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Showing posts from January 13, 2019

The Benedict Option: A Strategy For Christians In A Post-Christian Nation, (Dreher) Chapter 1, "The Great Flood" (II)

Dreher uses the example of the severe flooding in Louisiana in 2016 to describe a severe disruption of a way of life; that is, the end of a civilization. He lays out the "Benedict Option" as cells of people in small groups carrying on the work of society and forming virtue, in much the same way as St. Benedict and the Benedictine monasteries did after the fall of the Roman empire. It is not enough to fill sandbags and build levees, he says. It's time to build an ark. The churches could serve as a bulwark, he says, but we also have a problem: the infiltration of moralistic therapeutic deism (MTD). This has been discussed for many years, but essentially, it is theological-sounding self-help that sanctions our materialism, nationalism, and selfishness. The "god" in this worldview never demands anything of us, but blesses whatever we do to please ourselves. For my part, as he describes this, I think of American civic religion. These are also its tenets. With the b

A Time For Listening, Not Talking: MLK Day, 2019

Let King be King. He was a radical. A leftist. A fair amount of revisionism always occurs, because we have a way of revering without reckoning. If we weren't guilty of this, he wouldn't have had to do all the things he did. I guess I'm not Left enough to make this case, but I'm not Right enough to ignore it, either. I do know that the motivated reasoning of nearly every PragerU video is contemptible. We sanitize those who challenge us, if we can no longer ignore them. We silence those we fear. Anyway, if it serves the cause of justice, I'm willing to be made uncomfortable. I need not embrace every activist pet theory, especially if it denies a discernible shared reality. Yet my days of telling black people how to seek justice, or how to process feelings about justice delayed, or justice outright denied, are over. King did not possess a graceless anger, but it was an anger. Anger was and is the proper response to injustice. Anger can be a galvanizing, organizin

The Benedict Option: A Strategy For Christians In a Post-Christian Nation, (Dreher) I: "Introduction/The Awakening"

Dreher says that his wake-up call was recently when Indiana and Arkansas weakened their state-level religious freedom protections, which had been tailored to correspond to the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1990, under pressure from gay activists. On a personal note, I remember hammering Mike Pence for caving on this very issue. [Mike Pence, too liberal? Those were the days!--ed.] Dreher notes, "This was a watershed event. It showed that if big business objected, even Republican politicians in red states would not take a stand, even a mild one, for religious freedom." He says Christians and their values have been "routed." He's right, obviously. When 75 percent of Catholics don't go to Mass, and the biggest religious group in America are "nones," this is the least shocking development imaginable. That fails to even account for failures in formation and a lack of conversion among the clergy, in the Church, and among Christians more g

The Benedict Option: A Strategy For Christians In A Post-Christian Nation, by Rod Dreher: JK's Introductory Comments

I'm suspicious of this book, and this author. I read a critical review of this book by a reviewer who was also reviewing Abp. Chaput's latest effort, and that of Anthony Esolen. I'm inclined to think that the reviewer was right, that all three were some combination of shrill, nostalgic, and fearful. You know me, though: I've left conservative politics behind. I guess you could say I've left politics behind, depending upon how we define the term. I might explain myself this way: If American politics is Yankees-Red Sox, I root for the Dodgers. I have acquaintances who flat-out doubt Dreher's truthfulness and charity. I think also that Dreher left the Church for a stupid reason, because there is no good reason to leave the Church Christ founded. (He presently identifies as Orthodox.) On the other hand, I have personal spiritual reasons for wanting to read this book. And as I'm sure you know, this has all the public intellectuals talking. That's reason e