers will probably bring guns.