The Benedict Option – An Overview

"In a radical vision for the future of Christianity, New York Times bestselling author and American Conservative columnist Rod Dreher calls on American Christians to prepare for the coming Dark Age by embracing an ancient Christian way of life."

Overview at Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0735213291/ref=nav_timeline_asin?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1Amazon

Nearly two years ago, Damon Linker, wrote an article about a new phenomenon called The Benedict Option. It was published over at theweek.com and was entitled:

The Benedict Option: Why the religious right is considering an all-out withdrawal from politics

Linker began his article with these words:

Have you heard of the Benedict Option? If not, you will soon.

It's the name of a deeply pessimistic cultural project that's capturing the imaginations of social conservatives as they come to terms with the realization that the hopes and assumptions that animated the religious right over the past 35-odd years have been dashed by the sweeping triumph of the movement for same-sex marriage.

Until very recently, Dee and I had been totally in the dark about The Benedict Option, and it was through some research that we came across Linker's 2015 overview. The book was published on March 14, 2017, and it has been fascinating to see all of the publicity surrounding it.

The author of The Benedict Option is Rod Dreher, an American writer and editor who blogs at The American Conservative. He also serves as senior editor of this website. According to the Wiki article, Rod Dreher …

has written about religion, politics, film and culture in National Review and National Review Online, The Weekly Standard, The Wall Street Journal, Touchstone, Men's Health, the Los Angeles Times, and other publications. He was a film reviewer for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and chief film critic for The New York Post. His commentaries have been broadcast on National Public Radio's All Things Considered, and he has appeared on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, Court TV and other television networks.

I found Dreher's biographical information very interesting. He is a native of Louisiana who was raised a Methodist. Around the age of 26 (1993) he converted to Roman Catholicism. He wrote extensively in the Catholic Press; however, his coverage of child sex scandals in the faith he practiced caused him to question Catholicism. Then in 2006 Dreher converted to Eastern Orthodoxy.

Dreher's Benedict Option advocates for Christians maintaining their faith by separating themselves (to some degree) from mainstream society by living in intentional communities or other subcultures.

Not being that familiar with he Eastern Orthodox Church, I decided to do some investigating. The Britannica article was extremely in depth. Then I consulted the Wikipedia article and found the following information to be very pertinent to what Dreher has written:

The Eastern Orthodox Church places heavy emphasis and awards a high level of prestige to traditions of monasticism and asceticism with roots in Early Christianity. . . All Orthodox Christians are expected to participate in at least some ascetic works, in response to the commandment of Christ to "come, take up the cross, and follow me." (Mark 10:21 and elsewhere) They are therefore all called to imitate, in one way or another, Christ himself who denied himself to the extent of literally taking up the cross on the way to his voluntary self-sacrifice. However, laypeople are not expected to live in extreme asceticism since this is close to impossible while undertaking the normal responsibilities of worldly life.

Since Rod Dreher's orthodox faith places such a heavy emphasis on monasticism and asceticism, we can't help but wonder whether he wrote this book out of obedience to his spiritual mentors. After all, he has only been involved with Eastern Orthodoxy for a decade or so.

There is a growing number of YouTube videos featuring interviews with Dreher. Here is one of the shorter ones with Tucker Carlson that aired last week.

During the last few weeks there has been an avalanche of information regarding The Benedict Option. The March issue of Christianity Today featured it on its cover, and websites such as The Gospel Coalition and Desiring God have been discussing it.

In an upcoming post, we will discuss The Benedict Option in greater detail. Since it is taking the Christian world by storm, we thought some background information might be helpful before we delved deeper into this latest Christian craze.  Take a look…

For a more lengthy explanation about The Benedict Option, you might want to listen to this 19 minute presentation by Rod Dreher.

Comments

The Benedict Option – An Overview — 523 Comments

  1. Didn't watch the event video, but from the screen shot it looks like the typical white male event. Sigh…..

  2. Oh and first and I read the article. Just looks like more extreme right leaning white male reactionary foolishness.

  3. @ mitch:

    Or, Mitch, you could stop the stereotypes and listen attentively, respectfully. Then you can agree or disagree.

  4. the thought of 9 Marx including the Benedict Option makes my blood run cold …..

    cult-formation and isolationism by a group of 9 Marx neo-Cal types by adapting and corrupting the monastic Benedictine ways which belong wholly to another faith tradition …. only bad can come from this

    REASON:
    individuals are ‘called’ into the monastic life; it is not a life-style to be imposed as a structure on the ‘inmates’ of a neo-Cal cult, no

    it wouldn’t work for good, this ‘adaptation’ … any 9 Marks group that isolates itself already has ‘rules’ and ‘punishments (discipline) enough for any cult ….. but to impose the monastic way of another faith tradition on top of the already extreme structure seems over-the-top

    St. Benedict would be horrified. I can’t imagine a child in a family going through a monastic existence, no ….. it is a very adult thing, the choosing to ‘come away’ and have a life of prayer and work in community …… the monks are not ‘forced’ or under compulsion to be there: they choose freely this life or ‘ora et labora’; while the 9 Marks neo-Cals don’t believe in free will or free choices and have little respect for any person who is not an adult male

    IF 9 MARKS CANNOT CREATE COMMUNITY AROUND CHRIST, BUT HAS TO BEAT THE SHEEP WITH THEIR ‘RULES’ AND ‘DISCIPLINE’;
    THEN THE BENEDICT OPTION WHICH CENTERS A WILLING COMMUNITY ON CHRIST IS NOT FOR THEM, NO

  5. The biggest criticism I’ve heard of the Benedict Option is this: Benedict’s Rule was designed for monks and nuns, not laity living in the world. Dreher’s trying to make Benedict’s Rule something it was never intended to be.

  6. Deb wrote:

    I watched the video, and I had the same impression as Mitch. The majority of the audience were white men.

    I wonder why that is, Deb? Is it that they’re afraid to share the world with women and minorities of all types and that’s why they’re interested in this pseudo-monastic option, which I must emphasize again was NOT intended for lay people living in the world? Just asking.

  7. @ Deb:

    So, you and Mitch think it’s beneficial to alert us to your “impression” and what it “looks like.” How about we do the more difficult work of actually listening and understanding what is being proposed? After which, you can responsibly agree or not. I do not know if I agree with Dreher or not, but I’ve read enough of his work to know that he’s not a simplistic reactionary. And 99% of commentary on social media is from people who have never read the book, have no intention of reading the book, and have never even read his online material.

  8. My son is Orthodox. I am too tired to listen to the links now (my husband just got out of the hospital today and we are both exhausted) but it will be interesting to see what this is about. I do know my son does not vote (although he grew up in a VERY political household -my husband loves politics) and he follows the Orthodox tradition in very strict seasonal fast days and seasons. I see it as a very legalistic faith as practiced although there certainly are many sincere lovers of Christ who belong to the Orthodox tradition. On the other hand many orthodox (I am thinking of Greek here since they are the ones I am most familiar with ) are simply born into the faith and it is simply part of their cultural identity -sort of like there are some Catholics who are very serious and some Catholics who just show up at Mass to make Grandma happy.

  9. Off-topic announcement.

    For those who would like to pray for those among us, there are quite a few serious needs among people who post here right now. A list of people to pray for can be found on this last Sunday’s E-Church.

    Thank you for praying for The Body.

  10. @ Velour:
    I’ll keep vigil tonight, Velour. The timing seems right for it for some special needs among the TWW community, yes.

  11. @ Bunny:

    Hoping you will share your impressions if and when you have the time. Thanks for your very helpful comment. Since the New Calvinists have been heavily promoting this book, I figured the author was one of them. I was surprised to discover that Dreher went from Methodism to a Catholicism to Eastern Orthodoxy. It does appear that there are lots and lots of rules in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

  12. Deb wrote:

    @ Velour:
    Thank you for sharing those prayer requests via EChurch. Keeping those folks in my thoughts and prayers.

    Thank you, Deb!

  13. Christiane wrote:

    @ Velour:
    I’ll keep vigil tonight, Velour. The timing seems right for it for some special needs among the TWW community, yes.

    Thanks, Christiane!

  14. I want to go back and watch the videos because I don’t have time right now but I’ve been seeing this Benedict Option here and there, myself.

    My first thought on asceticism is Colossians 2:23 –

    “These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.”

    The Benedict Option sounds a bit like withdrawing from the larger world, like the Amish? Anyone who has looked into the issues they have should pause to think this through. (A thought provoking article, for anyone interested http://legalaffairs.org/issues/January-February-2005/feature_labi_janfeb05.msp ) You can’t remove yourself from sin by withdrawing from the world, it is right there within all of us, wherever we are.

    Jesus sent us as ambassadors into the world. Christians today seem to have become very sensitive. If the culture around them does not reflect their own values, they either want to take control of it and force it to, or else take their toys and go home. What about just living Christ-honoring lives without worrying about what non-believers are doing?

  15. I think the “white male event” crowd are on the right track, by I’d like to broaden that thought a bit. It seems to me that most faith movements today are about developing a unique commodity that appeals to a target audience. Reading between the lines, this seems to be just another guy carving out his niche in the market.

  16. I just think it’s ironic that right-wing fundamentalists are promoting this book. Oh the cognitive dissonance, normally they are preaching AGAINST Catholicism and the Eastern Orthodox faith, monasticism etc and telling their followers that those beliefs lead directly to hell.

  17. The Jesus Option: contagious joy and obedience. “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is trurh. As you have sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.”

    Holy Spirit-filled believers in the risen and glorified Savior telling hungry sinners about the Bread of Life! What a glorious privilege! This little Light of mine…

  18. From the Fox News video it seems like he is advocating for Christians to calm down politically and start trying to make an impact in their local communities and with their neighbors rather than taking on society at large. I’m all for that. But, when he said “building up our schools and institutions” I assumed public schools and communities. If he means erecting more walls around our Christian bubble, than I would have to disagree. The description of his book on Amazon sounds like an older man who looked around and said, “wait, we’re not a Christian nation? Oh no!”

    I think there is going to be a lot more about monasticism, and developing contemplative spiritual disciplines in the future. Millennials like that. There is an interest in trying to practice ancient Christianity that I’ve seen developing among the younger generation (myself included). It’s why things like passover meals and lent have become more popular even within evangelicalism. I think quiet, intentional, simplicity could be a rather effective way to live the Christian life.

    There are parts of the monastic movement I like – I really like communal living! But the worst part of the movement was that it took the salt out of the world. So again, if this is all about building bigger walls around our Christian bubble, than I have a problem.

  19. siteseer wrote:

    You can’t remove yourself from sin by withdrawing from the world, it is right there within all of us, wherever we are.

    Jesus sent us as ambassadors into the world. Christians today seem to have become very sensitive. If the culture around them does not reflect their own values, they either want to take control of it and force it to, or else take their toys and go home. What about just living Christ-honoring lives without worrying about what non-believers are doing?

    Nail, squarely hit on head.

    If you read Dreher’s column in American Conservative, you’ll see that he is REALLY spun up about LBGTQ gains in the wider culture. He’s absolutely apoplectic about it. He is convinced that Christianity and queer-tolerant culture are totally incompatible. And since the prospects of reverting the culture back to the 1950s is pretty much zip, it’s time to take our toys and go home to the monastery and wait out the coming Dark Age.

    What I find really ironic about all this is that, when Dreher was still a Catholic, he wrote a book called *Crunchy Cons* lamenting the captivity of Republicanism and evangelicalism to big business interests. It (and the chapter by chapter debates over it on his National Review website) played a large role in my transition out of Culture War evangelicalism. It’s sad that he missed one sandtrap and fell squarely into another.

    David Brooks at the New York Times had a great response to Dreher in a column last week (“The Benedict Option“).

  20. I have not looked at the videos yet, but the idea of the Benedict Option gives me the creeps. It bothers me because I am very connected to a Benedictine Abbey, and just love the men and women I have met there. I mourn when I see fresh graves, I rejoice when I see young faces in the choir, and I am thankful that I am allowed to briefly share in their prayer life.

    It is a challenging life, but joyful.

    I have a hard time seeing how it could work with evangelicals.

  21. siteseer wrote:

    What about just living Christ-honoring lives without worrying about what non-believers are doing?

    What a concept! I would simply add to share this love of Christ as appropriate.

    Christianity today has turned in to some other religion as far as I can tell; devoid of the power of the Holy Spirit to change a person. Instead, I see men and women intent on trying to force change upon the world via law and political power.

  22. Matilda wrote:

    I just think it’s ironic that right-wing fundamentalists are promoting this book. Oh the cognitive dissonance, normally they are preaching AGAINST Catholicism and the Eastern Orthodox faith, monasticism etc and telling their followers that those beliefs lead directly to hell.

    This is where I get stuck on this topic. I can see how the neo-Cals would be interested in separation. They’re all about rules and membership making you eligible to be elected. But they generally don’t like anyone out of their circle, much less someone with such different views.

    Maybe there’s more here about how they are using this book/theology I’m missing so far.

    I’ve always maintained a separation from politics, and I really don’t see how forcing nonbelievers to conform to a moral code will work. Especially since a lot of the moralizing I see in churches and among Christians really doesn’t have anything to do with God and has more to do with giving them an excuse not to reach out.

    However, maintaining a distance from politics isn’t maintaining a distance from the world and from nonbelievers. They are two different things.

  23. Dale wrote:

    I do not ask You to take them out of the world… As you have sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.

    Hear, hear.

    It’s often struck me that true holiness is contagious. Under the Old Covenant law – and it came from God, unlike the screeds of man-made regulations littering the religious landscape – you couldn’t touch anything unclean because it would defile you. If you touched anything in the holy of holies, it would destroy you.

    In complete contrast, as it’s often been pointed out: Jesus didn’t catch any kind of defilement from lepers – they “caught” health from him. Likewise if you sneaked up behind him in a crowd and touched the edge of his cloak, fire didn’t come out from him and consume you.

  24. Left Behind, Purpose-Driven Life, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Prayer of Jabez…
    We’re about due for another Latest New Thing fad.

  25. Eeyore wrote:

    David Brooks at the New York Times had a great response to Dreher in a column last week (“The Benedict Option“).

    Your comment was spot on. Thanks for alerting us about David Brooks' response to The Benedict Option.

  26. The Eastern Orthodox Church places heavy emphasis and awards a high level of prestige to traditions of monasticism and asceticism with roots in Early Christianity. . . All Orthodox Christians are expected to participate in at least some ascetic works, in response to the commandment of Christ to “come, take up the cross, and follow me.”

    Fr Orthocuban (former commenter at Internet Monk) claimed once that the most common way for an EO to flake out is the “Monk-a-bee”, taking on all the outer trappings of an Orthodox monk — beard, ascetic discipline, black robe, ascetic discipline, ascetic discipline, See How ORTHODOX I Am, ascetic discipline, See How Holy I Am — without actually taking vows or placing themselves under an abbot or other authorities. And going as overboard as possible (See How Holy I Am?)

    Then there are Cage Phase Orthodox (usually new converts) — remember Cage Phase Calvinists? Same thing — except instead of CALVIN CALVIN CALVIN it’s ORTHODOXY ORTHODOXY ORTHODOXY as the Answer to Everything (with lotsa Greek theo-babble). Like Cage Phase Catholics who go full Tridentine Latin Trad.

  27. siteseer wrote:

    What about just living Christ-honoring lives without worrying about what non-believers are doing?

    The problem is that non-believers don’t always leave us alone. Just ask Baronelle Stutzman. I suppose you could say in theory, that if the Religious Right had never arisen there would have been no culture wars, and we’d all be getting along just fine today. Personally, I think that’s naive, whether it’s coming from pundits on the right or left. It was Francis Schaeffer who famously asked, How Then Should We Live? From what I can tell so far, the book is Dreher’s attempt to answer that question in light of our current situation.

  28. Matilda wrote:

    I just think it’s ironic that right-wing fundamentalists are promoting this book. Oh the cognitive dissonance, normally they are preaching AGAINST Catholicism and the Eastern Orthodox faith, monasticism etc and telling their followers that those beliefs lead directly to hell.

    Wasn’t Monasticism “Romish Popery”?

    500 years into The Reformation(TM) and the heirs of the Reformers and Reformed are giving Borgia Popes a run for their money; we’re also due for the next 500-year major shakeup.

  29. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Then there are Cage Phase Orthodox (usually new converts) — remember Cage Phase Calvinists? Same thing — except instead of CALVIN CALVIN CALVIN it’s ORTHODOXY ORTHODOXY ORTHODOXY as the Answer to Everything (with lotsa Greek theo-babble). Like Cage Phase Catholics who go full Tridentine Latin Trad.

    One thing I find irritating about some Orthodox, whether cradle or converts, is the attitude that anything Western is automatically bad. To be a REAL Christian is to adopt all things Eastern.

  30. @ scott hendrixson:
    From the “Benedict Event” video, I didn’t really see it as a “white male event”. I did see some different ethnicities though a fair number of women wearing headscarves (Mennonite?)

    Anyways, I’m unimpressed, the “Benedict Option” will no doubt make Dreher a lot of money but will ultimately be on sale in garage sales and thrift shops within 5 years.

    Tucker Carlson’s characterization “the bad guys won” sounds petulant. It tells me “we couldn’t force your kids to pray in public school, we couldn’t force the gays back in the closet, we couldn’t force women back into the kitchen, we couldn’t force the public school curriculum to adopt creationism or intelligent design so we’re taking our toys and going home”

    It’s a repudiation of pluralism, and the “Christians” are going back to their own cantonments. In Dreher’s vision there will be pentecostal silos, calvinist silos, episcopal silos, orthodox silos, catholic silos. Everyone back in their bunker!

    In some ways Dreher is against the very freedom and individuality that makes America, well, America. (and this is from a Canadian). Sure it doesn’t work all the time. No the streets aren’t paved with gold, racism and poverty are still with us but of all possible worlds, it gives us the best opportunity for our species to grow. The guiding principles in the Constitution at least provide a framework for a just society – and yes I know it was written by white dudes looking out for their own interests but like the Magna Carta it inadvertently became a blueprint for something more.

    Hostile to Christians!? Puhleeze! Our liberal democracy had given Christianity an opportunity to reach others on a scale that would have had the apostle Paul doing cartwheels.

    Go back to your miserable, austere and unfun bunker. Disengage from those heathens and heretics and those other pesky religions and faiths.

    Dialog and action not disengagement is the only way to a better world.

  31. “Since Rod Dreher’s orthodox faith places such a heavy emphasis on monasticism and asceticism, we can’t help but wonder whether he wrote this book out of obedience to his spiritual mentors. After all, he has only been involved with Eastern Orthodoxy for a decade or so.”

    Oh for heaven’s sakes. You’re making it sound like either somebody else directed him to write this book, or this was his idea of following whatever spiritual direction he receives, although I don’t find too many Orthodox writing books like this over the past 2,000 years. I did leave a comment on his blog once to say that I think he may have a hard time convincing a lot of Protestants of the asceticism part, given our history. Then again, with evangelicals who are picking up things like Lent, the church calendar, fasting, etc. in increasing numbers, who knows?

  32. Jack wrote:

    Anyways, I’m unimpressed, the “Benedict Option” will no doubt make Dreher a lot of money but will ultimately be on sale in garage sales and thrift shops within 5 years.

    Looks like we're on the same page (see my comment at 8:39). Thanks for your excellent points. The more these books are promoted, the more I just want to stick with reading what God has to say.

  33. SteveG wrote:

    The problem is that non-believers don’t always leave us alone. Just ask Baronelle Stutzman.

    I don’t want to get political here but I would just point out that Ms. Stutzman wanted an exception to the anti-discrimination laws of her state. Several courts rejected her rationale that her refusal to provide flowers to a gay wedding was protected free speech. Last month, the Washington state supreme court said, “this case is no more about the access to flowers than civil rights cases for about access to sandwiches.”

    Getting back to the Benedict Option, Dreher and his ilk want to isolate themselves in their little walled communities so they don’t have to deal with the reality of the world. It reminds me of parents who sent their kids to “segregation academies” so their kids wouldn’t have to be educated with African-Americans.

    Jesus said we were supposed to be salt and light to the world. Laypeople withdrawing from the larger society is not that. Rod Dreher and his followers don’t want to do the hard work of understanding and loving the stranger as yourself. (And yes, there are days when I just want to crawl under a rock.)

  34. I have not yet read the book but I plan to do so.

    First, about St. Benedict and whether some of his thinking may be applicable in today’s setting.

    I first heard of the Benedict Option a bit back when our rector gave a Wednesday night series on the Rule of St. Benedict. I still have a copy of that here somewhere. He emphasized that some of the rule was clearly limited to people in the monastic life and some it is applicable to everyday life of everyday people. At the time I thought that some of what he said was similar to the ideas behind Opus Dei.

    There is a good article on St Benedict of Nursia in Wiki. Anybody who has not read at least that really might consider doing so. It is one thing to listen to people who are either ‘for’ or ‘against’ something but it is far better to check it out at some sort of more or less objective source. And BTW, the Anglican Communion also venerates St. Benedict along with the Orthodox and various Catholic groups.

    Next, regarding he idea of ‘intentional community” here is a link to an intentional community of one kind which our church is involved with/ sponsors.

    https://theabrahamproject.net

    At the same time our church lends some help to a Moravian intentional community here in our town. I have been over there, and what it seems to be is two or three people who live in an old house which is owned by the adjacent old Moravian church in a part of town that has become run down. The people in the intentional community are doing what looks like community service especially for the children. We furnish then children’s books and stuff and occasionally other stuff. I see nothing but good from this particular community.

    This sort of thing, that is to say multiple ways of living in intentional communities, some of which are even semi-monastic has been going for a very long time. It has proved over time to be advantageous for some but not for all. Why on God’s green earth would anybody want to stamp this out? Nobody is being required to do it.

    To be continued.

  35. continued

    Now, as to whether some of these ideas would would work for fundamentalists and evangelicals, many very conservative people are already living something like this life style, except they live in individual family homes. They are over at church multiple times a week, they live by the rules of the church which they believe to be biblical understandings of how to live, they homeschool the children, the do not socially mix with people who practice various lifestyles with which they disapprove, they have dress codes which are probably not recognizable to the general public but which are sold as ‘modest’, and in the last election there were those who were urging them to vote since in every election large numbers of them don’t vote as a matter of principle.

    This in one of the things that Jerry differed with when he set up Liberty back in the day-the practice of separation to the extent that some practiced it. Jerry thought the opposite-get out and be ‘champions for Christ’ in the larger culture. He was soundly opposed by various IFB groups for his stand on this who believed that the larger culture in general and politics in particular was no place for a christian.

    Then, do not forget the people moving to the Redoubt which is part survivalist and part religious. In survivalist world there is a lot of ongoing talk about forming similarly minded groups, sharing skills, developing outlying areas to which to retreat, and such. Not to neglect to mention self sufficiency as a life style even in urban areas when possible even when it is not associated with specific religious beliefs. The mindset of each one for himself and build an ark and form a likeminded community is very present in our culture. Some of it reminds me of my childhood during WW II in some ways.

    What I am saying is that living a ‘separated’ lifestyle of one kind or another is practiced by many people in various forms and to varying extents.

    So. I am thinking that what this man is proposing in The Benedict Option is tapping into something which shares some commonality with a lot of stuff that has been here all along.

    And is there not a relatively recent catholic town in Florida or something where actually have one’s own town was the concept? Is that place still there? I can’t remember the name but some pizza millionaire started it. Which is to say that not everybody who thinks this way or does this is necessarily a cult.

  36. A few things,

    — Dreher left the Catholics due to his disgust of their mishandling of abuse. You’d think that would give him and TWW a little connection.

    — Reading the endorsements on the flap you see men, women, whites, Native Americans, Calvinists, Catholics, Orthodox. That’s a pretty wide swath, and far from the “right-wing male” stuff floating around. I can name two published female colleagues not on the rightwing/Calvinist bent who are urging friends to read this as they were given advanced copies.

    — I’m halfway through this book, and if there’s a section telling us to head for the hills and ignore everyone around us while we go off to count beads I’ve yet to find it. Just the opposite, really — so far there’s more about homeless shelters, crisis pregnancy centers, welcoming strangers, and building communities than there is about running away. It’s just contra the American Family Association/GOP world of dealing with cultural change.

    — If you just are not a little familiar about Eastern Orthodoxy, this book is going to have a learning curve with it (his previous Catholic faith was of a more Eastern bent as well). I don’t agree with it all, and the Eastern Christian tirades against “Western Christianity” get old no matter who is making them. That said, reading through this I can see the Orthodox mindset is going to scrape against those primarily in evangelical Protestant circles. It’s quite visible in the reviews — particularly in the hysterical Twitter rants Rachael H Evans had awhile back.

    — The comments about “I wish they’d just stop focusing on X and stick to Jesus” sound exactly like the comments people make about TWW when they rightly bring up abuse in the church and the good old boys club. We all know how that goes. As we know, you can focus on Jesus and have other interests and concerns about the direction of the church and culture.

  37. mitch wrote:

    Didn’t watch the event video, but from the screen shot it looks like the typical white male event. Sigh…..

    I was kind of thinking if you were female and looking, the odds were certainly in your favor!

    I can’t watch all the videos right now. I do think it’s interesting that several people have mentioned eastern orthodox lately. I’m getting some of the same impressions SteveG is from converts, it’s kind of akin to converting to Buddhism or something, without leaving your faith. I do yoga, but I’m not into that side of things really.

    Of course, my main irl experience with it is the festival put on by the greek orthodox church, which I certainly enjoy.

  38. Preacher’s Wife wrote:

    But the worst part of the movement was that it took the salt out of the world.

    I have issues with the idea that we should remove ourselves completely from ‘worldly’ life because I think the proper ‘witness’ is supposed to be people simply seeing Christians living out their faith in a way that shows love and honesty and all the good things that we are supposed to be. I think that removing to communities and being separate and refusing to have friendships outside of your church, etc, is directly detrimental to this.

  39. I watched the short Fox News video and will plan to get to the other ones later. Part of what Rod Dreher calls for makes sense — refocus on local involvement and (re)building local church through practicing faith together. That overlaps with some of the main messages of the missional movement.

    However, what strikes me as a key disconnect is the notion that we withdraw, improve ourselves, then (re)engage with the world/culture/political state. Ironically, he’s suggesting we go back to a premodern era for input, but it sort of smacks of modernist assumptions that “right information” leads to enlightened choices. Perhaps how we see our flaws in order to improve is *BY* engaging in the culture and experiences consequences of actions. I’m not convinced that going into a silo of mirrors will help us see our weaknesses. At least, that’s what I’m getting from this video and the general background to Mr. Dreher’s Benedict Option.

    The question of Christianity’s relationship with culture is one I’ve been considering for nearly 40 years, so my opinions of this version of the Benedict Option aren’t being made in a vacuum. In my opinion, to understand and analyze Mr. Dreher’s position better, it will help to have the bigger picture of the range of interpretations of Christians, culture, and contextualization. He wants us to explore and reconnect with our ancient roots, but one problem is, there have always been at least three different approaches to the Christian-Christianity-culture connection (or control, or isolation).

    Here’s a copy-and-paste of a comment I posted a couple weeks ago. I think it’s especially relevant here, so I hope this will help as a big-picture resource for a “spiritual MRI” of the Benedict Option’s theological assumptions and practices.

    * * * * *

    Also, I was thinking about this whole issue of politics and Christianity earlier this morning, and thought about what book I could recommend. Really, there is just one author who lays out a framework that I believe works best for understanding the possibilities, and guides us to the fullest biblical approach. And it’s been around for nearly 40 years.

    It’s *The Secular Saint: The Case for Evangelical Social Responsibility* by Robert Webber (first published in 1979, and reprinted by Wipf & Stock).

    https://www.amazon.com/Secular-Saint-Evangelical-Social-Responsibility/dp/1592446302/

    The problem of evangelism “versus” social change involvement was a big theological issue in the 1970s. Robert Webber was known for his biblical orthodoxy and also for having a paradoxical point of view — that not everything has to be either/or, black-or-white, this or that. So, what he did in this book was to lay out the three main approaches to church and state in Western Christianity:

    1. separate from political involvement and focus on the Church,

    2. the Church work with/identify with the state where appropriate, and

    3. the Church controls/transforms the state.

    Webber presents a biblical theology for each point of view. Then he gives sets of examples for all three from the early church, from the reformation era (Calvinism, Lutheranism, Anabaptist), and from contemporary times. He critiques the inherent problems found in each approach, and then seeks to provide an alternative that has what he sees as the most comprehensive biblical base and that integrates the appropriate parts of each of the three views.

    It is his fourth, Kingdom way that I believe is what we need today. It keeps in dynamic tension that we can have active influence as citizens, instead of passive outsiders, without being co-opted by endorsing people or policies that are immoral and unethical, and can integrate personal morality with social justice without demanding others conform to us through “behavior modification” if there is no internal transformation.

    I read the first-edition hardcover copy of this book and have used Webber’s framework for 35+ years. This is far more manageable, I think, than the 5-part framework of H. Richard Niebuhr in *Christ and Culture*. And Webber also looks at church-as-state with Catholicism, but that isn’t in the main part of his framework. So, to step back from current confusion and get a fresh perspective, I’d suggest we go back — so we can go forward …

  40. I’m getting tired of hearing about the Benedict Option, though I thank you, Deb, for posting on TWW. I think it is impractical and easily becomes a form separation that leads to cultic higher spirituality. I think a far more Christian reaction to Western culture would be to live in the midst of a corrupt culture while standing up in the face of materialism. We don’t need to follow the world into bigger, more costly homes, vehicles, boats, vacations, etc., etc. There appears to be no difference between Christianity and the non-Christian world in this realm. John and I have made a very conscious effort to live economically and give a lot more of our income to humanitarian and environmental causes. I surely don’t say this to brag as we are hardly living on the edge, and fortunately our greatest enjoyments—hiking, biking, kayaking—cost very little. Sure we sometimes go out to eat and John has a taste for good beer, but otherwise spending money for things simply doesn’t give us pleasure. We recently up-dated our joint trust; kids and grandkids are not forgotten, but half will go to charities. I could wish Christians would buy into what I suggest we call the Treasure Option from Mt. 6: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth. . . . For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

  41. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    In complete contrast, as it’s often been pointed out: Jesus didn’t catch any kind of defilement from lepers – they “caught” health from him.

    I love this, Nick.

  42. First of all, I’m digging Dreher’s glasses. Very Ward Kimball-ish.

    I noticed that the event video was hosted by a young woman with a headcovering, and a long skirt. I noticed other women in the event, dressed similarly, although there were a few women who weren’t dressed that way. The video was from “Bruderhof,” which seems to be a network of about 20 Christian communities in different parts of the world. Sounds like they are also communes. Sort of neo-Amish, but with technology and without private property. Maybe even neo-Shaker, to some degree. Dreher’s ideas may be connected with them. Dreher and the Bruderhof certainly seem to be kindred spirits. If someone knows more, it might be helpful. I’m certainly curious. And concerned.

    I wonder, what are Dreher’s thoughts on women in leadership, in the workplace, in church?

  43. NJ wrote:

    fasting

    Speaking of trendy books, there was a Daniel fast book a few years back and I know several people who did it.

  44. Bruderhof in German means “the court of brothers.” Sisters, not so much. Then there’s this:

    “This paper will examine how this new religious movement has developed into a single belief system — a religious totalism– commanding unquestioning obedience of members to authority. This minority religions concentrated near absolute power in the hands of a supreme leader and his retinue, creating opportunities for the abuse of power and the unbrotherly exclusion of believers in the name of doctrinal orthodoxy and unanimity of belief.”

    http://www.culthelp.info/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=114&Itemid=8

  45. Kevin Davis wrote:

    I do not know if I agree with Dreher or not, but I’ve read enough of his work to know that he’s not a simplistic reactionary.

    I have been following this for a bit, reading as much as I can. I too, would like to see more women and people of color involved in the discussion. There is some concern that this is a reaction of people of privilege who are now being sidelined from the culture.

    I have studied a great deal about the monastery movement. Unlike popular perceptions, monasteries were centers of culture, medicine, agricultural advances and a place of refuge for the folks when being invaded by the Germanic hordes. Many of the books we have today by Socrates, Aristotle, and yes, the Scriptures, were copied and preserved by the monks within the monasteries.They were hardly retreating from the world, except for a few isolationists.

    There is a popular phrase going around today “She persisted” in regards to one of the candidates. However, I think I applies well to the church universal. Unlike many other folks, we have been told the ending. Therefore, instead, we should be optimistic about the church’s longevity. In other words, “She will persist.”

  46. I haven’t read “The Benedict Option”, nor do I plan to do so. But, what I have read about the book seems to be contradictory to Jesus’ words. …….. Go he therefore……….I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.

    Given the state of the world in the 1st century, why didn’t the apostles live like Dreher suggests? Why did they go into pagan cities where people worshipped false idols? Why didn’t they isolate themselves as much as possible?

  47. Deb wrote:

    It does appear that there are lots and lots of rules in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

    Interesting observation from Sanibel:

    Did you know that Mark Dever, ruler of what constitutes a gospel™ church, does *allow* people who leave church to go to an Orthodox Church without disciplining them. He does not feel the same way about Catholicism. one of these days I must write about this.

  48. @ Deb:
    Glad you got us started on this subject. My guess is that the dudebros will leap on this as the latest *thing.*

  49. dee wrote:

    My guess is that the dudebros will leap on this as the latest *thing.*

    I cannot tell you how tired I am of there always being a latest ‘thing’!

    There is nothing new under the sun, ya’ll.

  50. @ scott hendrixson:
    There is some comfort in finding a community that is comfortable for one to practice one’s faith. I have found that recently in my church. Our goal is to receive support and reach outwards. My church ends every worship service with this:

    Pastor: The worship has ended.
    People: The service now begins.

  51. David wrote:

    Dreher left the Catholics due to his disgust of their mishandling of abuse. You’d think that would give him and TWW a little connection.

    Thank you. I did not know that was his basic motivation to leave Catholicism. I thought it was based more on doctrine. If you are correct-yay Dreher.

    I sure hope that he exposes the same problem in the Orthodox and Evangelical churches.

  52. David wrote:

    ’m halfway through this book, and if there’s a section telling us to head for the hills and ignore everyone around us while we go off to count beads I’ve yet to find it. Just the opposite, really — so far there’s more about homeless shelters, crisis pregnancy centers, welcoming strangers, and building communities than there is about running away.

    See my comment about a true view of the monastery movement. I think I will need to write a post on this. I took a course on the Church in the Middle Ages and it blew me away! It was much different than I thought.

