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Benedict, Out of the Carnage

It’s time for Carnage 2015 in the UK, a nationwide series of college freshman pub crawls: [1]

A girl lies passed out on the street, while another female student vomits on the pavement.

These pictures from across the UK show new students taking part in the controversial Carnage [2] booze crawl.

The centres of Huddersfield, Lincoln and Bristol were taken over by young revellers enjoying their first taste of university life.

This year’s tour is given the title on flyer’s of Animal Instinct – Unleash Your Beast.

It will visit 36 towns and cities across Britain.

From Pope St. Gregory the Great’s Life of St. Benedict [3]:

He was born in the province of Nursia, of honorable parentage, and brought up at Rome in the study of humanity. As much as he saw many by reason of such learning fall to dissolute and lewd life, he drew back his foot, which he had as it were now set forth into the world, lest, entering too far in acquaintance with it, he likewise might have fallen into that dangerous and godless gulf.

Therefore, giving over his book, and forsaking his father’s house and wealth, with a resolute mind only to serve God, he sought for some place, where he might attain to the desire of his holy purpose. In this way he departed, instructed with learned ignorance, and furnished with unlearned wisdom.

Somewhere in the UK right now, there is a young man or woman who is watching the Carnage, and who has an instinct to go the other way. Might he or she be the new and very different St. Benedict that the world awaits?

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33 Comments To "Benedict, Out of the Carnage"

#1 Comment By Charles Cosimano On October 14, 2015 @ 2:28 pm

Pick Carnage!

#2 Comment By Sam M On October 14, 2015 @ 2:43 pm

I was shocked when they brought in that caged fox and stoned it to death with empty champagne bottles.

Wait. That was the Bollinger Club in Decline and Fall.

Drunk British college students. It’s not a new thing. The new St. Benedict might want to start off somewhere with a more receptive audience. Sadly, for quite a few generations it was generals rather than priests that brought them to heel.

#3 Comment By Liam On October 14, 2015 @ 2:44 pm

To repeat myself in part on the context here: Benedict is *not* leaving a Rome that is in ruins from barbarian conquest. Rather, he’s leaving a prosperous and high-cultured Rome that, while diminished in size and influence from its peak generations earlier, has entered into a historically important period of revival under Theodoric the Goth.

The “decline” Benedict is fleeing is *not* the one commonly associated with “the decline and fall of the Roman Empire”.

#4 Comment By James C. On October 14, 2015 @ 2:51 pm

Most certainly. Judging from the array of very pious and very young faces that have newly appeared at Mass here in Cambridge come the start of Michaelmas term, I daresay there may be more than one germinal Benedict around…

#5 Comment By Another Benedict On October 14, 2015 @ 2:54 pm

That’s a Benedict Option “money quote” if there ever is one (and there are many in the Life and Rule)!

#6 Comment By Mark Hamann On October 14, 2015 @ 2:55 pm

Or maybe there is a partier, passed out in the gutter, who is the new and different St. Augustine.

Let them have their fun. They’re young. They’re supposed to be doing this.

#7 Comment By Frank On October 14, 2015 @ 3:10 pm

What about St. Benedict versus Marti Grad?!?

#8 Comment By Archibald Meatpants On October 14, 2015 @ 3:26 pm

No region drinks like the British and Scandinavian countries. Why is it that Socialism equals binge drinking.

#9 Comment By Elijah On October 14, 2015 @ 3:38 pm

“Or maybe there is a partier, passed out in the gutter, who is the new and different St. Augustine.”

Interesting thought.

#10 Comment By Frank On October 14, 2015 @ 4:03 pm

Marti Gras my bad! :0

#11 Comment By Charles Cosimano On October 14, 2015 @ 4:23 pm

The Ben Op is more and more looking like something to be populated by people who live on prunes and pickle juice with nothing better to do than be annoyed at people who are enjoying their lives.

I know that is not what Rod wants it to look like but if it ends up that way, better to hang up the idea now because it will go nowhere influencing the culture except to the comedy barrel.

#12 Comment By Jeff On October 14, 2015 @ 4:30 pm

“Let them have their fun. They’re young. They’re supposed to be doing this.”

Right…until an 18-yr old girl, passing in and out of consciousness, is raped by someone who preys on young women at such events (and there are many of them). She then has trouble dealing with the rape and enters into a series of self-destructive behaviors, likely ending in an abortion or alcohol/drug habit. Mental instability (often PTSD) follows and she has trouble dealing with long-term relationships and her marriage ends in divorce. Her children grow up in a one parent home, devoid of the necessary love/time of two parents. The child then goes to college and decides to have some “fun” at Carnage 2040. Repeat. Sin is sin at any age and there are always consequences. Please pray for angelic protection of these poor, deluded college students.

#13 Comment By DS On October 14, 2015 @ 4:45 pm

One can do both, provided the order is correct, and provided the former is out of ignorance … as shown by Rod, by yours truly, and by many of the rest of you.

