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Another — Doubtless Very Different — Book Launch

Last night I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a panel discussion [1] with our own Rod Dreher about his new book, The Benedict Option [2], hosted by Plough [3] magazine, TAC and First Things [4].

It was a fascinating evening, and all four of Dreher’s co-panelists made cogent points in response to the central thesis of the book, to whit:

I’m not a Christian, so I came at the debate from the perspective of an outsider. But nonetheless, the most interesting question to me remains what the Benedict Option would do to Christianity — and I don’t think so much in terms of walls as gates.

The thing about intentional communities is that you have to earn your way in, and you can also be driven out. To become a monk, you have to take vows; to stay a member of the monastic community, you have to keep them (or that’s the way it’s supposed to work). The requirements for membership are much more stringent than they have usually been for membership in the Christian fellowship generally.

Which is entirely fine: every Christian community isn’t supposed to be a monastery, nor is every Christian supposed to be a monk. And even if the Bruderhof, for example, do believe that every Christian ought to follow their example, they recognize the Christians who are not doing so as fellow Christians — just Christians who aren’t following Jesus as fully as they ought.

But I’m curious about how this works within Dreher’s framework. Specifically, I’m curious, if mainstream Christian denominations put more emphasis on building and supporting intentional communities of various kinds (and if Dreher isn’t calling for that then I really don’t know what he’s calling for), how does that change the nature of the larger communion?

Dreher has frequently and sometimes testily responded to critics by saying he’s not calling for anybody to head for the hills. But that’s not what I’m asking about. The Lubavitch hasidim are as “in the world” as any strictly observant Jewish group I can think of. They send shlichim to the four corners of the earth to minister to Jews wherever they may be. They are all about outreach, and they try in a host of ways to meet the people they are reaching out to where they are. And they are certainly making sure that they have something to give the world before they give it — they are ferocious about deeply educating their kids, and traditional Judaism is all about imbuing every single action of every day with the sacred. If you wanted to point to a Benedict Option-like group that had unquestionably not withdrawn into itself and fled for the hills, they’d be a perfect candidate.

But they are also a group apart within a people apart, and they believe themselves to be precisely that. And I can assure you, that has a real impact on how other Jews perceive them and relate to them. I’m curious to know whether that is a dynamic the Benedict Option would inculcate within Christianity, and whether Dreher thinks that would be a problem if it did.

If you want to hear the panel discussion, you can do so here [1].

24 Comments (Open | Close)

24 Comments To "Another — Doubtless Very Different — Book Launch"

#1 Comment By Danny Jewell On March 17, 2017 @ 6:25 pm

I’m glad you brought up the Lubavitchers – they seem like the very model of a modern BenOp community. I have had the great honor to meet several shluchim in my area where the only Torah Jewry for miles in any direction was another shliach 45 minutes away by tortuous freeway. Perhaps their example was off limits for Mr Dreher because they are not Christians.

An further example from my own tradition that also does not seem to have gained any traction in Mr Dreher’s Benedictine universe would be the ‘Confessional Lutheran’ community. Even within the conservative Lutheran denominations (LCMS & WELS) we are a minority. And yet orthodox pastors scattered across the face of North America and Europe continue to teach the pure apostolic faith to a flock interspered among nominal or non-Christians.

#2 Comment By EliteCommInc. On March 17, 2017 @ 7:32 pm

“But they are also a group apart within a people apart, and they believe themselves to be precisely that.”

For the christian

” . . . is in the world, but not of it.”

Eventually, the lines separating the believer from the nonbeliever will become so stark, drastic and clear that christians will be separate and at threat beyond mere political, social and economic marginalization.

As that time approaches, those who believe still have a mission to each other and the world. But I think scripture and Christ are clear, the believer

” . . . is a holy people, a people set apart . . .”

But that does not require that the believer retreat from the world, at least not yet, maybe not ever. In the US christians have right to participate in the forces that govern them. I think they should and fight to maintain it. But called apart is not something a christian has any choice in.

