A German reader sends this commentary from Giuseppe Gracia, a writer and media adviser to a Swiss German Catholic bishop. In it, Gracia discusses how believing Christians in Europe are being driven out of public life. Gracia writes (the translation from German is by Google):
In this situation, it may be necessary to find new forms of freedom for faithful Christians and to defend them. Their own media, their own schools, their own enterprises and employers, why not? Their own educational institutions, hospitals, family structures. If traditional Christians are not given a decent place in mainstream society, if they are disadvantaged in the labor market, they must reorganize and support each other. They must not let themselves be pushed into the private sphere or retreat. Fleeing from the world is unchristian. But they must find a new space, new ways of networking and self-assertion. To collect and strengthen each other. In order to be able to work again with a new self-consciousness in the world.
In other words, the Benedict Option.
See, this is why we orthodox Christians in North America and Europe need each other. These believers in Europe are living today what we in the US are going to be living tomorrow. How are they coping? How can we help them? How can they help us?
Now is the time to build these networks of mutual assistance, across borders and oceans. I’m pleased to say that a German language translation of The Benedict Option is now in progress, as is an Italian version. A Portuguese version is coming, as is a Czech version. It’s already out in French and Slovak. Plus, it will be coming in Korean too. Again: now is the time to prepare.
By the way, I just saw this new reader review on Amazon.com:
From what I’d heard about this book, I’d expected Rod Dreher to advocate orthodox Christians’ withdrawal from society in order to await the second coming of Jesus in the stark isolation of a Christianized bunker. What I discovered in The Benedict Option is less about withdrawal and more about authentic Christian living, and Dreher admits as much. So, what then is the value of a book like The Benedict Option?
While some Christians may unconsciously have adopted The Benedict Option without having heard of it as they work to preserve and defend their faith and culture, the book offers both them and others a careful consideration of the Christian West’s past, present, and future in which to ground their decisions .
Dreher walks the reader through a history of Western philosophy, the life of the Benedictines, the failures of “the religious right,” and a variety of people and communities choosing to live intentionally Christian lives in their neighborhoods and workplaces, in how they choose to educate their children, in their sexual ethics, and in their use of media technology.
I consider myself a tad more optimistic about the state of things than Dreher, but not by much. Even if you disagree with the author’s assessment, you’ll be edified by this sobering but hopeful look at where we’ve been and where we’re headed.
I hope so. If you live in or near South Bend, Indiana, please come out on Thursday October 26 to the free public Benedict Option lecture I’ll be giving there. As part of the talk, I am going to address Fr. Antonio Spadaro’s recent claim at Notre Dame that the Ben Op is evidence of a “Masada complex.” I will offer a fraternal correction. You’re not going to want to miss that.