  53. Deb wrote:

    I was surprised to discover that Dreher went from Methodism to a Catholicism to Eastern Orthodoxy. It does appear that there are lots and lots of rules in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

    You should see how Orthodox do Lent; they have some of the Strictest Lenten restrictions in Christendom. And a lot of emphasis on Fasting in general.

    And going overboard into Asceticism is the characteristically Orthodox way to flake out (like End Time Prophecy for Fundagelicals and Mary Channeling for Catholics).

    I think a lot of this comes from their history; while the Western church (which became the RCC) was dealing with being the only legit authority in a “low-tech Road Warrior” situation, the Eastern church got more and more elaborate liturgy and observances under the patronage of Caesar in Constantinople.

  54. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    However, what strikes me as a key disconnect is the notion that we withdraw, improve ourselves, then (re)engage with the world/culture/political state.

    This is interesting and I must admit I need to read more on this subject. So, you are saying his idea is a strategic withdrawal to shore up our troops and the reengage on the political front once again?

  55. This is a serious topic, and the author is a serious person.

    We do need to get beyond the “white male” crowd labeling. That’s not helpful or fair to this author.

    But I do not agree at all with the Benedict option.

    It appeals, I find, to families that are not too far from there already. Lots of homeschool folks will find this attractive, I fear.

    The Benedict Option may be necessary at some point in some contexts for simple survival. But we are nowhere near that in the US right now. We should be in the world. That is risky, but it is the calling of Jesus.

    Plus, I have not seen the various separation strategies being all that successful in the history of the US. Not that being successful is the test. But it is interesting to see how the last generation of people who emphasized separation to preserve the purity of the church (e.g. Independent Baptists) has not really panned out that well.

  56. GSD wrote:

    he video was from “Bruderhof,” which seems to be a network of about 20 Christian communities in different parts of the world. Sounds like they are also communes. Sort of neo-Amish, but with technology and without private property.

    Interesting. I have heard about this group and will read more on that today. Thank you for bringing this up.

    My dad was Russian Orthodox. There were two types of priests-the white priests who did not marry and the black priests who did (the color has to do with vestments.) There are no women in the priesthood but the women run the church not unlike some Southern Baptist churches.

  57. @ Lea:
    Now, in. the Benedict Option do you think they will buy lots of fog machines for the communities? This could be an investment opportunity.

  58. dee wrote:

    See my comment about a true view of the ministry movement. I think I will need to write a post on this. I took a course on the Church in the Middle Ages and it blew me away! It was much different than I thought.

    It would be great if you would write a post on this; there is so much lack of information out there.

  59. Some additional thoughts on apparent disconnects.

    * Mr. Dreher is from an Eastern Orthodox faith and is advocating what sounds like disengagement in a post-Christian environment. I find it intriguing that some of the most politically engaged people in the resistance during the Soviet era were [Russian] Orthodox believers like Irina Ratushinskaya.

    * For those interested in the Bruderhof, do some research on those at the top of the administrative hierarchy, who manage purchases for all the Hutterite communities. I doubt you will find the men dressed mostly in black and white, and the women in black, white, and floral prints. (I grew up near a Western Bruderhof/Hutterite community, and also had a photojournalist friend who was doing a piece on an East Coast Bruderhof community. So, I have some personal and research background that informs this statement.)

  60. dee wrote:

    Jack wrote:
    a fair number of women wearing headscarves (Mennonite?)
    Dee: They wear cute white caps.

    Here in rural Southern Kentucky, we have several different varieties of Mennonites. I have seen the cute little white caps that tie under the chin, the lace doilies that are pinned on top of the head, the prarie-style bonnets, and the headscarves.
    When my youngest niece was a toddler, her baby sitter was a Mennonite. When my niece was at their home, they dressed her like a little Mennonite girl – a solid color dress with a black apron, and black prairie bonnet!

  61. Eeyore wrote:

    If you read Dreher’s column in American Conservative, you’ll see that he is REALLY spun up about LBGTQ gains in the wider culture. He’s absolutely apoplectic about it.

    “The Fred Phelps Option” instead of The Benedict Option?

    Well, just the mention of the word “HOMOSEXUALITY” shuts down every neuron above the Christianese brainstem and throws the rest into full “RAWR!” Panic Mode…

    “Even the mention of the word is sufficient to induce… PANIC!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQuieWA3SWY?t=10s

  62. dee wrote:

    This is interesting and I must admit I need to read more on this subject. So, you are saying his idea is a strategic withdrawal to shore up our troops and the reengage on the political front once again?

    Retreat, regroup, return?

  63. Christiane wrote:

    St. Benedict would be horrified. I can’t imagine a child in a family going through a monastic existence, no …..

    Especially when “More Monastic Than Thou/Can You Top This?” sets in.

    As in not just Kirk Cameron barricading himself in his trailer to avoid being contaminated by those HEATHENS on-set, but gargling lye with St Rose of Lima.

    What happened to the Little Way of St Therese of Lisieux?
    About just living your life and encountering God and Holiness in everyday routine?
    And doesn’t Judaism place a LOT of emphasis on “Just Live Your Life/L’Chaim!”?

  64. Nancy2 wrote:

    dee wrote:
    This is interesting and I must admit I need to read more on this subject. So, you are saying his idea is a strategic withdrawal to shore up our troops and the reengage on the political front once again?

    Retreat, regroup, return?

    Retiring to the Culture War Spawning Pits beneath Isengard.
    “Build Me an army worthy of Mordor…”

  65. dee wrote:

    So, you are saying his idea is a strategic withdrawal to shore up our troops and the reengage on the political front once again?

    I may have been concluding too much from just this article and one video (and haven’t read the book, likely won’t), but that’s *somewhat* the impression I got from the 4-minute video on Fox News. Sort of “requalify” ourselves to be in the public square but more local than not. Stay involved at the national level at least to keep religious liberty intact. But Mr. Dreher is *not* using a Moral Majority – Dominionist – “Culture Warrior” metaphor. Instead, it’s more almost an agricultural metaphor he could be advocating: Go back, plow, plant, water, wait, and present the produce we harvest to the world around us.

    In terms of what Robert Webber would say, Mr. Dreher is not advocating a control-transform-Calvinist approach to cultural takeover and domination; it’s more the separate-Anabaptist version of church/state relations — which has the inherent tendency to turn into isolation and repulsion. If you overfocus on piety and staying unstained BY the world, you end up not really offering anything of the good news embodied IN the world.

    Anyway, in the Fox News video, Mr. Dreher says (around the 3:45 mark) that we need withdraw from mainstream society somewhat in order to rebuild our identity through our roots and the Bible and traditional practices, “but we have to withdraw so we can continue to go out into the world and present the face of Christ as He really is. If we don’t withdraw and study and pray and build our practices up, we can’t bring the world the gospel. We have to withdraw from the world so we can be for the world who Christ wants us to be.”

  66. dee wrote:

    Thank you. I did not know that was his basic motivation to leave Catholicism. I thought it was based more on doctrine. If you are correct-yay Dreher.
    I sure hope that he exposes the same problem in the Orthodox and Evangelical churches.

    If he’s a newly-converted Orthodox, he won’t.
    In the Cage Phase, ORTHODOXY! ORTHODOXY! ORTHODOXY! Can Do No Wrong.

  67. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    But Mr. Dreher is *not* using a Moral Majority – Dominionist – “Culture Warrior” metaphor. Instead, it’s more almost an agricultural metaphor he could be advocating: Go back, plow, plant, water, wait, and present the produce we harvest to the world around us.

    Well, that’s a LOT less destructive than the “Takeover and Force a Christian Nation(TM)”.

    In terms of what Robert Webber would say, Mr. Dreher is not advocating a control-transform-Calvinist approach to cultural takeover and domination; it’s more the separate-Anabaptist version of church/state relations — which has the inherent tendency to turn into isolation and repulsion. If you overfocus on piety and staying unstained BY the world, you end up not really offering anything of the good news embodied IN the world.

    You end up barricaded in the on-set trailer with Kirk Cameron, the Only True Righteous Remnant hiding from The Heathen. Add in some A.W.Pink and you can make that the Only True Righteous Remnant of One.

    And getting Holier and Holier as in More and More Pious. (Coincidentally, that’s one of the problems I’ve noticed about the Orthodox in their history. As well as the splinter “Fellowships” during my time in-country.)

  68. I’m dismayed by the commenters going ahead and dismissing what is probably one of the more important ideas of the early 21st century because the audience in a video appears to be mostly older white men. Are ageism, sexism, and racism suddenly acceptable arguments?

  69. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    In complete contrast, as it’s often been pointed out: Jesus didn’t catch any kind of defilement from lepers – they “caught” health from him. Likewise if you sneaked up behind him in a crowd and touched the edge of his cloak, fire didn’t come out from him and consume you.

    Instead, Power would flow out from him and make you Clean.

  70. Kevin Davis wrote:

    Or, Mitch, you could stop the stereotypes and listen attentively, respectfully. Then you can agree or disagree.

    My attention and respect are very valuable and must be earned. It is not a right; it is a privilege. And Rod will certainly have to put some actual intellectual work in before earning my attention or respect.

  71. Christiane wrote:

    the thought of 9 Marx including the Benedict Option makes my blood run cold …..
    cult-formation and isolationism by a group of 9 Marx neo-Cal types by adapting and corrupting the monastic Benedictine ways which belong wholly to another faith tradition …. only bad can come from this

    On the other hand, it might make the antichrist cult nature of 9Marx more obvious to the world.

  72. Long time reader, possibly first time commenting.

    The foundation to understanding this idea from Rod would come from 2 resources. The first this essay by Robert Louis Wilken https://www.firstthings.com/article/2004/04/the-church-as-culture#print

    The second resource would be this book my Alasdair MacIntyre: https://www.amazon.com/After-Virtue-Study-Moral-Theory/dp/0268035040/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1490108348&sr=8-1&keywords=after+virtue

    The Benedict Option has to be analyzed through these lenses as well as through orthodox Christianity (Rod is Orthodox, Big O, but what I mean is the historical and apostolic orthodox faith handing down to use in the 3 major ecumenical creeds and the Scriptures), and through an understand of the history of Western Civilization and its current trajectory of being lost.

    You will get lost in the weeds if you critique this by seeing how Evangelicalism and its leaders are jumping on what they think is the latest trend to be exploited and sold until the next new idea. This will also, again, come from a “conservative” background when it comes to understanding the Bible and Biblical teachings concerning current hot topics such a sexuality, aesthetics in the Christian life, politics, and even the home.

    The main thrust is that Western Civilization as we know if spiraling to its death and new “dark age” is emerging. What held the civilization together after the fall of Rome was the church and more specifically the monastic orders. The church orders helped to care for the poor, help feed the hungry, educated the masses, and kept the faith alive. The strength of the movement would grow into what we know as Christendom and really the recovery of the West for a thousand years. That is being lost due to many factors. Rod’s saying the time has come for the church to come back to it’s roots, and to rediscover it’s faith. He doesn’t say leave politics or isolate from society, but to not put them in the place of thinking they will save the church or western civilization. Yes this is about forming a different society with the current world, but it isn’t about leaving the world. It is about living as we know in a different kingdom and under a different King than today’s world.

    I could go on, but this is too long. I would like to point out that yes Rod did present the B.O. recently to the Bruderhof communities in New York. They are anabaptist in thought and practice( think Amish/Mennonite communities), but their beliefs in head covering or women leadership issues doesn’t mean they are wrong or some type of oppression is going on. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Secondly, If you want to understand Orthodoxy before you draw any hard opinions I suggest the 2 books below. Yes they do practice aestheticism in many ways, but that doesn’t make them legalistic. They take the church and the faith serious, but that doesn’t mean it’s legalism even if we disagree with them. (Side note I am Lutheran and disagree with the Orthodox on several issues, but I appreciate their seriousness.)

    https://www.amazon.com/Historical-Road-Eastern-Orthodoxy/dp/0913836478/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

    https://www.amazon.com/Orthodoxy-Non-orthodox-Introduction-Orthodox-Christianity/dp/0872432564/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1490110862&sr=1-1&keywords=Orthodoxy+for+the+Non-Orthodox

  73. Eeyore wrote:

    David Brooks at the New York Times had a great response to Dreher in a column last week

    Agreed. Brooks’s essay points out the pitfalls of going whole-hog into anything.

  74. Rod Dreher gushed about my former cult in an article, now gone, on his former Beliefnet blog. I wish I had known back then the need to archive such things. In a more recent piece for the American Conservative website he writes:

    It’s easy to be pessimistic about the viability of Benedict Option-style communities. History gives countless examples of intentional communities that began with high ideals but foundered on human frailty.

    . . .In central Texas, Homestead Heritage, a Pentecostal-style back-to-the-land commune with Anabaptist overtones, has been the target of scathing accusations. A 2012 Texas Observer investigation revealed what the newspaper called “families broken apart, child abuse and allegations of mind control, cover-ups and secrecy.” In a statement, Homestead Heritage denounced the charges as “slanderous and inflammatory.”

    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/benedict-option/

    Let’s just say that “intentional community” combined with authoritarianism/Shepherding is, in my experience, a sure recipe for disaster and abuse.

  75. I just can’t see white american evangelicals going for the Benedict option of withdrawal from power and politics, especially now.

  76. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    And doesn’t Judaism place a LOT of emphasis on “Just Live Your Life/L’Chaim!”?

    Yup. Be the best you can be (not perfect) with what the Almighty has given you in the here and now. Acknowledge Him with thankfulness and don’t do the kinds of things to others you wouldn’t want done to yourself and you’re good to go.

  77. John wrote:

    I just can’t see white american evangelicals going for the Benedict option of withdrawal from power and politics, especially now.

    I can’t see ‘evangelicals’ doing it either. But I can see some fundamentalists utilizing some of the ideas, and like I say my church/denomination might have some people who would be wanting to focus on spirituality and tradition and learning instead of politics. That aspect of it has a certain appeal for people. It takes all kinds. Freeeeedom.

  78. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    Let’s just say that “intentional community” combined with authoritarianism/Shepherding is, in my experience, a sure recipe for disaster and abuse.

    This is something that has been on my mind as I’ve read on the Ben Op. Groups that already lean cultic could take this idea and run with it, with disastrous results. If they’re using the name “Benedict Option” or reference it, I can just imagine what the media would do with that. I haven’t read the book yet, but I’m hoping Dreher addresses this issue somewhere.

  79. I had been hearing, reading about the ‘ Benedict Option.’ Had almost written a blog on it a week ago….may do so now….
    The whole thing is just, ” mind blowing.” And yes, it seems ” cult-like.”

  80. Muff Potter wrote:

    Yup. Be the best you can be (not perfect) with what the Almighty has given you in the here and now. Acknowledge Him with thankfulness and don’t do the kinds of things to others you wouldn’t want done to yourself and you’re good to go.

    That’s pretty much the philosophy I’ve adopted, albeit less eloquently, after picking the meat and spitting out the bones of current era evangelical thought. Then again, as someone who doesn’t fit within the compulsory “one man, one woman, 2.5 kids, and a white picket fence” paradigm, I pretty much had to arrive at this mindset, lest I risk going insane.

  81. NJ wrote:

    Groups that already lean cultic could take this idea and run with it, with disastrous results.

    And something about TGC and the people they promote (Mahaney, Doug Wilson) concerns me that they are promoting Benedict Op.

    I’m not sure what to make of Dreher. He rolled up his sleeves to help out during the Louisiana floods. Can you imagine one of the Gospel Glitterati doing that?
    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/louisiana-flood-loss-gain/

  82. John wrote:

    I just can’t see white american evangelicals going for the Benedict option of withdrawal from power and politics, especially now.

    Not when (in their own minds) they’re right on the threshold of The Republic of Gilead with God’s Anointed Wonder Prez. Power Struggle Without End, Amen.

    (Whichever Culture Warrior started the idea of “God’s Anointed Choice for POTUS” needs to get beaten like a gong. Ever since that meme locked in, “God’s Anointed Choices” among the GOP Candidates have gotten scuzzier and scuzzier with each election cycle.)

  83. mitch wrote:

    Didn’t watch the event video, but from the screen shot it looks like the typical white male event. Sigh…..

    Well if you didn’t watch it then why make a judgment? I watched it and it’s nothing of the sort.

  84. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    I’m not sure what to make of Dreher. He rolled up his sleeves to help out during the Louisiana floods. Can you imagine one of the Gospel Glitterati doing that?

    Not at all. God’s Anointed Gospel Glitterati stay safe in their perfumed palaces and do Theological Analyses on Twitter — “SMITE! SMITE! SMITE!” (Ringing for the help to bring tea up the stairs to the Holy of Holies.)

    Dreyer put his boots on the ground, you have to give him that.

  85. Josh wrote:

    That’s pretty much the philosophy I’ve adopted, albeit less eloquently, after picking the meat and spitting out the bones of current era evangelical thought.

    And apparently being able to find some meat in all the bags of dry bones “evangelical thought” keeps handing you.

  86. mitch wrote:

    Oh and first and I read the article. Just looks like more extreme right leaning white male reactionary foolishness.

    Then you don’t get what Rod Dreher is saying. I don’t know how you get “white male reactionary” from his words. Did you hear what Dreher said about Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson’s views of Christianity in the South growing up?

  87. K.D. wrote:

    I had been hearing, reading about the ‘ Benedict Option.’ Had almost written a blog on it a week ago….may do so now….
    The whole thing is just, ” mind blowing.” And yes, it seems ” cult-like.”

    Every cult needs its secure isolated Cult Compound.

  88. Kevin Davis wrote:

    @ mitch:

    Or, Mitch, you could stop the stereotypes and listen attentively, respectfully. Then you can agree or disagree.

    Exactly. Dreher’s Benedict Option may not be the choice for every Christian. But at least address where and why you disagree with the points he is making instead of erecting a straw man to criticize.

  89. @ Holgrave:
    I think that the readers here are reflecting an antiracism point of view which is now being stressed the TGC and BFFs. For example, one of the points of view stressed by the SBC as led by Russell Moore and the ERLC as well as supported like Thabiti Anyabwile is that a vote for a particular candidate was reflective of racism.

  90. Deb wrote:

    @ Kevin Davis:

    I watched the video, and I had the same impression as Mitch. The majority of the audience were white men.

    I don’t think it”s a white, male movement at all. It certainly is nothing akin to Neo-Calvinist Patriarchy. If I’m wrong about this, I’m willing to eat crow. 🙂

  91. Seems like a big temper tantrum that religious “leaders” can’t pick the GOP’s candidates anymore to me.

    Yawn at a supposed genius/prophet who didn’t recognize serious problems in the American church until 2016, and what’s left of the Moral Majority is culturally irrelevant.

    Yawn at books billed as crucially important to the existence of Christianity itself, but not provided for free or at pay-what-you-want.

    Here’s an option: be a good citizen, participate in a quality ministry, love your neighbor, and trust in the Lord.

  92. dee wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    In the Cage Phase, ORTHODOXY! ORTHODOXY! ORTHODOXY! Can Do No Wrong.

    You are so right. I was kind of like that when I was a 17 year old convert.

    Well yes, Dreher can tend to be cage phase at times for sure. I also think his Conservative politics drive some of his views, and not necessarily Orthodox faith and practice.

  93. I have not read the BO or watched the video provided, I am not in a place to really care about such things. But if you want to know more about Rod Dreher and his background, you might read The Little Way – 0f- Ruthie Leming (A southern girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life). It is a very touching and personal memoir. Don’t just read the blurb on the back of the book. The book was much different that the write-up.

    Bless you guys.

  94. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    I agree… I was raised in IFB tradition, and they did not say nice things about Roman Catholicism and EO… in fact, they did not say nice things about anything that was not IFB..

  95. Jeffrey J . Chalmers wrote:

    I was raised in IFB tradition, and they did not say nice things about Roman Catholicism and EO… in fact, they did not say nice things about anything that was not IFB..

    I have noticed that they have not been the only ones who cannot say nice things about other people’s faith traditions. (And, no, I am certainly not talking about you.)

  96. @ Kevin Davis:

    “Or, Mitch, you could stop the stereotypes and listen attentively, respectfully. Then you can agree or disagree.”
    ++++++++++++++++

    or, kevin, you could stop with the accusation of stereotyping and acknowledge that an all-white male participating group means something.

    at the very least, ask the question ‘why are other people groups not there?’

  97. @ okrapod:

    I have to be honest, okrapod, I never had a good impression of IFB.

    But yes, I think this must be a human impulse. We all think different things for actual reasons, so some of it makes sense I suppose.

  98. @ SteveG:
    Baronelle Stutzman was violating U.S. commerce laws that have been in existence since the 1800s. If your business is open to the public you must serve the public. Can you imagine if the Gas Company and Edison (which are not government entities) were to discriminate against some group? Sorry, Mrs. Stutzman violated U.S. law and got what she deserved (actually better than what she deserved; the State of Washington was extremely lenient with her).

  99. Darlene wrote:

    It certainly is nothing akin to Neo-Calvinist Patriarchy. If I’m wrong about this, I’m willing to eat crow.

    Did you know that Rod Dreher and Neo-Cal Patriarch Russell Moore are really good friends?

    Here’s a recent interview in advance of the publication of the Benedict Option.

    http://www.russellmoore.com/2017/03/10/signposts-conversation-rod-dreher/

    Link to Podcast: http://www.russellmoore.com/signposts/Signposts_E48-RodDreher.mp3

    At the conclusion of the 19-minute podcast, Moore recommends Dreher’s blog The American and even remarked that it’s the first site he (Moore) checks in the morning.

  100. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes wrote:

    The biggest criticism I’ve heard of the Benedict Option is this: Benedict’s Rule was designed for monks and nuns, not laity living in the world. Dreher’s trying to make Benedict’s Rule something it was never intended to be.

    Muslin, if that is truly Dreher’s intentions, then I agree with you! This has my curiosity piqued. Perhaps Dreher is thinking along the lines of an Amish community. Again, I can only go by what I have read so far, plus watching the videos above.

  101. Deb wrote:

    Darlene wrote:
    It certainly is nothing akin to Neo-Calvinist Patriarchy. If I’m wrong about this, I’m willing to eat crow.
    Did you know that Rod Dreher and Neo-Cal Patriarch Russell Moore are really good friends?
    Here’s a recent interview in advance of the publication of the Benedict Option.
    http://www.russellmoore.com/2017/03/10/signposts-conversation-rod-dreher/
    Link to Podcast: http://www.russellmoore.com/signposts/Signposts_E48-RodDreher.mp3
    At the conclusion of the 19-minute podcast, Moore recommends Dreher’s blog The American and even remarked that it’s the first site he (Moore) checks in the morning.

    No, I didn’t, but I’ll read your links. I just might have to eat crow after all! 😉

  102. @ Darlene:

    Dreher has just recently come onto my radar screen, so I have lots of research to do. I do find it intriguing that Neo-Cal websites like The Gospel Coalition keep focusing on the Benedict Option.

  103. Deb wrote:

    Dreher has just recently come onto my radar screen

    I was only passing familiar with his name from the political sphere (possibly have read articles over the years although nothing sticks out in my brain), the religious stuff is new to me.

  104. Deb wrote:

    Found this eye-opening article about Homestead Heritage

    Thanks, Deb. That was an excellent three-part story that the Waco Tribune-Herald did in 2007. It was removed from their website years ago, but I’m glad other websites have it online.

    I worry that some of these archival websites may some day just disappear. I love what Christa Brown has done on her Stop Baptist Predators blogs. She saves the news articles as a pdf, then links to the pdf. She never has to worry about her documentation disappearing.

  105. Christiane wrote:

    the thought of 9 Marx including the Benedict Option makes my blood run cold …..
    cult-formation and isolationism by a group of 9 Marx neo-Cal types by adapting and corrupting the monastic Benedictine ways which belong wholly to another faith tradition …. only bad can come from this
    REASON:
    individuals are ‘called’ into the monastic life; it is not a life-style to be imposed as a structure on the ‘inmates’ of a neo-Cal cult, no

    I can’t imagine a child in a family going through a monastic existence, no ….. it is a very adult thing, the choosing to ‘come away’ and have a life of prayer and work in community ……

    Christiane, I agree with you. The issue for me, and I think for you as well, is that God works with our free will. He works with an attitude that willingly and freely chooses to sacrifice for Him. And the ways in which one Christian sacrifices will be much different than than the way another sacrifices. What Christ instructed to the Rich, Young Ruler,- to go and sell all that he had and give to the poor – He does not instruct to all of us. Yes, we must all be compassionate toward the poor, and give as circumstances and the Holy Spirit lead us. But how each of us put that into action will differ. I’m definitely not about One-Size-Fits-All Christianity. We were not meant to be Cookie-Cutter Cut-Outs of one another. That is how cults get started.

  106. Deb wrote:

    @ Darlene:
    Dreher has just recently come onto my radar screen, so I have lots of research to do. I do find it intriguing that Neo-Cal websites like The Gospel Coalition keep focusing on the Benedict Option.

    Yeah, I hear ya, Deb. I just can’t see Orthodoxy (Dreher, after all is an Orthodox Christian) and Neo-Calvinism locking arms. It would be like oil and water mixing. Further, many Neo-Calvinists don’t think Orthodox Christians are even “saved.”

  107. Christiane wrote:

    IF 9 MARKS CANNOT CREATE COMMUNITY AROUND CHRIST, BUT HAS TO BEAT THE SHEEP WITH THEIR ‘RULES’ AND ‘DISCIPLINE’;
    THEN THE BENEDICT OPTION WHICH CENTERS A WILLING COMMUNITY ON CHRIST IS NOT FOR THEM, NO

    What is truly scary is how authoritarian leaders can take *any* system which seems to have freedom, and turn it into a system of control without freedom. I could see Neo-Calvinists twisting the definition and theology of Benedict Option to make it yet another angle on the same-old same-old Shepherding Movement. With “spiritual directors” who are actually spiritual *dictators*. Would it really be all that much different from the toxic forms of Neo-Calvinist so-called leadership that we’ve been witnessing the past decade and more?

  108. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    Under the Old Covenant law – and it came from God, unlike the screeds of man-made regulations littering the religious landscape – you couldn’t touch anything unclean because it would defile you. If you touched anything in the holy of holies, it would destroy you.

    In complete contrast, as it’s often been pointed out: Jesus didn’t catch any kind of defilement from lepers – they “caught” health from him. Likewise if you sneaked up behind him in a crowd and touched the edge of his cloak, fire didn’t come out from him and consume you.

    And, also with Our Lord, you could look upon His face and live. 🙂

  109. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    I’m not sure what to make of Dreher. He rolled up his sleeves to help out during the Louisiana floods. Can you imagine one of the Gospel Glitterati doing that?
    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/louisiana-flood-loss-gain/

    I’m pretty sure Piper said Louisiana deserved it, while he sat up in his tower drinking tea. He did say “we all” deserve it, but really, when has his worm theory applied to him? Oh wait, he’s elect and preserved by God, right?

    http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/was-katrina-intelligent-design

  110. @ Deb:
    the place where the two roads cannot come together is over ‘free will’:

    any form of chosen simple intentional Christian living, to follow Our Lord, and to honor Him, MUST BE A WILLING WALK …..
    neo-Cal existence is built on obedience to a male-headship figure, with punishment built into failures or even attempts to escape the community where such a male leader imposes HIS WILL, his ‘vision’ the neo-Cal’s like to call it….. and no, they are not talking about Our Lord’s vision.

    Neo-Cal determinism doesn’t mix with the willing free gift of self. It never did. It never will.

  111. @ Christiane:

    I must have missed something. Where did Dreher or anybody say that people should be compelled or forced into some particular lifestyle against their will? Where did the idea come from that those who might choose some alterations of their lifestyle would de facto be doing it against their will?

    It bothers me that similar things were said about girls going into convents in pre-V II days; about how families were pressured to designate so to speak a boy to the priesthood and/or a girl to some religious order. I have no idea if that happened, but I am beginning to wonder if perhaps it did since you seem to have gone immediately to the idea of coercion and I am wondering why that is. Especially since the protestants commenting here do not seem to have gravitated to the idea of coercion so much as to the idea of cult-ish-ness.

  112. Bunny wrote:

    My son is Orthodox. I do know my son does not vote (although he grew up in a VERY political household -my husband loves politics) and he follows the Orthodox tradition in very strict seasonal fast days and seasons.

    I see it as a very legalistic faith as practiced although there certainly are many sincere lovers of Christ who belong to the Orthodox tradition.

    On the other hand many orthodox (I am thinking of Greek here since they are the ones I am most familiar with ) are simply born into the faith and it is simply part of their cultural identity -sort of like there are some Catholics

    I will address some of these points that Bunny has made. As an Orthodox Christian – one who converted to the faith – I hope I can give a perspective as one who is now an insider (so-to-speak), as well as one who was formerly an Evangelical Protestant.

    As far as your son not voting, that is most definitely a choice he has made. It is not something he learned from Orthodox teachings. I have discussions with our bishop frequently on Facebook (yes, he actually enjoys interacting with people on Facebook) – and he discusses political issues from time to time. In fact, the conversations can get a bit lively, because he enjoys people bringing different perspectives to the table. So liberals, conservatives, centrists, socialists, etc. will comment on social/political issues. Oh, and by the way, the bishop votes. 🙂

    As far as Legalists – yep, we have them just like all other churches have them. Honestly, I think legalism often stems from fear – and I don’t mean the kind of fear of the Lord that Proverbs speaks of. It’s a fear that if I don’t do/or do X, God will punish me. And I’m not speaking here about specific Scriptural admonitions, such as to refrain from fornication, adultery, murder, gossip, stealing, revenge, etc. The X I’m referring to are rules that are considered equal to Scriptural precepts. For example, women who will only wear dresses down to their ankles and no make-up because it’s supposedly ungodly to show leg skin or want to look attractive.

    And yes, Orthodoxy can be very much like a cultural thing, especially in the Greek parishes. I have encountered this culture from time to time, and many Orthodox folks recognize that this can be problematic within our churches. But here’s the thing. Having been around the block a few times and having been a part and encountered all sorts of Christian communities, I can say without a doubt that Christianity as a cultural identity exists all over the place. I’ve been down South enough times and met many Southerners (my sister’s family that she married into), and I encountered Christianity there as a cultural identity. I’ve seen billboards with religious admonitions to “Repent of your sins and Trust Jesus” down South. I’ve met Southerners who will say something to the effect of: “I walked down the aisle and accepted Jesus as my Personal Lord and Savior when I was a child” and they believe because they did that they’re going to Heaven. Don’t matter a hoot what they did/do from that point all the way through the rest of their lives. They got a ticket to Heaven because they walked down that aisle and said The Sinner’r Prayer. Of course, I’ve met many a Christian who believe the same thing up North, so I reckon it ain’t just a Southern thang. 😉 Of course, right here in lovely Pennsylvania we have the Christian cultural identity of the Amish and Mennonites. And I’ve seen similar billboards when driving through the countryside such as “God is Good.” Or “Receive Jesus Into Your Heart Today!” And I can’t forget the various Lutherans and Methodists whom I have met that were born into the faith, baptized and consider themselves Christians because they were raised that way. Christianity as a cultural identity…me thinks it exists in all three branches of the Christian faith: Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox.

  113. okrapod wrote:

    I must have missed something. Where did Dreher or anybody say that people should be compelled or forced into some particular lifestyle against their will? Where did the idea come from that those who might choose some alterations of their lifestyle would de facto be doing it against their will?

    I see that as an outcome of the neo-Cals following it. I dunno if that was what Christiane was thinking. Dreher might not be a neo-Cal, but if the neo-Cals are adopting it, it seems to me the logical outcome of why and how they would do so.

    I don’t think Dreher’s ideas are new or revolutionary, but it’s a bit frightening to think about where some of these authoritarian pastors would take the idea of monasticism.

  114. Maybe this is just me, but it reminds me of a kid who is playing ball and when they start to lose, they take their ball and go home….it’s like only ‘we’ deserve to be Christians or only we need to share the faith within our group….only. We didn’t win, so like Cartman in South Park ” Scr*w you guys, I’m going home.”

  115. ishy wrote:

    I’m pretty sure Piper said Louisiana deserved it,

    (((Eye roll))) That’s right up there with conspiracy theorist Steve Quayle claiming the floods were the result of a government weather weapon.

  116. So, I watched the 19-minute video and had some thoughts.

    Mr. Dreher states overtly that he is not advocating isolationism. He talked about Christians being among the people in their communities, but also living out their faith together.

    He does use some language that raised warning flags that I’d suggest require more research to understand more specifically what he means.

    * He talked about Christians as choosing “voluntary exile” from the culture, and not doing so from anger or merely withdrawing from the bad, but in order to move forward toward the good — which includes figuring out the practice of faith in community while in a country that is anti-Christian. While this may *sound* like what I understand to be missional theology and practice, I don’t think it is. Missional theology tends to talk about being “sojourners” in the culture, so it is an emphasis of being among. “Exile” has more the sense of being away from. Maybe I’m trying to be too nuanced, but language matters, and it is just a point to consider.

    * In his presentation, he talked several times in terms that I’d characterize as the theme of looking for continuity with our past, refinding and refining our identity. But I have this warning sense about how this relates with culture. He may overtly decry isolation from culture, and promote our creating “Christian culture,” but I have this feeling that it’s almost detached from current culture. And yet he wants us to be/become countercultural.

    When the parameters of what it means to “withdraw” from one thing and toward another are vague, and when he advocates “experimenting” with creation of Christian culture, I suspect it will be very easy for people who try this approach to fall into the inherent weakness of it (as I mentioned in an earlier comment) — that withdrawal from becomes isolation.

    * Also, the term “Christian civilization” that he used set of warning bells — sounds like another term for Christendom. It’s one thing to continue developing Christian culture — which I’d describe as the application of theology to all domains of life — but we have to beware that we don’t become new dominionists. He talks about the Benedictines preserving Christian tradition and culture through the dark ages … but what are his views of about Christendom?

    * Finally, I was struck by how much this sounded like what we heard 20 years ago in the emerging movement. Revising structures, developing culture, deconstructing problems of the past, forging new/renewed identity, embodying the gospel and transferring it to next generations, experimenting (which often leads to looking for “tips” on “what’s working where you’re living?”). As with what happened with the emerging ministry movement, I can easily see this becoming The Next Big Thing, and instead of adherents figuring things out in their own culture, they just try to synthesize tips from elsewhere and become simulacras — copies of copies of copies, to the point where you can’t even tell any longer where/what the original was or is.

    So — he has some important analysis to consider, but from the history of the emerging movement and from studies of other ANCIENT Christian approaches to Church/state and empire, this needs some substantial critique. It could just as easily lead to a new wave of authoritarian and legalistic forms of Christian communities as it could to those that could be appropriately protective and productive.