An article from last year,
[10]

And this thought, given the current trend, it is unlikely that the world would have any intention of letting the matter rest with “those weird christians living among the ‘hinters’. I have little that they would come to rescue the children.

There just would be any place to hide, in my view.

(my defense/comments here is constrained by my own life of bitterness.)

#3 Comment By Charles On March 17, 2017 @ 7:57 pm

Your point about traditional Judaism is something that I have not seen enough of in discussions surrounding the Ben Op (granted, I haven’t read the book yet. We bought it, but my wife won the rock-paper-scissors, so she’s reading it first). Secular-age Christians are by no means the first religious group to deal with the challenges of staying true while surrounded by a culture that doesn’t really like them. We should be looking at what has and has not worked.

#4 Comment By John_M On March 17, 2017 @ 11:08 pm

Mr. Dreher has written the Ben-Op from the point of view of a believing orthodox Christian. I am a renegade Quaker who grew up in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood and lived among and attended services with the Mormons for over a decade. Yet I too find myself outside of the popular culture.

I am a physicist/engineer and while I fit well within my professional community, I find myself far outside of the popular culture. A thoroughly rational and secular conservative may not be as much of a misfit as a believing orthodox conservative, but we are misfits none the less. And both of us challenge the popular culture – although from different directions.

#5 Comment By William Dalton On March 18, 2017 @ 12:16 am

“The Lubavitch hasidim are as “in the world” as any strictly observant Jewish group I can think of. They send shlichim to the four corners of the earth to minister to Jews wherever they may be. They are all about outreach, and they try in a host of ways to meet the people they are reaching out to where they are. And they are certainly making sure that they have something to give the world before they give it — they are ferocious about deeply educating their kids, and traditional Judaism is all about imbuing every single action of every day with the sacred. If you wanted to point to a Benedict Option-like group that had unquestionably not withdrawn into itself and fled for the hills, they’d be a perfect candidate.”

In all the months I have read Road write on the subject of the “Benedict Option” this is precisely the kind of project I had the impression he was writing about – not a return of Christians to monasteries.

I have the impression Rod believes that Christians in the post-Christian West will face many of the hardships and challenges which Jews faced during the period of the Christian West. They are a good example to follow. But, not being Christian, they would not display all the attitudes Rod would be looking for from those dedicated cells which will preserve the Christian faith in the lands of the dessicated West in the future. So he points to the Rule of Saint Benedict and the monks of Norcia as starting points for these new intentional communities to study and emulate even while not retreating behind stone walls. And, frankly, I believe he is enamored enough of the Pope Emeritus to wish to honor him as well.

#6 Comment By bacon On March 18, 2017 @ 12:25 am

I read many of Mr. Dreher’s posts at TAC and I appreciate his status as a public intellectual and a committed Christian. His Benedict Option, as I understand it (I haven’t read his book) seems reasonable – if one has a sincere, deeply held belief system that isn’t broadly accepted, connect to others with the same belief and form a mutually supportive community. That community needn’t be physically separate, as the Amish usually are; could be, but not necessarily. A spiritual separateness should be enough, if carefully nurtured. What could be wrong with that?

Nothing could be wrong with that in my opinion; it seems to me to be the way Christians and nonbelievers have coexisted in the US for at least as long as I’ve been alive and I don’t see why it can’t continue. Mr. Dreher, tho, doesn’t buy it. I’m a Democrat and a social liberal (same thing? Maybe, maybe not) and he has said repeatedly that Democrats are evil, hate Christians (I don’t hate anybody or any group) and are set on destroying religious freedom of expression in America. Live and let live seems not to be an attitude he recognizes.

#7 Comment By Sam M On March 18, 2017 @ 8:57 am

“what does it mean for the global Christian communion if American Christianity turns inward?”

I think the operative assumption of the BenOp is that the bigger concern is making sure American Christianity turns Christian.

#8 Comment By Gromaticus On March 18, 2017 @ 12:01 pm

I think the operative assumption of the BenOp is that the bigger concern is making sure American Christianity turns Christian.

