"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."
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:
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.