  117. It bothers me that similar things were said about girls going into convents in pre-V II days; about how families were pressured to designate so to speak a boy to the priesthood and/or a girl to some religious order. I have no idea if that happened…

    I understand it did in Ireland around 100 years or so ago. Considerable social pressure for one son to become a priest and/or a daughter to become a nun, with washing out of seminary or convent an unpardonable disgrace so they couldn’t back out. (Catholicism was an important part of Irish national/ethnic identity, especially under English/Orange occupation.)

    According to my source (a long-ago comment thread at Internet Monk), this contributed to clergy sex & other abuse scandals in Ireland, as it resulted in a LOT of priests and nuns who weren’t really suited for the job.

  118. okrapod wrote:

    It bothers me that similar things were said about girls going into convents in pre-V II days; about how families were pressured to designate so to speak a boy to the priesthood and/or a girl to some religious order. I have no idea if that happened

    Although I know there were a number of stories (true or not?) I read about girls being pushed into convents for various reasons going back a long time, what this mostly made me think of was families designating one child for the church as a profession. Jane Austen novels are full of this, although obviously these were not catholic so not issue of marriage being out of bounds, with the clergy paying reasonably well and being a part of the gentlemanly set.

  119. @ brad/futuristguy:

    As an add-on that I meant to put into my previous comment but posted too soon:

    As a potential indicator of different theological systems, ask Benedict Option promoters what they think of working with non-Christians in community development projects. That might be a way to differentiate missional from Benedictine assumptions.

  120. ishy wrote:

    I see that as an outcome of the neo-Cals following it. I dunno if that was what Christiane was thinking. Dreher might not be a neo-Cal, but if the neo-Cals are adopting it, it seems to me the logical outcome of why and how they would do so.

    Control Freaks gonna control freak.

  121. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    According to my source (a long-ago comment thread at Internet Monk), this contributed to clergy sex & other abuse scandals in Ireland, as it resulted in a LOT of priests and nuns who weren’t really suited for the job.

    Hardcore History did a podcast on the Anabaptists during the Münster Rebellion and mentioned one of the reasons they found it easy to ‘convert’ the nuns over is because many hadn’t actually wanted to be nuns in the first place.

  122. Deb wrote:

    It is very perplexing…

    Indeed! Very perplexing … to think that the New Calvinists would view themselves so pious to consider the Benedict Option. They are too darn arrogant to merge into the BO movement; humility is required to be monastic – the young reformers don’t have that character trait on their resumes. But, BO is a new thing and the young and restless are always looking for a new thing. Most of them were emergent before they became resurgent – followers of Rob Bell before they latched onto John Piper. The New Calvinists think they have come into the world for such a time as this to restore the gospel that the rest of the church has lost. Perhaps they are tiring of trying to get organized religion to fit their reformed mold and are looking for something else to live out the rest of their years in post-Christian America. If they can’t succeed in making the Southern Baptist Convention one big reformed commune, maybe (hopefully) they will strike out for the desert and wilderness caves and leave the rest of us alone. Maybe they are getting ready to trade Calvin in for Benedict!

  123. Darlene wrote:

    Muslin, if that is truly Dreher’s intentions, then I agree with you! This has my curiosity piqued. Perhaps Dreher is thinking along the lines of an Amish community.

    Despite what shows up on the Christianese Fiction shelves, the Amish also have their problems.

  124. Nancy2 wrote:

    Given the state of the world in the 1st century, why didn’t the apostles live like Dreher suggests? Why did they go into pagan cities where people worshipped false idols? Why didn’t they isolate themselves as much as possible?

    Every time somebody brings up “the state of the world in the 1st Century”, I always include this link:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhP-OUt1Eos
    THAT was the surrounding society during the time of the Book of Acts.

  125. Max wrote:

    The New Calvinists think they have come into the world for such a time as this to restore the gospel that the rest of the church has lost.

    So also said Joseph Smith, Charles Taze Russel, Mary Baker Eddy, David Koresh, Sun Myung Moon…

  126. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    When the parameters of what it means to “withdraw” from one thing and toward another are vague

    I would ask what he’s talking about when he talks about culture.

  127. ishy wrote:

    I dunno if that was what Christiane was thinking. Dreher might not be a neo-Cal, but if the neo-Cals are adopting it, it seems to me the logical outcome of why and how they would do so.

    I don’t think Dreher’s ideas are new or revolutionary, but it’s a bit frightening to think about where some of these authoritarian pastors would take the idea of monasticism.

    Yes, that is very much along the lines of what I was thinking. Thanks.

  128. Lea wrote:

    Hardcore History did a podcast on the Anabaptists during the Münster Rebellion and mentioned one of the reasons they found it easy to ‘convert’ the nuns over is because many hadn’t actually wanted to be nuns in the first place.

    It’s what happens when you dabble in the Heresy of Clericalism — that only Full Time Professional Christians count, NOT the laypeople. In that milieu, “Full Time Professional Christians” meant only Priests, Monks, and Nuns. Nowadays it means Pastors, Missionaries (especially to Darkest Africa), CCM/Worship Superstars, and best-selling Theo-authors on the conference circuit.

  129. Holgrave wrote:

    I’m dismayed by the commenters going ahead and dismissing what is probably one of the more important ideas of the early 21st century because the audience in a video appears to be mostly older white men. Are ageism, sexism, and racism suddenly acceptable arguments?

    Oh please. This is a bit much. I’ve known about intentional communities since the early 1980s. I lived in a co-op house for five years. It was a place that would have horrified Rod Dreher- men and women living together in the same building, a haven for the gay community in the 1980s when things weren’t so great, that sort of thing.

    A co-op is only a partially intentional community. Ones that involve spirituality are going to necessarily bemore intense. Seriously, you can have some bad arguments about whether that chicken dish we ate for dinner the other night was any good. (Once, our menu planner burned a recipe in front of the entire house to demonstrate that it would never be served again.) I can’t imagine people people being all up in my grill about my spiritual life.

    I’ve observed intentional housing experiments go absolutly sideways when push came to shove. I can’t even imagine what would happen if religion was added to the mix.

  130. Christiane wrote:

    I don’t think Dreher’s ideas are new or revolutionary, but it’s a bit frightening to think about where some of these authoritarian pastors would take the idea of monasticism.
    //
    Yes, that is very much along the lines of what I was thinking. Thanks.

    Plus, we know how the neo-Cals like to willfully misunderstand things.

  131. Deb wrote:

    @ Bunny:
    Hoping you will share your impressions if and when you have the time. Thanks for your very helpful comment. Since the New Calvinists have been heavily promoting this book, I figured the author was one of them. I was surprised to discover that Dreher went from Methodism to a Catholicism to Eastern Orthodoxy. It does appear that there are lots and lots of rules in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

    Deb, something to keep in mind. Rod Dreher is not speaking for, or representing the Orthodox Church while promoting his “Benedict Option.” This is something that he is personally promoting out of his private convictions. In other words, he is not speaking for the Orthodox Church in any capacity, like Al Mohler, John Piper, Mark Dever, Jonathan Leeman, The Gospel Coalition, CBMW, et al, speak for 9Marksand the greater Neo-Calvinist Movement. I think is something important to consider when reading Rod Dreher’s book and watching his videos.

  132. @ brad/futuristguy:
    Dreher has gone through more than one ‘metamorphosis’ on his Christian journey: Methodism, Catholicism, Orthodox ….. now he is hob-nobbing with another group of people whose tradition is very different from all the previous settings ….

    is he getting ready for another change, perhaps?
    …. does he not realize who he is courting with his ideas? and what they might use them for?

    I think he may know. And if this is true, I suspect he is not blind to what he involved in. I hope I’m wrong. Maybe he wants good to come and doesn’t realize the nature of them what are now celebrating his ideas and anticipating how they may be corrupted and applied as ‘control’ obedience disciplines in the neo-Cal authoritarian settings.

    ?

  133. scott hendrixson wrote:

    I think the “white male event” crowd are on the right track, by I’d like to broaden that thought a bit. It seems to me that most faith movements today are about developing a unique commodity that appeals to a target audience. Reading between the lines, this seems to be just another guy carving out his niche in the market.

    You may be right about that. I just might buy the book and read it to see if what you say is true.

  134. dee wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Left Behind, Purpose-Driven Life, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Prayer of Jabez…
    We’re about due for another Latest New Thing fad.

    Bam! Well said!

    Add to that list Experiencing God, Don’t Waste Your Life and Radical. Like Rosanne Rosanna Danna said, “It’s always something.”

  135. Matilda wrote:

    I just think it’s ironic that right-wing fundamentalists are promoting this book. Oh the cognitive dissonance, normally they are preaching AGAINST Catholicism and the Eastern Orthodox faith, monasticism etc and telling their followers that those beliefs lead directly to hell.

    I find it ironic as well because I know for certain that many Fundamentalist Evangelicals believe Orthodox Christians are going to hell unless they embrace Penal Substitutionary Atonement and Justification by Faith Alone as Luther taught. Oh, and get rid of their icons because it’s idolatry. But again, Dreher isn’t representing the Orthodox Church in any capacity. I’ve not even heard anyone in my parish, or the Orthodox Church at large, promoting Dreher’s book. There might be some local Orthodox parishes that are – for instance Dreher’s parish; but his book is not something that is being promoted within Orthodoxy as far as I know.

  136. Preacher’s Wife wrote:

    From the Fox News video it seems like he is advocating for Christians to calm down politically and start trying to make an impact in their local communities and with their neighbors rather than taking on society at large. I’m all for that. But, when he said “building up our schools and institutions” I assumed public schools and communities. If he means erecting more walls around our Christian bubble, than I would have to disagree.

    There are parts of the monastic movement I like – I really like communal living! But the worst part of the movement was that it took the salt out of the world. So again, if this is all about building bigger walls around our Christian bubble, than I have a problem.

    I agree with you about the Christian bubble. We’ve seen the dangers of Quiverful teachings. The Christian Bubble philosophy can turn into a very self-righteous attitude of thinking: We’re so much more committed and faithful to Christ than all those other worldly Christians out there. As far as communal living goes, many of my experiences from living that way in my former Christian cult are not pleasant at all. And yes, we thought we were more committed and zealous than all those other blind, worldly Laodicean Christians out there.

  137. The living in community thing is not completely foreign to the SBC. When I was in Africa I personally visited four situations where single women missionaries were living in community; one midwifery center, one small hospital with 4 single women nurse missionaries, one large school with about ten or so single women, and one older and smaller school with only a few single women missionaries.

    It was not the best arrangement and it was one of the arguments that those who opposed single women missionaries used as a bad example of why the board should not be appointing single women. I am not entirely sure what was so bad about it, but nobody thought it was all that great. But then, the women had wanted to be missionaries and living in community just came with the job at that locale and that time.

    But, the married couples also did not get along with each other all that well, or so they said. So I am not sure that any living situation would have solved all that.

  138. okrapod wrote:

    I am not entirely sure what was so bad about it

    At a certain point aren’t you mostly just talking about roommate drama? I’ve never had a roommate without at least a little bit.

  139. Anna A wrote:

    I have not looked at the videos yet, but the idea of the Benedict Option gives me the creeps. It bothers me because I am very connected to a Benedictine Abbey, and just love the men and women I have met there. I mourn when I see fresh graves, I rejoice when I see young faces in the choir, and I am thankful that I am allowed to briefly share in their prayer life.
    It is a challenging life, but joyful.
    I have a hard time seeing how it could work with evangelicals.

    My former Christian cult stressed something quite akin to the Benedict Option model. Of course we added some evangelical twists to it here and there, but it was definitely a lifestyle in which we separated ourselves from the secularists and even those other worldly Christians. The only time we had contact with the greater society at large was in Evangelism (we were very big on street witnessing and practiced it daily), oh, and those members who “worked for Pharoah” as we used to say. Eventually it was stressed that members should quit their jobs in the “world” and work in the church businesses.

  140. ishy wrote:

    new or revolutionary, but it’s a bit frightening to think about where some of these authoritarian pastors would take the idea of

    Isolation and control.

  141. Lea wrote:

    At a certain point aren’t you mostly just talking about roommate drama? I’ve never had a roommate without at least a little bit.

    What was rumored was a bit more dramatic than that, but since it was only rumor I am not going there. I do know that a classmate of mine from nursing school had to go through a counseling and evaluation process at a baptist medical center before the board would consider her appointment. The issue was ‘why’ was she not married.

  142. Anthony Bradley posted on facebook:

    “Just say ‘no’ to Benedict Opt” for me.

    Evangelicals are suckers to publishers: this whole “discussion,” which is no where in the Bible, seems manufactured by publishers to get you all to buy books.

    Love God, love neighbor is never enough for evangelicals. Ever. Ever. Wasn’t enough for Fundamentalists nor The Gospel Coalition-ish fans (who are essentially the same kinds of people). Evangelicals always need an additional “strategy.” Anyone else sick of this?

    Rod Dreher savaged Bradley yesterday on his blog:

    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/benedict-option-miscellany/

    Scroll down to the screen cap of Bradley’s facebook post and Dreher’s nasty response.

  143. dee wrote:

    Did you know that Mark Dever, ruler of what constitutes a gospel™ church, does *allow* people who leave church to go to an Orthodox Church without disciplining them. He does not feel the same way about Catholicism. one of these days I must write about this.

    I can just imagine (not that I give a rat’s rip mind you) what Dever says about free-thinkers and rogue anomalies (like Potter) who reject large swaths of Augustinian theology.

  144. Deb wrote:

    @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    Yep. Another tome that will be collecting dust on thrift store shelves in the years to come…

    And perhaps at yard sales as well. 😉 I’ve seen quite a few religious books that were once all the craze being sold for less than a buck in people’s yards.

  145. I’m an Orthodox Christian, a convert at age 50 from a lifetime of sincere Christianity, during which I attended three churches, the first of which was Methodist and apostatized (Jesus wasn’t God), the second and third of which were Presbyterian, each of which I attended for extended periods of time, and I am exceedingly thankful for both of these churches. I’m not a bitter convert, nor do I disdain my past or those who were in it. I am thankful for it and for them. That’s the backstory.

    It is very easy to look at Orthodoxy from the outside and see it as legalistic and “works” based. Yes, we honor monastics and we see asceticism at varying levels as a benefit, but only if the asceticism is in humility, never in pride, and only insofar as it takes very seriously the love and mercy of God and is done in response to that love. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will do what I command you.” So we pray, we fast, we do acts of charity, because He said to do these things. We also do them because HE did them, and we want to be like Him. From the outside, these can look like legalism or like we are trying to earn God’s love. Nothing is farther from the truth when the practices are understood in the light of God’s infinite love and mercy toward us, and our response to Him.

    I will say that if one reads The Benedict Option with an overlay of what one has read about authoritarian churches that have been extensively discussed on this blog, it is entirely appropriate to be alarmed.

    As re: all the white males at the announcement event…I would be interested to know how the invitation list was selected and by whom and for what purpose.

    I’ve not read the book yet, but I have followed Dreher’s trajectory since before I was Orthodox, which was before HE was Orthodox. :0) In reading his writings over these years, I would say that the LAST thing he has in mind is the layering of a Benedict Option into an authoritarian church structure. Or the creation of “local monastic-like communities.” Interestingly, I have known of two communities of people that have done this intentional community thing, and both were NewReformed…and when someone got out of line with that theology he was seriously shunned…but he can’t afford to leave the community. It’s a mess.

    What I *do* think Dreher is talking about is things that take seriously a Christian life, even if it is costly to us in some way, and being “in community” (not in the same exclusive Christian Gated Community) with others who do the same. I know people who have done some of the following things, and I’ll bet it’s going to raise some hackles here when I list them, but these are examples of what it could mean, not prescriptions for everyone or something that anyone can judge for another—only for oneself before God. If it is anything other than an offering or a humble sacrifice of love, it is not worth doing.

    —If all the kid’s sports competitions are on Sunday morning, that sport/league isn’t for our family.
    —Taking time off from work and/or school to be able to quietly reflect on the trial, death, burial and resurrection of Christ
    —Instead of spending some amount of money on a night out, giving that to a community effort to feed the homeless on a regular basis
    —Sharing of common equipment so as to simplify lives and manage stuff and so on—eg., get a lawnmower for the neighborhood (even if it isn’t part of the “BenOp community”) and share it out so as to help others with their finances.
    —Honoring those who choose to live a holy life rather than wondering if they are mentally unstable or socially unacceptable. Honoring a life devoted to prayer at least as much as a life devoted to earning a lot of money.
    —Help with the physical care of a disabled person; be the person who comes once a month to stay awake all night with a child so a parent can get a good night’s sleep. If 30 people sign up to do this, it’s normalizing for the family
    —Provide skills among each other as you can. Someone might be good at solving computer issues, another at doing heavy lifting, someone else at mending, another at handyman. These abilities could be offered as the conscience and need of the giver allows.
    —Living a simpler life and encouraging one another in it so as not to get carried away by meaningless issues, fads or pursuits that will pass away.
    —Providing meaningful end of life care and compassion, including the preparation and burial of the departed without adding pressure to the bereaved regarding purchasing of services that are unnecessary or unwanted.
    —Creating educational options that would honor rather than disparage the community’s faith and faith practices.
    —If living in close proximity, finding a way to pray together many times a day. Families can do this. (A Presbyterian pastor in Cannon Beach, OR wrote a book about the Benedict Family many years ago and wrote about some very good ideas and practices which his family implemented.)
    —Creating a large gathering space for all to use for large group gatherings. Then people can have smaller and more affordable housing.
    —Growing and sharing food together.

    If this is done together, in humility, as a means of giving and receiving love and in the recognition that we are loved beyond all measure, that is a very different thing from doing it as a means of controlling a group of people or earning one’s salvation.

    To tell the truth, a lot of this already happens in our parish. And nobody forces anyone to do anything or judges the worth of any offering. There are no contracts, there is fluidity in and out. As you can see in the examples above, it is not a matter of withdrawing from the world but a matter of living xChristian in the world (x=“eXtreme”—-even here, I draw from the world of sports for my language!), of taking Christ seriously. WHEN you pray, WHEN you fast, WHEN you give alms…not if.

    BECAUSE this is a wonderful experience, and BECAUSE I had a healthy church background for all but 2-3 young teen years, the BenOp doesn’t freak me out at all. I get it. But by the same token BECAUSE I have read here about the bad experiences people have had in “churches” and about the controlling personalities in the leadership of these organizations, I do understand why people are freaking out about The BenOp. In those situations, it is a BadOp.

    It may be that it can’t be a good option without the baked in (and continually baking in) deeply understood, believed and experienced love and mercy of God.

    I’m open to talking about this if anyone wants to; Dee knows my email address and can share it.

    It seems unnecessary to say, but I will say it anyway. Please give room in your thinking and responses for understanding the perspective from which Dreher writes, and don’t jump to conclusions about Orthodox Christian practices by seeing it through the lens of modernity or screwed-up teaching. K? :0)

  146. Darlene wrote:

    Matilda wrote:
    I just think it’s ironic that right-wing fundamentalists are promoting this book. Oh the cognitive dissonance, normally they are preaching AGAINST Catholicism and the Eastern Orthodox faith, monasticism etc and telling their followers that those beliefs lead directly to hell.
    I find it ironic as well because I know for certain that many Fundamentalist Evangelicals believe Orthodox Christians are going to hell unless they embrace Penal Substitutionary Atonement and Justification by Faith Alone as Luther taught. Oh, and get rid of their icons because it’s idolatry. But again, Dreher isn’t representing the Orthodox Church in any capacity. I’ve not even heard anyone in my parish, or the Orthodox Church at large, promoting Dreher’s book. There might be some local Orthodox parishes that are – for instance Dreher’s parish; but his book is not something that is being promoted within Orthodoxy as far as I know.

    THIS. Same here. I haven’t even talked to anyone EVER in my parish or even in the broader Orthodox community about this book, or the option, or Dreher himself. I started reading Dreher long before I was Orthodox…just an intersection of interests.

  147. Darlene wrote:

    Eventually it was stressed that members should quit their jobs in the “world” and work in the church businesses.

    And here comes the rub against that “free will” decision to belong to such a community. Nobody actually forces you to join. But what if the leadership determines a “heart problem” when you question their motives on something? What if your child is molested by another member and you wish to involve law enforcement against the leadership wishes? What if leadership thinks you’re not introspective enough on so-called hidden sin in your life? Are you free to leave? Sure. But not without leaving your church employment and community housing. Not without you and your children losing all those they currently count as friends (because your outside relationships took a back seat to “the Body”). That freedom is going to come at great personal sacrifice depending on how authoritarian each particular community is.

  148. I’m kind of popping through the thread right now, so please forgive the multiple posts…

    As re: Orthodox not voting. I’ve never heard that as a “rule” or an order in Orthodoxy. I HAVE heard it in the neoCal world, among friends I knew years ago. The women in particular were not to vote because that was too much in the world for women. Or another variant: the wife was supposed to give her husband her ballot so he could vote twice. That was her submission to him. (eyeroll).

    Orthodox *priests* cannot hold elective office, but that is to avoid personal conflict of interest that would likely cause damage to one’s integrity.

  149. Jerome wrote:

    Evangelicals are suckers to publishers: this whole “discussion,” which is no where in the Bible, seems manufactured by publishers to get you all to buy books.
    Love God, love neighbor is never enough for evangelicals. Ever. Ever. Wasn’t enough for Fundamentalists nor The Gospel Coalition-ish fans (who are essentially the same kinds of people). Evangelicals always need an additional “strategy.” Anyone else sick of this?

    I think this is definitely an element, as much of “Christian culture” seems to be about making money for someone. And it’s something that this groups always seem to conveniently ignore, though they rail against every other sin that they perceive everyone else has.

    I don’t consider neo-Cals evangelicals, nor is Dreher an evangelical. And the book is published by Penguin, a secular publisher. They still are pushing the book, I’m sure.

    The mystery falls in why the neo-Cals have picked it up and run with it? I just read Mohler’s interview with Dreher, and I’m still flummoxed. Dreher may not be aware of how the neo-Cals work, as many evangelicals are tricked by their double-speak and claims to be all about the “Gospel”. I don’t see that their views line up, but the neo-Cals always seem to have some long-term strategy that we only see years down the road when it’s too late.

  150. @ PaJo:
    PaJo wrote:

    I will say that if one reads The Benedict Option with an overlay of what one has read about authoritarian churches that have been extensively discussed on this blog, it is entirely appropriate to be alarmed.

    Agreed.

    Thank you for your beautiful testimony about Orthodox Christianity.

  151. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    dee wrote:
    Thank you. I did not know that was his basic motivation to leave Catholicism. I thought it was based more on doctrine. If you are correct-yay Dreher.
    I sure hope that he exposes the same problem in the Orthodox and Evangelical churches.

    (Headless Unicorn Guy added)
    If he’s a newly-converted Orthodox, he won’t.
    In the Cage Phase, ORTHODOXY! ORTHODOXY! ORTHODOXY! Can Do No Wrong.

    Ummm…Dreher HAS stood up against this when it happened in Orthodoxy. The priests involved in the incidents were deposed and the bishops themselves called the police.

    Neither Dreher nor anyone with 2cents of sense thinks anything involving humans is exempt from hideous sin. The thing is, what do we *do* about it. People on this discussion board know that is the key.

  152. dee wrote:

    David wrote:
    Dreher left the Catholics due to his disgust of their mishandling of abuse. You’d think that would give him and TWW a little connection.
    Thank you. I did not know that was his basic motivation to leave Catholicism. I thought it was based more on doctrine. If you are correct-yay Dreher.
    I sure hope that he exposes the same problem in the Orthodox and Evangelical churches.

    I know that he’s one of the bloggers who wrote about the creepiness going on with Doug Wilson plus the sex scandal he ignored, so he’s not naive about the problems of communes with abuse history.

  153. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Fr Orthocuban (former commenter at Internet Monk) claimed once that the most common way for an EO to flake out is the “Monk-a-bee”, taking on all the outer trappings of an Orthodox monk — beard, ascetic discipline, black robe, ascetic discipline, ascetic discipline, See How ORTHODOX I Am, ascetic discipline, See How Holy I Am — without actually taking vows or placing themselves under an abbot or other authorities. And going as overboard as possible (See How Holy I Am?)
    Then there are Cage Phase Orthodox (usually new converts) — remember Cage Phase Calvinists? Same thing — except instead of CALVIN CALVIN CALVIN it’s ORTHODOXY ORTHODOXY ORTHODOXY as the Answer to Everything (with lotsa Greek theo-babble). Like Cage Phase Catholics who go full Tridentine Latin Trad.

    Yep, you’ve got that right, HUG. And many (most) of those CAGE STAGE ORTHODOX “Monk-a-bees” come from a Fundamentalist Evangelical background. So they just switch from being one kind of Fundy to another. 😉

  154. ishy wrote:

    I think this is definitely an element, as much of “Christian culture” seems to be about making money for someone. And it’s something that this groups always seem to conveniently ignore, though they rail against every other sin that they perceive everyone else has.

    I’m not bothered that someone is making money off a creative endeavor. What gets me hot under the collar is this notion that we (Christian consumers) are beholden to “support” (that is, purchase) poor quality content merely because it’s “Christian,” or that “Christian” content cannot be criticized even though it’s (often) junk.

  155. Darlene wrote:

    I’ve seen quite a few religious books that were once all the craze being sold for less than a buck in people’s yards.

    Yes, you know when a “Christian” book and its author have fallen out of favor when the once-popular ends up on a yard sale table for a quarter. I see Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven Life” at just about every yard/garage sale I go to. Piper’s books are starting to pop up … a great sign!

  156. dee wrote:

    David wrote:
    ’m halfway through this book, and if there’s a section telling us to head for the hills and ignore everyone around us while we go off to count beads I’ve yet to find it. Just the opposite, really — so far there’s more about homeless shelters, crisis pregnancy centers, welcoming strangers, and building communities than there is about running away.
    See my comment about a true view of the monastery movement. I think I will need to write a post on this. I took a course on the Church in the Middle Ages and it blew me away! It was much different than I thought.

    Thanks. I didn’t see this, but I tend to agree.

    FWIW, I know that Dreher may be overstating his case for Western collapse. I know that there’s not a lot on how this may look in different lights (i.e. women and/or minorities in the West). That certainly a blind spot. However, I think what I’ve read so far mirrors so much with what non-reactionary bloggers have said (think Internet Monk’s Coming Evangelical Collapse for an example) that it warrants hearing out before jumping to conclusions.

    And PaJo, thanks. I’m not Orthodox but I read Orthodox authors occasionally and know the lingo 😉 I think the cultural divide is going to be too much for some…

  157. @ Max:
    I see Bibles at used book stores and yard sales all of the time. I picked up Narnia at one a few years ago.

    People read and resell all of the time, it’s not necessarily a sign of a fad or quality.

  158. Jerome wrote:

    Rod Dreher savaged Bradley yesterday on his blog

    There’s something about a monk-wannabe savaging someone that bothers me.

  159. David wrote:

    People read and resell all of the time, it’s not necessarily a sign of a fad or quality.

    And sometimes it’s a sign that folks have gotten wise to the scheme and the schemer. Piper’s books will eventually clutter yard sale tables when the New Calvinist bubble breaks.

  160. Holgrave wrote:

    Are ageism, sexism, and racism suddenly acceptable arguments?

    Maybe not, but they seem to have engulfed human dialog worldwide the past couple of years.

  161. Jerome wrote:

    Scroll down to the screen cap of Bradley’s facebook post and Dreher’s nasty response.

    Wow. His response was rather arrogant and snarky. I wouldn’t want him heading up my intentional community. He doesn’t take criticism very well.

  162. @ Max:
    Dreher gives off far more of ‘I’m an American Conservative’ vibe than he radiates respect for the monastic tradition of the Orthodox Desert Fathers.

    Maybe the place where he ‘meets’ the neo-Cals is more within Dominionism???

  163. @ BeenThereDoneThat:
    yes, and them what doesn’t take criticism well also fall very easily into the hands of manipulative flatterers

    I think he is still journeying towards some kind of integrity and hasn’t yet arrived at where he will feel ‘at home’. I don’t think Orthodoxy is his last stop, no. Just my opinion. But he seems restless and in need of attention and he’s not getting any hype from the Orthodox world, so I think neo-Cal folks are offering him the attention he is seeking.

    You know, humility as celebrated among the Orthodox does not value displays of arrogance and snarky responses to criticism. Dreher seems ill at ease with his Orthodoxy.

  164. Josh wrote:

    I’m not bothered that someone is making money off a creative endeavor. What gets me hot under the collar is this notion that we (Christian consumers) are beholden to “support” (that is, purchase) poor quality content merely because it’s “Christian,” or that “Christian” content cannot be criticized even though it’s (often) junk.

    “And you’ll only drink milk
    If it comes from a CHRISTIAN cow…”
    — Steve Taylor, “Guilty by Association”

    Guest editorial from my writing partner’s blog:
    http://alanloewen.blogspot.com/2016/09/guest-editorial-why-is-christian.html

  165. ishy wrote:

    I don’t see that their views line up, but the neo-Cals always seem to have some long-term strategy that we only see years down the road when it’s too late.

    Sociopathic Manipulators usually do.
    Twenty Chess Moves ahead of everyone else.

  166. PaJo wrote:

    I HAVE heard it in the neoCal world, among friends I knew years ago. The women in particular were not to vote because that was too much in the world for women. Or another variant: the wife was supposed to give her husband her ballot so he could vote twice. That was her submission to him. (eyeroll).

    That was a major bone of contention regarding Statehood for Utah.

    Utah had to deny the vote to women in order to get Statehood; the fear was that plural wives of Mormon patriarchs would all vote en bloc with their common husband, multiplying the patriarch’s vote many-fold.

    Orthodox *priests* cannot hold elective office, but that is to avoid personal conflict of interest that would likely cause damage to one’s integrity.

    During the big Social Justice dustup of the Eighties, Pope John Paul II ruled the same for Catholic clergy for similar reasons. Those Catholic priests (mainly Jesuits) who did hold elective office at the time responded by not running for re-election at the end of their current terms.

  167. David wrote:

    A few things,
    Dreher left the Catholics due to his disgust of their mishandling of abuse. You’d think that would give him and TWW a little connection.

    I’m halfway through this book, and if there’s a section telling us to head for the hills and ignore everyone around us while we go off to count beads I’ve yet to find it. Just the opposite, really — so far there’s more about homeless shelters, crisis pregnancy centers, welcoming strangers, and building communities than there is about running away. It’s just contra the American Family Association/GOP world of dealing with cultural change.

    If you just are not a little familiar about Eastern Orthodoxy, this book is going to have a learning curve with it (his previous Catholic faith was of a more Eastern bent as well). I don’t agree with it all, and the Eastern Christian tirades against “Western Christianity” get old no matter who is making them. That said, reading through this I can see the Orthodox mindset is going to scrape against those primarily in evangelical Protestant circles.

    The comments about “I wish they’d just stop focusing on X and stick to Jesus” sound exactly like the comments people make about TWW when they rightly bring up abuse in the church and the good old boys club. We all know how that goes. As we know, you can focus on Jesus and have other interests and concerns about the direction of the church and culture.

    David, I like so much of what you said that I will bold what I want to respond to.

    *Yes, Dreher was very disturbed by the sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, but especially the cover-up. I read about his reason for leaving some time ago so I would assume it’s still out there on the Internet.

    *You are piquing my interest. I suppose to really understand Dreher’s Benedict Option model, one must read the book. 😉

    *Eastern Orthodoxy can seem odd – even weird – to those outside of it. That’s just the way it is. It’s very much like an American going to an Amazon tribe or an African tribe and attempting to understand their culture. But the reverse is true as well. Some of the Orthodox folks in my parish – who have been raised in the Orthodox faith – find Protestantism – especially its hyper-Fundy, Evangelical elements – very odd and cannot relate to it whatsoever.

    *The It’s just about Jesus mantra can get old like many things. If it’s just about Jesus and the Bible – then maybe ALL Christians should just stop writing – after all, all we need is the Bible. And why bother going to church and listening to the sermon, because all we really need is Jesus and the Bible. Not some person telling us what the Bible means or what Jesus meant. Maybe ALL Christians should stop saying what the Bible means because after all, anyone can go read the Bible all by themselves and figure it out on their own. So, don’t bother telling me what the Bible says because I can read it for myself and don’t need some human being telling me. No sirreee….just me, Jesus and mah Bible. Now I’ll step Off Soapbox.

  168. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    And here comes the rub against that “free will” decision to belong to such a community. Nobody actually forces you to join.

    But there are a lot of ways to exert social/peer pressure without actually coming out with overt force.

  169. Darlene wrote:

    The only time we had contact with the greater society at large was in Evangelism (we were very big on street witnessing and practiced it daily), oh, and those members who “worked for Pharoah” as we used to say. Eventually it was stressed that members should quit their jobs in the “world” and work in the church businesses.

    This wouldn’t happen to be “Koinonia House Christian Fellowship” of Whittier, CA circa mid-1970s, would it?

    The only time we had contact with the greater society at large was in Evangelism (we were very big on street witnessing and practiced it daily)…

    Leaving your Christianese Bubble Fortress only to make drive-by prosletyzing sallies. Kind of like a nomad tribe sheep-raiding another.

  170. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    Darlene wrote:
    Eventually it was stressed that members should quit their jobs in the “world” and work in the church businesses.
    And here comes the rub against that “free will” decision to belong to such a community. Nobody actually forces you to join. But what if the leadership determines a “heart problem” when you question their motives on something? What if your child is molested by another member and you wish to involve law enforcement against the leadership wishes? What if leadership thinks you’re not introspective enough on so-called hidden sin in your life? Are you free to leave? Sure.

    I am not so sure about this. Don’t forget the neo-Cal focus on covenants, and oftentimes those covenants are vague, but still treated like legal documents. The neo-Cals don’t tell you what you are signing up for, and they have historically forced current members into covenants just by virtue of previous membership. They believe their elders have the right to make those decisions for members, and they believe they can change the rules at will without members’ consent.

    Is that really legal? No. But they make people think it is. And as we’ve seen with a number of stories here at TWW, they have pursued and harassed people for years to submit to their demands. Add that to the previous story, that a church might set a precedent by getting their own police force, and they very well might be able to tamper with evidence and refuse to investigate such cases.

  171. Please read Darlene’s and PaJo’s comments. My experience in the Orthodox Church harmonizes with theirs. We have our own messiness – including plenty of people with convertitis, and who don’t want to see what’s good in the western expression of Christianity – and we’re also not how commenters here who are not Orthodox have characterized us.