I think this is where 100% of the blow back from people who one might think would instinctively support the BenOp, or may have done so in it’s earlier, inchoate, era (like James K. A. Smith) comes from. Who decides what’s Christian.

To be fair, I haven’t read the book and I doubt I will. I am an interested bystander who, like probably the best example I can think of, Thomas Hardy, was raised in the church, appreciates the contributions of the church, and in some ways longs to embrace the beauty of the church, but just can’t reconcile it with the world I see. Nonetheless, it seems to me that while Rod insists that the BenOp would be necessity without Obergefell, it is a watershed moment for him; not in regards to the over culture, but in the culture of the church. It drew a line in the sand and it was a shock as to how many, and who (Wendell Berry for example) were either on the other side of the line, or refused to demonize them.

What many of us saw in the early BenOp musings as a withdrawal from the modern Babylon (which even those of us who don’t consider ourselves christians can endorse) looks like it’s turning into just another sectarian pissing match. Strategic withdrawal to keep the kids from being influenced by the Dan Savages of the is rapidly spinning into strategic withdrawal to keep the kids from turning into the Rachel Held Evans’ of the world.

#9 Comment By Berry Friesen On March 18, 2017 @ 12:08 pm

As I read Dreher, he wants the Christian witness to be rooted in orthodoxy, not Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. This isn’t remarkable. What’s interesting about Dreher is that he has come to recognize that an orthodox witness inevitably will find itself in conflict with the worldview and policies of the US-led empire.

To read my take on the Benedict Option, go to [11]

#10 Comment By mdc On March 18, 2017 @ 1:18 pm

I take it that Lubavitch communities are not a response to the coming dark ages, in which the metaphysical bases and hence spiritual health of the West will have collapsed, and during which the willing few will shelter ancient wisdom, awaiting the restoration. Dreher’s BenOp is heavily invested in that (to me, pretty implausible) historical/cultural diagnosis.

#11 Comment By connecticut farmer On March 18, 2017 @ 1:47 pm

@bacon

One of the reasons for the BenOp phenomenon is precisely because the spirit “live and let live” is NOT one that is perceived as having been embraced by Secular America.

#12 Comment By Charlieford On March 18, 2017 @ 3:22 pm

“The thing about intentional communities is that you have to earn your way in, and you can also be driven out.”

Exactly. Communities have lines between the inside and out, and they have to have authorities who enforce those lines.

No authority, no community.

Rod is envisaging a blending of his mystical-moralistic version of Christianity with a Bobos in Paradise lifestyle. Somehow he thinks a whole lot of unconventional, even eccentric, individuals like himself are going to come together and voluntarily form thick inter-dependent communities that will persist in space and time without anyone running the ship.

Doesn’t work that way, but it’s not Rod’s mistake alone. I’ve seen several church groups in my lifetime who have found the idea of a thicker community attractive, and they read Benedict’s rule to get clues to how to do it. When I’ve pointed out that you can’t realize Benedict’s vision without an abbot, they’ve always dismissed that as obviously unnecessary. Their experiments usually last about 45 minutes.

Americans will not brook authority.

What’s more, I’ll go so far as to say they actually don’t want community. They think they do, but they don’t actually know what it is. What they want has never been and never will be.

#13 Comment By Joe the Plutocrat On March 18, 2017 @ 3:23 pm

It is my understanding, Mr. Dreher’s niche is religion and culture. I’d argue it is Christianity and culture, but I digress. Even so, I’ll start with the comments of “writers” who are part of 20th-21st century popular culture. First, a recent observation from Stephen Colbert. “If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.” Second, the late George Carlin. “Religion convinced the world that there’s an invisible man in the sky who watches everything you do. And there’s 10 things he doesn’t want you to do or else you’ll go to a burning place with a lake of fire until the end of eternity. But he loves you!” The third is from Joe the Plutocrat, who for the purposes of this screed might be aka; Joe the Theocrat.

