I interrupt this lovely vacation to remind you why we need the Benedict Option. From The Telegraph:

Girls as young as nine are reportedly seeking surgery on their private parts because of insecurities stemming from adult content such as pornography, according to leading doctors.

Naomi Crouch is a gynaecology specialist and she told the BBC about the worrying trend.

She said: “Girls will sometimes come out with comments like, ‘I just hate it, I just want it removed,’ and for a girl to feel that way about any part of her body – especially a part that’s intimate – is very upsetting.”

The doctor also said she was worried that GPs are referring young girls for unneeded labiaplasty – an operation where the lips of the vagina are shortened or reshaped.

From the BBC’s report:

Dr Crouch, who chairs the British Society for Paediatric and Adolescent Gynaecology, said in her work for the NHS she was yet to see a girl who needed the operation.

“Girls will sometimes come out with comments like, ‘I just hate it, I just want it removed,’ and for a girl to feel that way about any part of her body – especially a part that’s intimate – is very upsetting.”

Anna – not her real name – considered having labiaplasty from the age of 14.

“I just picked up from somewhere that it wasn’t neat enough or tidy enough and I think I wanted it to be smaller.

“People around me were watching porn and I just had this idea that it should be symmetrical and not sticking out.

“I thought that was what everyone else looked like, because I hadn’t seen any normal everyday [images] before then.

“I remember thinking, ‘If there’s surgery for it, then clearly I’m not the only one who wants this done, and maybe it won’t be that big a deal.’.”

We keep finding new ways to destroy the idea of normal, and the innocence of children:

And we are pioneering new ways to wrest away from parents their most fundamental right: the right to educate their children. Look at what’s happening in London:

A private faith school in London has failed its third Ofsted inspection for refusing to teach its pupils about homosexuality.

Inspectors visiting Vishnitz Girls School in north London last month said the Orthodox school does not give pupils “a full understanding of fundamental British values”, The Telegraphreported.

Pupils were not taught about LGBT issues such as “sexual orientation”, which are in breach of equality laws.

“This restricts pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and does not promote equality of opportunity in ways that take account of differing lifestyles,” inspectors reported.

The school’s approach resulted in pupils being “shielded from learning about certain differences between people, such as sexual orientation,” the report went on. “The school’s culture is, however, clearly focused on teaching pupils to respect everybody, regardless of beliefs and lifestyle.

Tolerance is not enough. You must have your kids’ noses rubbed in it — and approve!

I read these things, and I think about the kids I saw at Santa Lucia — the Tipi Loschi kids who go to the Scuola G.K. Chesterton. They are in another moral universe. They are a sign of hope. If your children are being acculturated in a school where porn-watching is normal among the kids there, you are leaving them at spiritual and emotional risk. There’s no escaping it in a Christian school — classical or standard — when parents allow their kids unfettered access to the Internet.

I keep hearing Christian parents say they know smartphones are bad for their kids, but they don’t want their kids to be thought of as “weird”. You don’t? What is the price your kids are paying for your cowardly conformity?!

Bernardo Aparicio Garcia writes about reading The Benedict Option as a parent. Excerpts:

Others have already debated at length these headline-grabbing aspects of Dreher’s analysis and prescriptions, so I would like to focus instead on my view of the book as someone who came to it with more practical concerns: namely, from my perspective as a father.

From its very first paragraph, The Benedict Option invites precisely such a reading. “Nothing changes a man’s outlook on life like having to think about the kind of world his children will inherit,” Dreher explains in his introduction. “And so it was with me.” In my own case, becoming a father seven years ago made the importance of having access to a supportive community painfully clear. It also highlighted for me just how rootless and alienated from each other we have truly become. Not exactly shocking revelations, I’ll grant, but the point is that a whole array of concerns that had, until then, interested me in a largely academic sense, suddenly became both personal and urgent when my daughter was born. As I thought about those things that I would like to pass on to her—and later her two younger brothers—my mind turned naturally to goods of the soul. I realized very quickly how daunting a task lay ahead.

Too often, young parents trying to raise the next generation of Christians find themselves fighting what seems like an asymmetric war. I don’t mean only the often corrosive impact of popular culture on virtues that parents may be trying to nurture in their children. I am also thinking of the contours of contemporary life itself: the encroachment of work responsibilities on family life, the incessant busyness and noise caused by our overdependence on technology, the way families and friendships are broken up as we move in search of economic opportunities, the banality and utilitarianism of most of our educational system, the way even the built environments of our cities and suburbs seem to conspire to make the human act of knowing our neighbors seem quaint or even peculiar.

Understandably, having grown up during decades of a feel-good catechesis that promoted, more than anything, what sociologist Christian Smith famously labeled Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, many serious Christians raising children today have focused on doctrine and apologetics as ways of supplying what their own faith formation lacked. Unfortunately, while sound and compelling teaching is always necessary, the cultural trends mentioned above—to name just a few—constitute an implicit education all their own, orienting our lives toward a self-centered idea of fulfillment. One doesn’t need to read The Benedict Option to understand that these socioeconomic trends make it harder to communicate to our children the meaning of Christian charity or nurture in them a love for the true, the good, and the beautiful, which are always harder than the trendy, the flashy, and the luxurious. When our lives become so atomized that the faith cannot be incarnated in a community’s way of life, when our parishes are only franchises where we purchase religious services, Christianity becomes nothing more than a philosophy, losing much of its power to transform our lives. It is no accident that Jesus did not write a book but instead founded a Church.

These are the concerns that led me to read The Benedict Option, looking for a way forward—not to save civilization—but simply to raise my children in the midst of an increasingly secularist society. I have to say Dreher acquits himself well. Ultimately, The Benedict Option makes a simple argument: it takes the Church to raise a Christian (to put a new spin on that old saying). Dreher develops the argument carefully and convincingly, alerting Christians to the urgency of the task and providing a useful framework for how to go about doing it in practice.

Read the whole thing. Thanks for that great review! For the record, though, it was not the marketing team at Sentinel who came up with the subtitle and the cover image. It was me.

The all-too-short time I was with the Tipi Loschi in San Benedetto del Tronto strengthened my faith in the Benedict Option, and confirmed my confidence that what those Catholic laymen on the Adriatic coast are doing is a terrific model for all of us. Note well, though: they can only do what they do because they have gone all-in. As Marco Sermarini, a leader in the community, says, following Jesus Christ has to be for all of your life, not just on Sunday, and not merely an add-on to a normal life in the world. They do this, and they do it with real joy. It can be done! But it cannot be done if you are expecting the approval of the world. It cannot be done if you expect your kids to be like everybody else. It cannot be done if you are afraid that people will think you and your kids are weird.

Pope Francis says don’t lose hope:

On Wednesday Pope Francis said that following Christ means taking a path contrary to that of the world, and being prepared to suffer because of this; though we have hope because of God’s constant presence.

“Persecution is not a contradiction to the gospel, but is part of it: if they persecuted our Master, how can we hope that we will be spared the struggle?” he said June 28.

“However, in the midst of the whirlwind, the Christian must not lose hope, thinking he has been abandoned. Jesus reassures his disciples saying, ‘Even the hairs of your head are all counted.’ As much as to say that none of the sufferings of man, even the most minute and hidden, are invisible to the eyes of God.”

“God sees, and surely protects; and will give his ransom.”