Benedict Option

The Mindless Iconoclasm of Our Age

Galla Placida, the regent for her young son, the emperor Theodosius III, was shocked when Saint Augustine died in 430 on August 28, three months into the siege of his city Hippo by the Vandals. He may have died of malnutrition, if not stress, because the wheat crop had not been harvested. As destroyers go, [...]

The Real Benedict Option

The Benedict Option is a frustrating book. Despite the polarized reactions to the volume—some of which appeared before it was even released—this is not (it seems to me) the kind of book that a thoughtful reader can either embrace in toto or dismiss entirely. Rod Dreher is too inconsistent in his description of "the Benedict [...]

When Planning the Birth of a New Society, Invite the Mother

At a class at Acton University, Dr. Carrie Gress was lecturing about the Benedict Option and somewhat informally proposed a Marian option. She said she was impressed by the interest the proposal sparked. I happened to be in the class and remember thinking at the time about how well her message resonated with everyone. I [...]

Benedictine Options

“Benedict Option" is a fertile expression that could refer to several things worth discussing. Saint Benedict had one version of what it means, Rod Dreher has another, and commentators have presented still more. For Benedict himself it meant turning away from worldly ties so he could follow Christ and grow closer to God. As a secondary [...]

When the Benedict Option is the Only Option

Much has been written about Rod Dreher’s Benedict Option. It has been portrayed as not so much an option as an opting out. Critics have said it is a call to run away from the public square, an escape, an indefensible retreat, and an admission of defeat. The Benedict Option is thought to be a [...]

Benedict Option Is Really the Augustine Option

The Benedict Option isn’t what you think it is. Adorning the cover of Rod Dreher’s much-discussed new book is what appears to be an ancient monastery, clutching a mountaintop. Below is a blue lake, cropped by scraps of land. A mist broods over it. Rising above the mist, the monastery seems aloft, almost cloud-borne, the [...]

An Abundance of Benedict Options

The last few years we have seen a lively debate and discussion over how Christian believers should interact with our increasingly secular and hostile culture. These different possibilities have come to be known as “options.” The most famous is certainly the Benedict option popularized by author Rod Dreher. But others have written about the Dominican [...]

Is the Benedict Option the Answer to Neo-Barbarianism?

At a recent talk, I compared our days to the times of the barbarian invasions and the fall of the Roman Empire. It is a fairly common comparison that applies to decadent societies like our own. In the end, I highlighted the need to continue to fight the Culture War and thus oppose the neo-barbarians [...]

Any “Benedict Option” Must Consider the CPS

I am well aware that there is disagreement about what is meant by the “Benedict Option.” It at least seems to mean that serious Christians should, to at least some degree, separate themselves from the mainstream of today’s rankly secular culture, try to congregate as much as possible with like-minded people and build up their [...]

Tolkien Alternatives to the “Benedict Option”

What’s happened to the world? Even a quick glance at the newsfeeds will confirm it: times are dark, full of spiritual confusions and physical dangers. Sweeping judicial fiats have redefined the nature of human relationships with a speed, boldness, and radicalness that even Comrade O’Brien might find injudicious; educational revisionists now baldly proclaim their utilitarian [...]

The True Benedict Option for Our Time

Catholics who concern themselves with political and social issues, and non-Catholics who believe in a social order that takes natural law and human nature seriously, face trends that seem overwhelming and point toward a social order with no concern for most of what makes us human. Hence the talk about the “Benedict option,“ which seems [...]

Despair in the Face of Cultural Decline

In the last months, particularly after the Supreme Court decision on homosexual marriage in late June, I’ve noticed a pronounced malaise in many of my friends and family. For some, this looks awfully close to despair, for others a scornful anger, with a kind of dazed escapism haunting yet others hoping they are in a [...]

The Escriva Option: An Alternative to St. Benedict

Nostalgia lurks always in the near corners of the human imagination. It often takes very little to bring it to life; a sunny day, the wind blowing the grass, a taste of food, a smell, a picture. They all bring us back to sweet and sweeter times, childhood, courting, weddings, childbirth. These are all nostalgic [...]

The “Benedict Option” and the Barbarian Challenge

Scratch the soul of many a conservative and beneath you will find a villager. Something is there that attracts these Americans to more natural and simpler lifestyles. Perhaps it is because organic and authentic things appear restful and reassuring in a world of uncertainties and anxieties. However, what makes the organic option particularly attractive to [...]

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