My issue with religious hypocrites like Dreher lies in what I see as an infantile worldview. They exist in a world (bubble?) where there are monsters under the bed. Monsters like same sex marriage transgender neighbors, a woman’s right to make decisions concerning her body, and internet pornography, etc. In order to address these threats, they abdicate personal responsibility and defer to a non-existent “mommy and daddy” (Church AND State), to protect them. They seek to feel “safe”, which is nothing if not ironic, as “safe”, is the root of one of the favored pejorative slurs used by RLW (Religious Liberty Warriors -I’m going to trademark that one). That’s right, during their many tantrums, they cite the need of so called “snowflakes” to have “safe spaces” to resolve or reconcile their psycho-emotional and Theo-cultural issues. Another profoundly ironic (and childish) favored acronym is SJW (social justice warrior). I spent the first 35 years of my life as a practicing Catholic, and I am well-read in History. Jesus Christ, man or myth, was perhaps the first and only true Social Justice Warrior (see: Colbert quote). And yet, people who identify themselves as “religious” and followers of Christ, cannot comprehend the idea that other people; family members, neighbors, co-workers, who do not look, think, worship, or dress like them; seek the same inalienable rights endowed by their Creator. They see the quest for equality on the part of others as an affront or a threat to their “religious liberty”. Again, the irony of the phrase “religious liberty” is palpable (and oxymoronic), as rights and liberties are endowed by the Constitution – a secular/cultural text/document, and not the Bible or other religious text. And finally what I remember, Jesus of Nazareth did not choose to pull the covers over his head and tremble (“pray”). He did not isolate himself or retreat to a “safe space”. He took to the streets, where in engaged the Pharisees and money changers. He also engaged the oppressed, sick, weak, and poor. Perhaps Dreher et al should lobby Congress and the POTUS to come up with a “voucher” program where they can use taxpayer funds to “create” their gated communities.

#14 Comment By William Harrington On March 18, 2017 @ 4:07 pm

Bacon

Surely Rod is right, but your own Binary western mode of thinking has led you to a profound misunderstanding. Rod has pointed out, repeatedly, Democrats who are evil and hate Christianity. He has never said that all Democrats are evil and hate Christianity so finding examples, even yourself, who are not evil and don,t hate Christianity does not relieve you of the responsibility of considering this critique of those you have accepted as political allies. Rod, himself, has perhaps set a good example by being critical of Trump and many of his supporters. Consider carefully that our anti-culture has reached a point where traditional Democrats and traditional Republicans may find themselves in a position where they have more in common with eachother than with their parties which no longer value tradition or culture, but only profit and power.

#15 Comment By William Dalton On March 18, 2017 @ 4:17 pm

bacon:

“Nothing could be wrong with that in my opinion; it seems to me to be the way Christians and nonbelievers have coexisted in the US for at least as long as I’ve been alive and I don’t see why it can’t continue. Mr. Dreher, tho, doesn’t buy it. I’m a Democrat and a social liberal (same thing? Maybe, maybe not) and he has said repeatedly that Democrats are evil, hate Christians (I don’t hate anybody or any group) and are set on destroying religious freedom of expression in America. Live and let live seems not to be an attitude he recognizes.”

In the past believers and non-believers, while they differed with each other (and among themselves) on questions regarding the existence and person of God and the means by which men and women, broken and/or depraved by the power of sin their lives, held common assumptions as to how people were to behave living in community with one another. That is no longer the case. Today American society is deeply divided on the question of common human behaviors – what is acceptable, what is unacceptable, what should be required, what should be permitted, what should be discouraged, what should be prohibited. It is difficult to form a community in which “live and let live” will work in which one set of people believe certain conduct should be prohibited and others believe the same conduct should be given public sanction and concurrence with that sanction mandated. The only way forward is for a society which agrees both to prohibit and to mandate very little – the minimal state extolled by libertarians. Within that society voluntary communities may be formed which promulgate and enforce their own rules upon themselves – the Benedict Option.

#16 Comment By William Dalton On March 18, 2017 @ 4:19 pm

bacon:

“Nothing could be wrong with that in my opinion; it seems to me to be the way Christians and nonbelievers have coexisted in the US for at least as long as I’ve been alive and I don’t see why it can’t continue. Mr. Dreher, tho, doesn’t buy it. I’m a Democrat and a social liberal (same thing? Maybe, maybe not) and he has said repeatedly that Democrats are evil, hate Christians (I don’t hate anybody or any group) and are set on destroying religious freedom of expression in America. Live and let live seems not to be an attitude he recognizes.”