    I have been reading Dreher’s blog for a while. I do not agree with some of his opinions, and his snarky responses make me cringe. But he was a lot more cringeworthy when I first started reading him about 8 years ago – so much so that I had to take a break from his blog. But since then his writing has changed noticeably: he has lost his convertitis; his sister’s illness and death changed something in him, for the good; and he took a long look inside himself, with the aid of a counselor and his priest, to see what the heck was going on with his contribution to the difficulties in his family relationships, because his own inner stuff was making him physically ill (see “How Dante Can Save Your Life”). He’s certainly not perfect. However, he is not into identity politics, and I think he calls some things to attention that need to be exposed, just like I pay attention to, and admire, people on the progressive side of the media calling to attention things that need to be exposed. (And I do know that when he was first Orthodox, Dreher worked to expose a couple of abuse issues we had at the time.)

    I think there’s no call to criticize his ideas until you have either a) read the book or b) read his blog extensively, not just hit-and-miss. Just because he counts Mohler as a friend doesn’t mean he agrees with 9Marx or the neo-Cals. I’ve left comments on his blog (and he reads and approves every comment) to the effect that I think his making common cause with them will come back to bite him in the butt. He might have to learn that the hard way. He is aware that warped people might use his ideas to further their power in abusive, walled-off groups, and he is entirely against that. The BO is not a point-by-point system; it’s a sort of stance, but exactly how that gets expressed will differ between communities. If you don’t agree with it, fine; just don’t misrepresent it, or Dreher.

    I think what’s going on with Evangelical leaders who promote the BO is that they see the BO as a way to regroup in order to possibly prevail in some other kind of culture war. Dreher is pretty much calling people to give up the culture war in order to preserve – and promote – real culture, not some “Jesus junk” or shepherding movement version of it.

  172. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    But there are a lot of ways to exert social/peer pressure without actually coming out with overt force.

    True. And I’ve spent the last few years analyzing “how I got here.” One of my favorite quotes is from former People’s Temple member Deborah Layton: “Nobody joins a cult. Nobody joins something they think’s gonna hurt them. You join a religious organization, you join a political movement, and you join with people that you *really like.*”

    I suspect many people are going to want to join this new movement because it’s the Next Cool Thing. Some people will join because they crave connection with other like-minded people. There may be lots of reasons. I’m afraid it’s not going to be the utopia they were hoping for.

  173. @ Christiane:

    No, he is not a Dominionist. He connects with the neo-Cals mostly over concern about religious liberty, not about anything in their doctrine.

    He really doesn’t know much about the Evangelical world; he was never a part of it. I think most Evangelicals will reject his ideas regarding how monastic values can be of help – “too Catholic.”

  174. dainca wrote:

    He really doesn’t know much about the Evangelical world; he was never a part of it. I think most Evangelicals will reject his ideas regarding how monastic values can be of help – “too Catholic.”

    Given the aversion many Evangelicals have to discussions of celibacy, apparently because it’s too closely related to Catholicism, I see your point.

  175. ishy wrote:

    I am not so sure about this. Don’t forget the neo-Cal focus on covenants, and oftentimes those covenants are vague, but still treated like legal documents.

    I may have been just a tad bit sarcastic with my “sure.” 🙂

    I’m just going to quietly slip this in here. I’ve mentioned before the 127 page covenant we signed twice a year for communion. Let’s just say it’s very comprehensive.
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7f-4astA-1zbjZSVGFzMkp5S2M/view?usp=sharing

  176. @ dainca:
    are neo-Cals ‘evangelists’ in the real sense, or do they ‘take over’ churches or plant their own churches using the 9 Marks pattern of rules and ‘discipline’ (control)?

    I am beginning to think neo-Cals are not traditional Calvinists OR evangelicals in the best sense of the word. I see them at patriarchal male-headship folks who don’t want any back-talk from the sheep and who also will harass any sheep who have had enough and decide to leave.

    I have my own definition of ‘evangelicals’ and neo-Cals don’t fit into it.

    So the mystery is the ‘connection’ between Dreher and the neo-Cal world who are promoting ‘Ben Op’ which you know they will adapt to THEIR WAY. I see Dreher as ‘an American conservative’ more to the right of Catholicism and Orthodoxy politically. Of course he left Methodism looking for more of a ‘conservative Christian’ model. Catholicism is too social justice oriented for people like Dreher, and now Orthodoxy is ignoring his ‘Ben Op’.

    He is still journeying, in my opinion. The neo-Cals LIKE structure, ‘rules’ and imposed ‘discipline’ on steroids, so they will have to corrupt St. Benedict’s Rule if they pull certain features in it out of the context in which these features were meant only for good.

  177. @ Christiane:

    Hey there, Christiane,

    Upthread you gave me some kind words. Thank you.

    Upthread you mentioned that it would be difficult and maybe even awful (not your words, my remembrance of them; forgive me if I have wrongly re-stated your words) to grow up in a house that tried to mimic a Benedictine Monastery. That is the point of my response in this particular post:

    *I* mentioned upthread a pastor in Cannon Beach Oregon who has written on the subject of implementing Benedictine principles in regular family life. I have been personally acquainted with this pastor as this was the church we attended on regular vacations back in the day, and I know he is writing from the heart and experience and not (merely) for the wallet.

    Here is a link to the books he has written on the topic (it’s his church’s webpage, and his brief bio with a list, and then a link to the Amazon purchase points). I read The Family Cloister many years ago and found the ideas in it to be lovely, ***not*** a diatribe about what a real Christian family looks like. It’s an offering of ideas that he and his family took from Benedict and put into their home and found that they drew to Christ, together. I also like it that he has been a stable person, himself, having been pastor of the same church (in a town with a largely transient population) for around 25 years…in other words, he means it about the principle of stability. http://www.beachcommunity.org/who.php

    Anyway, I thought it might be interesting to some and your post jogged my thoughts on this.

    :0)

  178. dee wrote:

    @ scott hendrixson:
    There is some comfort in finding a community that is comfortable for one to practice one’s faith. I have found that recently in my church. Our goal is to receive support and reach outwards. My church ends every worship service with this:
    Pastor: The worship has ended.
    People: The service now begins.

    And many services end with: Now go in peace. Or something to that effect. The meaning being that our gathering of the ecclesia – the Called Out Ones – has come to a close, and now we are going back out into the world, where our neighbor lives whom we should treat as we want to be treated.

  179. dainca wrote:

    He really doesn’t know much about the Evangelical world; he was never a part of it. I think most Evangelicals will reject his ideas regarding how monastic values can be of help – “too Catholic.”

    Where he may find certain streams of Evangelicals giving him a hearing is among those who ARE “missional,” or present themselves as missional, as there is some overlap in interest in developing local church.

    And I can see Neo-Calvinists connecting with his work as a potential new way of imposing control, even if he seems to be connecting with them more about issues of religious freedom.

  180. In thinking about this topic over the last couple of hours, I wonder if there might something in this thought: The BenOp is written by a person who has been a political conservative and a Christian in three main branches of the faith. He is not a priest or a pastor but a political commentator; his past books and writings have focused mostly on the secular, and on the conservative end of the spectrum. As in other books, his focus is more on the political but his position is informed by his Christianity. Perhaps that is the key to understanding what the BenOp is: a model for living into both a political ideal and a religious teaching.

    I am not speaking for Dreher here. I know people who know him and I believe he is sincere in both his political and religious beliefs.

    And I also think that the conflation of *any* political position (at either end of the spectrum) with the Gospel of Christ is going to have bad results. CS Lewis called this “Christianity and ____” and warned against it.

    Christianity and the Moral Majority
    Christianity and Social Justice
    Christianity and the New Left
    Christianity and the Alt-Right
    Christianity and White Supremacy
    Christianity and Ecumenical Unity
    …and you can keep going.

    A teacher I know has drawn the line here: Paradise v Utopia. The following are my words, not his; I used his to draw the distinction.

    When people use Christianity to create a utopia, it doesn’t go well. A political solution is not at hand.

    When people set out to be Christians in seeking paradise, well, that involves a cross…as in Christ’s and as in picking up one’s own. It means seeking mercy and justice for all, it means living a moral life. It means being yoked to Christ and pulling in tandem with Him, not against Him–being obedient in love for Him. It means giving up one’s life so one can save it. At least that is what Jesus said. ‘

    Maybe the way to understand Dreher’s work is primarily as a political work and not as the latest Christian fad (or fad wannabe). That doesn’t mean the ideas are BAD but maybe it gives a clearer lens for reading the work.

  181. PaJo wrote:

    It seems unnecessary to say, but I will say it anyway. Please give room in your thinking and responses for understanding the perspective from which Dreher writes, and don’t jump to conclusions about Orthodox Christian practices by seeing it through the lens of modernity or screwed-up teaching. K? :0)

    My family is Armenian Orthodox. I’m quite familiar, and have nothing against Orthodox that I don’t have against all other Christian groups. But I don’t think Dreher represents anything close to the Orthodoxy I learned. I agree that it would be a shame to judge all of Orthodox based on Dreher’s muddle. I also think it is a shame that some Orthodox support his silliness just because he’s part of their tribe.

  182. Christiane wrote:

    Maybe the place where he ‘meets’ the neo-Cals is more within Dominionism???

    Now, there’s a thought. Al Mohler and Russell Moore certainly appear to be Dominionist in their walk and talk. Their hero, John Calvin, was a magisterial reformer who controlled both church and state in Geneva. But Mohler, Moore, and others like them would have trouble rising to civil power in post-Christian America. I think they would just be happy to takeover all Protestant denominations in America and install their own police forces.

  183. Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist wrote:
    <…snipped. But I don’t think Dreher represents anything close to the Orthodoxy I learned. I agree that it would be a shame to judge all of Orthodox based on Dreher’s muddle. I also think it is a shame that some Orthodox support his silliness just because he’s part of their tribe.

    Agreed. This thought was kind of what was behind my post two before yours.

  184. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    I may have been just a tad bit sarcastic with my “sure.”
    I’m just going to quietly slip this in here. I’ve mentioned before the 127 page covenant we signed twice a year for communion. Let’s just say it’s very comprehensive.
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7f-4astA-1zbjZSVGFzMkp5S2M/view?usp=sharing

    Ah, okay. Actually, it all being spelled out is better than what I’m talking of. A lot of them I’ve read basically just say that you agree to obey the elders and give money to the church. The one at my former church is like that.

    How they interpret “obey the elders” is another story….

  185. Mike wrote:

    living as we know in a different kingdom and under a different King than today’s world

    Which is what Jesus had in mind when He exhorted us to be in the world but not of the world. Jesus preached a lot about experiencing the Kingdom of God on earth in the here and now; most Christians live a lifetime without getting a handle on that.

    Good input Mike. Thanks for contributing to this blog thread.

  186. dee wrote:

    My dad was Russian Orthodox. There were two types of priests-the white priests who did not marry and the black priests who did (the color has to do with vestments.) There are no women in the priesthood but the women run the church not unlike some Southern Baptist churches.

    Yes, Dee, the women are very instrumental in the life of the Orthodox Church. Women raise money for all kinds of charitable causes through Philoptochos – the Women’s Orthodox group. They are able to teach. As a matter of fact, women are able to teach the Bible to mixed gender groups. They also teach in the Orthodox seminaries to male and female audiences. They read Scripture in the liturgy and chant as well. They are sent out as missionaries to other countries. Females also can have leadership roles in the OCF – which is the Orthodox Campus Ministry at colleges and universities. In fact, I would say that Orthodox women have far more responsibilities in the Orthodox Church than in many Conservative Evangelical churches.

  187. ishy wrote:

    How they interpret “obey the elders” is another story…

    In order to live on my former “church’s” property we had to sign a land settlement contract.It states:

    I agree (and understand why) if at any time I begin to entertain distrust of the leadership of this community I will, until such time that such distrust is completely resolved, immediately and willingly notify the leadership and place myself on visitor status. I will do so before I discuss my distrust with other members not in positions of leadership. I understand that this would normally mean moving off the land and ceasing to attend the large community meetings on Sundays.

    This happens to be a community that impressed Rod Dreher. I realize that he would never be shown all of the literature and what is expected of the members. Still, it does cause me to question his judgement.

  188. Christiane wrote:

    I am beginning to think neo-Cals are not traditional Calvinists OR evangelicals

    Russell Moore openly rejected the evangelical label last year.

    and Albert Mohler announced last month that he did not think evangelicalism would survive “either this epoch or much beyond.”

    http://www.albertmohler.com/2017/02/13/benedict-option-conversation-rod-dreher/

    Mohler also claimed that Canada was down to “one major evangelical higher education institution” (Trinity Western).

    Is that true?

  189. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    ishy wrote:
    How they interpret “obey the elders” is another story…
    In order to live on my former “church’s” property we had to sign a land settlement contract.It states:
    I agree (and understand why) if at any time I begin to entertain distrust of the leadership of this community I will, until such time that such distrust is completely resolved, immediately and willingly notify the leadership and place myself on visitor status. I will do so before I discuss my distrust with other members not in positions of leadership. I understand that this would normally mean moving off the land and ceasing to attend the large community meetings on Sundays.
    This happens to be a community that impressed Rod Dreher. I realize that he would never be shown all of the literature and what is expected of the members. Still, it does cause me to question his judgement.

    So I’m kind of curious now…what was the benefit to members of living on the land? (I have written a list of questions three times but it always comes out snarky and I’m not snarked off…I’m just curious, and can’t get the words right. One more try…but read without snark, please?)

    What was the benefit to members to living on the land? Why did one wish to do this?
    When one lived on the land, did one have to pay a portion of the purchase price? Were members “part owners” by virtue of financial contribution?

    It occurred to me that my reaction to this rule was affected by the back story, which is why I ask.

    Thank you.

  190. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    God’s Anointed Choices” among the GOP Candidates

    …did not have fake Greek temple columns and claim to stop the seas from rising. 🙂 Sadly, the desire to have a Great Man (or Woman!) save us and miraculously solve all our problems is not new and not limited to US politics of any party. It is an incurable weakness and a longing, IMO, for our Good Creator God in our collective human heart.

  191. PaJo wrote:

    What was the benefit to members to living on the land? Why did one wish to do this?

    Basically to live in intentional community with other brothers and sisters. To live an agricultural lifestyle that would sustain us when the economy collapses. To raise families not tainted by “the world.” To live in a countercultural Christian environment– a city set upon a hill. The church owned the property. Members purchased or built their own homes and paid the church rent for the space.

    I heard from the pulpit more than once that “we have the answer for what this world needs.” After they made headlines for the convictions of 5 (or 6?) pedophiles, the mantra was “it happens everywhere.” So, intentional communities are apparently just as prone to pedophilia as the culture at large. Go figure.

  192. Darleneo wrote:

    My church ends every worship service with this:
    Pastor: The worship has ended.
    People: The service now begins.

    I love how this way of ‘being sent forth’ is said!

  193. Deb wrote:

    I saw Mahaney’s Humility book at a thrift store recently. No, I didn’t purchase it.

    Yes, that would have taken a tremendous act of humility on your part to buy that one ;^)

    A Scripture you can take to the bank “Pride cometh before a fall” … New Calvinism is so overloaded with arrogance at the top, that it will surely topple soon.

  194. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    PaJo wrote:
    What was the benefit to members to living on the land? Why did one wish to do this?
    Basically to live in intentional community with other brothers and sisters. To live an agricultural lifestyle that would sustain us when the economy collapses. To raise families not tainted by “the world.” To live in a countercultural Christian environment– a city set upon a hill. The church owned the property. Members purchased or built their own homes and paid the church rent for the space.
    I heard from the pulpit more than once that “we have the answer for what this world needs.” After they made headlines for the convictions of 5 (or 6?) pedophiles, the mantra was “it happens everywhere.” So, intentional communities are apparently just as prone to pedophilia as the culture at large. Go figure.

    OK, with THAT arrangement I have a problem. If the church owned the property and the houses, and people paid to live there (like rent) and agreed to live according to certain principles, then if they leave the principles, they leave the property. But if the church owns the property but the members paid to have their houses built and have to leave them behind without compensation … that’s not right. I am familiar with a situation where a “pastor” (who declared himself “bishop”) bought property with the giving of the membership but held the property in his own name –Bishop X.Y.Zee– and then closed the religious services, and sold the property for at least 10x price over a 20 year period and pocketed the money himself. THAT I have a problem with, too. But it happens all the time.

    And the pedophiles/it happens everywhere -shrug-nope. Just nope. It goes to the paradise/utopia comment I made upthread.

  195. Daisy wrote:

    Does teaching submission encourage abuse? by Carol Howard Merritt
    https://www.christiancentury.org/blog-post/does-teaching-submission-encourage-abuse
    Princeton Seminary, the flagship seminary of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), is giving an award for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Witness to Tim Keller, one of the loudest, most read, and most adhered-to proponents of male headship in the home.

    This is pretty surprising to me. Princeton has not been known for many decades as a bastion of conservative Christianity. Wow.

  196. Christiane wrote:

    Darleneo wrote:
    My church ends every worship service with this:
    Pastor: The worship has ended.
    People: The service now begins.
    I love how this way of ‘being sent forth’ is said!

    I like it in that it points out that we carry Christ with us into the community. But worship never ends…we just can’t keep it up 24/7… So we enter into worship that is already going on, and leave what still continues because, well, we gotta eat, I suppose. :0) (I wish that fell into the category of “feeding the hungry”–I’d be golden!

  197. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    Rod Dreher gushed about my former cult in an article, now gone, on his former Beliefnet blog.

    . . .In central Texas, Homestead Heritage, a Pentecostal-style back-to-the-land commune with Anabaptist overtones, has been the target of scathing accusations. A 2012 Texas Observer investigation revealed what the newspaper called “families broken apart, child abuse and allegations of mind control, cover-ups and secrecy.” In a statement, Homestead Heritage denounced the charges as “slanderous and inflammatory.”
    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/benedict-option/
    Let’s just say that “intentional community” combined with authoritarianism/Shepherding is, in my experience, a sure recipe for disaster and abuse.

    BTDT: I remember seeing members from your former cult when I lived in NYC during the late 70’s. We both used the public showers in the Bowery, then a not-so-nice area. They were a strange lot with their long robes and flowing dresses. They didn’t seem like they wanted to make eye contact with me. The women in particular, always seemed to have their eyes cast to the ground. Kind of funny now that I think about it. I, as a cult member back then, thought they as cult members, were weird. We were both weird, but I didn’t see it that way back then. LoL!

  198. Christiane wrote:

    I am beginning to think neo-Cals are not traditional Calvinists OR evangelicals in the best sense of the word.

    Christiane, I think you’re right about this. Since the neo-Cals have been coming into prominence, traditional Calvinists have started referring to themselves more as “Reformed.” And the neo-Cals moving into traditional Baptist or Baptist-like churches can truly be called a takeover, they are so divergent in certain ways.

    “Of course he left Methodism looking for more of a ‘conservative Christian’ model.”
    Nope, he left Methodism because of all the reasons teenagers leave churches. He was an agnostic through his college years. He had an experience in Chartres Cathedral that was the beginning of his journey into the Catholic Church, not looking for something more conservative.

    “I see Dreher as ‘an American conservative’ more to the right of Catholicism and Orthodoxy politically.”
    Well, I dunno. Orthodox people are all over the map politically; I remember Catholics in my parish growing up also being all over the map politically. Dreher is for doing the social justice type of things that are taught in both the Catholic Church and in Orthodoxy too. He’s just not for it becoming politicized and being used to beat people up, metaphorically speaking.

    “He is still journeying, in my opinion.”
    Well, aren’t we all?! 🙂

  199. ishy wrote:

    I don’t consider neo-Cals evangelicals, nor is Dreher an evangelical. And the book is published by Penguin, a secular publisher. They still are pushing the book, I’m sure.

    Let’s take a walk down memory lane with C.J. Mahaney the high school graduate charismatic who formed a partnership with Mark Dever the Reformed PhD from Cambridge. Was that more unlikely than Dreher and Mohler? I don’t think so. Penguin and Crossway can make a deal. I know they can.

  200. @ Gram3:
    Which is entirely separate from whatever merits there are to the ideas in the Benedict Option. Just to be clear.

  201. @ dainca:
    I’m not optimistic about Mr. Dreher’s doings with the neo-Cals, but I appreciate you sharing your opinion.

    I don’t think the neo-Cal folk would use Mr. Dreher’s ideas for good, no.

  202. okrapod wrote:

    And is there not a relatively recent catholic town in Florida or something where actually have one’s own town was the concept? Is that place still there? I can’t remember the name but some pizza millionaire started it. Which is to say that not everybody who thinks this way or does this is necessarily a cult.

    I’ve not read through every comment, so someone else may have posted this, but I think you’re referring to the Ave Maria Community founded in 2005 by Tom Monaghan based on strict Catholic ideologies. When it first opened, there was much in the local news about this community since (at the time at least) homosexuals were not welcome, smoking was not allowed, and certainly one could not buy any type of contraceptives anywhere in the town. Lack of abortion facilities goes without saying.

    You can read about it here but the author of the OP does make note of some major objections to it’s philosophy.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3395148/Inside-town-Domino-s-built-pizza-chain-s-founder-established-Ave-Maria-Florida-community-called-Catholic-s-paradise.html

  203. nK.D. wrote:

    I had been hearing, reading about the ‘ Benedict Option.’ Had almost written a blog on it a week ago….may do so now….
    The whole thing is just, ” mind blowing.” And yes, it seems ” cult-like.”

    I would just like to interject something here on the usage of the word cult. I’m all for warning people to look for the Red Flags in order to know whether or not a particular group/community/organization/church is a cult. As a former cult member, I get that, I really do. But I think that sometimes the word is misused and/or misunderstood. That is why I think Steve Hassan’s BITE MODEL that identifies the characteristics of a cult is a very good guide to go by. When I speak of a cult, I’m specifically revering to the Social Structure and Constructs within that particular community.

    As far as the Benedict Option goes, I think people can form a Christian community with this in mind and not become a cult. Conversely, I also think people can attempt to live according to the Benedict Option and become a cult. It all depends upon the circumstances. Who are the people getting involved? What are their pre-conceived ideas as to how the B.O. will/should work? What are the various personalities of those people like and how will they interact with each other? I don’t think it’s fair to just label the Benedict Option as Bad, Cultish, Dangerous, etc. It all depends upon various factors as to what the outcome will be of living according to the B.O.

    Steve Hassan’s BITE Model.
    https://freedomofmind.com/bite-model/

  204. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    And I can see Neo-Calvinists connecting with his work as a potential new way of imposing control, even if he seems to be connecting with them more about issues of religious freedom.

    Actually, I agree that religious freedom (freedom of conscience) will be a real issue for Christians in the not-too distant future. I know I’m going to take some hits for that, but I think that it is here already, though few are affected and many may disagree that religious freedom is really being impinged. That argument is going to be had many times, I think, going forward. Apologies if this is off-topic, but I do think that this one issue is what may make people sympathetic to the BO.

  205. Jeffrey J . Chalmers wrote:

    @ Nancy2:
    A very good point…. i would not call the 1st Century a very “Christian” era..

    Is there ever a “Christian” era? Or perhaps a better way of putting it is: Since Christ rose from the dead, there have been Christians in all eras of history up to the present. In each of those eras, there were some egregious beliefs and practices that harmed people. All the way up to the present. There are no Good Old Days. Each and every generation has had its foibles and will continue to do so till the Eschaton.

  206. PaJo wrote:

    This is pretty surprising to me. Princeton has not been known for many decades as a bastion of conservative Christianity. Wow.

    Keller is cool. That is all that matters.

  207. SteveG wrote:

    The problem is that non-believers don’t always leave us alone. Just ask Baronelle Stutzman. I suppose you could say in theory, that if the Religious Right had never arisen there would have been no culture wars, and we’d all be getting along just fine today. Personally, I think that’s naive, whether it’s coming from pundits on the right or left. It was Francis Schaeffer who famously asked, How Then Should We Live? From what I can tell so far, the book is Dreher’s attempt to answer that question in light of our current situation.

    I guess I don’t really relate to Baronelle Stutzman’s dilemma. How is refusing to sell to a gay couple serving Christ? Refusing to sell to certain clients strikes me as harsh and cruel. How would you feel if you walked into a business and they said, “sorry, we don’t sell to your type here” ? Is that how Christ wants us to come across to the world? I could understand not wanting to perform a gay marriage if a minister’s conscience is against it but as I understand it, that is a different situation and is protected under freedom of religion. If selling products is considered religious freedom, could grocery stores keep certain people out? Could certain ethic groups or religions find themselves closed out from buying products? Is that how a Christian world would work?

    I guess I really don’t understand the gay paranoia that Christians have today. There have always been gay people and there always will be. The fact that they exist doesn’t threaten your or my ability to have faith in God.

    My husband and ran our own business for many years. We’ve had many gay customers. We never considered not doing work for them. In fact, they’ve been some of our best customers, as far as being reasonable nice people, paying their bills on time, etc. I’d like to think treating people as human beings created in God’s image is a better way to represent Christ than refusing service.

    I guess I just don’t understand what the fear is of. There are people all around us whose lifestyles and belief systems are not what we’d choose for ourselves. We all have to respect each other’s right to exist and live in peace.

  208. Daisy wrote:

    Princeton Seminary, the flagship seminary of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), is giving an award for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Witness to Tim Keller

    Shouldn’t a pastor receiving such an award be able to exercise his “public witness” by answering the question “What is the Gospel?”

    After going through intellectual gyrations, he never answered that question at this event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0g-s4Qhtyk

  209. Darleneo wrote:

    It all depends upon various factors as to what the outcome will be of living according to the B.O.

    This is also my belief. Dreher’s book, Crunch Cons, has been around since 2006. Why the neo-cals have suddenly “discovered” him a decade later? idk Their authoritarian penchant has already proven itself destructive. Applying a Benedict Op is only going to allow greater control over member’s lives from my experience. What I am concerned about re Dreher is that he be enamored of the Gospel Glitterati attention that he is now receiving. The GG have never struck me as the Crunchy Con type of people. Dreher may simultaneously lose his integrity while the neo-cals tighten their grip on people. And, yeah, Benedict Option may be the next dust covered book in the garage sale heap.

  210. Max wrote:

    The Benedict Option would be a good thing for Evangelical Christianity in America if all the New Calvinists would disappear into the wilderness to pursue Eastern Orthodoxy!
    Dreher has got the attention of Al Mohler. Who knows what the New Calvinists will do next?! http://www.albertmohler.com/2017/02/13/benedict-option-conversation-rod-dreher/

    Ha! Orthodoxy and New Calvinism are worlds apart. Neo-Cals would have to leave quite a few of their beliefs and practices behind if they were to actually get serious about becoming Orthodox Christians.

  211. siteseer wrote:

    How is refusing to sell to a gay couple serving Christ?

    I think that the issue generally is not selling to gay persons but preparing flowers or cakes or whatever for the celebration of an event that offends the conscience of the florist, baker, photographer, or whatever. That is the religious freedom issue. They would provide services to the gay persons for other events. So it is not a personal thing. The public accommodation issue is a separate one which I do not see as relevant, but I’m not on the Supreme Court.

  212. siteseer wrote:

    We all have to respect each other’s right to exist and live in peace.

    And part of that is respecting other people’s consciences, IMO.

  213. Nancy2 wrote:

    dee wrote:
    Glad you got us started on this subject. My guess is that the dudebros will leap on this as the latest *thing.*
    I don’t know how reliable this website is, but:
    http://bigplanetwatch.com/albert-mohler-john-piper-and-matt-chandler-promote-the-benedict-option-a-monasticcatholic-promoting-book/

    Nancy2: That website is Fundamentalism on Steroids – fear of all those unbiblical Christians out there that don’t believe EXACTLY like we do. Believe me, they’d have some harsh things to say about the DEEBS and TWW as well. But don’t take my word for it. Just read some of the articles over there and find out for yourself.

  214. Darlene wrote:

    Yep, you’ve got that right, HUG. And many (most) of those CAGE STAGE ORTHODOX “Monk-a-bees” come from a Fundamentalist Evangelical background. So they just switch from being one kind of Fundy to another.

    Don’t forget the full on new-agers* who convert to fundagelicalism and also the one-time fervent fundagelicals who convert to hard core atheism. It seems it’s whole hog or nothin’ with these folks (of either way), with no such thing as a balanced middle.

    *There’s a radio talk show host here in Southern Cal. who makes a point of telling his listeners about how he was once a hip-and-all-inclusive-new-ager until he found the Jesus of fundagelicalism.

  215. Gram3 wrote:

    siteseer wrote:
    We all have to respect each other’s right to exist and live in peace.
    And part of that is respecting other people’s consciences, IMO.

    I am not a gifted multi-quoter, so please forgive my linking this thought with the one upthread about Christian paranoia re: gays.

    There has to be room for conscience on all sides. The following scenario happened to a person I know, in my liberal city. A new customer came into the family-run printing shop and asked for a brochure to be run to publicize an event focused on male gays. My friend refused the work and suggested three other print shops that would likely do a good job on the job. The result was that her shop was slammed with bad ratings from non-customers and they were protested, the news station was called, and the guys with the print job lawyered up. My friends made a settlement. Now, at no time did the news reporter or the online commenters note the *content* of what they were being asked to print. It was pornographic imagery of sex. It had nothing to do with the customer’s sexual orientation but with the content of what was being submitted for printing in a business run by seriously Christian people with minor children in the workspace. (Theirs.). In the midst of it all, their customers (people who had repeatedly used their services, some of whom are gay) tried to speak up, but many of their posts were removed from Yelp.

    THAT is one reason for the paranoia. I have heard of other cases re: bakers being asked to put specific…designs…on cakes, of photographers being asked to come to do photographic shoots of … private interactions. But I do not know the people personally, so I state it only as cases I have heard of.

    Do Christians not have a say in where they will go, what they will see, to what end result they will use the labor of their hands?

    I am well aware that these are activist groups (bullies, really) that do this sort of thing repeatedly, and not part and parcel of gay identity. But this DID happen, and it seems to me that it is unfair that only one perspective was heard. That explains a certain amount of paranoia.

    All that said, we all have a call to love…which I have learned as a parent doesn’t mean that the other person is always happy with what I do. I know this is digressing from the main topic…ack.

  216. dee wrote:

    Therefore, instead, we should be optimistic about the church’s longevity. In other words, “She will persist.”

    Yes!

    So much of the time we hear something along the lines of “If the church doesn’t [fill in the blank] then [prediction of doom] is going to happen!”

  217. Gram3 wrote:

    I think that the issue generally is not selling to gay persons but preparing flowers or cakes or whatever for the celebration of an event that offends the conscience of the florist, baker, photographer, or whatever. That is the religious freedom issue. They would provide services to the gay persons for other events. So it is not a personal thing. The public accommodation issue is a separate one which I do not see as relevant, but I’m not on the Supreme Court.

    How is that different from telling an interracial couple that you won’t bake their cake or sell them flowers because your religious belief says you cannot accept interracial marriage?

    As for “public accommodation,” it’s incredibly important for the commerce of this country. African-Americans fought very, very hard to open up public accommodation all across the board by their actions (e.g., Freedom Riders, Woolworths lunch counter sit-in). I don’t think any of us want to go back to the days of “The Negro Motorist’s Green Book.” Look it up, it existed, and it went away in 1966, after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and some significant civil rights cases were decided (e.g., Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. United States, 1964). If you’re going to provide a public accommodation, you have to serve all comers.

    What Ms. Stutzman was asking for was the state to legitimize her religious discrimination, and the state of Washington, to its credit, refused to do so.

  218. Muslin fka Deana Holmes
    I’ve observed intentional housing experiments go absolutly sideways when push came to shove. I can’t even imagine what would happen if religion was added to the mix.

    I can. I experienced it in Real Life. It ain’t pretty.

  219. Carson wrote:

    @ Deb:
    Is it a crime to be white?

    No one said it was a crime. But it is quite noticeable in the picture that most attendees are white and male. Just like it is noticeable when certain politicians gather to sign papers and they are all white men.

    Is it a crime to notice when gatherings are mostly white men?

  220. IF this becomes a Christian trend, here is what I think will happen:

    Let’s assume just for the sake of my case that the BenOp *could* work. Just play along.

    What will happen is that a few big mouths will get in on the action, set up the *utopian* communities, with themselves as BenedictJunior without knowing a single thing about WHY he is SAINT Benedict. Some people will follow along, with varying amounts of rationality, without knowing what to expect from the leadership of someone who ended up being called a SAINT. To the degree that people are going here to escape the world, they will be to that degree disappointed.

    Human failing will enter, varying degrees of sinful behavior will exhibit themselves, the most humble will be the most hurt, the thing will collapse and the BenOp will be called a failure.

    Never mind that Benedictine monasteries have existed for hundreds of years in continuity, that people in the world link themselves to the monasteries as oblates to try to bring the principles into their lives in the world.

    Again, if we seek paradise, we will find it. It comes from picking up one’s cross, from staying ON one’s cross, as did the thief who found himself alongside Jesus.

    If we seek utopia, escape from one world to make a better one better suited to our own ideas…all we will find is failure.

    Utopia-seeking hasn’t been all that great for the religious of the world. The Nazis thought their plan would bring utopia. 6 million dead. The communists thought their system would bring utopia. Stalin did in at least 12 million and maybe up to 20 million of his own people to bring about utopia. Both of those are within living memory.

    I wonder how many times in history we have to learn this.

  221. @ Jerome:

    Bradley was on the money (as he often is) with his second paragraph about how loving God and your neighbor isn’t good enough. A week ago, I was telling my small group about how at my previous gospel™-centered church, the small group leader decided we’d send a nightly text message to each other asking if we did that thing single guys are known to do that day. And that’s the exact same point I made about such a different thing – it declares loving our neighbor as ourselves taken care of, so we can move on to a practice made up advanced Christianity.

    I also liked one random dude from Twitter’s comment: it sounds more like the Doug Wilson option.

  222. I’ve heard from a number of evangelical and fundamentalist Christians (specifically, at least 3 or 4 reports that I can think of off hand, and that’s just in my small circle of acquaintances) who refuse to do business with certain people because said people are known to be gay. This has nothing to do with artistic expression or creative works for hire. They just don’t want to do any work with someone who’s not straight (someone who’s been divorced a bajillion times for silly reasons? No problem, as long as those were all straight marriages).