#14 Comment By CaliDali On October 14, 2015 @ 4:53 pm

But a life submitted to Christ – even the life of a young, foolish college student – has so much joy than whatever thrill is found in binges. Why would anyone pass by the opportunity to walk in peace with the loving creator, if only for one night? Why would anyone inhibit her senses from experiencing God for even one evening?

I have had my own unfortunate experiences with substances and, in the aftermath, I have always wondered why I traded the joy of Christ for those moments. And I have prayed for strength to endure further temptation. And the end result for me has been a life of ever increasing, if imperfect, joy. I don’t want to go back!

#15 Comment By grumpy realist On October 14, 2015 @ 5:02 pm

Rod, I suggest you look at “Gin Alley” by Hogarth. And we’ve known for years that the rest of Europe cringes when the Brit “yobbos” show up at soccer matches.

Drunk, rowdy, and passed out is not something new for British youth.

#16 Comment By Jeff R. On October 14, 2015 @ 5:20 pm

The path of excess leads to the outhouse of wisdom.

#17 Comment By Mr. Pickwick On October 14, 2015 @ 6:36 pm

This reminds me of the crucial scene in Donald Miller’s largely autobiographical book Blue Like Jazz where the Reed College students in Portland (during their annual Renn Fayre debauch-a-thon) get stoned and drunk and run around naked and have sex, while Miller and his Christian friends earnestly set up a “confession booth” on the college green right in the middle of the debauchery. Partiers stumble into the booth, curious as to what is going on there, and are amazed when the Christians manning the booth confess THEIR sins (and those of the church) TO the partiers. The result is a really impressive Christian witness and some very poignant dialogue.

We Christians need to make witness against the disorder of our world (Carnage, Renn Fayre, etc), but we need to do it with integrity and humility.

#18 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On October 14, 2015 @ 6:45 pm

Drunk British college students making a mess of the city goes back to the 15th century… not to mention drunk, riotous, disorderly, Parisian college students… surely someone has read The Hunchback of Notre Dame? The original story, in which Esmeralda is hung and Phoebus scarcely notices her, not the saccharine Disney remake?

But how do we jump from drunken students vomiting all over the pavement to renouncing the study of humanity? When did, e.g., discovering penicillin deliver one to a dissolute and lewd life, such that one must draw back one’s foot?

Come to Summerfest sometime and watch Republican suburbanites vie with hip Democratic urban dwellers for who can throw up how much liquor on the foot deep pile of styrofoam cups. Somehow, the next morning, the world continues to function.

#19 Comment By TB On October 14, 2015 @ 7:10 pm

Many everyday Benedicts walk among us. You know them, and so do I.
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
― R. Buckminster Fuller

#20 Comment By cecelia On October 14, 2015 @ 9:01 pm

Rod – Liam is right!

British binge drinking is the bane of Europe! And yet – no matter how many warnings the Brits get, no matter how many rapes, STD’s and assorted dead young people nor studies showing the British have a serious problem – the British happily go on pickling their brains. It is you see – cultural. Hence okay.

#21 Comment By Jones On October 14, 2015 @ 9:07 pm

“I was shocked when they brought in that caged fox and stoned it to death with empty champagne bottles.

Wait. That was the Bollinger Club in Decline and Fall.”

I have to say, I find this kind of statement infuriating. There’s now a rote little playbook of liberal rejoinders to any kind of moral criticism. Someday I hope to write thoroughly on the fallaciousness of those rejoinders.

The fact that something bad also once happened in the past, bears on moral criticism regarding the present . . . how?

[NFR: It’s usual form is “In the 1950s, conservatives thought Elvis was shocking, therefore you are a ridiculous prude if you find Miley Cyrus disgusting.” — RD]

#22 Comment By ARM On October 14, 2015 @ 9:12 pm

“No region drinks like the British and Scandinavian countries. Why is it that Socialism equals binge drinking.”

Um, how about the Russians? I’ve always understood that the unifying factor here is proximity to the North Pole, not socialism. And having Scandinavian ancestors, I can assure you they were drinking like fishes long before they had socialism. As likewise, one gathers, were the Russians and the Brits.

#23 Comment By Brian On October 14, 2015 @ 9:55 pm

You guys need to read a great conversion story called: Drunks and Monks by John Carmichael. Its only available on Amazon (kindle).
Very gritty story with a lot of drunken chaos. There’s hope for these knuckleheads.

[4]

#24 Comment By anori On October 14, 2015 @ 11:47 pm

@Jones:

Yes, it is indeed important to point out that young people, in most societies, have always enjoyed getting drunk and behaving badly. It is also important to point out that popular culture has (pretty much) always been crude and violent. This is because social conservatives insist that the current era is uniquely awful and depraved, despite the fact that many of the cultural trends they deplore have actually not become more extreme in recent years. To a certain extent, they have reversed themselves.
Many social conservatives seem to think that “Victorian values” are a norm from which we have just recently departed. In fact, Victorian values were a cultural blip, and were not adhered to by most people even during the Victorian era. So that’s why it’s important to keep some perspective.