In the past believers and non-believers, while they differed with each other (and among themselves) on questions regarding the existence and person of God, and the means by which men and women, broken and/or depraved by the power of sin their lives might be reconciled to God, still held common assumptions as to how people were to behave while living in community with one another. That is no longer the case. Today American society is deeply divided on the question of common human behaviors – what is acceptable, what is unacceptable, what should be required, what should be permitted, what should be discouraged, what should be prohibited. It is difficult to form a community in which “live and let live” will work in which one set of people believe certain conduct should be prohibited and others believe the same conduct should be given public sanction and concurrence with that sanction mandated. The only way forward is for a society which agrees both to prohibit and to mandate very little – the minimal state extolled by libertarians. Within that society voluntary communities may be formed which promulgate and enforce their own rules upon themselves – the Benedict Option.

#17 Comment By bacon On March 19, 2017 @ 1:33 am

I got a lot of response to what still seems to me a simple proposition. I’m not religious. I don’t mind if others are religious. Why don’t we let it rest there? I understand the assertion that we no longer are willing to do that, but I don’t see it in my life. I know many religious people and many who are not; none of us have problems based on that. I wonder if those who can’t accept that idea are a minority; they certainly are in my life. But I don’t ignore the current tensions in our society. Maybe Mr. Dalton is right and we no longer can adjust to philosophic and religious differences. Maybe we never could and the peaceful times we had in the 20th century were an anomaly and we’re just getting back to the usual human conflict.

If this is not an easily, or peacefully, resolvable divide, what is to be done? Perhaps “states’ rights”, an odd suggestion from a Democrat, but still. If Mississippi and California, Louisiana and Massachusetts, you get the point, can’t be reconciled by central government oversight, maybe we don’t need that much central government oversight. Could be that laws and regulations are best made closest to those who have to have to live with those laws and regulations. I know, an old idea, but what we’re doing now doesn’t seem to be working. A state by state Benedict Option, if you will.

#18 Comment By connecticut farmer On March 19, 2017 @ 10:31 am

@Joe the Plutocrat

1.) Jesus sacrificed Himself on the cross to redeem mankind. And in emulation of his Savior, Martin L. King would eventually pay with his life for what he believed.Show me what “sacrifices” the SJWs make, besides bitching about people like Charles Murray or going to Washington and flashing images of vaginas.

#19 Comment By EliteCommInc. On March 20, 2017 @ 10:28 am

“They exist in a world (bubble?) where there are monsters under the bed. Monsters like same sex marriage transgender neighbors, a woman’s right to make decisions concerning her body, and internet pornography, etc. In order to address these threats, they abdicate personal responsibility and defer to a non-existent “mommy and daddy” (Church AND State), to protect them. They seek to feel “safe”, which is nothing if not ironic, as “safe”, is the root of one of the favored pejorative slurs used by RLW (Religious Liberty Warriors -I’m going to trademark that one).”

It is the liberal mantra for almost all things christian. And it is a lie. It is false on every level.

As someone who leans in the direction of chist, I have no intention to control anyone’s body. The notion is a distortion and has no evidence. What people choose t do with their bodies is their business. While a person of faith may disapprove of pornography, the sale and distribution of relational behavior on display. There isn’t much history of christian storming people’s homes to manage how, when , if or when they have those relations. In other words, despite contention, christians observe privacy of others. Even scripture notes;

“each should attend to their own house.”

However, a child in a woman’s womb is not her body. From the moment of conception that child demands the protection of his or her mother. If a mother is unwilling to protect that child, then community becomes the responsible party for doing so. Especially in today’s society. No women has to get pregnant who doesn’t want to.

