Friday, March 17, 2017

The logical impossibility of the Benedict Option

Benedict Option

The logical lacuna at the heart of Rod Dreher's Benedict Option is the same one faced by the architect who would construct a universe on the back of a turtle: what does the turtle stand on? Another turtle? Then what about that turtle?

For our purposes, what Benedict Option protects the Benedict Option?

If secular society has become so intrusive that Benedict Option cult members feel they must withdraw from it, even partially, what Benedict Option technique can possibly insure that that separation will be respected by a force that the Benedict Option inventor defines as demandingly intrusive?

If the Benedict Optioneers can unilaterally disengage from a demandingly intrusive secular culture, it was never really demandingly intrusive; they simply disapprove of it and have converted that disapproval into hysterical pearl-clutching. If, on the other hand, that culture really is so overweeningly and demandingly intrusive, there can be no escape from it. In the badlands, the rapist gets what he wants when he wants it.

Which brings us back to the turtle's footing. So perhaps there is some as-yet unnamed force which will interpose itself between the demandingly intrusive culture and the Benedict Option cultists, a Benedict Option Hell's Angels, if you will.

Whether this Benedict Option Hell's Angels is separate or integral to the Benedict Option cult itself is moot: if it exists, we're no longer talking Benedict Option, we're talking Remote Idaho Christian Militia Option or Ruby Ridge, an alternative which, while nominally Christian, is simply no longer what the Benedict Option author is trying to peddle. It's something else entirely.

But perhaps the interposing force protecting the disengaged Benedict Option cult is not an internal or external Benedict Option Hell's Angels but rather the State of whatever nation in which the option is being implemented, in which, diametrically in contradiction to the foundational claim of the Benedict Option creator, it is precisely politics which will save the Benedict Option cultists: only if their politics are actively and primarily successful will the government protect. If their politics fail, it won't.

Despite the powerful marketing resonance inherent in the word "benedict" itself, literally "good words" or "good speech" in Latin, which, fortuitously for Dreher, flexibly and open-endedly psychologically invokes any Benedict of value from Benedict of Nursia to Pope Benedict XVI, the fantasy upon which the Benedict Option floats is derived not so much from the original Benedict of Nursia as it is from Walter Miller's classic post-apocalyptic science fiction novel A Canticle for Leibowitz, a fiction you may very well enjoy immensely more than Rod Dreher's.

In the Benedict Option author's scenario as in Miller's, the surrounding world collapses into a Dark Age while somehow miraculously not taking down the Benedict Option cultists with it, a prospect now that much more miraculous, indeed, in a world so interconnected that the very inventor of the Benedict Option himself can only make a living by telecommuting as an Internet blogger who seeks out and hypes the most deliciously freakish elements of the culture he disparages such as trannies or cannibals at CNN.

Nonetheless, once you buy, read, and join the Benedict Option cult you will be able to, in ways you are unable to now, disengage from the demandingly intrusive culture while still using the Internet, social media, and mobile telephony in order not to sink into terminal balkanized isolation.

Moreover, that culture you have now tamed by reading Dreher's book will respect your choice, cross its heart.

Then, when everyone else has fallen into Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome - but not you, with your own alternate universe grocery and other support infrastructure - then you will be able to conserve not only your family and loved ones but also the correct traditional version of Christianity, not one which, because of the Apocalyptic Troubles, has now unfortunately mutated through a game of religious-cultural "Telephone" into something idiosyncratically monstrous involving child sacrifice, which you will then be able to reintroduce to those non-Benedict Option cultists who survived the Apocalyptic Troubles by virtue of the Darwinian natural selection such Troubles imposed on their wills to survive and prevail over anyone, at any cost.

And they won't even kill and eat your children for their feast of St. Horrible, even though, dang, do you know how long it's been since fresh pork has been available?

Really, read Miller's A Canticle for Leibowitz. And if one slap in the face isn't enough to wake you up, follow it up by streaming Bone Tomahawk.

Either way, Dreher's Benedict Option future is doomed to be turtles, or maybe alternating Benedict Options and turtles, all the way down.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Early returns for "The New Christian Paradigm"

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

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

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

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

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

Benedict Option

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