    Maybe this is just limited to one town in the rural midwest, and maybe I’ve had the particularly bad luck to be acquainted with every one of the four nut cases in town, but I’m not sure that that’s a viable assumption. If the evangelical church wants to push hard in this direction, they risk losing even more of the large and still growing group of people who don’t see a mandate for discrimination, even if they may not agree with what the discriminees may or may not do in private. For that reason, I can’t see either the haphazard approach of the present, or the full on approach of having the B.O., working out as it’s presumably intended (i.e. everyone realizes that the church is right and there’s a YUGE revival).

  223. @ siteseer:

    Only one comment on this, and that will be all from me.

    Ms Stutzman did not refuse to sell flowers to a gay customer; she had sold him flowers for years, knowing he was gay and knowing he was giving some of those flowers to his partner. That was not the issue for her. She considered him a friend, and he had always acted in a friendly way toward her. The issue was participating in an **event** that violated her conscience. She recommended other florists she knew would have no problem providing the flowers for the event, so she was not in any way trying to stop them from getting married or having flowers at their wedding. She was not discriminating against the gay couple; she was refusing to participate in an event she views as incompatible with her religious beliefs. There’s a difference. Again, you may not agree, but don’t pass along incorrect information.

  224. @ Stan:
    Yep, I was in one of those “accountability groups” in college (courtesy of The Navigators, in my case). It’s sad how the Very Most Importantest Thing wasn’t whether we were honest in our coursework, whether we treated others as people loved by God, or any other sin against another person – but whether we had managed to avoid the ménage à un that week.

  225. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    HUG: No, my former cult was not the Koinonia House Christian Fellowship. But all those Christian communal fellowships back in the 70’s and 80’s pretty much shared the same m.o.

  226. Stan wrote:

    Bradley was on the money (as he often is) with his second paragraph about how loving God and your neighbor isn’t good enough.

    I found Anthony Bradley’s profile and *wow* before I got to his BenOp comments, I had to go through his recounting of how he was paraded around in Reformed communities as the token African-American or treated like he was an illiterate African-American just being allowed to slide in the elite white seminary because of his skin color. *boggle* Lot of stuff for me to think about here. (Warning: Some of his language, while not four-lettered, IS the kind of language that got my mouth washed out with soap (yellow Dial) about 50 years ago.)

  227. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    ishy wrote:
    I am not so sure about this. Don’t forget the neo-Cal focus on covenants, and oftentimes those covenants are vague, but still treated like legal documents.
    I may have been just a tad bit sarcastic with my “sure.”
    I’m just going to quietly slip this in here. I’ve mentioned before the 127 page covenant we signed twice a year for communion. Let’s just say it’s very comprehensive.
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7f-4astA-1zbjZSVGFzMkp5S2M/view?usp=sharing

    Oh my, what enjoyable reading in a comfy chair with a nice hot cup of herbal tea….NOT. Been There, which church was this? I assume all potential members were required to read this?

  228. Oy, don't get me started!! IMHO the BenOp is a scam and a fraud. Not to mention a complete violation of the Great Commission. As many others have noted, monks are called to be monks. Laypeople are not.

    Also, parachurch intentional communities scare the willies out of me. They almost invariably become weird and abusive. In Catholic-Land, the turf I'm most familiar with, we had the "charismatic covenant communities" (e.g., Mother of God Community in Gaithersburg, Maryland) and the Regnum Christi communities. Both were a control-freaky mess.

    Thanks but no thanks. I already have access to a vibrant, authentic Christian community. It's called a parish.

  229. PaJo wrote:

    But if the church owns the property but the members paid to have their houses built and have to leave them behind without compensation … that’s not right.

    I only personally know of one situation where this played out, because I happened to be friends with the victim’s son. Wife was finally fed up with the authoritarian atmosphere, and left to return to her native UK. The husband followed her to try and work things out. He was eventually persuaded by the cult to return to Texas, because his higher covenant was to The Body. But they had already packed up his household belongings and given his home away to someone else. That didn’t sit well with him. He remained for a few more years (I think) before joining his wife permanently in the UK. He just happens to be a master woodworker, and wrote the cult’s woodworking curriculum. He basically changed the curriculum a little bit, and used it to launch a successful woodworking school in the UK. Shortly thereafter, the cult distributed an Intellectual Property Assignment to all other members to sign.

    I really can’t stress enough that people disabuse themselves of the idea of finding a Utopia. If it seems too good to be true, it most likely is.

  230. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    I really can’t stress enough that people disabuse themselves of the idea of finding a Utopia. If it seems too good to be true, it most likely is.

    “The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia” (1974) was my first introduction to how intentional communities (don’t) work. It’s a science fiction novel by Ursula K. LeGuin. HUG probably knows it.

  231. Off topic but possibly of interest:
    By your friend and mine, Owen Strachan (formerly of CBMW):

    The Alt-Right Is What Happens When Society Marginalizes Men
    http://thefederalist.com/2017/03/21/alt-right-happens-society-marginalizes-men/

    The above is on a right wing site. I’m a right winger but not always in agreement with everything on that site.

    I’ve at this point only read about the first third of Strachan’s paper. I hope he doesn’t think the solution is Complementarianism, or that the standard conservative boogeyman (or boogeywoman) to blame is Feminism.

    I shall keep reading to find out, unless it gets too awful, in which case, I will close out of that browser window.

  232. Ruth Tucker wrote:

    I think it is impractical and easily becomes a form separation that leads to cultic higher spirituality. I think a far more Christian reaction to Western culture would be to live in the midst of a corrupt culture while standing up in the face of materialism.

    I think some Christians kind of already living in a Christian Bubble.

    Some of them have created a Christian Version of everything. There is Christian sci-fi, Christian rock music, Christian diet books, Christian romance novels, etc.

  233. dee wrote:

    David wrote:
    Dreher left the Catholics due to his disgust of their mishandling of abuse. You’d think that would give him and TWW a little connection.
    Thank you. I did not know that was his basic motivation to leave Catholicism. I thought it was based more on doctrine. If you are correct-yay Dreher.
    I sure hope that he exposes the same problem in the Orthodox and Evangelical churches.

    Several years ago he admitted that his real reason for leaving Catholicism was that he disagreed with its teaching on contraception. Also, since leaving, he has bashed the Catholic Church at every opportunity while largely giving his new communion a pass. Orthodoxy does have a clergy sex-abuse problem (see Pokrov.org), but Dreher is mostly mum about it. When asked about this, he says he is so worn out by his experiences with the Catholic Scandal that he just can’t go there WRT Orthodoxy. Somehow this does not prevent him from continuing to bash Catholicism.

    There is more I would like to say, but it involves private stuff (involving a third party), so I will email privately about it.

  234. Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist wrote:

    My family is Armenian Orthodox

    Are the Armenian Orthodox Arminian?

    (Sorry, I couldn’t resist)

    As far as the Benedict Option is concerned, I don’t understand what all the hype is about. One year from now, no one will even remember.

  235. @ PaJo:
    I’ve always thought that those who ‘left the world’ so to speak and went into monasteries/convents weren’t really running FROM something so much as running towards something. I have no doubt this is true for many. There are protestant monasteries and convents also. The wonderful ‘Call the Midwife’ series on PBS is a story about a convent of nursing nuns who are Anglicans.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfwTSZzjh8E

  236. dainca wrote:

    @ siteseer:
    Only one comment on this, and that will be all from me.
    Ms Stutzman did not refuse to sell flowers to a gay customer; she had sold him flowers for years, knowing he was gay and knowing he was giving some of those flowers to his partner. That was not the issue for her. She considered him a friend, and he had always acted in a friendly way toward her. The issue was participating in an **event** that violated her conscience. She recommended other florists she knew would have no problem providing the flowers for the event, so she was not in any way trying to stop them from getting married or having flowers at their wedding. She was not discriminating against the gay couple; she was refusing to participate in an event she views as incompatible with her religious beliefs. There’s a difference. Again, you may not agree, but don’t pass along incorrect information.

    I get it, Dainca. Here’s another scenario. A Christian family starts a catering business. One day they get a call from some fellas who want to have their strip-tease, Bachelor party catered. Should they be forced by the law to cater an event where they must watch women dancing in the nude? If they refuse, do the fellas have a right to sue? Think about that long and hard when discussing this issue of rights and privileges various folks have in our society.

  237. Christiane wrote:

    @ PaJo:
    I’ve always thought that those who ‘left the world’ so to speak and went into monasteries/convents weren’t really running FROM something so much as running towards something. I have no doubt this is true for many. There are protestant monasteries and convents also. The wonderful ‘Call the Midwife’ series on PBS is a story about a convent of nursing nuns who are Anglicans.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfwTSZzjh8E

    You are right about that, Christiane. My husband’s great aunt was a nun in the Anglican Church – full habit and all. Sister Lucy Mary was her name. And my husband asked her forgiveness not long before she died because of the rude ways he had treated her during his evangelical days. She said something to the effect of: Johnny D (she was one of the few that could get away with calling him ‘Johnny’) (oh and the ‘D’ stands for David, his middle name) – I already forgave you long ago. She was a precious lady.

  238. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    According to my source (a long-ago comment thread at Internet Monk), this contributed to clergy sex & other abuse scandals in Ireland, as it resulted in a LOT of priests and nuns who weren’t really suited for the job.

    I think I remember reading that. Someone posted a long comment about it and/or a link to a really long article, most of which I read. It was interesting.

  239. Christiane wrote:

    @ PaJo:
    I’ve always thought that those who ‘left the world’ so to speak and went into monasteries/convents weren’t really running FROM something so much as running towards something. I have no doubt this is true for many. There are protestant monasteries and convents also. The wonderful ‘Call the Midwife’ series on PBS is a story about a convent of nursing nuns who are Anglicans.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfwTSZzjh8E

    I agree.
    “Running towards” is motivated by love and is a call to carry a cross and enter paradise.

    “Running away” is motivated by fear and confidence in one’s ability to escape a cross and shape a utopia.

    Monasteries aren’t perfect either. But they can provide a structure for those who seek Paradise in a very focused/deliberate way., even as others do so while living in the world.

  240. Daisy wrote:

    Off topic but possibly of interest:
    By your friend and mine, Owen Strachan (formerly of CBMW):
    The Alt-Right Is What Happens When Society Marginalizes Men
    http://thefederalist.com/2017/03/21/alt-right-happens-society-marginalizes-men/
    The above is on a right wing site. I’m a right winger but not always in agreement with everything on that site.
    I’ve at this point only read about the first third of Strachan’s paper. I hope he doesn’t think the solution is Complementarianism, or that the standard conservative boogeyman (or boogeywoman) to blame is Feminism.
    I shall keep reading to find out, unless it gets too awful, in which case, I will close out of that browser window.

    I read the article but what’s really – how shall I say? – spicy…are the comments. Strachan’s article brought out some of the MRA’s and their ilk. Not surprising. Doug Wilson’s blog does the same thing.

  241. dee wrote:

    I have found that recently in my church. Our goal is to receive support and reach outwards.

    That sounds amazing; I pray that my family will find.the same.

  242. @ dee:

    “My guess is that the dudebros will leap on this as the latest *thing.*”
    ++++++++++++++++++

    sanctimonious central. i can feel it already.

  243. David wrote:

    dee wrote:
    David wrote:
    ’m halfway through this book, and if there’s a section telling us to head for the hills and ignore everyone around us while we go off to count beads I’ve yet to find it. Just the opposite, really — so far there’s more about homeless shelters, crisis pregnancy centers, welcoming strangers, and building communities than there is about running away.
    See my comment about a true view of the monastery movement. I think I will need to write a post on this. I took a course on the Church in the Middle Ages and it blew me away! It was much different than I thought.
    Thanks. I didn’t see this, but I tend to agree.
    FWIW, I know that Dreher may be overstating his case for Western collapse. I know that there’s not a lot on how this may look in different lights (i.e. women and/or minorities in the West). That certainly a blind spot. However, I think what I’ve read so far mirrors so much with what non-reactionary bloggers have said (think Internet Monk’s Coming Evangelical Collapse for an example) that it warrants hearing out before jumping to conclusions.
    And PaJo, thanks. I’m not Orthodox but I read Orthodox authors occasionally and know the lingo I think the cultural divide is going to be too much for some…

    I don’t see anything alarming about the Benedict Option. It seems to be about creating safe, functional communities where people preserve what they can of civilization while the broader culture is likely to become more dysfunctional, corrupt and violent. If it is kind of a withdrawing, what of it? If people for years have been told that their kind has no place in the public square and they really shouldn’t be seen or heard, so finally they get the message and opt out as much as possible, then they are giving the culture exactly what it has demanded of them. If the broader culture insists on building on sand then maybe the most you can do is avoid the danger areas and try to keep your own house in order.

  244. Daisy wrote:

    Some of them have created a Christian Version of everything. There is Christian sci-fi, Christian rock music, Christian diet books, Christian romance novels, etc.

    Daisy, and yet all those fads are cheap imitations of worldly nonsense because Christians “have to keep up with the worldly nonsense to reach them.” Puhleeeeze, grow me a flower and water it, for goodness’ sake! There’s no such thing as a “Christian” this or that (sci-fi..romance novels…rock music). You had me in stitches!

    Daisy, do you remember that great “Christian” hit “The Prayer of Jabez”? That had every Christian claim all and sundry, bigger land, bigger cars, bigger muscles…all to “reach” the lost and bless people “through ME.” Oh, I remember the sickly piousness that came with it. But that nonsense made the fraud who’d written it a bundle, and before you knew it, that garbage was, well, in the garbage. The spell did not work.

  245. Jacob wrote:

    If people for years have been told that their kind has no place in the public square and they really shouldn’t be seen or heard, so finally they get the message and opt out as much as possible, then they are giving the culture exactly what it has demanded of them

    I’ve heard this before. At one time, Christianity was the dominant faith. Now other voices join the table and boom, poor us, we no longer control the conversation. Sorry, Jacob, I hear this from folks who don’t want to listen, they are so convinced of their superior faith that if they can’t control and dominate, they don’t want any part of it.
    That’s fine with me. You have freedom to do so, courtesy of your friendly neighborhood liberal democracy.

  246. Darlene wrote:

    @ Catholic Gate-Crasher:
    Hello there, Catholic G.C. It’s nice to see you drop in for a visit. It’s funny how Rod Dreher can bring out folks from all three branches of Christianity.

    Lol!!! Yes, he is a lightning rod all right! Great seeing you too!

  247. Jacob wrote:

    If it is kind of a withdrawing, what of it?

    I do not think Jesus and his disciples withdrew from the society.

  248. Carson wrote:

    @ Deb:
    Is it a crime to be white?

    It is only a crime in the “christian” world to be a woman. Being snarky this morning.

  249. What I don’t see is why some people think that this man is proposing actual monasticism. He is not. He is proposing some degree of withdrawal from the larger culture with a focus on some aspects of Christianity which seem to have been neglected. Whether he or anybody else has a workable plan to implement that I have no idea. Whether or not it is a good idea remains to be seen. But that is not monasticism. It is more like the old saying that one should have lots of acquaintances but few friends. It is more like the pre-vatican Ii / pre cultural revolution idea that catholics and protestants certainly can do business with each other but they cannot let their children date each other. That sort of thing may well be excessive in today’s culture, we may well say that we have come beyond that-but it is not monasticism.

    And somebody please read the rule of St Benedict. He has some very down to earth stuff in there which is good advice inside or outside of the monastery. The mere mention of his name and/or the sentence which I have just said is not an affront to the man or his religious tradition. And as far as I know the copyright on his ideas has expired.

  250. I certainly don’t consider myself a good enough Christian to tell you folks what to think on your own forum. But I have to ask, why would any Christian take their marching orders from someone who essentially makes his living as an outrage pornographer? Never mind that he veils the structure of his efforts in throwaway Christian rhetoric, the one person furthest from the Benedict Option in his day to day living is Rod Dreher himself.

    Here, for example, we discuss the real world logical impossibility of the Benedict Option, an ultimately ineffable and irreconcilable concept designed really only to sell books.

    http://contrapauli.blogspot.com/2017/03/the-logical-impossibility-of-benedict.html

    If any of you folks here can demonstrate how Rod’s Benedict Option with its mystical core “withdrawal-in-order-to-engage” exhortation could actually work in the real world, I would love to hear your critiques.

    So far, beyond those simply wanting not to get on Dreher’s bad side in the competitive Christian blogo-hierarchy, the most common support for Dreher’s jeremiad for his better brand of Christian practitioners against his fellow Christians at large seems to be “I’ll bet you haven’t read the book” – as if some secret formulation or incantation deep in the book will rescue his concept. Unfortunately, several Amazon reviewers who, unlike me, have read the book come to the same conclusion: it’s only self-contradictory, glib bloggery repackaged in book form at a substantially higher price.

    Anyway, if anyone can make the case of how Dreher’s (not someone else’s) project – partially disengage from society, then rebuild it after it collapses – can possibly work, feel free to correct me.

  251. okrapod wrote:

    What I don’t see is why some people think that this man is proposing actual monasticism. He is not. He is proposing some degree of withdrawal from the larger culture with a focus on some aspects of Christianity which seem to have been neglected. Whether he or anybody else has a workable plan to implement that I have no idea. Whether or not it is a good idea remains to be seen. But that is not monasticism. It is more like the old saying that one should have lots of acquaintances but few friends. It is more like the pre-vatican Ii / pre cultural revolution idea that catholics and protestants certainly can do business with each other but they cannot let their children date each other. That sort of thing may well be excessive in today’s culture, we may well say that we have come beyond that-but it is not monasticism.

    And somebody please read the rule of St Benedict. He has some very down to earth stuff in there which is good advice inside or outside of the monastery. The mere mention of his name and/or the sentence which I have just said is not an affront to the man or his religious tradition. And as far as I know the copyright on his ideas has expired.

    Why not just live out our lives as Christians guided by the Holy Spirit?

  252. mot wrote:

    I do not think Jesus and his disciples withdrew from the society.

    I think they absolutely did. Jesus had his inner circle by invitation only. They traveled together and lived together. It was said of Jesus that the did not commit himself to any man because he knew what was in man. They ministered to one and all, but they did not include one and all into the calling to apostleship. It was said that Jesus called his disciples to himself and taught them. This is a significant and even radical practice of separation. The fact that he ministered to the crowds also, teaching and healing and casting out demons, does not change anything about the separated lifestyle of those he was training as disciples.

    ‘Separation from’ and ‘ministry to’ are not incompatible. It is the ‘separation from’ which strengthens those who minister-or at least that is part of the idea behind it. Like when Jesus repeatedly went off by himself to pray-apparently often at night after a day of ministry to the crowds.

  253. These days as soon as I read the words ‘radical vision’ it’s like several neurons blow up in my brain & it refuses to go any further. ‘A long obedience in the same direction’ is absolutely more my speed these days…

  254. dainca wrote:

    Christiane wrote:
    I am beginning to think neo-Cals are not traditional Calvinists OR evangelicals in the best sense of the word.

    Christiane, I think you’re right about this. Since the neo-Cals have been coming into prominence, traditional Calvinists have started referring to themselves more as “Reformed.”

    I have tried to make this point many times. These excesses are not at all about calvinism. They are something else.

  255. Gram3 wrote:

    PaJo wrote:
    This is pretty surprising to me. Princeton has not been known for many decades as a bastion of conservative Christianity. Wow.

    Keller is cool. That is all that matters.

    Seriously. It seems to go like this – People know his name: Must give award.

    I think Keller is one of the ‘soft’ types at least right, but still. Annoying.

  256. Jacob wrote:

    I don’t see anything alarming about the Benedict Option. It seems to be about creating safe, functional communities where people preserve what they can of civilization while the broader culture is likely to become more dysfunctional, corrupt and violent. If it is kind of a withdrawing, what of it? If people for years have been told that their kind has no place in the public square and they really shouldn’t be seen or heard, so finally they get the message and opt out as much as possible

    Isn’t that what many churches claim to be? The ones that we end up talking about on here who allow ministers to abuse children and husbands to violently beat their wives? The ones that damage congregations then protect the others damaging other congregations?

    Christians lie as much as non-Christians. There are many fake Christians. There are a lot of “Christian” leaders out there whose sole desire is to serve themselves.

    There’s no utopia on Earth because every human can bring evil with them. Maybe Jesus could have created a separation, but even He had Judas. How many times did He rebuke His other disciples?

    It’s a pipe dream.

  257. Gram3 wrote:

    but preparing flowers or cakes or whatever for the celebration of an event that offends the conscience of the florist, baker, photographer, or whatever.

    I also think this generally involves delivering to the wedding, setting up and actively being involved in a way that selling someone lunch does not.

  258. Keith wrote:

    Anyway, if anyone can make the case of how Dreher’s (not someone else’s) project – partially disengage from society, then rebuild it after it collapses – can possibly work, feel free to correct me.

    “Partially disengage from society, then rebuild it after it collapses”?

    ATLAS SHRUGGED LITE!
    “Kinder, Gentler Galt’s Gulch”!

  259. Jack wrote:

    Sorry, Jacob, I hear this from folks who don’t want to listen, they are so convinced of their superior faith that if they can’t control and dominate, they don’t want any part of it.

    “Better to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven”?

  260. Jacob wrote:

    If people for years have been told that their kind has no place in the public square and they really shouldn’t be seen or heard, so finally they get the message and opt out as much as possible, then they are giving the culture exactly what it has demanded of them.

    “WHO IS JOHN GALT?”

  261. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes wrote:

    “The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia” (1974) was my first introduction to how intentional communities (don’t) work.

    Sounds like an interesting read, except to a few Amazon reviewers. And I think it’s a shame that it very rarely works. The couple who founded my former community were hippies before they “came to God.” I think some of their hippie dreams never really left them. This world can be a cruel and crazy place whether you are Christian or not, and I think it’s normal to wish that there was a better way to do life.

  262. Jacob wrote:

    I don’t see anything alarming about the Benedict Option. It seems to be about creating safe, functional communities where people preserve what they can of civilization while the broader culture is likely to become more dysfunctional, corrupt and violent. If it is kind of a withdrawing, what of it?

    The main problem from my experience is that somebody or somebodies has/have to be in charge. There’s no way around that. Just take the commenters on TWW for example. There’s a range of opinions here, and sometimes discussions get heated. We have the Deebs and GBTC to keep things in order. If we all decided to live in community, the Deebs would have their hands full. Frankly, I wouldn’t wish that on them. Perhaps you’d be lucky to find a community ruled by a magnanimous dictator. Ask Karen Hinkley how an intentional community with Matt Chandler and the boys at The Village Church would have panned out.

  263. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes wrote:

    How is that different from telling an interracial couple that you won’t bake their cake or sell them flowers because your religious belief says you cannot accept interracial marriage?

    I think that would be silly, but the *principle* remains. I was a member of a SBC which might have split over an interracial marriage, but the pastor handled it wisely, married the young couple, and the church went on to grow. As I said, public accommodation laws were formed in a different era under *very* different social and economic conditions. I remember them well, and public accommodation is a different issue since there are rarely limits on alternative choices or unique circumstances.

  264. Stan wrote:

    at my previous gospel™-centered church, the small group leader decided we’d send a nightly text message to each other asking if we did that thing

    This kind of stuff still amazes me.

  265. mot wrote:

    It is only a crime in the “christian” world to be a woman. Being snarky this morning.

    It’s never been a “crime” to be woman in the Christian world, only in the religious world. The teachings and traditions of men have put women in bondage, not the teachings of Christ.

    “All of you who were baptized ‘into’ Christ have put on the family likeness of Christ. Gone is the distinction between Jew and Greek, slave and free man, male and female — you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28).

  266. okrapod wrote:

    I think they absolutely did. Jesus had his inner circle by invitation only. They traveled together and lived together. It was said of Jesus that the did not commit himself to any man because he knew what was in man. They ministered to one and all, but they did not include one and all into the calling to apostleship. It was said that Jesus called his disciples to himself and taught them. This is a significant and even radical practice of separation. The fact that he ministered to the crowds also, teaching and healing and casting out demons, does not change anything about the separated lifestyle of those he was training as disciples.

    The Okrapod Option.

  267. Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    monks are called to be monks. Laypeople are not

    Shhhhh … don’t tell the New Calvinists that! We need as many of them as possible to get on the bus to the desert 🙂

    God does indeed create a wilderness place for some, but you don’t make that choice or select that option. Whom He calls, He equips … and He often does that with obscure folks in obscure places who experience the Jesus Option. I keep waiting for anointed folks (not the educated, but the anointed) to step out of the wilderness to take the church back from the enemy … but He won’t do it with Calvin’s gospel – He will do it with His.

  268. Bingo, BTDT. Somebody has to be in charge. And in these communities, it’s usually a self-appointed-for-life control freak.

    BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    Jacob wrote:

    I don’t see anything alarming about the Benedict Option. It seems to be about creating safe, functional communities where people preserve what they can of civilization while the broader culture is likely to become more dysfunctional, corrupt and violent. If it is kind of a withdrawing, what of it?

    The main problem from my experience is that somebody or somebodies has/have to be in charge. There’s no way around that. Just take the commenters on TWW for example. There’s a range of opinions here, and sometimes discussions get heated. We have the Deebs and GBTC to keep things in order. If we all decided to live in community, the Deebs would have their hands full. Frankly, I wouldn’t wish that on them. Perhaps you’d be lucky to find a community ruled by a magnanimous dictator. Ask Karen Hinkley how an intentional community with Matt Chandler and the boys at The Village Church would have panned out.

  269. Jacob wrote:

    If people for years have been told that their kind has no place in the public square and they really shouldn’t be seen or heard, s

    Ah, you mean like women are treated in most churches? Yeah, I opted out.

  270. Anonymous Oracle at Delphi wrote:

    Also, while I don’t follow him or agree with some of his emphases (and note his obvious problems, about which I have written a bunch), Doug Wilson has an interesting take on the Benedict Option. I thought it might appeal to him, but even he is cautious.
    https://dougwils.com/s7-engaging-the-culture/catacombs-or-cloister.html

    Already there’s a second article, as Wilson will be reviewing the whole book chapter by chapter.

  271. Deb wrote:

    @ Max:
    Maybe our prayers are being answered.

    I don’t for one second believe the neo-Cal leaders would be carting themselves off. They’d just cart off the people that dare to have an opinion or who might try to walk away from their precious covenant.

  272. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    Ask Karen Hinkley how an intentional community with Matt Chandler and the boys at The Village Church would have panned out.

    Karen found out, as have many other oppressed members of New Calvinist churches (both male and female), that the “intent” in intentional really means that they intend to control, manipulate and intimidate the life out of you. If you are gullible enough to follow them, they got you where they want you. If you are too weak to do otherwise, pray that God will send you somebody to help pack your bags for you and put your behind in your past.

  273. @ Josh:

    Teaching teenage boys to how to violate other peoples’ sexual boundaries – what could possibly go wrong?

    @ Muslin, fka Dee Holmes:

    I saw that. It was a very intense account. He calls out the gospel™ crew as an enterprise of old white men from the south, which I agree with.

  274. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes wrote:

    BeenThereDoneThat wrote:
    I really can’t stress enough that people disabuse themselves of the idea of finding a Utopia. If it seems too good to be true, it most likely is.

    “The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia” (1974) was my first introduction to how intentional communities (don’t) work. It’s a science fiction novel by Ursula K. LeGuin. HUG probably knows it.

    I know OF it, but I was never much into LeGuin.

    H Beam Piper, Poul Anderson, and Katherine Kurtz were more my thing.

  275. Daisy wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    According to my source (a long-ago comment thread at Internet Monk), this contributed to clergy sex & other abuse scandals in Ireland, as it resulted in a LOT of priests and nuns who weren’t really suited for the job.

    I think I remember reading that. Someone posted a long comment about it and/or a link to a really long article, most of which I read. It was interesting.

    I’m pretty sure it was “Martha of Ireland”, on the background of the clergy sex/abuse scandals in Ireland.

    Martha of Ireland is a 60-something Irish spinster who’s also an old school SF litfan. She was also my “cold reader” for the F&SF I’ve been doing for the past couple years. She hasn’t commented in a while; I’m wondering if she’s OK.

  276. @ Carson:

    “Is it a crime to be white?”
    +++++++++++

    carson, this is not about you. (if you are caucasian)

    an event or group that is more or less homogeneous means something.

    the obvious question is why are other people groups not there?

  277. ishy wrote:

    I don’t for one second believe the neo-Cal leaders would be carting themselves off.

    Yeah, their power would be significantly limited in the desert. But we can only hope some of them will go.

  278. Christiane wrote:

    @ PaJo:
    I’ve always thought that those who ‘left the world’ so to speak and went into monasteries/convents weren’t really running FROM something so much as running towards something

    I think that’s the BIG difference.
    A lot of Fundagelicals are running FROM something. (Usually something sexual with an unpronounceable alphabet-soup acronym.) And they’re all too eager to force the rest of us to run with them.

  279. Deb wrote:

    @ Lea:
    Shepherding – 21st century style

    KYLE: But Dad, isn’t that Fascism?
    KYLE’S DAD: No it isn’t, Son. Because we don’t call it Fascism. Do you understand?
    KYLE: Do you?
    South Park, “Sexual Harassment Panda”

  280. Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    Also, parachurch intentional communities scare the willies out of me. They almost invariably become weird and abusive. In Catholic-Land, the turf I’m most familiar with, we had the “charismatic covenant communities” (e.g., Mother of God Community in Gaithersburg, Maryland) and the Regnum Christi communities. Both were a control-freaky mess.

    And then you get the Baysiders and Hill-of-Hopers…
    (AKA Jonestowns with Rosaries)

  281. Lea wrote:

    Stan wrote:
    at my previous gospel™-centered church, the small group leader decided we’d send a nightly text message to each other asking if we did that thing

    This kind of stuff still amazes me.

    Not if you remember one thing:
    Christians are just as sexually obsessed as everyone else, just in a different direction —
    “THOU SHALT NOT!” instead of “YEAH! YEAH! YEAH!”

    And in Medieval theology, masturbation was THE WORST sexual sin because it was the farthest off from procreation. Parallels to Quiverfull noted.

  282. @ Deb:

    I see it now! The Mahaney flattery act is up and running! Can someone tell me how many books Dreher has?! Look back at Dreher’s response to Bradley, it’s the same old winsome/not winsome canard.

    @ Deb:

    I now can see it was run off the Mark Driscoll/Mars Hill pyramid small group model. The members who are most in to the weird stuff get picked up lead the next small group. And yes it was Driscoll, because this church was running Redemption Groups. This church is considered to be one of the major churches in the PCA.

  283. Boston Lady wrote:

    Daisy, do you remember that great “Christian” hit “The Prayer of Jabez”? That had every Christian claim all and sundry, bigger land, bigger cars, bigger muscles…all to “reach” the lost and bless people “through ME.”

    AKA The Secret (remember that?) with a Christian Coat of Sickly Pious Paint.

  284. I for one would be very happy if the religious right would withdraw from politics, leaving individual Christians free to exercise their citizenship duties as they see fit and not as the church tells them to. But this movement seems unlikely to leave individual Christians free to do anything the religious authority isn’t telling them to do.

  285. David wrote:

    I know that he’s one of the bloggers who wrote about the creepiness going on with Doug Wilson plus the sex scandal he ignored, so he’s not naive about the problems of communes with abuse history.

    The two.ended going back and forth a good deal about it in their blogs. Wilson writes to or about Dreher with an unusual degree (for him) of respect and decorum. Maybe he sees they’re two peas in a pod? On the other hand, Gary Greenfield, Wilson’s former friend and Kirk-member and father of one the Kirk rape victims, faced the full fury of Wilson’s “theology that fights back” when HE converted to Orthodoxy.
    http://joypeacehope.blogspot.com/2015/09/an-open-letter-to-doug-wilson-who-is.html

  286. David wrote:

    communes with abuse history.

    I’d say the Kirk (Wilson’s Moscow church and associated schools) is more Kult than Kommune. 🙁

  287. Dave A A wrote:

    “theology that fights back”

    That’s “theology that BITES back”, leading to Wilson’s golden rule of: If someone smites you on the one cheek, “PUNCH BACK TWICE AS HARD!”
    Sorry for the digression.

  288. @ Max:

    “Dreher has got the attention of Al Mohler. Who knows what the New Calvinists will do next?!”
    ++++++++++++++++

    seems to me that the purpose of Al Mohler & co (TGC, T4G, SBC, etc.) is to find a way to make the slipping-away-sands of the sandcastle stop slipping away. any vehicle will do, as long as $ and power are preserved for those who have it, and homosexuality is quarantined.

    seems to me, he/they sense critical mass forming with the words Rod Dreher, and The Benedict Option. An opportunity for traction. A vehicle to co-opt for their own purposes.

    (but i think this point has already been made)

  289. okrapod wrote:

    mot wrote:

    I do not think Jesus and his disciples withdrew from the society.

    I think they absolutely did. Jesus had his inner circle by invitation only. They traveled together and lived together. It was said of Jesus that the did not commit himself to any man because he knew what was in man. They ministered to one and all, but they did not include one and all into the calling to apostleship. It was said that Jesus called his disciples to himself and taught them. This is a significant and even radical practice of separation. The fact that he ministered to the crowds also, teaching and healing and casting out demons, does not change anything about the separated lifestyle of those he was training as disciples.

    ‘Separation from’ and ‘ministry to’ are not incompatible. It is the ‘separation from’ which strengthens those who minister-or at least that is part of the idea behind it. Like when Jesus repeatedly went off by himself to pray-apparently often at night after a day of ministry to the crowds.

    We will just have to agree to disagree about this.

  290. ishy wrote:

    There’s no utopia on Earth because every human can bring evil with them. Maybe Jesus could have created a separation, but even He had Judas. How many times did He rebuke His other disciples?

    It’s a pipe dream.

    I agree. Utopia is a fool’s errand, and in my opinion, so is the idea of a ‘perfect heaven’. I no longer believe that the Almighty ever demanded ‘perfection’ from his creatures. So long as we restrain the worst in us and do the best we can with what we’re given in the here and now …What is man that thou art mindful of him?, I believe we’re good to go.

  291. @ mot:

    There is a concept framework in missions theology, developed by Ralph Winter of the U.S. Center for World Mission in about the 1970s, and that may be of help in considering questions about withdrawal/engagement. It is that of “modality” and “sodality.” He defines these:

    [B]riefly, a modality is a structured fellowship in which there is no distinction of sex or age, while a sodality is a structured fellowship in which membership involves an adult second decision beyond modality membership, and is limited by either age or sex or marital status. In this use of these terms, both the denomination and the local congregation are modalities, while a mission agency or a local men’s club are sodalities.

