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Belief And Belonging

They know who they are; do the rest of us? (Thomas Koch/Shutterstock)

A Christian reader writes from Brooklyn:

Today I was walking to the Subway after work when I passed two guys and heard one of them say that there was a big protest at Borough Hall. I was intrigued and guessed that it was about the executive order. So, I decided to walk over and catch a glimpse of some Brooklyn SJWs in action. If only it had been.

I was about four blocks away from Borough Hall when I heard the call of “Allahu akhbar.” There was a very large Muslim crowd gathered in the plaza. There were easily a few thousand people, with hundreds of men praying when I got there around 5:30. From where I stood I couldn’t see where the women were praying so I don’t know how many total worshippers there were. But it was a big crowd with people spilling off of the sidewalks and onto Court Street.

I tried not to give in to despair, saying the Jesus Prayer and the Apostle’s Creed quietly to myself over and over again. Though I was discouraged, I still thought of something Archbishop Chaput said in a speech you linked to last year about Muslims setting themselves apart in society:

‘In Philadelphia I’m struck by how many women I now see on the street wearing the hijab or even the burqa. Some of my friends are annoyed by that kind of “in your face” Islam. But I understand it. The hijab and the burqa say two important things in a morally confused culture: “I’m not sexually available;” and “I belong to a community different and separate from you and your obsessions.” I have a long list of concerns with the content of Islam. But I admire the integrity of those Muslim women.’

I have that same sentiment toward that crowd that I saw today, even if the people in it do have the full weight of the left-wing establishment protecting them. But I was still so disheartened and  longing for a refuge.

Then I remembered that there’s a Maronite church nearby on Henry Street. I walked to it but it was closed. I needed a priest so badly. But I just headed for home at that point.

I was so sad that, as a Christian, I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of something like what I saw. Something different and separate from our morally confused culture. Maybe I should have kept looking for a church but my disappointment was so intense that I couldn’t think straight. Please pray for me. I love living in NY so much and I won’t leave but I MUST find a refuge.

It’s not just in New York, my friend. Answering this man’s need for refuge is why I wrote, and we need to figure out, the Benedict Option.

UPDATE: A commenter:

Everyone seems to be misunderstanding Rod’s correspondent. I understood his sorrow to be that his Christian church lacked the confidence to pray en masse in public and that the traditions and signifiers that previously marked a Christian are no longer evident. He is not dismayed by the Muslims praying together in public, he is lamenting his own lack of community that shares and reinforces his beliefs.

Me too, though he pretty clearly was made anxious by a big crowd of Muslims saying, “Allahu akbar.” Which is understandable in this day and age, though he might have been less so had he known at the time that it was a Yemeni demonstration against Trump’s EO on immigration, and not an anti-American protest.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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