#25 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On October 15, 2015 @ 1:43 am

Archibald,

The East Slavic countries drink more than Britain or the Scandies. My favourite European country, Belarus, has the highest alcohol consumption in the world. I rather suspect that common personality and ecological factors contribute to both high alcohol consumption and socialism, rather than one causing the other.

I’m going to be in England to give a talk this January, so maybe I’ll get to see some of this firsthand.

[NFR: Where in England? You should try to meet up with James C. — RD]

#26 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On October 15, 2015 @ 1:52 am

Poland is pretty famous for heavy alcohol consumption too. If you look at the Wikipedia for ‘highest levels of blood alcohol content survived’, half of the records are from Poland.

#27 Comment By Gromaticus On October 15, 2015 @ 7:10 am

Drunk, rowdy, and passed out is not something new for British youth.

I’m much less concerned about a culture where 18 year old college freshmen wallow in an orgy of binge drinking and promiscuous sexual behavior, which has been going on, to varying degrees for ages (Dionysus, please pick up the white courtesy phone), then I am about a culture where it is acceptable for a corporation to create and license a marketing event like Carnage.

Somewhere in the UK right now, there is a young man or woman who is watching the Carnage, and who has an instinct to go the other way. Might he or she be the new and very different St. Benedict that the world awaits?

I can’t speak to the morality of eighteen year olds who would engage or reject this kind of behavior; but the fact that someone, somewhere, saw college freshman binge drinking and it’s accompanying unsafe behavior and though to themselves “how can I make heaps of money off of this” depresses the hell out of me.

#28 Comment By sj On October 15, 2015 @ 8:45 am

Rod, this post illustrates why I think you are always needing to explain that the Benedict Option doesn’t involving removing oneself physically from society, because that is exactly what Benedict did in response to the immorality of his culture. There’s a disconnect between the symbolism of the name “Benedict” and what you are really aiming for, which is not technically a physical withdrawal.

#29 Comment By russ On October 15, 2015 @ 10:17 am

@sj: Rod, this post illustrates why I think you are always needing to explain that the Benedict Option doesn’t involving removing oneself physically from society…

I see what you’re saying, but then again, nobody (I hope) who hears someone say they’re taking the “nuclear option” actually believes the speaker is going to deploy a nuclear warhead in the near future. That’s why I suspect confirmation bias at best, and straw man jousting at worst, when people to continue to misrepresent what Rod is talking about.

For a long time Rod would write about the Benedict Option and I would think, “well, isn’t that really just living in a community of believers like we’re already supposed to be doing?” And over time, Rod has confirmed that is indeed what the Benedict Option is. It’s only a revolutionary idea because many in the church have moved so far from it. This Reformed Christian (although perhaps True Reformed Believers wouldn’t want to claim me as they’re own) is excited to hear more about Rod’s thinking on the B.O. …hmm, maybe that’s not the best acronym 🙂

#30 Comment By CatherineNY On October 15, 2015 @ 12:13 pm

@James C, that is heartening to hear about Masses in Cambridge. I have commented on this blog more than once about the beautiful Latin Novus Ordo Masses I have attended in the UK, and one of the ones I was thinking about was in Cambridge, two summers ago.

#31 Comment By grumpy realist On October 15, 2015 @ 12:23 pm

ARM–I would say based on my experience, the Finns can drink the Russians under the table. Of course, it might have been just that one Finn…

And if anyone thinks that innkeepers didn’t rub their hands with glee at the possibility at selling lots of booze at village festivals back in the 15th century, you’ve got a much more idealistic view of humans than I do. The only difference now is we have trademarks tacked on to name the opportunity.

#32 Comment By sj On October 15, 2015 @ 8:25 pm

@russ, I know what you mean, and as a Catholic homeschooling mom for the last 25 years, I have lots of experience of being apart from the culture while still living in it. I posted my comment because I was trying to explain the Benedict Option to my husband, that it didn’t mean retreating physically from the world, and my husband, who is a blunt lawyer, said, “But that’s what Benedict did.”

I don’t know any other way that Rod can convey what he’s trying to say besides using the word, “Benedict,” but the word is so potent a metaphor of monastic retreat, that my guess is he will always have to explain to first-time listeners that he’s not advocating, as a rule, for folks to do what Benedict actually did.

And I agree, lose the acronym! 🙂

[NFR: That’s why we say “Ben Op,” not “B.O.” — RD]

#33 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On October 15, 2015 @ 11:15 pm

Poland is pretty famous for heavy alcohol consumption too. If you look at the Wikipedia for ‘highest levels of blood alcohol content survived’, half of the records are from Poland.

That has a lot to do with how difficult it is to pass serious penalties for drunk driving in Wisconsin… and the Germans, Swedes, Finns, and Irish are no slouches either.