Two weeks ago I was watching Andrew Klavan’s podcast on the Daily Wire and he had an interview with Rod Dreher who has a book called “The Benedict Option.” I had heard the title before but thought it had something to do with Pope Benedict abdicating. But the Benedict of the title is Saint Benedict who founded the Benedictine Monastic Order. The sub-title of the book is “A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation.” The thesis, as he explained it, is that America is no longer a Christian nation and in fact is now a place inimical to Christians trying to live their faith and raise their children in it. He drew the analogy of Benedict coming from an Italian town to the city of Rome about twenty five years after the last emperor was deposed by a Germanic King. Benedict found it a hollowed out and corrupt place. He decided that the only way to live a Christian life was to separate from the dominant culture and set up a separate society. According to Dreher this was the basis of the survival of Christianity and the remnants of roman culture in the Middle Ages.
Needless to say, I ordered the book. I’ve only started it but the introduction basically states that the majority of Americans are not Christians and do not support the traditional concepts as illuminated in the Bible. He believes that there is no chance that the culture will return to where it was even twenty five years ago but will instead continue down the progressive slope to Gomorrah. And in fact traditionalist beliefs will be criminalized.
Sounds pretty depressing. But instead, he says it’s an opportunity. He thinks this will be the start of a revival. And we should, like Benedict, gather the faithful and build a New Jerusalem.
When I finish the book, I’ll give you my opinion on his idea. For now, let’s just say I’m intrigued and I think this idea has relevance for even those who are not Christians but feel that all traditional values are disappearing from the Western world. After all it’s not that hard finding analogies between the present era and the Late Roman Empire. Perhaps this time instead of Attila the Hun being the Scourge of God it will be Lady Gaga.