You keep talking about the Benedict Option, but you never say what it is. Give us the formula.
I keep telling you that there is no formula! We are going to have to be experimental, because we have never faced a post-Christian culture. The first point is for Christians to wake up and face reality. There will be no “take back our country” moment, because we have lost, and lost decisively. We are rapidly de-Christianizing. True, we have a long way to go before we get to European rates of secularization and religious indifference, but the trajectory is the same. Rather than change the world, the world is changing the churches. The power of popular culture is overwhelming, and in ways that many Christians scarcely grasp — and this, as MacIntyre says, is part of our predicament.
Granted, there is no formula: there are different ways of implementing the Benedict Option. But there ought to be discussion -- not provided by Dreher in the above-referenced piece -- of a potential problem with one form of the Option's implementation.
Suppose you and yours join a quasi-monastic community out in the middle of nowhere where you live more or less 'off the grid,' home-school your kids, try to keep alive and transmit our Judeo-Christian and Graeco-Roman traditions, all in keeping with that marvellous admonition of Goethe in Faust:
Was du ererbt von deinen Vätern hast,
erwirb es, um es zu besitzen!What from your fathers you received as heir,Acquire if you would possess it. (tr. W. Kaufmann)
So now you are out in the desert or the forest or in some isolated place free of the toxic influences of a society in collapse. The problem is that you are now a very easy target for the fascists of the Left. You and yours are all in one place, far away from the rest of society and its infrastructure. All the fascists have to do is trump up some charges, of child-abuse, of gun violations, whatever. The rest of society considers you kooks and benighted bigots and religious fanatics and won't be bothered if you are wiped off the face of the earth. You might go the way of the Branch Davidians.
Is this an alarmist scenario? I hope it is. But the way things are going, one ought to give careful thought to one's various withdrawal options.
It might be better to remain in diaspora in the cities and towns, spread out, in the midst of people and infrastructure the fascists of the Left will not target. A sort of subversive engagement from within may in the long run be better than spatial withdrawal. One can withdraw spiritually without withdrawing spatially. One the other hand, we are spatial beings, and perhaps not merely accidentally, so the question is a serious one: how well can one withdraw spiritually while in the midst of towns and cities and morally corrupt and spiritually dead people?
And then there is the vexed and vexing question of armed resistance. This is especially vexing for Christians. Should we meet violence with violence, or let ourselves and our culture be destroyed? On Christian metaphysics, this world is not an illusion. It is not a dream one can hope to wake up from. On the other hand, it is not ultimately real: it, and we who sojourn through it, are in statu viae. What then should be the measure and mode of our defense of it?
If you think violence is to be met with violence, then I advise you to remain in diaspora in the cities and towns, spread out, in the midst of people and infrastructure the fascists of the Left will not target.
We are indeed living in very interesting times. How can one be bored?