    He sets up some distinctions in dynamics between the local church — and groups such as the band of disciples who traveled with Jesus in the Gospels, the apostolic teams in Acts, and monastic orders. So, this could be a relevant resource.

    http://www.undertheiceberg.com/wp-content/uploads/2006/04/Sodality-Winter%20on%20Two%20Structures.pdf

  292. Another concept from missions theology relevant to considering the Benedict Option is the work of Roland Allen. He was an Anglican missionary in China in the early 20th century, and became a critic of the “mission compound” methodology. Instead of evangelizing people of China and equipping them to minister in their own culture in their own ways, the British missionaries taught them to withdraw from their culture. So, the only places these Chinese Christians could work would be in the mission compound. They’d converted not just to Christ, but to British Anglican cultural Christianity as well.

    So, Roland Allen’s insights from over 100 years ago could help illuminate what I believe is one of the inherent tendencies for systems implosion where theologies of church/state talk about “withdrawal” from culture. They often result in isolation, insular thinking, and authoritarianism. The tendency seems inherent, but the results are not inevitable. But if people are going to embrace and develop the Benedict Option, they’ll have to deal with the meaning and limitations of “withdrawal,” and from looking at social media the past few days, that seems to be a key term people are fussing over (for good reason).

    A main resource is *The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church*, and another main book he wrote is *Missionary Methods: Saint Paul’s or Ours?*

    https://www.amazon.com/Spontaneous-Expansion-Church-Causes-Hinder/dp/1579101984/

  293. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    So, Roland Allen’s insights from over 100 years ago could help illuminate what I believe is one of the inherent tendencies for systems implosion where theologies of church/state talk about “withdrawal” from culture. They often result in isolation, insular thinking, and authoritarianism. The tendency seems inherent, but the results are not inevitable. But if people are going to embrace and develop the Benedict Option, they’ll have to deal with the meaning and limitations of “withdrawal,” and from looking at social media the past few days, that seems to be a key term people are fussing over (for good reason).

    I dunno, Brad. I may be misunderstanding things, ( I haven’t read the book) but this BenOp seems to contradict “Go ye therefore teaching all nations …..”

  294. Dave A A wrote:

    The two.ended going back and forth a good deal about it in their blogs. Wilson writes to or about Dreher with an unusual degree (for him) of respect and decorum. Maybe he sees they’re two peas in a pod?

    “These two Kings said one to another:
    ‘King unto King o’er the world is Brother!'”
    — paraphrase of Chesterton’s “Ballad of the Battle of Gibeon”

  295. If we are going to say that the church is wrong in preaching and teaching what it is preaching and teaching, and in ‘go’ing as in new church plants, and is wrong in trying to impact the larger culture with it’s concepts of ‘whatsoever I have commanded you’, which does seem to be what some people are saying,

    And

    If we say that the church would be wrong to pull back from all of the above which we have criticized the churches for already anyhow, and focus on self renewal, focus on regroup, focus on some kinds of spirituality as opposed to political activism- wrong to do that

    Then

    What is the church supposed to do? The great commission does not even remotely suggest that the church is to enable or empower anything which is not ‘whatsoever I have commanded you’. So,if we say to the church that it cannot live it, preach it, teach or much less convert people (as witnessed in baptism) what is left? What then is the mission of the church?

    I do not personally see in scripture that Jesus came to preach the gospel of innocuousness.

  296. Nancy2 wrote:

    I dunno, Brad. I may be misunderstanding things, ( I haven’t read the book) but this BenOp seems to contradict “Go ye therefore teaching all nations …..”

    I haven’t read the book yet and probably won’t anytime soon. But that is one of the key issues that typically comes up with a “separate from the world” viewpoint. So, Rod Dreher will need to get specific about what his view means on that — which has already been one of the major push-backs on his theory.

  297. Also, a general note of concern based on what I’m seeing in Rod Dreher’s videos and interviews so far: He seems to focus on the family unit as where much of this preservation and development happens, and building from there. So — as usual — where does that leave those of us who are single?

  298. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    Also, a general note of concern based on what I’m seeing in Rod Dreher’s videos and interviews so far: He seems to focus on the family unit as where much of this preservation and development happens, and building from there. So — as usual — where does that leave those of us who are single?

    Going to Darkest Africa as missionaries and passing out tracts while they put us in the stewpot, ooga booga, good riddance.

    After all, if we’d really been Saved we would have stayed at home Focusing on Our Families while Filling That Quiver.

  299. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    I haven’t read the book yet and probably won’t anytime soon. But that is one of the key issues that typically comes up with a “separate from the world” viewpoint.

    Reminds me of Tribulation Force’s grand strategy according to Slacktivist’s page-by-page of Left Behind:
    1) Dig a really really big hole.
    2) Hide in it until Jesus returns.

  300. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    Also, a general note of concern based on what I’m seeing in Rod Dreher’s videos and interviews so far: He seems to focus on the family unit as where much of this preservation and development happens, and building from there. So — as usual — where does that leave those of us who are single?

    Ah, this may be a piece of the missing puzzle as to why the neo-Cals are all up in this. They probably see it as the family unit under headship of a husband who acts in perfect “harmony” with the elders.

  301. okrapod wrote:

    What is the church supposed to do? The great commission does not even remotely suggest that the church is to enable or empower anything which is not ‘whatsoever I have commanded you’. So,if we say to the church that it cannot live it, preach it, teach or much less convert people (as witnessed in baptism) what is left? What then is the mission of the church?

    Bedroom Evangelism and Culture War Without End.

  302. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Reminds me of Tribulation Force’s grand strategy according to Slacktivist’s page-by-page of Left Behind:
    1) Dig a really really big hole.
    2) Hide in it until Jesus returns.

    It’s always a tension, “withdraw” = “retreat.” But when so much of what there has been in the last 3 decades is Christian “warrior” imagery, this seems to be a retreat.

    As I said in another comment, a better (and still biblical) image is that of agriculture in a community — something that feeds people rather than warriors who overcome people.

  303. ishy wrote:

    Ah, this may be a piece of the missing puzzle as to why the neo-Cals are all up in this. They probably see it as the family unit under headship of a husband who acts in perfect “harmony” with the elders.

    The Umbrellas of Overlording Authority Benedict Option?

  304. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    He sets up some distinctions in dynamics between the local church — and groups such as the band of disciples who traveled with Jesus in the Gospels, the apostolic teams in Acts, and monastic orders. So, this could be a relevant resource.

    Seems to me that even in the Book of Acts (1-28) there were a LOT of Christians who were just going about living their lives. Some of them are named in passing, most are anonymous.

    Not everybody was a raise-the-dead miracle-working Apostle.
    Or filled out the (later) NT canon with Epistle after Epistle after Epistle.

  305. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    It’s always a tension, “withdraw” = “retreat.” But when so much of what there has been in the last 3 decades is Christian “warrior” imagery, this seems to be a retreat.

    The boots and noobs who brag about what Mighty Warriors they are are always the first to not only retreat but rout.

    The warriors you have to watch out for are the experienced Sgt Rocks, not the Nick Fury Howling Commandos.

  306. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    As I said in another comment, a better (and still biblical) image is that of agriculture in a community — something that feeds people rather than warriors who overcome people.

    “Wars not make one great.”
    — Yoda

  307. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:

    Precisely. If we shut off every avenue for what it means to live out the mission of the church then all we are left with is non-christianity. It would be better to just take a short cut in the first place and forget the whole idea.

    But I think that the church for centuries upon centuries has taken the option of ‘all of the above’ including go and stay, preach and dig wells, accommodate both leaders and followers, married and single, young and old, secular and monastic, whatever and whichever.

    But we seem to be in a stage right now where nothing is considered acceptable. We act like we can’t even stand to be around ourselves or something.

  308. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    ishy wrote:
    Ah, this may be a piece of the missing puzzle as to why the neo-Cals are all up in this. They probably see it as the family unit under headship of a husband who acts in perfect “harmony” with the elders.
    /
    The Umbrellas of Overlording Authority Benedict Option?

    I’m single! They can’t catch me!

  309. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    Sing with me…

    Every youknowwhat is sacred
    Every youknowwhat is great
    If a youknowwhat is wasted
    God gets quite irate.

    Is noncontraception / quiverfull a thing in Orthodoxy? Are these B.O. communes intended to be grown by … shall we say … multiplication from within?

  310. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    Also, a general note of concern based on what I’m seeing in Rod Dreher’s videos and interviews so far: He seems to focus on the family unit as where much of this preservation and development happens, and building from there. So — as usual — where does that leave those of us who are single?

    Good question brad, and if I may? One of Mrs. Muff’s friends is single and never had kids. But she’s making a difference in the here and now. She mentors and tutors (academically) at risk teen girls through St. Matthew’s (Catholic Church in our area).
    Dreher can focus on biological progeny all he wants, the real future changers don’t care if the kids are their own or not, they just do what’s right in the village.

  311. Josh wrote:

    multiplication from within

    A few days ago the media gave us what they said was a quote from a political leader in elsewherenation recommending that very approach for ‘his’ people. So, I would suspect that included in the withdraw and regroup movement one might find be fruitful and multiply, as well perhaps as restore the concept of the multigenerational extended family and at some point maybe even polygamy for some outlying groups.

    Why do I think that? Because those are ideas as old as the hills. One way to think about whether something will happen is to ask if it happened before. ‘Doc, I have this pain.’ ‘Hmm, have you had this pain before?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Well, it looks like you have it again.’

  312. mot wrote:

    We will just have to agree to disagree about this.

    MOT, Check out Okrapod’s last paragraph where she says they withdrew *after* being out in the community. I don’t think she is advocating isolation.

    And let me take this opportunity to thank you for serving as a pastor in a hostile environment and for your support here.

  313. Kristen Rosser wrote:

    I for one would be very happy if the religious right would withdraw from politics, leaving individual Christians free to exercise their citizenship duties as they see fit and not as the church tells them to. But this movement seems unlikely to leave individual Christians free to do anything the religious authority isn’t telling them to do.

    I for one would be very happy if the religious LEFT would withdraw from politics, leaving individual Christians free to exercise their citizenship duties as they see fit and not as the church tells them to. But this movement seems unlikely to leave individual Christians free to do anything the religious authority isn’t telling them to do.

  314. okrapod wrote:

    But we seem to be in a stage right now where nothing is considered acceptable. We act like we can’t even stand to be around ourselves or something.

    when people do not carry the peace of Christ within themselves, it’s not possible for them to carry it to others who need it ….

    I am very moved by the dialogue between OKRAPOD and HEADLESS today. It cuts to the heart of so much that is of concern and does it in a way that cannot be ignored OR completely resolved or answered in a few comments.

    This by OKRAPOD could be a whole post in itself:
    “okrapod wrote:

    What is the church supposed to do? The great commission does not even remotely suggest that the church is to enable or empower anything which is not ‘whatsoever I have commanded you’. So,if we say to the church that it cannot live it, preach it, teach or much less convert people (as witnessed in baptism) what is left? What then is the mission of the church?”

    I keep coming back to the concept of the Body of Christ as ‘Church’, each with gifts to offer, each person needed, no one indispensible. If we consider ‘the Church’ and ‘it’s mission’, then we must look at the members of its Body, each one, person by person. And I think it may be fair to say we will find the Church’s mission lived out in the ways that are explosive in their power to change many lives, and that some of those ways are also of ‘the little way’, like the kindness of a mentally-challenged person who can walk to give a musical toy to a stretcher bound person in a group home for them what is severely challenged …. and how this example of kindness goes forward into the world and impacts far beyond the place where these gentle souls live ‘away from our tormented world’ because that simple witness of kindness is so very, very powerful . . . .

    Thougtful and penetrating comments from Okrapod and Headless. I needed to read these today. Thank you both.

  315. Quoting Dreher (last couple of minutes of long video): “If you take your Christianity seriously, you will have to take the Benedict Option…that is the only way to hold onto our faith and pass it on…it will either be Benedictan or it will not be at all…”

    My scattered thoughts:

    He speaks in absolutes.
    He is speaking about American Christianity only.
    Christianity can survive in concentration camps and Communist China (underground), so if American politics absolutely prohibits Christianity, and since Christianity is not predicated on governmental sanction, it can survive, and perhaps thrive, if that were to occur.
    Is our goal as believers to avoid persecution completely, even to the cost of our lives? (Thinking about martyred saints in China, for example).
    What is our ultimate goal? Is it the relative comfort of forming our own community (Dreher said that communities would have their own laws) of believers? What happens when children, who are born within the community, grow up and do not share their parent’s faith? Are they rejected so as not to poison the well?
    Is our ultimate goal to die to self and be willing to suffer for our faith, even if costs us our bank accounts, our livelihoods, our family, our life?

    No, I don’t think that the absolutes of Dreher are valid directives of Christianity in America.

  316. Remnant wrote:

    No, I don’t think that the absolutes of Dreher are valid directives of Christianity in America.

    Nor do I Remnant.

  317. @ Remnant:
    question is:
    what kind of lifestyle is Dreher himself living?

    is he modeling what he is prescribing?

    Has this man who proclaims himself to be Orthodox in his Christian orientation abandoned humility to the point where he claims he has the only answer for the way forward?

    The good St. Benedict of Nursia and the strident Mr. Dreher can’t be coming from the same place. Not when the prideful neo-Cals get excited about Dreher’s proposals, no.

  318. Gram3 wrote:

    And let me take this opportunity to thank you for serving as a pastor in a hostile environment and for your support here.

    Thank you. It hurts my heart every day that I work in this toxic environment the way I see women marginalized.

  319. Very good question! Yep, the man who wants the rest of us to live semi-monastically and “locally” sure seems to spend a whole lot of time jetting all over the world (sans famille) while scarfing oysters and Veuve Cliquot. 😉

    Christiane wrote:

    @ Remnant:
    question is:
    what kind of lifestyle is Dreher himself living?

    is he modeling what he is prescribing?

    Has this man who proclaims himself to be Orthodox in his Christian orientation abandoned humility to the point where he claims he has the only answer for the way forward?

    The good St. Benedict of Nursia and the strident Mr. Dreher can’t be coming from the same place. Not when the prideful neo-Cals get excited about Dreher’s proposals, no.

  320. @ Remnant:

    Excellent points, all!

    In my research, I find that resistance comes in many forms and tends to create multiple kinds of cultures depending on the specific situations in the society. These include different degrees of dissent, on a scale of overt challenge to the powers controlling the organization or society, to covert resistance. So, to speak in absolutes about this being a non-optional “option” may not be such a wise thing to do.

  321. Remnant wrote:

    What is our ultimate goal? Is it the relative comfort of forming our own community (Dreher said that communities would have their own laws) of believers? What happens when children, who are born within the community, grow up and do not share their parent’s faith? Are they rejected so as not to poison the well?

    See “Honor Killing” and/or The Village by M Night Shymalan.

  322. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    ishy wrote:
    Ah, this may be a piece of the missing puzzle as to why the neo-Cals are all up in this. They probably see it as the family unit under headship of a husband who acts in perfect “harmony” with the elders.

    The Umbrellas of Overlording Authority Benedict Option?

    “Because a goodwife learns to cower
    Beneath the Umbrella of POWER;
    Under cover of Heaven’s Gate,
    I. MANIPULATE.
    — Steve Taylor

  323. ishy wrote:

    Deb wrote:

    @ Max:
    Maybe our prayers are being answered.

    I don’t for one second believe the neo-Cal leaders would be carting themselves off. They’d just cart off the people that dare to have an opinion or who might try to walk away from their precious covenant.

    Ha! A Neo-Calvinist Benedict Option prison with metaphorical bars and cells. We had something like that in my former cult. It was called the Trip Box. 🙂 I kid you NOT.

  324. Remnant wrote:

    What happens when children, who are born within the community, grow up and do not share their parent’s faith? Are they rejected so as not to poison the well?

    More truth to this than you may know. Sometimes the children ARE actually ‘thrown out’. Take a look:

    “Up to 1,000 teenage boys have been separated from their parents and thrown out of their communities by a polygamous sect to make more young women available for older men, Utah officials claim.
    Many of these “Lost Boys”, some as young as 13, have simply been dumped on the side of the road in Arizona and Utah, by the leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS), and told they will never see their families again or go to heaven.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2005/jun/14/usa.julianborger

  325. Add to my scattered thoughts:

    Christianity was birthed under Roman occupation and rule politically.
    Religiously, it was birthed under the legalistic rule of the Sanhedrin.
    Yet The Way grew, spread, thrived, survived.

    Shall I dare to say that I find Dreher’s vision of Christianity anti-Christ?
    If we congregate unto ourselves, build our own walls and laws, are we not saying to the Holy Spirit of God, “We want a King” like the Israelites said to Moses?
    Grumble, grumble, I don’t like what American politics are doing to me as a believer so God, build me a city where I can worship without all this brouhaha.
    Anti the Great Comission of “Go, ye….”
    Anti the in dwelling Holy Spirit who might tell me to go into the highways and byways.

    And, in our Benedictine society, practically speaking, how long will it be before the rule of life is challenged?
    Is worship on the Sabbath or Sunday?
    Will Sunday be called “Sabbath”? What if I object (as a Jewish believer) to Sunday being called “Sabbath”?
    Will we be allowed to play cards?
    Can women wear jeans?
    Can a woman be on the security patrol? A leader? A teacher of scripture?
    How is money earned? In the world with ungodly businesses? Does someone monitor my production and work ethic?
    Will there be an evangelistic “team” who gets to travel and wine and dine and write books and have lucrative book deals while the rest of us toil to pay taxes?
    And, perhaps, most importantly, are long scraggly beards mandatory?

  326. @ Christiane:

    I have read about this. Heartbreaking. The disgusting older men, want to have child brides, so they kick out their sons who would challenge them for these girls.

  327. @ Remnant:
    It’s heart-breaking, when you read how the boys still just want to go home to their mothers. I know Mormon people and they are kind and generous folks who make good neighbors and are excellent parents. The ‘cult’ that does this to the ‘lost boys’ worships ‘male-headship’ ONLY for the ones in control…… apparently these young boys were a danger to the older men getting themselves more ‘wives’ from the young girls in the cult. It’s tragic and sick all around. Those poor boys … I only hope the good Mormon people of Utah step up and adopt them into their own homes and families so they are cared for and loved for themselves.

  328. @ okrapod:
    Yes, this is so true–we do act like we can’t stand to be around one another–it is very confusing and I suppose it might mean that we are looking at each other too much instead of focusing on the Lord. But even noting that sounds simplistic and formulaic. I would say humility, but the process to get there seems to involve humiliation and I don’t see people crowding to the front to partake in that experience and we don’t seem to much appreciate other people helping us get humble. Good grief how can God stand us at all–navel gazers and finger pointers that we are. Help us indeed, oh Lord!! I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I don’t know whether to throw up my hands in exasperation or roll up my sleeves to undertake what needs doing.

  329. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    See “Honor Killing”

    It’s not polite to talk about that. I am mystified why it is unPC to talk about that and FGM but people get hysterical about “microagressions” of every kind which require coloring books and exam exemptions. Back to my cultural cave…

  330. nancyjane wrote:

    I would say humility, but the process to get there seems to involve humiliation and I don’t see people crowding to the front to partake in that experience and we don’t seem to much appreciate other people helping us get humble.

    some thoughts on the nature of Christ-like humility:

    ‘Humility’ does not involve ‘humiliation’. Far from it. People that humiliate others aren’t helping their victims to become ‘humble’.

    If there is the presence of ‘grace’ in a person who is able to be at peace with themselves and with others, chances are that the person is truly humble before the Lord. A truly humble person will carry Christ’s peace within himself, having made room for it by getting rid of his own pride. 🙂

  331. elastigirl wrote:

    seems to me, he/they sense critical mass forming with the words Rod Dreher, and The Benedict Option. An opportunity for traction. A vehicle to co-opt for their own purposes.

    Well, there’s got to be something in it for Mohler et al. or Dreher’s BO wouldn’t have turned their head. It’s a strange mix, however … the New Calvinists are all about being culturally-relevant while also being culture warriors … the Benedict Option retreats from the culture.

  332. Josh wrote:

    @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    Sing with me…

    Every youknowwhat is sacred
    Every youknowwhat is great
    If a youknowwhat is wasted
    God gets quite irate.

    Is noncontraception / quiverfull a thing in Orthodoxy? Are these B.O. communes intended to be grown by … shall we say … multiplication from within?

    As an Orthodox Christian I can give you a simple answer to your question. No. Contraception is not criticized or denounced in the Orthodox Church. Married couples can have as many or few children as they want; it is their choice. Both married and single people are treated with equal respect. Neither the married life, nor the single life are considered more godly than the other. I hope this answered your question/s sufficiently.

  333. @ Darlene:
    Thanks! In hindsight, that question may have come off as antagonistic, which wasn’t my intent. I’m wondering… this implies that the tradition on contraception either came after the Orthodox and RCC split? Anyway, this seems healthier than the Catholic approach, in my humble and relatively uninformed estimation.

  334. @ Christiane:
    In some ways I agree with you. Certainly anyone who has been deliberately humiliated by another person is a victim of abuse. However I personally have at times been most humiliated when the Lord revealed my error, sin, pride to me. The sting of truth seems to come before the balm of peace and humility can be felt and I walk again thru the verses in Hebrews 12 that exhort us to accept the discipline of the Lord that we may be healed. And sometimes I have had to accept that discipline via another flawed sinner. I wish I could say that I was eager for correction but it’s kind of like getting a dr’s shot–I’m just glad when it is over!! The sting is lessened some by pre-emptive confession. Maybe in time, I won’t cringe so much.

  335. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    @ Remnant:

    Excellent points, all!

    In my research, I find that resistance comes in many forms and tends to create multiple kinds of cultures depending on the specific situations in the society. These include different degrees of dissent, on a scale of overt challenge to the powers controlling the organization or society, to covert resistance. So, to speak in absolutes about this being a non-optional “option” may not be such a wise thing to do.

    This is a Red Flag to me. The Benedict Option would no longer be a choice, but a constraint laid upon Christians as a means to control and judge their commitment to Christ. As an Orthodox Christian, Dreher should recognize the high value our church places on individual freedom – that God honors our free will, and that He is not an overlord that seeks to force us to do anything. We are to love God freely from a willing heart. This is the kind of obedience God wants from us. I also find it interesting – perhaps even concerning – that Dreher is getting lots of positive feedback from Neo-Calvinists, but where are the Orthodox people promoting Dreher’s book? As I said up thread, I’ve heard nothing about his book in my local parish, or in the Orthodox Church at large.

  336. nancyjane wrote:

    However I personally have at times been most humiliated when the Lord revealed my error, sin, pride to me

    what you are speaking of is the work of the Holy Spirit being poured out, but the ‘humiliation’ you feel is more like broken-heartedness for the suffering your sin has caused, as in this Scripture:

    “10”I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn” (Zechariah 12:10)

    the convicting our conscience when we sin is the work of the Holy Spirit …. there are many names for it: repentance, misericordia, ‘living under conviction’, and it is a sadness that is so deeply felt that it changes us and breaks our hearts and brings us to our knees before God seeking forgiveness and renewal and peace of conscience.

    No one can do this for you or ‘correct you’, but the Holy Spirit. It is a work of grace, because the Holy Spirit points us to the Cross and helps us focus on what we have done by our sins.

    I would say if ‘another sinner’ points you to Christ, that is good. But the kind of grace that convicts our hearts comes from God and is felt in the depths of our consciences.

  337. Darlene wrote:

    Dreher is getting lots of positive feedback from Neo-Calvinists, but where are the Orthodox people promoting Dreher’s book? As I said up thread, I’ve heard nothing about his book in my local parish, or in the Orthodox Church at large.

    I’ll make a guess about this. Maybe it is because Mohler’s Manhattan Declaration or Manifesto or whatever it was didn’t go anywhere and the Calvinistas realize, along with Dreher’s thought, that we are in a post-Christian era, and the Culture Warrior approach is not going to work with the broader culture and, more importantly, with the Millennial Christian cohort who have a Social Justice Warrior bent. They are rightly concerned about racial reconciliation, though they are blind to the toxicity of Female Subordinationism. I think that is partly due to the enduring problem of fatherlessness which goes right back to the sin of slavery and racism. One sin begets another. Why they cannot see the connection is beyond me.

    The Orthodox (broadly speaking) were not part of the Culture Warrior movement, or at least I am not aware of it, so please correct me if I have that wrong. Back in the mid-2000’s younger evangelicals were attracted to more liturgical forms in SBC and PCA churches and some independents. They ruffled some feathers about paedocommunion and Lent and some other things, so they might be more receptive to Dreher than people might otherwise think.

  338. Darlene, I think you’re on to something here. For some reason I cannot quite fathom, I am Facebook friends with a lot of Orthodox folks, cradle and convert. And every single one of them seems to have Dreher’s number. Unfortunately some of my Catholic friends seem to be much more gullible. SMH.

    Darlene wrote:

    brad/futuristguy wrote:

    @ Remnant:

    Excellent points, all!

    In my research, I find that resistance comes in many forms and tends to create multiple kinds of cultures depending on the specific situations in the society. These include different degrees of dissent, on a scale of overt challenge to the powers controlling the organization or society, to covert resistance. So, to speak in absolutes about this being a non-optional “option” may not be such a wise thing to do.

    This is a Red Flag to me. The Benedict Option would no longer be a choice, but a constraint laid upon Christians as a means to control and judge their commitment to Christ. As an Orthodox Christian, Dreher should recognize the high value our church places on individual freedom – that God honors our free will, and that He is not an overlord that seeks to force us to do anything. We are to love God freely from a willing heart. This is the kind of obedience God wants from us. I also find it interesting – perhaps even concerning – that Dreher is getting lots of positive feedback from Neo-Calvinists, but where are the Orthodox people promoting Dreher’s book? As I said up thread, I’ve heard nothing about his book in my local parish, or in the Orthodox Church at large.

  339. Well, I don’t want to get into Church Wars here — maybe we can take it to the Open Thread — but until 1930 ALL churches opposed artificial contraception. Protestants, Orthodox, everybody. In 1930 the Church of England opened the door to ABC at the Lambeth Conference — but even then it was only supposed to be for “hard cases.” However most communions rushed to follow suit, and hard cases became ALL cases. The Orthodox were among the last to capitulate. In his first edition of The Orthodox Church, Kallistos Ware condemned artificial contraception. In subsequent editions he endorsed it. This is a matter of public record, easily verifiable via Google, so please, y’all, don’t bite my head off!

    From what I understand some bishops and priests (e.g., in ROCOR) still forbid artificial contraception.

    Josh wrote:

    @ Remnant:

  340. Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    Darlene, I think you’re on to something here. For some reason I cannot quite fathom, I am Facebook friends with a lot of Orthodox folks, cradle and convert. And every single one of them seems to have Dreher’s number. Unfortunately some of my Catholic friends seem to be much more gullible.

    I would question whether these Catholic friends identified primarily as American Conservatives and secondarily as ‘Catholic’. It makes a huge difference what their first love is as to what they are willing to overlook for ‘the Cause’ (ie. their first love, and I sure don’t mean the Catholic faith)
    You can see this in the way the US Conference of Catholic Bishops sometimes takes political Catholics to task for supporting policies that will bring terrible hardship directly to the poor and the helpless among us.

    Catholics are a varied lot, but there are some things they can’t walk away from, and the idea that devotion to God is a willing and free choice for ALL people is one of them. Dreher’s new buddies sing a different song altogether, and I think Dreher KNOWS it, or else he is very, very naive.(?)

  341. Christiane wrote:

    Dreher’s new buddies sing a different song altogether, and I think Dreher KNOWS it, or else he is very, very naive.(?)

    by ‘new buddies, I am of course referencing Dreher’s neo-Cal admirers.

  342. @ Catholic Gate-Crasher:
    I need to apologize, because I don’t want to start Church Wars either. I’m in a weird place, because the Catholic church considers me “intrinsically disordered,” and from what I’ve heard from people like me who tried to live (even as celibate lay people) in Orthodox contexts, they weren’t very welcome either. So I don’t think I’d be welcome personally in either context, but I still respect the deep, intellectual writings and contemplative traditions of the RCC and Orthodox churches, and see you all as siblings in Christ. Anyhow, I’m bringing this to a close from my end in this thread, because I’m now severely off topic, but if anyone wants to pick this up in the open thread, well, I’ll try to remember to check over there later. Now, back to talking about the B.O… (phew!)

  343. Darlene wrote:

    The Benedict Option would no longer be a choice, but a constraint laid upon Christians as a means to control and judge their commitment to Christ.

    This.

    And maybe this is why the new-Cals are latching on.

  344. I don’t know if someone way upthread has already posted this. Apologies if this is a repeat. Dreher wrote a blog post called The Dark Side of the Benedict Option in which he discusses intentional communities going sideways.

    With all that said, I want to offer you a portion of an essay written by a high school student who had been raised in a Ben Op-style community, and was nearly broken by it. This is going to be front and center for me as I write the Dark Side chapter. Excerpt:

    “When I was a kid, my parents taught me that the sun orbits the earth and evolution is a myth. I was never vaccinated, learned to fear doctors and secular government, and thought that Obama was the Antichrist, buoyed to power by Freemasons, homosexuals, abortionists, and the atheistic media.”

    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/the-dark-side-of-the-benedict-option/

    I looked on Amazon at the chapters in Benedict Option, and nothing is titled “Dark Side.” That doesn’t mean the information isn’t in there. But I keep asking myself that if he is so aware of the very human tendency to control and manipulate, why is he schmoozing with the very Christian segments that are prone to authoritarianism and Shepherding?

  345. Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    We are all intrinsically disordered. It’s called Original Sin. {HUGS}

    While I’ll concede that my genome is falling into disorder and that I have an expiration date (death), I now flatly reject the notion that I’ve inherited a ‘sin nature’ from Adam which in turn is my ‘default condition’.
    There was a time when I wouldn’t dare and question it (original sin), that time is past.

  346. @ Muff Potter:
    The concept that ‘something happened’ to our kind during an event in Eden may or may not be recognized as ‘original sin’….. but we suffer in this world from many troubles and we ‘pass away’ at the end of life on this Earth, yes.

    Yet something remained in humankind out of Eden that still lives in us and recalls to us what is good, and just, and life-honoring. 🙂

    The only term I could never ‘accept’ is ‘total depravity’.
    We may have been ‘wounded’ in our natures as human persons by the event in Eden, but we were not totally destroyed, made evil, or abandoned by Our Creator. That David could pray the twenty-third Psalm tells me this truth. Whoever cooked up ‘total depravity’ has to answer for it in eternity, and for all the hopelessness that terrible teaching laid on many souls.

  347. Christiane, I agree 100%.

    Christiane wrote:

    @ Muff Potter:
    The concept that ‘something happened’ to our kind during an event in Eden may or may not be recognized as ‘original sin’….. but we suffer in this world from many troubles and we ‘pass away’ at the end of life on this Earth, yes.

    Yet something remained in humankind out of Eden that still lives in us and recalls to us what is good, and just, and life-honoring.

    The only term I could never ‘accept’ is ‘total depravity’.
    We may have been ‘wounded’ in our natures as human persons by the event in Eden, but we were not totally destroyed, made evil, or abandoned by Our Creator. That David could pray the twenty-third Psalm tells me this truth. Whoever cooked up ‘total depravity’ has to answer for it in eternity, and for all the hopelessness that terrible teaching laid on many souls.

  348. Holgrave wrote:

    I’m dismayed by the commenters going ahead and dismissing what is probably one of the more important ideas of the early 21st century because the audience in a video appears to be mostly older white men. Are ageism, sexism, and racism suddenly acceptable arguments?

    The Benedictine way of ‘ora et labora’ is NOT an ‘early 21st century’ idea, no. It is a way of life for people who wish to go ‘into silence’ to live contemplative lives of prayer, punctuated by periods of productive work involving raising their own food and working at projects they can sell to support themselves at their retreats.

    You take a Southern Baptist family and put them into that Catholic/Orthodox contemplative monastic model, and WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG???? It would funny IF the neo-Cal folk didn’t have a track record for some of the worst kinds of controlling, abusive treatment of persons in their ‘churches’, especially the way they track down and harass those who try to get away from their controlling clutches.

    No, it’s not funny and it could be harmful to innocent people if something meant for good from an ancient Christian tradition was co-opted by abusive controlling people with an agenda that would NOT use it for good.
    Oh, the old white neo-Cal men might benefit, but only on the backs of those they preyed on…… hence the concern, I suppose.

  349. Christiane wrote:

    You take a Southern Baptist family and put them into that Catholic/Orthodox contemplative monastic model, and WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG????

    “What could possibly go wrong?” is usually followed later by “But how were we to know?”

    It would funny IF the neo-Cal folk didn’t have a track record for some of the worst kinds of controlling, abusive treatment of persons in their ‘churches’, especially the way they track down and harass those who try to get away from their controlling clutches.

    Scientology would also be pretty funny if they didn’t also have their track record.

    I can easily see this coming together with “church police force” into Blow Teams and Blow Drills like Scientology and IBLP/ATI/Got Hard, complete with RPF Gulags for Re-Education once captured and returned.

  350. Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    We are all intrinsically disordered. It’s called Original Sin. {HUGS}

    More and more I’m coming to the conclusion that Original Sin was Augustine working out a mechanism for that intrinsic disorder, trying to figure out why Adam’s Fall affected all mankind and why a Virgin Birth was necessary for Jesus. I think Augustine’s theological explanation was applied too broadly and that going back in the direction of the original Christus Victor (Victory over Death) would be a good move.

  351. Gram3 wrote:

    I think that is partly due to the enduring problem of fatherlessness which goes right back to the sin of slavery and racism.

    I would like to hear your explanation of the above connection, the chain of events/effects which links the two.

    One sin begets another. Why they cannot see the connection is beyond me.

    When you personally benefit from said sin, it suddenly becomes very very hard to see.

  352. Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    Darlene, I think you’re on to something here. For some reason I cannot quite fathom, I am Facebook friends with a lot of Orthodox folks, cradle and convert. And every single one of them seems to have Dreher’s number.

    Wonder if that might be because of Orthodoxy’s emphasis on the monastic. When you’re familiar with the genuine article, it’s easier to spot the fakes.

    Darlene wrote:

    This is a Red Flag to me. The Benedict Option would no longer be a choice, but a constraint laid upon Christians as a means to control and judge their commitment to Christ. As an Orthodox Christian, Dreher should recognize the high value our church places on individual freedom – that God honors our free will, and that He is not an overlord that seeks to force us to do anything.

    I wonder if Dreher’s Orthodoxy is more Russian-style than anything else. The Russian Orthodox church had a reputation for bending the knee to the Tsar’s secular power and “baptizing” what the Autocrats of All Russia wanted (carried on to this day with Putin).
    * Remember (according to the Tsars) the two pillars of Russian society: Autocracy and Serfdom.
    * And even before Moscow became the Third Rome, the Orthodox Church in the Second Rome used to get cozy with the heirs of Caesar enthroned in Constantinople. (Imperial patronage/State religion works both ways.)