Best choice abstain unless married. Then all other choices prevent pregnancy and there are a myriad of choices. Killing a child at any stage of development is unacceptable. It is a marvel to me that liberals scream and shout “compassion” and yet have no idea of what it means in practice. That is why, all the argument about refugees and woeful immigrants means not a tittle. Scream protecting outsiders as we slaughter nearly a million children a year. Hypocrisy you say. Curious.

Second, I am not sure you have much experiece with people of faith and his matter. Last year there was a fairly healthy discussion that dealt with these issues. And one of the most interesting aspects is that the christian community has dealt with the small number of incidents resulting from some biological anomoly with a good deal of compassion, if not with a good deal of understanding. To be clear, the secular world’s response was far less compassionate and even less understanding. Now clearly there are instances of cruelty. No doubt, but that was not unique to christians. And I think such cases are worthy of discussion. But those cases are not what the what is taking up the energy and never have been. What is sucking up the wind even to the dismay of people with actual physical anomalies are those whose gender is a matter of psychological disposition. The fluidity of psychological development is something we should be concerned with. Because it is central to identity formulation and until the 1950’s parents were the primary directors of that process. And that rightfully so. The most important farm a community has the family of mom and dad. And they are not concerned so much about the gender confusion as much as how one got their and as parents, that is their responsibility. In the 1980’s Califonians wanted to stress this fact with a bit of legislation that got defeated. It was defeated because it supposedly over reached. That those who had chosen a homosexual lifestyle would not be teaching that this behavior was normal. That they would not be be in effect recruiting. 2017, and recruitment is considered passe’. Every concern that the those christians had concerning homosexual conduct and transgender behavior has come to pass. And it Governor Ronald Reagan who refused to sign on. In my view, too many educators, counselors, and psychiatric/psychological practitioners are experimenting with young impressionable minds. And while some may be doing so in the name of “compassion”, they have another agenda and they are using government to advance it.

Liberals behave as though people of faith arrived in the country yesterday. People of faith have lived along side secular mayhem, ‘bizzarness’, antagonism, since the country’s founding. None of this is new. What is accurate is that it is far more accessible and invasive. And that has been the christian pushback. The safe places has been for the influence on children primarily. And this is not unique among people of faith. The debate about pornography is in response, again, to it pervasiveness. And because family is the most important social structure their voice will and should outweigh those of an opposing view. The family if the source of all things community. And while there are limits, what foster healthy family living to raise responsible children of tomorrows: teachers, physicians, lawyers, judges, steel workers, technicians, etc. matters.

No christian I have heard of even those I consider advocating ‘over the top’ admonitions is abdicating personal responsibility. It is just the opposite. They are taking their personal responsibility to community be participating in the discussions of how the country should be as is their right. The fact that their social and political views are influenced or informed by their faith is no barrier and the attempts to make it so are unsound. For it has been that influence, despite its failings that have helped to foster the country we are today. It shaped our vast humanitarian spirit and practice. It formed the basis for welfare and relief programs. The christian influence despite its mistakes has been one of the most created one of the most formidable forces on the planet. And as we see the secular community attempting to sever those bonds, we also see with no small concern, it’s consequences.

I have found Mr Colbert very funny in the past. I imagine, he is still funny. But what I would view with some deep skepticism is any commentary on the purpose and nature of Christ. Because the Christ he s referring to is the influential Christ on environment, not the Christ of purpose. He was not a warrior in the manner understood by secularists, thought its obvious why one would cling to such beliefs.

In all things in all ways, Christ’s giving, intervention, was accompanied by the message of the spiritual necessity to know God. To seek and follow him, not as a social justice warrior, but as a man of who was and is God . . . sent for salvation and oddly enough, it was not from the salvation of hunger, poverty, ill health, or injustice, but spiritual union with him and the father who are in unison as if one. Mr. Colbert attempting to portray Christ as an ancient social crusader is not only an incomplete picture of Christ, it’s manipulative and false. The good Samaritan message was not delivered to the secular, but to the Jews. As a principle, it has secular impact, but that is residual as with all things Christ. Oddly enough, for the likes of Mr. Colbert, they never note, that Christ is not recorded to have said a single word against the Roman Empire. He did not praise or join in with the Zealots. There were no challenges to Roman law. And yet he himself never instigated rebellion, despite the harshness of life. If in fact, he was a social justice warrior, all indications are that he expected his followers to be that force as the life they followed had impact beyond and because of the walk with him.

