A reader writes, provocatively and interestingly:
I teach modern church history at a Midwest Catholic college. Today I was presenting the Benedict option in connection with Pope Benedict XVI. As a contrast, I came up with the term ‘Boethius Option’. Boethius and Benedict were born in Italy in the same year (480 AD) and both spent their young adulthood in Rome: maybe they met. When the civilizational and cultural infrastructure of the West collapsed and the barbarian Theodoric seized control, the two young men went in different directions. Boethius entered public service under Theodoric, he and his sons taking up work in the Senate to restore civil order and enhance public legislation. Benedict abandoned the city and built a Christian subculture in the mountains. I used this to frame the modern choice the Church faces: Boethius or Benedict? (It is noteworthy that Boethius ended up strangled and clubbed to death by his opponents in the city.)
The Boethius Option? O Fortuna! Let us remember Boethius’s greatest literary champion of our time, Ignatius J. Reilly:
“I suspect that beneath your offensively and vulgarly effeminate façade there may be a soul of sorts. Have you read widely in Boethius?”
“Who? Oh, heavens no. I never even read newspapers.”
“Then you must begin a reading program immediately so that you may understand the crises of our age,” Ignatius said solemnly. “Begin with the late Romans, including Boethius, of course. Then you should dip rather extensively into early Medieval. You may skip the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. That is mostly dangerous propaganda. Now that I think of it, you had better skip the Romantics and the Victorians, too. For the contemporary period, you should study some selected comic books.”
“I recommend Batman especially, for he tends to transcend the abysmal society in which he’s found himself. His morality is rather rigid, also. I rather respect Batman.”
I think I shall have to make a cheese dip.
But seriously, this is a good observation. Benedict or Boethius? What do you think? I’m going to post this now, because I won’t be approving any comments on Good Friday, so get your comment in early.