Sunday, June 18, 2017
My problem with the Benedict Option
Rod Dreher has spilled a lot of ink on this. I have a lot of sympathy for Rod's vision but ultimately, I think the "Ben Op" is the same approach to rapacious secularism as that taken by the Middle Eastern Christians in response to rapacious Islam. That is, in exchange for payment of taxes and pledges of loyalty to their Arab overlords, the Christians were allowed to raise their children in the Faith and function as mercantile middlemen. This has not worked out well as Christianity slowly goes extinct in its former homelands. In like fashion, Rod Dreher begs to be left alone with his nuclear family and a few close friends in rural Louisiana as the world goes to Hell and our children slowly slip away from us.
There is also the ahistorical understanding of St. Benedict's mission and his context. The early Christians practiced their faith and seized the levers of State power as soon as they could. Modern Christianity by contrast practices secularism as the first and greatest Commandment.
Contrast Christianity's endless cession to its enemies with the robustness of Islam in the West: when they need their cultural space, they simply carve it out, and nobody lectures them about the lack of female imams or refusal to recognize gay marriage. In similar fashion, the Amish are expanding into the American Southwest and Mexico, and the Hasidim maintain their millenium-old bloodlines. Even the Mormons with their bizarre creed have managed to insinuate themselves into much of the United State's national security apparatus.
The future belongs to those who show up, and the "Ben Op" doesn't seem to be a strategy for showing up. Rather, it strikes me as a rear-guard action by aging converts begging to be allowed to die in peace.