But none of that would have supported:

killing children in the womb (clearly the least of these)

Homosexual conduct

Relations outside of marriage

Pornography or

psychological manipulations of the vulnerable

In feeding the five thousand, the first thing that Christ did was organize the listeners — to ensure that all got fed. Compassion that works in my view, requires order and prudence.

#20 Comment By Joe the Plutocrat On March 20, 2017 @ 2:27 pm

@connecticut farmer. Where to begin? Why is it that when a person (regardless of gender) voices his or her opinion of Charles Murray, this exercise of First Amendment rights is “bitching”? Ditto your one size fits all opinion of the men and women who also exercised their First Amendment rights by “flashing images of vaginas” 0n January 21st? And let us not forget, it was the current POTUS who bragged about his ‘tactic’ of grabbing a woman’s ‘vagina’ with the hope of further sexual conquest. I get it, we all have different ideas as they relate to “religious liberty” and/or “social justice”. My point is/was, the law – aka the Constitution (FIRST AMENDMENT, no less), prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. To pejoratively dismiss those located in a different place on the political (or moral) spectrum as SJW’s or snowflakes, is, as stated infantile. It belongs on a middle school playground or kindergarten lunch room, and not as part of a meaningful conversation surrounding important legal/civic issues. The fact that “images of vaginas” or pink hats, or the pathetic musings of a washed up, no longer relevant 80’s pop star offend Christians, or non-Christians for that matter; is not a legal matter. It is a personal matter. Again, if a person (of any faith) cannot accept the reality that transgender Americans exist, or that the “equal protection” clause of the 14th Amendment applies to same-sex couples; the solution is not to create an ‘alternative or fake’ (pun intended) reality for the rest of America. I use these words because it is becoming more apparent the current POTUS and his administration is attempting the create something of a (insular) Benedict Option in the Executive branch of the government. Mind you, this is a POTUS who has publicly argued the law (Constitutional/legal opinions of Federal judges) makes us look weak. Speak for yourself, pal. So this agnostic will paraphrase Corinthians 13:11, and aver; when I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. Discrimination, and it’s “surrogates” racism, bigotry, intolerance, and narcissism are childish things. So is a weak, self-serving interpretation of the First Amendment when the exercising of First Amendment rights on the part of others makes “children” feel threatened. I suppose this screed is something of a left-handed endorsement of the Benedict Option. As such, I say, good riddance to the weak, and the rest of us will endeavor to make America great again.

#21 Comment By peanut On March 20, 2017 @ 3:38 pm

“I’m glad you brought up the Lubavitchers – they seem like the very model of a modern BenOp community. I have had the great honor to meet several shluchim in my area where the only Torah Jewry for miles in any direction was another shliach 45 minutes away by tortuous freeway. Perhaps their example was off limits for Mr Dreher because they are not Christians.

Observing the Lubavichers in the US is very nice and well, but to really understand them as models for America, you need to observe them in Israel. And then, the picture becomes wee more complicated than “oh those freindly shaliach guys!”