  353. @ Muff Potter:

    ” reject the notion that I’ve inherited a ‘sin nature’ from Adam which in turn is my ‘default condition’”
    +++++++++++

    i think i’ve subconsciously done the same for a number of years.

    frankly, i look around me and see how awesome human beings are (religious beliefs or lack thereof have nothing to do with it). a few do not qualify — but in almost all cases i see people who desire to do what is right, to be kind, fair, generous, honest. who care about their fellow human being (despite ignorance, which can be corrected).

    i’m curious to know what has led to your conclusion.

  354. Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    but until 1930 ALL churches opposed artificial contraception. Protestants, Orthodox, everybody. In 1930 the Church of England opened the door to ABC at the Lambeth Conference — but even then it was only supposed to be for “hard cases.”

    Hang on. The pill is not very old maybe 60’s, correct? Condoms a bit older, although I don’t know how commonly used they were in married relationships.

    So when you say contraceptives were opposed, what are you thinking of? Herbs? Abortion?

  355. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    The sin of slavery was supported by racism which was supported by a sinful appeal to the Bible. Slavery was abolished by the sin of racism was not and persisted. As to the fatherlessness and racism, you can look to either the an old dead white guy in the Moynihan Report or a somewhat younger black guy, Thabiti Anyabwile who has his own ideas. Moynihan captured a somewhat unique moment in history as the Civil Rights legislation was being enacted. He pointed out that, unlike other ethnic groups in America, African Americans had been robbed of generations of the enculturation of family formation, due to enslavement and the way that families were broken. That is a vital point, IMO.

    Anyabwile, the firm Female Subordinationist, is a nice guy and believes that men need to show leadership in the church and home and that is why women have had to take the leadership role in the church and home. In his view, men have abandoned their responsibilities, but I think he also would say that racism makes fulfilling those responsibilities difficult. I actually agree with a lot that he says.

    There are lots of other things I could add to the links but I might blow up this thread. 🙂

  356. elastigirl wrote:

    i’m curious to know what has led to your conclusion.

    A topic best explored on the OD thread. I’m still collating on a reply.

  357. Gram3 wrote:

    There are lots of other things I could add to the links but I might blow up this thread.

    Agreed on the thread point. Dialogue on many topics is hard these days. It’s hard because many folks fail to understand that agreement in part with various points of a particular ideology, does not by necessity imply lockstep agreement with its remainder.

  358. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Left Behind, Purpose-Driven Life, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Prayer of Jabez…
    We’re about due for another Latest New Thing fad.

    So true…..New book, new trend….failure…..repeat.

  359. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    Jerome wrote:

    Scroll down to the screen cap of Bradley’s facebook post and Dreher’s nasty response.

    Wow. His response was rather arrogant and snarky. I wouldn’t want him heading up my intentional community. He doesn’t take criticism very well.

    That is classic Dreher, and it is one reason why so many people, including many of his fellow Orthodox, have serious reservations about him.

    He once told a woman who questioned one of his ideas, “Good luck finding a husband.” It turned out the woman was married.

    There is so much more I could say. Hopefully this weekend I can find time to do so. If that’s OK with the Deebs!

  360. Lea wrote:

    Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    but until 1930 ALL churches opposed artificial contraception. Protestants, Orthodox, everybody. In 1930 the Church of England opened the door to ABC at the Lambeth Conference — but even then it was only supposed to be for “hard cases.”

    Hang on. The pill is not very old maybe 60’s, correct? Condoms a bit older, although I don’t know how commonly used they were in married relationships.

    So when you say contraceptives were opposed, what are you thinking of? Herbs? Abortion?

    No, there was no Pill in 1930. But barrier methods have been around since antiquity. That’s what the Lambeth Conference countenanced. After that, the floodgates were opened.

  361. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    We are all intrinsically disordered. It’s called Original Sin. {HUGS}

    More and more I’m coming to the conclusion that Original Sin was Augustine working out a mechanism for that intrinsic disorder, trying to figure out why Adam’s Fall affected all mankind and why a Virgin Birth was necessary for Jesus. I think Augustine’s theological explanation was applied too broadly and that going back in the direction of the original Christus Victor (Victory over Death) would be a good move.

    Why not both/and? 🙂

  362. @ Muff Potter:
    Too bad that we cannot get past labels and assumptions about things we cannot know and just listen to each other and start by looking for common ground as the starting point, especially about complex problems involving human beings. Something I need to remember.

  363. Muff Potter wrote:

    Gram3 wrote:

    There are lots of other things I could add to the links but I might blow up this thread.

    Agreed on the thread point. Dialogue on many topics is hard these days. It’s hard because many folks fail to understand that agreement in part with various points of a particular ideology, does not by necessity imply lockstep agreement with its remainder.

    Absolutely.

  364. Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    He once told a woman who questioned one of his ideas, “Good luck finding a husband.” It turned out the woman was married.

    This is the side of Dreher I’ve never seen before, and it needs to be seen.

    This post, and my subsequent digging, have been a little triggering for me. Since coming out of an intentional community (a cult) it feels a bit lonely at times. The whole concept sounds so appealing that it’s partly why I joined one to begin with. Of course, I’ve seen up close and personal just how damaging they can be when done wrong. Even Dreher talks about that. But to pop off to people the way he does? That’s exactly the way my former leadership was. I find myself recoiling. How can any good fruit come from someone like that?

  365. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    Even Dreher talks about that. But to pop off to people the way he does?

    His kind of ‘mean-boy’ snark belongs more to the neo-Cal ‘headship’ boyz than to any Orthodox Christian community.

    I wonder what his REAL story includes that we are not aware of; but in the meantime, we have his snarky mouth to thank for revealing more of his true character.

  366. Darleneo wrote:

    David wrote:
    A few things,
    — Dreher left the Catholics due to his disgust of their mishandling of abuse. You’d think that would give him and TWW a little connection.
    — I’m halfway through this book, and if there’s a section telling us to head for the hills and ignore everyone around us while we go off to count beads I’ve yet to find it. Just the opposite, really — so far there’s more about homeless shelters, crisis pregnancy centers, welcoming strangers, and building communities than there is about running away. It’s just contra the American Family Association/GOP world of dealing with cultural change.
    — If you just are not a little familiar about Eastern Orthodoxy, this book is going to have a learning curve with it (his previous Catholic faith was of a more Eastern bent as well). I don’t agree with it all, and the Eastern Christian tirades against “Western Christianity” get old no matter who is making them. That said, reading through this I can see the Orthodox mindset is going to scrape against those primarily in evangelical Protestant circles.
    — The comments about “I wish they’d just stop focusing on X and stick to Jesus” sound exactly like the comments people make about TWW when they rightly bring up abuse in the church and the good old boys club. We all know how that goes. As we know, you can focus on Jesus and have other interests and concerns about the direction of the church and culture.
    David, I like so much of what you said that I will bold what I want to respond to.
    *Yes, Dreher was very disturbed by the sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, but especially the cover-up. I read about his reason for leaving some time ago so I would assume it’s still out there on the Internet.
    *You are piquing my interest. I suppose to really understand Dreher’s Benedict Option model, one must read the book.
    *Eastern Orthodoxy can seem odd – even weird – to those outside of it. That’s just the way it is. It’s very much like an American going to an Amazon tribe or an African tribe and attempting to understand their culture. But the reverse is true as well. Some of the Orthodox folks in my parish – who have been raised in the Orthodox faith – find Protestantism – especially its hyper-Fundy, Evangelical elements – very odd and cannot relate to it whatsoever.
    *The It’s just about Jesus mantra can get old like many things. If it’s just about Jesus and the Bible – then maybe ALL Christians should just stop writing – after all, all we need is the Bible. And why bother going to church and listening to the sermon, because all we really need is Jesus and the Bible. Not some person telling us what the Bible means or what Jesus meant. Maybe ALL Christians should stop saying what the Bible means because after all, anyone can go read the Bible all by themselves and figure it out on their own. So, don’t bother telling me what the Bible says because I can read it for myself and don’t need some human being telling me. No sirreee….just me, Jesus and mah Bible. Now I’ll step Off Soapbox.

    Unfortunately, the sex-abuse problem is roughly the same (percentage-wise) across all communions, including Orthodoxy. And when Dreher encountered it in Orthodoxy, he reacted very differently from the way he had vis-a-vis the Catholc Scandal. He mentioned it only when he couldn’t avoid it, and even then his ton was decidedly mellowed. (Look up his piece about the Blanco mess, in which he averred that we are all sinners, and he had been “blessed” at Blanco despite it all. If he ever extended such compassionate consideration to Catholic perps, I must have missed it.)

    Moreover, Dreher himself was actively involved in coverups of clergy sex abuse in the Orthodox Church. Yes, I know that for a fact. I know the victim, and I know how Dreher tried to destroy her. I don’t want to post about this until I have contacted the Deebs privately. I cannot violate confidences.

    Dreher is not a nice person.

  367. Should say “tone,” not “ton.” Ack, wha a difference a vowel makes. Just ask Vanna. 😉

    Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    Darleneo wrote:
    David wrote:
    A few things,
    — Dreher left the Catholics due to his disgust of their mishandling of abuse. You’d think that would give him and TWW a little connection.
    — I’m halfway through this book, and if there’s a section telling us to head for the hills and ignore everyone around us while we go off to count beads I’ve yet to find it. Just the opposite, really — so far there’s more about homeless shelters, crisis pregnancy centers, welcoming strangers, and building communities than there is about running away. It’s just contra the American Family Association/GOP world of dealing with cultural change.
    — If you just are not a little familiar about Eastern Orthodoxy, this book is going to have a learning curve with it (his previous Catholic faith was of a more Eastern bent as well). I don’t agree with it all, and the Eastern Christian tirades against “Western Christianity” get old no matter who is making them. That said, reading through this I can see the Orthodox mindset is going to scrape against those primarily in evangelical Protestant circles.
    — The comments about “I wish they’d just stop focusing on X and stick to Jesus” sound exactly like the comments people make about TWW when they rightly bring up abuse in the church and the good old boys club. We all know how that goes. As we know, you can focus on Jesus and have other interests and concerns about the direction of the church and culture.
    David, I like so much of what you said that I will bold what I want to respond to.
    *Yes, Dreher was very disturbed by the sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, but especially the cover-up. I read about his reason for leaving some time ago so I would assume it’s still out there on the Internet.
    *You are piquing my interest. I suppose to really understand Dreher’s Benedict Option model, one must read the book.
    *Eastern Orthodoxy can seem odd – even weird – to those outside of it. That’s just the way it is. It’s very much like an American going to an Amazon tribe or an African tribe and attempting to understand their culture. But the reverse is true as well. Some of the Orthodox folks in my parish – who have been raised in the Orthodox faith – find Protestantism – especially its hyper-Fundy, Evangelical elements – very odd and cannot relate to it whatsoever.
    *The It’s just about Jesus mantra can get old like many things. If it’s just about Jesus and the Bible – then maybe ALL Christians should just stop writing – after all, all we need is the Bible. And why bother going to church and listening to the sermon, because all we really need is Jesus and the Bible. Not some person telling us what the Bible means or what Jesus meant. Maybe ALL Christians should stop saying what the Bible means because after all, anyone can go read the Bible all by themselves and figure it out on their own. So, don’t bother telling me what the Bible says because I can read it for myself and don’t need some human being telling me. No sirreee….just me, Jesus and mah Bible. Now I’ll step Off Soapbox.
    Unfortunately, the sex-abuse problem is roughly the same (percentage-wise) across all communions, including Orthodoxy. And when Dreher encountered it in Orthodoxy, he reacted very differently from the way he had vis-a-vis the Catholc Scandal. He mentioned it only when he couldn’t avoid it, and even then his ton was decidedly mellowed. (Look up his piece about the Blanco mess, in which he averred that we are all sinners, and he had been “blessed” at Blanco despite it all. If he ever extended such compassionate consideration to Catholic perps, I must have missed it.)
    Moreover, Dreher himself was actively involved in coverups of clergy sex abuse in the Orthodox Church. Yes, I know that for a fact. I know the victim, and I know how Dreher tried to destroy her. I don’t want to post about this until I have contacted the Deebs privately. I cannot violate confidences.
    Dreher is not a nice person.

  368. Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    But barrier methods have been around since antiquity. That’s what the Lambeth Conference countenanced.

    Ok. Medicine grew by leaps and bounds in the last two centuries and we know a lot more than we used to know. That and change in tech (ie, the pill) it’s not surprising that most churches changed. The pill was a different animal.

  369. Lea wrote:

    Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    But barrier methods have been around since antiquity. That’s what the Lambeth Conference countenanced.

    Ok. Medicine grew by leaps and bounds in the last two centuries and we know a lot more than we used to know. That and change in tech (ie, the pill) it’s not surprising that most churches changed. The pill was a different animal.

    Do we know that, for example, Baptist and Presbyterian and Methodist churches discouraged or banned (artificial) contraception? If so, I did not know that.

    To bring this somewhat back on topic, it is true, IMO, that Griswold supported Roe which led, IMO, to the rise of the Religious Right which has now run its course, IMO, and which has now led certain people to think about the Benedict Option. I do not think that the BO requires Quiverfull. Or 9Marks or any particular point on the Christian spectrum. I think we are hearing about it from our Usual Suspects now because I think they realize that things have changed and the Religious Right does not have the microphone that it once had. Or thought that it had.

  370. Well, I don’t want to get into it here — it’s a topic for the Open Thread — but that’s not how or why the Lambeth Conference reached its decision. It was a moral issue, not a medical one. And frankly I don’t see that much “medical” difference between an ancient diaphragm and a modern one. Except latex. 😉

    Lea wrote:

    Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:
    But barrier methods have been around since antiquity. That’s what the Lambeth Conference countenanced.
    Ok. Medicine grew by leaps and bounds in the last two centuries and we know a lot more than we used to know. That and change in tech (ie, the pill) it’s not surprising that most churches changed. The pill was a different animal.

  371. Gram3 wrote:

    Do we know that, for example, Baptist and Presbyterian and Methodist churches discouraged or banned (artificial) contraception? If so, I did not know that.

    It has not been true in my lifetime, certainly. But without doing research I can’t speak to the lambeth conference. WAY before my time. I didn’t grow up with anyone but catholics restricting birth control (and that only strict ones, I don’t think most of my catholic friends were on board with that): and quiverfull is fairly new to me.

  372. Gram3 wrote:

    I think we are hearing about it from our Usual Suspects now because I think they realize that things have changed and the Religious Right does not have the microphone that it once had. Or thought that it had.

    So they’re taking their ball and going home, SO THERE!

  373. Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    The It’s just about Jesus mantra can get old like many things. If it’s just about Jesus and the Bible – then maybe ALL Christians should just stop writing – after all, all we need is the Bible. And why bother going to church and listening to the sermon, because all we really need is Jesus and the Bible.

    Islam’s been doing that with their Koran for a long time.
    Look where it got them.

  374. Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    Unfortunately, the sex-abuse problem is roughly the same (percentage-wise) across all communions, including Orthodoxy. And when Dreher encountered it in Orthodoxy, he reacted very differently from the way he had vis-a-vis the Catholc Scandal. He mentioned it only when he couldn’t avoid it, and even then his ton was decidedly mellowed.

    Net Orthodox fanboy.

    Rule 1: ORTHODOXY Can Do No Wrong. (Unlike that Romish Heresy.)
    Rule 2: See Rule 1.
    Rule 3: See Rule 1.
    Rule 4: See Rule 1.

  375. Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    He once told a woman who questioned one of his ideas, “Good luck finding a husband.” It turned out the woman was married.

    “If you question what I say or do
    YOU REBEL AGAINST THE FATHER, TOO!”
    — Steve Taylor, “I Manipulate”

  376. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:

    Many people seem prone to thinking their group can do no wrong.

    I think abuse can show up anywhere, what tells the tale is what a church DOES in response. Some cover. Many, in fact, do. Too many.

    But some don’t. And that’s where I want to be.

  377. Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    Look up his piece about the Blanco mess, in which he averred that we are all sinners, and he had been “blessed” at Blanco despite it all.

    Thank goodness for Bishop Accountability. They preserved Dreher’s article from the Dallas Morning News. This is what he has to say about the pedophile:

    Did other good fruit emerge from this poisoned vineyard? Who knows, and who can say whether it counts for anything? But when Sam Greene is judged, there my little family stands, however reluctantly, as silent witnesses for the defense, pleading on his behalf for the same thing every one of us will one day need: mercy.

  378. Lea wrote:

    @ Headless Unicorn Guy

    But some don’t. And that’s where I want to be.

    Which don’t? And how would one even know? If they are very good at covering up — and if they can fly under the radar — then they can get away with it. And no one is the wiser.

    Any place that harbors sinful human beings — that’s everywhere — has more unrevealed dirty laundry than you can shake a wringer at. The purist quest for the Perfect Sinless Church is chimerical and self-defeating IMHO. As a friend of mine once told his wife, “If you ever find a ‘perfect’ church, they won’t have you as a member.” 😉

  379. Thank you, BTDT!! That’s exactly what I was referring to. Yes, we all need mercy, but I never saw Dreher extend the same mercy to Catholic perps. Not even close. He even savaged very good bishops (like Chaput) because they weren’t exhibiting the proper degree of seething Dreherrian fury. Or something. I could never figure that out. No matter how outraged we Catholics were, we could never be outraged enough to satisfy Rod. It was weird. We were actually trying to *do* something about the problem, but I guess that didn’t count!

    Getting back to Blanco….

    To be fair, I must confess that Dreher also wrote one of the greatest blog-post headlines of all times WRT the Blanco perp: “Felonious Monk.” Hard to top that one. 🙂

    BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    @ BeenThereDoneThat:
    And I forgot the link. Here it is.
    http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2007/09_10/2007_09_30_Dreher_MonkWas.htm

  380. BTDT, I have been reading the fascinating articles at your excellent website. I was unfamiliar with Homestead Heritage. Kudos to you for escaping that nightmare with your faith and sanity intact!

  381. Gram3 wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    See “Honor Killing”

    It’s not polite to talk about that. I am mystified why it is unPC to talk about that and FGM but people get hysterical about “microagressions” of every kind which require coloring books and exam exemptions. Back to my cultural cave…

    Mule Chewing Briars over at Internet Monk described Progressive Enlightened Ideology as “Puritanism seven-times refined to remove even the hint of God leaving only the Moral Fury”. And remember the definition of Puritanism: the fear that somewhere, someone might be happy.

    And Islam is the current Pet Foreign Religion du Jour, especially since it’s dead set against Mummy & Daddy’s Christianity. I’ve heard stories of Social Justice Warrior types who believe when Racist Fascist Homophobic Islamic AmeriKKKa is finally destroyed, their pet Third Worlders (including Islam) will all sit dewy-eyed at their feet thanking and thanking and thanking them with trembling lips, in total awe of their Great White Benefactors.

    P.S. And when Microaggressions(TM) are completely stamped out, there will always be Nanoaggressions(TM).
    Then Picoaggressions(TM).
    Then Femtoaggressions(TM).
    Then Attoaggressions(TM).

  382. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    Well, possibly a more positive view would be that the church (meaning all those who are in Christ) would be doing their Christ-following in their communities, just like they did when Christianity was not the cultural backdrop. Like the early church. Or like we did back before the 70’s. That would be the leaven analogy of the Kingdom.

    The Religious Right was a reaction. I don’t think there would have been a Religious Right as it came to be without Roe. But that is just my opinion having watched it. A contrary view would be that there was just so much chaos after ’68 to attribute it solely to Roe.

  383. Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    Kudos to you for escaping that nightmare with your faith and sanity intact!

    Thank you. That means a lot.
    I don’t know if you are familiar with Elizabeth Esther. She was raised in a fundamentalist cult. After leaving she eventually converted to Catholic. She’s written a few books, and even confronted Michael Pearl on the Anderson Cooper show about his abusive child training methods. I used to stalk her blog in the early years while I was trying to wrap my head around it all. Her blog was updated a few years ago, and I can no longer find some of my favorite articles. The particular one I’m thinking of was titled something like “How to Talk to Someone Living Inside an Abusive Church.” She wrote:

    “For one thing, there’s a powerful sense of community. I have found that it’s nearly impossible to replicate the same depth of personal relationships “on the outside.”

    There is a special bond forged through multi-generational loyalty, intermarrying and shared history that creates a particular, unique identity. It is a compelling reason to stay and it’s a bond not easily broken.

    If your family and your church are part of this group, the outside world seems like a harsh, lonely place to be. Of course, inside the cult, there is a price to pay for the uniquely intimate communal lifestyle–but it’s just not monetary.”

    This was true for me and many other ex-members. I think sometimes we long for the close relationships we had even though it was all tightly controlled. I can see how the Ben Op can be so appealing to people.

  384. @ Max:

    “Well, there’s got to be something in it for Mohler et al. or Dreher’s BO wouldn’t have turned their head.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++

    maybe this has something to do with it:

    “Remember, MacIntyre says that we await a “new and very different St. Benedict” — meaning a charismatic religious figure, or figures, who can help us form these new communities.”

    (maybe this has already been referenced) There’s an anticipation of a coming ‘new and very different St. Benedict’ — a charismatic religious figure, or figures, to lead the way.

    a golden opportunity for Mohler, et al.?

    (kind of sick, really — anticipation of a new kind of messiah figure, those hungry for power are angling for it)

    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/benedict-option-faq/

  385. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Mule Chewing Briars over at Internet Monk described Progressive Enlightened Ideology as “Puritanism seven-times refined to remove even the hint of God leaving only the Moral Fury”.

    And Moral Fury thrives on the lack of thoughtful consideration of anything much including consequences, unintentional or otherwise. That’s a pretty smart Mule over at IM.

  386. Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    The purist quest for the Perfect Sinless Church is chimerical and self-defeating IMHO.

    Good Lord, not actively covering for abuse means perfection now? Our standards have sunk low.

    I certainly hope my church does not cover abuse. You don’t think there are ANY that don’t? I do not think that is true.

  387. @ Catholic Gate-Crasher:

    Hi, Deb and Dee! Is it possible to delete my comment that mainly consists of a huge lonnnng quote? Thanks!!Lea wrote:

    Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:
    The purist quest for the Perfect Sinless Church is chimerical and self-defeating IMHO.
    Good Lord, not actively covering for abuse means perfection now? Our standards have sunk low.
    I certainly hope my church does not cover abuse. You don’t think there are ANY that don’t? I do not think that is true.

    Oy, I think you misunderstood me entirely.

    But yes, color me cynical, but I would be very surprised if there were *any* church that had never covered up for abuse at some level. I think you may underestimate the pervasiveness of this problem.

  388. Lea wrote:

    Gram3 wrote:
    Do we know that, for example, Baptist and Presbyterian and Methodist churches discouraged or banned (artificial) contraception? If so, I did not know that.
    It has not been true in my lifetime, certainly. But without doing research I can’t speak to the lambeth conference. WAY before my time. I didn’t grow up with anyone but catholics restricting birth control (and that only strict ones, I don’t think most of my catholic friends were on board with that): and quiverfull is fairly new to me.

    Fairly easy to google the history, if you’re interested. But I do think this is a topic for the Open Thread. 🙂

  389. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    And Islam is the current Pet Foreign Religion du Jour, especially since it’s dead set against Mummy & Daddy’s Christianity. I’ve heard stories of Social Justice Warrior types who believe when Racist Fascist Homophobic Islamic AmeriKKKa is finally destroyed, their pet Third Worlders (including Islam) will all sit dewy-eyed at their feet thanking and thanking and thanking them with trembling lips, in total awe of their Great White Benefactors.

    My kids know SJWs who claim that the burka, honor killings, and female genital mutilation are all “liberating” for women. I am not making this up. It’s all part of that intersectionality stuff, which seems to get hopelessly complicated, with one intersection tripping over another one….

  390. Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    I think you may underestimate the pervasiveness of this problem.

    Pervasive, yes. Universal, no.

    Or as I said, the problems can crop up anywhere but to think that every leader of every church would handle it the same? No I don tthink that.

    If that is true, we should burn every church to the ground and be done with the whole thing.

  391. Well, I’ve watched the long video and read through all the comments. It took me a while, since I did it in between work and chores and taking care of other things. I know I’m late to the party, but I hope no one minds if I share a few thoughts.

    I can understand people who want to give Dreher at least a hearing. Certainly we need to know what his ideas are before we can critique them. I think this is very difficult for us now, because Dreher refuses to get into specifics, and concretely define what the “Benedict Option” means.

    In that twenty-minute speech, he talks about withdrawing from society (to some extent) and the importance of family units and preserving “Christian culture” (whatever that is), but doesn’t spell out how he envisions it working. I haven’t read his book, so I don’t know whether he offers more concrete advice there. Does he also include any of that on his blog somewhere? If not, then I suspect that Dreher is not interested in sharing his ideas, so much as selling them.

    Based on what little I can understand from the video, Dreher’s motivations do strike me as quite reactionary, to be honest. He seems to harp a great deal on gay marriage, as though this is somehow one of the Signs of the Apocalypse. It’s hard for me to understand why this makes him so nervous. “Everybody is afraid of what’s coming”, he says. Well, I’m not afraid, so he’s wrong. At least, I’m not afraid of gay marriage or homosexual people, or that they’ll take away my rights to what I believe. (I have other fears about what’s going on in the U.S., but they have little to do with LGBT rights.)

    Dreher’s strange appeals to authority are something of a red flag, too. The way he calls the words of certain writers “prophetic” — if I remember correctly, he even refers to the men themselves as “prophets”. I wonder whether he should be doing that.

    If nothing else, I think Mr. Dreher should be choosing his words (as well as his growing circle of friends) more carefully.

    P.S. Could someone please explain to me what he means by, “Indiana Happened”? What exactly “happened” in Indiana? Sorry if this sounds ignorant, but I’m a Canuck living in Japan. We get some U.S. news here, but not every single sound bite.

  392. Lea wrote:

    but to think that every leader of every church would handle it the same?

    When on earth did I say that? *Every* leader? Of course not.

    Do you think *every* leader in the Catholic Church participated in the coverup of clerical sex abuse? If you do think this, you are very seriously mistaken. The vast majority of bishops did not participate in coverups — including my own bishop, who is what you might call proactively transparent. 😉

    But some — way too many — bishops did cover up.

    And some — too many — leaders in other churches have also covered up. Those who cover up successfully hide it very well, even from their own church members. That’s how the pattern continues. That’s how the problem festers. Surely this very site shows us how surprised and shocked congregants often are when the truth *finally* comes out. “It can’t happen here”? Yes, it can. And does. “There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed.” <–And you can take *that* to the bank!

    And yes, unless your church consists of just a handful of people with 24/7 access to each other's lives, I would be willing to bet money that it has happened among y'all, too, at one time or another.

    Back when the Catholic Scandal first broke, I remember my Presbyterian and Independent Baptist friends telling me this stuff could *never* happen at their churches.

    Famous last words.

    Sin is an equal-opportunity affliction. No church has cornered the market on it. Not even us Papists. 🙂

  393. I think this is very difficult for us now, because Dreher refuses to get into specifics, and concretely define what the “Benedict Option” means.

    Bingo. The BenOp is infinitely malleable, apparently. It can mean anything you want it to mean. And it constantly changes shape like something out of HUG’s sci-fi novels. 🙂

  394. @ Serving Kids In Japan:
    I was pleased to see that you picked up on this from Dreher: ” “Everybody is afraid of what’s coming” and I liked your response to that, this:
    ” Well, I’m not afraid, so he’s wrong.”

    I see him as a far right political culture warrior activist who is enthralled with ‘authority’ as a controlling mechanism;
    and OF COURSE he must be thrilled at having found a willing and eager audience to take in his ideas (which are a corruption of a beautiful and ancient monastic Christian tradition). The ‘corruption’ is this:
    to look at a self-giving, willing way of monastic community living and to replace it with the externally authoritarian control IMPOSED on individuals. Monasticism doesn’t work that way.
    To a monk in a ‘cell’ where he retreats for prayer alone with God, the isolation from the outside world is for him a blessing…… for a Southern Baptist to live in a monastic community GOVERNED by authoritarian leadership and heavily ‘shepherded’ looks more and more like a scene out the ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ than out of a Benedictine Abbey.

    Thank you for you insightful comments ….. you have helped me clarify my own feelings about Dreher, a man who hawks ‘fear’ and lacks humility. He will likely come to dwell in a land of ‘religious authoritarian conservative commanders’ some day and will be looked at as a ‘prophet’ ….. it may be what he thinks is ‘needed’ but if this true, then he is a far more tormented soul than even his comments about ‘fear’ indicate.

  395. Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    When on earth did I say that? *Every* leader? Of course not.

    You said you would be surprised if there were ANY church where it hadn’t happened. Most churches don’t have many leaders and they generally have a buck stops here sort of person. That is what I was responding to, mainly.

    I am not trying to get into this catholic business again, although for that I would say after it was exposed, the next question is what happened to those who HAD covered it up? I would say this for any church.

    Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    And some — too many

    This is more or less exactly what I said in my initial comment! Some, too many.

    I do not want to be part of a church like that. I don’t know what I don’t know but once I know? Different story.

  396. Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    And yes, unless your church consists of just a handful of people with 24/7 access to each other’s lives, I would be willing to bet money that it has happened among y’all, too, at one time or another.

    There is a difference between leadership response to and abuse in churches. This was my original point. What happens when something comes out?

  397. Christiane wrote:

    for a Southern Baptist to live in a monastic community GOVERNED by authoritarian leadership and heavily ‘shepherded’ looks more and more like a scene out the ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ than out of a Benedictine Abbey.

    AFAIK Southern Baptists are not being herded into camps. The worst that happens is that we get dis-affirmed or keyed out or ex-communicated. Big deal. There is another SBC church that is willing to take us in. It really is not like you are portraying it. What 9Marks is doing is very bad, certainly. But unless you think Jonathan Leeman or Mark Dever or Al Mohler is going to force people into BenOp camps, then I think you are overstating things a bit.

  398. Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    Back when the Catholic Scandal first broke, I remember my Presbyterian and Independent Baptist friends telling me this stuff could *never* happen at their churches.

    I think I can understand some of this better by asking why it was that many Catholics, like myself, did NOT abandon the Church during that initial crisis:
    I remember the shock and the sadness, yes, and it was intensely painful;
    but we were always a people of ‘mea culpa’ and ‘Domine, non sum dignus’ anyway, and our Churches were ‘hospitals for sinners’ ….. we weren’t smug about ourselves or ‘assured’ in the way of our Protestant brothers and sisters. I don’t think we could have said in those days ‘it could never happen in our Church’…. having survived so much down through the centuries that would have brought down a man-made entity by now.
    I think we had the idea that THOUGH we were capable as people of sin and failing, and even covering up out of shame, because we knew we were the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve;
    we ALSO KNEW that the Church was MORE than the sum of its sinners, that it would survive even this revelation of human failure because of that truth.

    So we stayed. 🙂 Because it was in our DNA to stay.

    Dreher didn’t understand what we knew and looked for greener pastures. I think he still is. But if he thinks the neo-Cal folk will offer a safe haven for pure people,
    he should come and read the works of DEB and DEE and reconsider the ‘Neo Cal Option’. The good St. Benedict offered a way of life that could only work among the people of ‘mea culpa’ and ‘Domine, non sum dignus’ ….. the neo Cal male-headship masters are not in that group, no.

  399. Gram3 wrote:

    then I think you are overstating things a bit

    Yes. I am not even a southern baptist any more but I get really tired of hearing misrepresentations of SBC faith and practice, as if baptists are dumb sheep to the slaughter in the hands of brown shirts at the railroad yards. So let so me as a notanymore southern baptist stand with you on this. I don’t even know how this idea of baptists got started, but it is time to get that train back on the track.

  400. Gram3 wrote:

    It really is not like you are portraying it. What 9Marks is doing is very bad, certainly. But unless you think Jonathan Leeman or Mark Dever or Al Mohler is going to force people into BenOp camps, then I think you are overstating things a bit.

    I’m not saying it is happening now as we speak, but give these neo-Cal guys a foot and they will take a mile,
    and believe me, the corruption of a structured ancient monastic tradition for purposes of ‘control and discipline (punishment) in neo-Cal land is not something out of the realm of possibility, no.

    Believe me, I do know that many Southern Baptists would run from this ….. but look at the current ‘take over’ in progress, and reconsider how many wake up too late to find that their churches have ‘changed’ and they must now run to ‘another’ church. Sooner or later, Southern Baptists will have to face off with neo-Cals: they are not of the same theology or way of governing congregations. Maybe the ‘place’ of women was the entry point for those neo-Cals, but they are much more than just their intense male-headship patriarchy, are they not, since they are bringing in a hyper-Calvinism that even mainline ‘reformed’ Presbyterian people can’t recognize as familiar.

  401. I make the same distinction. That’s why I kept using the term “coverups.”

    If the leadership is successfully covering up, the truth doesn’t come out, so how would you even know about it? That’s the point. Don’t assume that, because something’s not in the open, that means it isn’t happening. 😉

    Example: The Old Order Amish. Until relatively recently everyone assumed they were quaint, pious saints. Now it turns out that they have a HUGE abuse-and-coverup problem. They successfully kept it hidden for years, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t happening. It just means no one knew about it. But in the end, as Our Lord said, nothing is hidden that won’t be revealed. That’s why *no* church should be complacent. And IMHO it’s especially dangerous to play the role of the Pharisee in the parable of the Pharisee and Publican: “I thank Thee, Lord, that my church is free of Sin X, unlike those dirty papists and Calvies over there.” Not that you were doing that. 😉 But as I said before: Famous last words.

    FYI the Catholic Church now has a zero tolerance policy and we are working very hard to enforce it. Even Boz Tchividian concedes that we have made dramatic strides, more so than many other communions. We are still working hard on it, though, because when it comes to protecting children, we must never relax our vigilance. Or assume that we have it all fixed and perfect.

    Lea wrote:

    Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:
    And yes, unless your church consists of just a handful of people with 24/7 access to each other’s lives, I would be willing to bet money that it has happened among y’all, too, at one time or another.
    There is a difference between leadership response to and abuse in churches. This was my original point. What happens when something comes out?

