Monday, March 20, 2017

The Benedict Option: Good Strategy, Bad Posture

The potential danger of the Benedict Option is that some Christians would claim it as the primary option for Christian witness today, which would lead to an overly defensive posture toward the world.

Consider the metaphors used throughout the book: a thousand-year flood, the most serious crisis since the fall of the Roman empire, “we’ve lost on every front.” Waterloo. The dark age to come. The coming storm. An earthquake. Babylon. When Dreher recommends we follow the example of monks who literally headed for the hills, I worry that the dire warnings in this book will cultivate a posture that is much too defensive, a fatalistic view of society that breeds long-term cultural pessimism.

Progressives always think they know the way the world is going, and that arc is always bending toward justice. They’re often wrong. Conservatives sometimes think they know the where the world is headed, that things are inevitably getting worse. They’re often wrong, too. A better approach is that of Chesterton, who said in the 1930s in the years before WWII, “the world is what the saints and prophets saw it was; it is not merely getting better or merely getting worse; there is one thing that the world does; it wobbles.”

We sense the world wobbling a little more than usual these days, but that should lead us to a recommitment to Christian mission. The fundamental posture of the Christian should be missionary, not monastic. Read More

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