#22 Comment By Joe the Plutocrat On March 21, 2017 @ 11:50 am

@EliteCommInc. You had me until… ‘as one who leans in the direction of chist (sic – presume you meant Christ). As I have noted in my follow up to connecticut farmer, in a manner of speaking, the law (First Amendment) does not “lean in the direction of Christ”. You also claim “No women has to get pregnant who doesn’t want to”. It is my understanding Planned Parenthood (and ACA) allow women to “choose” how they do not “get pregnant” (birth control). I am struck by your use of the world “child” (“Killing a child at any stage of development is unacceptable.”). It is my understanding that the term child is the post-natal stage of homo sapiens. While I accept this is a scientific (secular) definition, I am not familiar with any Biblical verse (or Gospel passage) which refers to “children” in the womb. I am somewhat familiar with the verse that permits MEN to kill unruly sons (Deuteronomy 21: 18-21). And by your logic, any military operation, for example the recent raid in Yemen, which “kills a child” (infant, teenager, young adult), is obviously “unacceptable”. I will not respond to your assessment of my political leanings (“It is the liberal mantra”). You know nothing of my political views, but I have NEVER voted for a Democrat – ever. Ditto, my interactions with “people of faith”. I will say this, as with “child” we probably do not define “faith” in the same manner. Pavlovian, rote behavior, which is the result of cultural condition is not “faith” in my book. As noted, I studied History academically, and I continue to read the histories of many cultures (and religions). I do not dismiss the positive social and cultural contributions of all faiths, but at the of the day, as I have argued, the United States of America was founded on the idea that certain decisions are best left to the individual. That is to say, individual liberty holds precedent over religious liberty. Ergo, your comments regarding the “responsibility” of community/society -“If a mother is unwilling to protect that child, then community becomes the responsible party for doing so. Especially in today’s society” – while logical and rational within the context of certain religious communities and societies, are not germane the United States. I accept the law (Constitution) is not the last best way to operate a 21st century society of 300 million+ people, but history (and current events) confirm it is preferable to the theocratic (and autocratic) models, which have been employed since the beginning of civilization. Again, perhaps in my own way, I am endorsing the Benedict Option, but in the end, when the law is challenged by faith, as a society, the law prevails.

#23 Comment By EliteCommInc. On March 21, 2017 @ 5:18 pm

” Discrimination, and it’s “surrogates” racism, bigotry, intolerance, and narcissism are childish things. So is a weak, self-serving interpretation of the First Amendment when the exercising of First Amendment rights on the part of others makes “children” feel threatened.”

I am not sure you are getting the point here. The rebut against SJW is that they routinely make a case for shutting down speech. in the name of self protection. It’s not the issues themselves, but rather the tactics which demand a silencing, or removal of speech they disagree with. Even so far as to engage in violence.

They so in as I understand the comment for reasons soley self indulgent to their personal safety, almost entirely emotional. In referencing Dr./Rev king, he acknowledges that struggle was for issues relating to actual discrimination to life, work, education, etc.

He is not making a case for the ills you sight, but in my view for something more substantial than the emotional hurt one might be subjected to because the term “Master” evokes images of slavery something they are neither subjected to or the term in self promotes.

I would be delighted if you show the structure or practice that denies transgender anyone their constitutional right. Which buttresses the unspoken point in the comment you reference. Those engaged in their personal search for identity have been doing so for a god many years. You are correct, it is personal, how that personal becomes a constitutional matter in unclear. Because as you note, people are entitled to express their personal view and should people express their personal objection to transgender constructs and those who practice it –

in your view its childish.

As in all things left, the door of the first amendment as to maturity, seems to be swinging one way.

#24 Comment By Joe the Plutocrat On March 21, 2017 @ 10:58 pm

it’s late so this may be a bit unfocused. “I would be delighted if you show the structure or practice that denies transgender anyone their constitutional right”. see if you can follow this (no sarcasm)? if laws are written which make it illegal to use a public restroom, it is not extreme to see this as a challenge to the ‘equal protection’ clause. just as laws prohibiting same sex marriage made it illegal (taxes, health benefits, child custody, etc.) for two men or two women to “be in love”. and again, I agree transgender Americans are not something new. I just do not feel threatened by their desire to enjoy “equal protection” of the law. and, I am not saying there is an ‘easy fix’, but there is a ‘fix’ and it lies in the Constitution, not the Bible (perhaps, a hybrid involving both). RE: your assessment of SJWs – “The rebut against SJW is that they routinely make a case for shutting down speech. in the name of self protection. It’s not the issues themselves, but rather the tactics which demand a silencing, or removal of speech they disagree with. Even so far as to engage in violence.” I have no idea what you are trying to say. It is not possible to label ALL Americans who seek “social justice” as SJW, AND further argue they all espouse/utilize the same “tactic” (censorship).