  402. Amen, Christiane!! That’s why “it can’t happen here” just blows my mind. Are we not ALL sinners? That means *anything* is possible. And yeah, if we could survive the Borgia popes, we can survive anything. 😉

    Christiane wrote:

    Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:
    Back when the Catholic Scandal first broke, I remember my Presbyterian and Independent Baptist friends telling me this stuff could *never* happen at their churches.
    I think I can understand some of this better by asking why it was that many Catholics, like myself, did NOT abandon the Church during that initial crisis:
    I remember the shock and the sadness, yes, and it was intensely painful;
    but we were always a people of ‘mea culpa’ and ‘Domine, non sum dignus’ anyway, and our Churches were ‘hospitals for sinners’ ….. we weren’t smug about ourselves or ‘assured’ in the way of our Protestant brothers and sisters. I don’t think we could have said in those days ‘it could never happen in our Church’…. having survived so much down through the centuries that would have brought down a man-made entity by now.
    I think we had the idea that THOUGH we were capable as people of sin and failing, and even covering up out of shame, because we knew we were the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve;
    we ALSO KNEW that the Church was MORE than the sum of its sinners, that it would survive even this revelation of human failure because of that truth.
    So we stayed. Because it was in our DNA to stay.
    Dreher didn’t understand what we knew and looked for greener pastures. I think he still is. But if he thinks the neo-Cal folk will offer a safe haven for pure people,
    he should come and read the works of DEB and DEE and reconsider the ‘Neo Cal Option’. The good St. Benedict offered a way of life that could only work among the people of ‘mea culpa’ and ‘Domine, non sum dignus’ ….. the neo Cal male-headship masters are not in that group, no.

  403. Complacency or Vigilance?
    I think vigilance is better under the circumstances, lest the ‘changes’ that come are subtle, small steps in the wrong direction.

    I remember first reading how Wade Burleson picked up on some of the ‘changes’ in the SBC that affected missionaries and women,
    and how he paid a price for speaking out against the powers that had come to be….. and HE valued Calvinism. He saw ‘abuse’ and addressed it.

    As long as someone speaks out, there is hope. It’s the ‘don’t over-react’, ‘keep quiet’ business you need to watch:

    we Catholic folk are trying to tell you that monastic ways won’t work for good under neo-Cal rule …. it’s just a warning. Don’t kill the messengers. We suffer when you suffer.

  404. Christiane wrote:

    I’m not saying it is happening now as we speak, but give these neo-Cal guys a foot and they will take a mile,
    and believe me, the corruption of a structured ancient monastic tradition for purposes of ‘control and discipline (punishment) in neo-Cal land is not something out of the realm of possibility, no.

    I think you are portraying an overly-romanticized view of the monastic tradition as does Dreher, for that matter. Just my opinion. I think that may be also why Mohler and the Usual Suspects are embracing it. It’s fresh and new (for Baptists and non-liturgical Protestants.) But Americans are going to be Americans. No one can put the Individualism genie back in the bottle short of force.

  405. I’m going to leave this here. It’s a conversation between a gay atheist and a Christian seminary (Harvard) grad about “The Benedict Option,” which they both read.

    Obviously the conversation is not going to be sympathetic to Dreher. In point of fact, it is the opinion of the two readers that Dreher is advocating for this “Benedict Option” because Dreher cant deal with the fact that the larger society is unwilling to shove LGBTQ persons back into the closet. The two readers also express concern about LGBTQ kids born into these communities. There’s also an astute section where the two discuss Dreher’s ideal community of Elk County (St. Mary’s) PA. One of the readers was raised there in a Catholic famiy and doesn’t think the Benedict Option woulf work there today.

    It’s an interesting read and worth the time.

    https://thinkprogress.org/atheist-christian-dreher-benedict-option-2bdb68a0b792#.b0ys68br0

  406. Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    My kids know SJWs who claim that the burka, honor killings, and female genital mutilation are all “liberating” for women. I am not making this up. It’s all part of that intersectionality stuff, which seems to get hopelessly complicated, with one intersection tripping over another one….

    That’s garbage. I’m a SJW from before there were SJWs and this is completely ridiculous. I’m having to restrain myself from using language that would get me banned so fast from the Deebs’ blog…

    While I don’t doubt there are misguided persons who think this garbage, the reality is that they’re working from a position that grants overwhelming and undue respect to established cultures. All three of these actions-forcing women into the burqa, honor killings and FGM are part and parcel of the patriarchal culture that says women like myself are not able to make basic choices about our lives because we are female. None of these alleged SJWs have given a moment’s thought to the idea that male-imposed and male-enforced cultural norms were decided upon without the full and free consent of the women they affect.

    I could go on, but I’m on my phone. I just wanted it out tere that this kind of thinking is hardly just and doesn’t respect the basic humanity of women to make choices for ourselves.

  407. Muslin fka Deana Holmes wrote:

    I’m a SJW from before there were SJWs and this is completely ridiculous. I’m having to restrain myself from using language that would get me banned so fast from the Deebs’ blog…
    While I don’t doubt there are misguided persons who think this garbage, the reality is that they’re working from a position that grants overwhelming and undue respect to established cultures. All three of these actions-forcing women into the burqa, honor killings and FGM are part and parcel of the patriarchal culture that says women like myself are not able to make basic choices about our lives because we are female. None of these alleged SJWs have given a moment’s thought to the idea that male-imposed and male-enforced cultural norms were decided upon without the full and free consent of the women they affect.

    Bottom line: there is both good and bad in amongst us all. Liberating??? Yeah, why don’t they liberate themselves? And God made some eunuchs.

  408. I don’t think a ‘social justice’ ‘warrior’ would advocate anything that violated the dignity of the human person,
    but then again, you have to look at how people define ‘social justice’ these days. My own definition of it is profoundly catholic and Catholic. Without the concept of the ‘dignity of the human person’ there would be no push in the faith towards ‘social justice’ as we define it in my Church.

    Others will see it differently.

    It’s like how people play with ‘truth’ these days. You really have to know who is using a term and how they are using it.

    Understanding each other is much more difficult than it used to be, but still worth all the effort, yes.

  409. Christiane wrote:

    @ Gram3:
    What is your personal experience of the monastic traditon, GRAM 3?

    I imagine I’ve spent about as many years with Benedict as you have. 🙂

  410. Muslin, I hear ya! This is not the social justice stuff of the ’70s. It’s not the feminism of the ’70s. It’s a whole other thing. But believe me, it’s rampant on college campuses. At least in certain fields (Poli sci, anthropology, sociology). Those happen to be the fields my kids are interested in, so they’ve been exposed to a lot if it.

    During my one rather weird year at Harvard Divinity School (1975-76), the radical feminist Mary Daly gave a speech there that covered three ways Patriarchy oppresses women: African female genital mutilation (or maybe it was Indian sutee? I am fuzzy on the first one after all these years); Chinese foot binding (sure about that one!); and “American gynecology.” Ms. Daly must be spinning in her grave now, as the intersectionalists defend and champion the first two while still condemning the last one. 🙂

    Muslin fka Deana Holmes wrote:

    Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    My kids know SJWs who claim that the burka, honor killings, and female genital mutilation are all “liberating” for women. I am not making this up. It’s all part of that intersectionality stuff, which seems to get hopelessly complicated, with one intersection tripping over another one….

    That’s garbage. I’m a SJW from before there were SJWs and this is completely ridiculous. I’m having to restrain myself from using language that would get me banned so fast from the Deebs’ blog…

    While I don’t doubt there are misguided persons who think this garbage, the reality is that they’re working from a position that grants overwhelming and undue respect to established cultures. All three of these actions-forcing women into the burqa, honor killings and FGM are part and parcel of the patriarchal culture that says women like myself are not able to make basic choices about our lives because we are female. None of these alleged SJWs have given a moment’s thought to the idea that male-imposed and male-enforced cultural norms were decided upon without the full and free consent of the women they affect.

    I could go on, but I’m on my phone. I just wanted it out tere that this kind of thinking is hardly just and doesn’t respect the basic humanity of women to make choices for ourselves.

  411. Can you elaborate? Thanks in advance. 🙂

    Gram3 wrote:

    Christiane wrote:

    @ Gram3:
    What is your personal experience of the monastic traditon, GRAM 3?

    I imagine I’ve spent about as many years with Benedict as you have.

  412. Gram3 wrote:

    Christiane wrote:

    @ Gram3:
    What is your personal experience of the monastic traditon, GRAM 3?

    I imagine I’ve spent about as many years with Benedict as you have.

    I CAN recommend this place for a rewarding retreat, yes:
    https://www.osbva.org/

    I can also share that they help with grief counseling for those who are needing it

    all are welcomed and are treated respectfully, yes

  413. Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    Example: The Old Order Amish. Until relatively recently everyone assumed they were quaint, pious saints.

    Helped along by all those Christianese “Bonnet Books”.

    “When I buy a book about the Amish, I want to read about the Amish. Not what some Evangelical thinks Amish are like!”
    — blog comment from long ago, possibly on Internet Monk

  414. Christiane wrote:

    Maybe the ‘place’ of women was the entry point for those neo-Cals, but they are much more than just their intense male-headship patriarchy, are they not, since they are bringing in a hyper-Calvinism that even mainline ‘reformed’ Presbyterian people can’t recognize as familiar.

    If Calvin Islamized the Reformation, these guys are its ISIS.

  415. Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    Back when the Catholic Scandal first broke, I remember my Presbyterian and Independent Baptist friends telling me this stuff could *never* happen at their churches.

    “I THANK THEE, LOOOOOOOOORD, THAT WE ARE NOTHING LIKE THOSE FILTHY ROMISH PAPISTS OVER THERE….”

  416. Christiane wrote:

    I see him as a far right political culture warrior activist who is enthralled with ‘authority’ as a controlling mechanism;
    and OF COURSE he must be thrilled at having found a willing and eager audience to take in his ideas (which are a corruption of a beautiful and ancient monastic Christian tradition).

    Anybody else here wish these Enlightened Social Justice Warriors and Christianese Culture Warriors would both find some island somewhere where they could go for each others’ throats and just leave the rest of us alone to live our lives?

  417. Serving Kids In Japan wrote:

    Dreher’s strange appeals to authority are something of a red flag, too. The way he calls the words of certain writers “prophetic” — if I remember correctly, he even refers to the men themselves as “prophets”. I wonder whether he should be doing that.

    “If you come upon any preacher who calls himself ‘Apostle’ or ‘Prophet’, RUN!”
    — my writing partner (the burned-out preacher)

  418. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Serving Kids In Japan wrote:
    Dreher’s strange appeals to authority are something of a red flag, too. The way he calls the words of certain writers “prophetic” — if I remember correctly, he even refers to the men themselves as “prophets”. I wonder whether he should be doing that.
    “If you come upon any preacher who calls himself ‘Apostle’ or ‘Prophet’, RUN!”
    — my writing partner (the burned-out preacher)

    It kind of depends on how one uses the word. I know what you are talking about as far as people calling themselves prophets to accrue power to themselves, and the word has increasingly become used in that definition. But there is also room for the definition that has been used for a lot longer…the one who speaks out in truth even though s/he is reviled for it. However, we are also admonished to test the words of a prophet to see if they *are* true. And most of the prophets in the Bible didn’t call themselves to the work, and it really kinda stunk as a profession. You got thrown down wells and exiled and all sorts of not so fun things.

  419. Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    To be fair, I must confess that Dreher also wrote one of the greatest blog-post headlines of all times WRT the Blanco perp: “Felonious Monk.”

    I found a link on another blog to an article on Dreher’s old Belifnet Crunchy Cons blog called “The Death of a Felonious Monk.” Looks like it was written in Sept. 2007, but the link is dead. Very few of his Beliefnet articles are even online.

  420. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    Back when the Catholic Scandal first broke, I remember my Presbyterian and Independent Baptist friends telling me this stuff could *never* happen at their churches.

    “I THANK THEE, LOOOOOOOOORD, THAT WE ARE NOTHING LIKE THOSE FILTHY ROMISH PAPISTS OVER THERE….”

    Eggzackly! CGC’s Law: If you think it can’t happen here, it probably already has.

    (Quoting from memory now, so please bear with me: “I am now perfectly convinced that Mr Darcy has no faults. He owns it himself without disguise.”)

  421. Ack, I misremembered the title. Thanks, BTDT.

    BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    To be fair, I must confess that Dreher also wrote one of the greatest blog-post headlines of all times WRT the Blanco perp: “Felonious Monk.”

    I found a link on another blog to an article on Dreher’s old Belifnet Crunchy Cons blog called “The Death of a Felonious Monk.” Looks like it was written in Sept. 2007, but the link is dead. Very few of his Beliefnet articles are even online.

  422. HUG, are you familiar with Amish puppy mills? Not as horrific as child abuse by a long shot, but pretty darned disturbing nonetheless. Yep, those “bonnet-rippers” do not tell the whole story.

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:
    Example: The Old Order Amish. Until relatively recently everyone assumed they were quaint, pious saints.
    Helped along by all those Christianese “Bonnet Books”.
    “When I buy a book about the Amish, I want to read about the Amish. Not what some Evangelical thinks Amish are like!”
    — blog comment from long ago, possibly on Internet Monk

  423. Gram3 wrote:

    Bridget wrote:
    Absolutely.
    The day there is lockstep agreement on TWW is the day…

    But that’s a good thing…Right, Gram3? 🙂 If we want Cookie-Cutter Cut Out Christians then we might as well join the Neo-Calvinists!

  424. Just a few thoughts here:

    First, the New Testament was written to a persecuted Christian minority living in a pagan society that didn’t just laugh at Christians, it frequently killed them. And the advice that is given to those Christians is to honor their leaders, obey the laws, and as much as possible, live at peace with all men. That doesn’t sound like “hunker in the bunker” to me.

    Second, not having read The Benedict Option, I can’t comment on the author’s views. However, I have an interesting perspective on this as the Southern Baptist mother of a Roman Catholic son who is currently studying towards the diocesan priesthood, at a seminary located at, and run by, a Benedictine monastery. The monks there are actively engaged in their community (and beyond) through the businesses that they run (printing and casket-making) as well as through Facebook, blogs, and podcasts, art, music and scholarly pursuits. Hospitality is a big thing for them — “Receive guests as Christ” — and I can vouch personally for how well they do it. Guests attend retreats there throughout the year, on a variety of subjects.
    They are not cloistered. The Benedictines I have met are committed to their monastic community, to “Ora et Labora,” but not to withdrawing from any involvement with the world.

  425. @ emr:

    Permit me a little sarcasm. You see, according to what I read here you as a Southern Baptist are not permitted to be looking at anything having to do with either monasticism in general or historically, or anything having to do with St. Benedict or what he said or did, or anything having to do with the current practice of any sort of monasticism either cloistered or not because, you see, you are a Baptist and all that other stuff is from Somebody Else’s Tradition. You have no right to even notice that it exists, unless of course you have some sort of personal need to retreat and get ministered to and then, you poor pitiful thing, you may perhaps sip from the well of that tradition but you may not think that perhaps they have retained some concepts from long ago that would benefit christianity as a whole.

    You really do need to learn how to Stay In Your Place. That will be explained to you in glowing terms about the necessity of joyful diversity, but what it really means is that everybody needs to take their own toys and go home because we can’t play together nicely.

    This message brought to you from a former southern baptist who also was in a position (not identical to yours) and who took a good and serious look at catholicism but did not convert, but who found much to admire and adapt into my thinking. But don’t tell anybody because there really are only two good options and they both involve choosing up sides and joining the fracas. You really must choose some antagonist and some contrary position which you loath for even existing and then berate it and its adherents at every turn and for any and every reason. Above all you must see nothing at all good in the opposing position or in the people who adhere to the opposing position. That is what proves that you are a true believer.

  426. @BeenThereDoneThat….

    OK, you’ve gone and done it! 😉 You got me so fascinated by Homestead Heritage that I stayed up late last night reading the testimonies at Topix (until that Baaah person came along and bogged everything down).

    In some ways HH reminded me of the community my goddaughter belonged to for 23 years: Alleluia Community in Augusta, Georgia. Interestingly, Dreher liked that one, too! (He discusses it in Crunchy Cons.)

    Alleluia was/is not anywhere near as extreme as HH, but it had some of the same elements: control-freaky leadership self-appointed for life; an elaborate, hierarchical system of “heads” and elders, toward whom you were accountable and who told you what to do in every single cotton-pickin’ area of your life; claims that anyone who questioned the leadership had a “spirit of rebellion”; a habit of shunning and defaming ex-members; elitism and exclusivism; etc. etc. It was a lot like the infamous Mother of God Community in Gaithersburg, MD, except that Alleluia’s system of spying and blackmail was more informal and subtle than MOG’s.

    Did HH ever use “deliverance sessions” as a tool of manipulation and control? That was pretty standard in the “charismatic covenant communities.”

    My goddaughter began to wake up to the problems when she and her husband and a few other families got together to study the then newly released Catechism. Its picture of Catholicism was so different from the controlling cultishness of Alleluia that she began to have questions. And once you start having questions, it’s all over. 🙂

    This is why I am deeply suspicious of the BenOp. I have not “been there, done that,” but I am close to someone who has.

  427. okrapod wrote:

    You really do need to learn how to Stay In Your Place.

    LOL okrapod! Believe me, from growing up in the PCA and then marrying into the SBC 30+ years ago, I know all about “My Place.” I cheerfully ignore it, but I’ve definitely heard about it!
    I take the view of Ann Ross’s Miss Julia: “… tired of church politics that pitted one group of men against another group of men over women’s role in the church. I already knew Pastor Ledbetter’s position. He held that women’s duties consisted of covering their heads, their mouths, and their casserole dishes, and I’d done all three about as long as I wanted to.” (Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind)

    CGC, I have found so much beauty in the Catholic church and it has added to my worship. I love being at my son’s seminary and going to Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer with him. It’s not either/or for me, it’s both/and.

  428. okrapod wrote:

    This message brought to you from a former southern baptist who also was in a position (not identical to yours) and who took a good and serious look at catholicism but did not convert, but who found much to admire and adapt into my thinking.

    You just might be a closet syncretist and not know it yet.

  429. Catholic Gate-Crasher wrote:

    You got me so fascinated by Homestead Heritage that I stayed up late last night reading the testimonies at Topix

    Oy, that forum has a lot of genuine posts mixed with some wacky stuff. There is one poster there who was a staunch HH defender, even when ex-members used to post on the FACTnet forums. Now he calls HH out on his own pet peeves while still belittling those he derisively calls “contras.” That forum is the only one still available for ex-members to share on, so I’m glad it’s available.

    I had to Google “deliverance sessions.” HH wasn’t that much into demonic deliverance, but they did do what they called “praying someone through.” Now, sometimes a member would have genuine struggles that “praying them through” might have been helpful for. But it was just as often used to manipulate people into doing what the leadership wanted someone to do. For instance, if you weren’t submitting enough you might be surrounded by brothers and sisters in a home group meeting or a Sunday service. People would lay hands on you while ministering to you about your “lack of submission.” The prayer would be very loud and demonstrative, people would shake your head or push against you, and some might grab your arms and force you to jump around. Eventually you showed that you had “prayed through” by jumping on your own, clapping your hands, running in circles, or speaking in tongues. Everyone else would pray more ecstatically, because you had obviously gotten the victory. I know people who performed as expected just to get the group to leave them alone.

    I’m glad your goddaughter began to question and leave Alleluia. She was a part of that about as long as I was part of HH. I’m sure it was a big transition for her to leave as well.

  430. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    The prayer would be very loud and demonstrative, people would shake your head or push against you, and some might grab your arms and force you to jump around. Eventually you showed that you had “prayed through” by jumping on your own, clapping your hands, running in circles, or speaking in tongues. Everyone else would pray more ecstatically, because you had obviously gotten the victory. I know people who performed as expected just to get the group to leave them alone.

    This sounds absolutely hellish. I hope this is not done in front of young children or to them.

  431. @ emr:
    there are people who pray with monks at monasteries as ‘oblates’ and are non-Catholic:

    if you have an opportunity to read it, ‘The Cloister Walk’ by Kathleen Norris writes about her experience:
    ” In The Cloister Walk, Kathleen Norris describes her participation at a Benedictine monastery and illustrates how very relevant the Benedictine way is to our own questions of how to live soulfully with others.

    Norris’ authority as a writer of Benedictine ways comes through various paths. The Cloister Walk describes her nine-month stay at the St. John’s Abbey in Minnesota where she is an oblate, one who has offered herself to God. As a freelance writer she has interviewed monks and nuns on a variety of topics, and has researched the classical writings which inform Benedictine practice. As a Protestant she had only recently returned to her religious roots when she sought solace from vocational tensions in the discipline and rhythm of the liturgy. And as a poet, Norris is open to the wonder of the monastic liturgy that “plunges you into scripture in such a way that, over time, the texts invite you to commune with them, and can come to serve as a mirror.”
    (from an excerpt of one book review)

  432. Christiane wrote:

    I hope this is not done in front of young children or to them.

    It was definitely done in front of young children. I’d never heard the term “Family Integrated Church” while I was in HH, but that’s how it operated. There is no Sunday School or Children’s Church. All members of the family attended the adult meetings. Young children might be prayed for, but probably not to that extent. By the time they were pre-teens and teens, you could count on it.

  433. @ BeenThereDoneThat:
    I think children might be damaged by seeing this kind of thing. At the very least, they would be frightened and confused.

    Our Lord would not want that for them.

    Of all the terrible abuses done by people who had the opportunity within a Church environment, the abuses done to children are the worst and the most lasting in how they affect their lives.

  434. Christiane wrote:

    I think children might be damaged by seeing this kind of thing. At the very least, they would be frightened and confused.

    I think there is great potential for that. Especially if it’s being used to manipulate and intimidate. There are probably Pentecostal churches that do similar things that might not have the same impact as it could in an intentional community where the kids are homeschooled just enough (in the 80’s and 90’s they received about a 7th grade education at best) to function only in the community. And this is where I become worried about Dreher’s perspective.

    He approaches the need to create intentional Christian communities as a reaction to what he believes is the dissolution of American family life and culture. Whatever your beliefs about this, is the creation of mini Theocracies the answer to this? Will children still be raised in such a way that they will, in turn, be able to make a free-will decision based on their own conscience just as their parents did? Will they be educated well enough to function outside of theses Ben Ops if they so choose? (Dreher thinks Christian children should be pulled from the public school system. Will these communities establish their own schools? Mandate home schooling? Accommodate for both? Who decides what they will be taught?)

    iow, there are some religious practices that may seem unusual, but might not necessarily be abusive in the larger life context. If a child grows up in a “strange” church but has an otherwise normal life (attends school, dresses in normal clothing, has interactions with others who look different and think differently) then the impact is lessened. Confine the child to a community where the “strange” practices are all he knows and is reinforced everywhere, the impact is amplified.

  435. BeenThereDoneThat wrote:

    Will they be educated well enough to function outside of theses Ben Ops if they so choose?

    Feature, not Bug.

    (Dreher thinks Christian children should be pulled from the public school system. Will these communities establish their own schools? Mandate home schooling? Accommodate for both? Who decides what they will be taught?)

    GAWD, of course, channeled by his Head Apostle of the community/compound.

  436. Please, please someone tell me this whole spuddle isn’t about same sex marriage? Because seriously there are far more burning issues for Christians to be bothered about; how about human trafficking – the slave/sex trade especially when it concerns children – the rich/poor divide – one could go on and on…it is true that for us to have safe places to go to, every now and then, to meet and be with others who get us and have our backs..oh what!wait!we do! It’s called church.
    Anyway if you live in the West, and I’m in Hong Kong so it’s pretty much the same, and we think we get it hard as Christians try North Korea for a bit.

  437. clarissa wrote:

    Please, please someone tell me this whole spuddle isn’t about same sex marriage?

    Well, according to the gay atheist and Christian seminary (Harvard) grad, the BenOp is about LGBTQ people being accepted in society.

    https://thinkprogress.org/atheist-christian-dreher-benedict-option-2bdb68a0b792#.qnhqvbg4c

    On a completely different note, I had been under the impression that Dreher had left the Catholic church over child abuse. Imagine my surprise when I read a link (it’s above somewhere) where Dreher basically didn’t think there was so much wrong with the fake monk who was a pedophile because he (Dreher) had been blessed despite the fraud. Nothing about the children who were abused, though. *scowl*

  438. Muff Potter wrote:

    You just might be a closet syncretist and not know it yet.

    I’m a syncretist out of the closet for awhile now. I love “…Hail Mary full of grace…The LORD is with thee…”. It’s one of the most beautiful salutations and prayerful reflections I’ve ever heard.

  439. Okrapod wrote: “much to admire and adapt into my thinking”

    Muff replied: “You just might be a closet syncretist and not know it yet.”

    Muff further wrote: “I’m a syncretist out of the closet for awhile now. I love “…Hail Mary full of grace…The LORD is with thee…”. It’s one of the most beautiful salutations and prayerful reflections I’ve ever heard.

    Okrapod chimes in: No, not in that sense I am not. What I found in catholicism was (a) liturgy and (b) the idea of sacraments, which of course are not limited to catholicism but which were a new mindset for me.

  440. okrapod wrote:

    Okrapod chimes in: No, not in that sense I am not. What I found in catholicism was (a) liturgy and (b) the idea of sacraments, which of course are not limited to catholicism but which were a new mindset for me.

    Hope you’re not offended okrapod. Syncretism is just a word which I think best describes seeing the good in all traditions.

  441. Muff Potter wrote:

    Hope you’re not offended okrapod.

    I remember once along about 1940 when I was offended. It was an unpleasant experience as I remember it, so I gave it up. Now, that is a stretch, of course, but not by much.

  442. clarissa wrote:

    Please, please someone tell me this whole spuddle isn’t about same sex marriage?

    OK:

    This whole spuddle isn’t about same sex marriage.

    Joking aside, though, it very probably is. And I couldn’t agree with you more.

    Here in the UK, and Scotland in particular, it remains the case that gay marriage is one of the few things that will actually get Christians both passionate about a political cause and working together across denominational walls (assisted suicide is another).

    It’s not all bad, by any means; there are exceptions and in particular some good nationwide organisations that work really well with local congregations; the one we’re involved with specialises in getting people out of unmanageable debt, for instance, and all of the other problems that often go hand-in-hand with debt.

    <irony>If only God could find healing for the PTSD He suffered when people started coming out openly as gay.</irony>

  443. @ emr:
    I know the exact place that you are referring to. Since I am no longer involved with bringing adults into the Catholic Church, I will be spending Holy Week there. (Assuming I don’t get a new job between now and then.)

  444. Muff Potter wrote:

    Syncretism is just a word which I think best describes seeing the good in all traditions.

    well, it seems healthy to see, appreciate, celebrate, and respect the good in all faith traditions;
    and it seems healthy to be able to look at problems within one’s own community and address them directly instead of trying to cover them up out of shame, or God forbid try to ‘protect’ the perpetrators of abuse ….

    that attitude supports a healthy integrity that calls people to be honestly aware that all good is credited to God, from Whom all good comes;
    and all evil, even if it is found among some within the Church, is credited to the work of satan whose mission is to destroy the good work of the Church

    maybe what we think of as a ‘syncretism’ movement, it is simply ‘going towards the Light’ as any true unity among the Body of Christ will only be found in Christ

  445. @ Muslin, fka Dee Holmes:
    Dreher may be arguing inconsistently in this regard. Per the article that you’ve referenced – and per my dad, who read a Dreher article years ago and went on an epic rant about homoseckshuals in the priesthood causing the Catholic church scandal (it was epic enough that I still remember it to this day, and no, I don’t think he’s ever figured out what’s hiding in my closet) – Dreher seems to have an incredibly low opinion of people who are attracted exclusively to their own gender. But on the other hand, he apparently wrote what is quoted in an article discussing the B.O. over here:

    https://spiritualfriendship.org/2017/03/17/rod-dreher-on-lgbt-christians-and-the-benedict-option/

    For that reason, I’m not sure what to think, other than that this whole enterprise stinks and I have no interest in joining them (nor would they probably be interested in having me, given that I’m not afraid of their #1 source of FUD).

  446. Josh wrote:

    I don’t think he’s ever figured out what’s hiding in my closet

    For those whom I may have confused, “what’s hiding in my closet” refers to “me.” It’s a joke, and a bad one, and I apologize.

  447. @ Josh:
    there is sadness in what you expressed, though

    lately, I have come to understand better, through the sadness of what passes between people who love one another, how it can be that the bonding of sons and fathers transcends all barriers, even death

    when people love one another unconditionally, the ways of their grieving are a measure of the intensity and the purity of that love,
    and those on the outside rarely comprehend this

    if what I wrote is cryptic, I am sorry, but I needed to say it because I have impatiently judged someone unfairly and I am repenting of my own rush to judgement in a matter where it was not for me to judge or even to comprehend the pain another suffered, but only for me to listen …. I am learning …. I am learning still

  448. Josh wrote:

    I don’t think he’s ever figured out what’s hiding in my closet

    A long skinny dragon Trickster made of mismatched animal parts with a voice like John DeLancie?

  449. Josh wrote:

    @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    Ha! Been reading too much Focus on the Family fan fiction lately?

    Actually, I’ve been active in Bronydom (MLP:FIM fandom) for a few years, with primary interest in the fan-produced derivative content (fanfic, art, original animations, original music, etc). I am old enough to remember original Star Trek & Star Wars fandoms and I have NEVER seen the sheer volume of fan-produced creative works as with the Ponies.

    Didn’t know Focus on the Family also had a crossover — denouncing it, of course?

  450. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    I was joking, with the assumption that FotF apocalyptic fan fiction would include references to scary things hiding in closets. 😉

    (Give me credit, now, I’m not that frightening!)

  451. For those who are interested: https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/glory2godforallthings/

    Father Stephen has read and comprehended (Both matter) the works that are at the background of Dreher’s work. The BenOp publishers put hardcore limits on the number of pages they would publish, so you kind of have to do the background reading to get the full picture, as much of it was edited out of the BenOp book.

    FYI.

  452. PaJo, I must disagree. Dreher had more than adequate space to make his case. If the case is weak, that’s his fault, not his publisher’s. As an erstwhile publishing employee (Little, Brown), I can attest that publishers’ copyeditors cut out flab, not meat.

    Moreover, as Professor DeVille masterfully shows in the link I provided above, the problem with Dreher’s simplistic analysis of Western history is not that it’s incomplete. The problem is that it’s wrong — laughably, boneheadedly wrong. Yes, it reflects a kneejerk anti-Westernism that converts to Orthodoxy are often susceptible to. But beyond that, it’s simply ignorant. Dreher purports to be able to canvass and analyze hundreds of years of history — based on what? Ten hours of superficial reading at most?

    My husband holds a PhD in history from Harvard. (Not making this up or bragging. A Harvard liberal-arts PhD plus $4 will get you a double latte.) His primary field was Buzantium. (His dissertation concerned Basil II and immediate successors.) His other three fields (I.e., the specialties he had to prep for his Generals) were Roman history, Western medieval intellectual history, and Early Modern Europe.

    It took him seven years to earn his doctorate. At the end of those seven years, he would not have presumed to say he’d mastered Western History. Much less had it All Figured Out.

  453. BTW, I am not saying that one must have a history PhD in order to make any historical claims. Of course not. But if one is not a trained historian, then one should at least have the minimal humility to concede that one’s simplistic meta-analysis of Western History may be flawed and inadequate. To present it as some sort of Grand Overarching Schematic By Which We May Understand Where We Got Here is the height of hubris.

  454. Copy and paste from my Facebook page:

    Critiques don’t give all the answers, but should broaden our perspectives and sharpen our questions. Sam Rocha’s critical review of *The Benedict Option* by Rod Dreher serves these purposes well.

    Mr. Rocha comes from a liturgical tradition in which he can find commonality with Mr. Dreher’s background. And he also uses his own training and practice as a philosopher of education for an “intellectual MRI” to deal with theological, historical, philosophical, and educational deficiencies of this book.

    I know that many readers are enthused by The Benedict Option. Perhaps they’re enthralled with it because they hope for some new practice that provides a strategy for effective ministry in the post-Christendom era. That’s understandable — I’ve witnessed that and been part of that with the “emerging ministry movement” 20 years ago. But many reviewers haven’t seemed to identify and dismantle the numerous internal discrepancies with Mr. Dreher’s approach. Mr. Rocha’s review would help them sift through it to see what *elements* may be useful, as it seems the underlying *paradigm* as a whole clearly has too many holes to use as an infrastructure for the future.

    This review is intellectually challenging, but I believe worth the effort. Mr. Rocha asks questions that need to be answered by Mr. Dreher and his advocates, if his Benedict Option is truly a possible and practical response to post-Christendom. Otherwise, this strategy needs to go the wayside, like so many of the supposedly practical methodologies of the emerging ministry movement.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/samrocha/2017/04/benedict-option-critical-review/

  455. Pingback: The Benedict Option: Sam Rocha’s Critical Review and Robert Webber’s Secular Saint | futuristguy UNITED STATES

  456. Should Christians isolate themselves or embrace the world? The correct answer is of course neither. And these two aren’t the only answers.

    To a spiritually weak Christian I will say this. If you are committing very clear sins in the bible, you know you have to stop. You know you are hurting God’s heart and hurting your neighbour. If you understand how much Jesus loves you, you will stop.

    As for isolating, if you are so weak that you will get corrupted when you are next to sin, yes for a SEASON (not forever!!!) isolate yourself and grow in your faith. Quit that sinful job. Leave that sinful GF/BF. Do not talk to your sinful friends. etc. Anything that might tempts you or lead you to sin, leave all of that for a season.

    However that ISN’T God’s ultimate goal for you. Not by a long shot.

    Remember that Jesus went to eat dinner with Tax collectors. Tax collectors were the most sinful people back in the days. In fact usually when they throw a party you can expect all kinds of sinful temptations. Wine, women, gambling, etc. They knew they betrayed both God and their nation, and they are totally hopeless. So they aimed to enjoy life today to their best abilities.

    But Jesus didn’t ran away from these terrible sinning tax collectors. In fact Jesus made a point to go eat with them. Jesus were right there with the worst of sinners and in the middle of the worst kind of sins, yet Jesus didn’t get corrupted by these sins. Jesus remained pure and didn’t sin at all. In fact the terrible sinners around him were changed and they repented.

    And this is God’s goal for ALL of us. That we become solid in our faith and knowledge, that we can discern good and evil. And so even if we are in the middle of a sinful world, we do not get corrupted. In fact the sinners would see us and they will instead change and repent to Jesus.

    So fight against your sins everyday. You will still sin but keep fighting against them. And if you are spiritually weak right now, isolate yourself from the world for a season so you can grow spiritually. But don’t aim to stay there! God expect you to be spiritually mature enough one day to not be corrupted, even if you are right in the middle the worst sinful situation. In fact the world around you will change and repent when they see your love for God and love for your neighbours.

    Philippians 1:27-30