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Our Lord of the Electric Blanket

Met a number of Christians in Washington, DC, today, and talked about the Benedict Option with most of them. Overheard today by me in one of those conversations:

“So many of the families in our church just want their kids to be happy and successful.”

Well, doesn’t every parent? Yes. But that’s not the point here. In context, the speaker meant that this is their telos, that they want nothing more for their kids than that they be happy and successful, and that the mothers and fathers are not prepared to hear anything contrary to this gospel of worldly success.

Hate to say it, but that attitude is going to be the death of Christianity in those families, in the younger generation. We are going to have to prepare a church that is capable of suffering, and suffering without losing its joy. This is an unpopular message, but it happens to be the truth. As Flannery O’Connor put it:

What people don’t realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross.

Hey, please consider coming out to Georgetown on Saturday morning to the Benedict Option event with Ken Myers and me. It will be a great opportunity to meet Christians (and others?) who can read the signs of the times, and who want to build communities of joyful resilience. Here’s the Facebook page, and details from it:

How should Christians meet the challenge of living faithfully in a post-Christian America? Inspired by the cultural diagnosis of Alasdair MacIntyre, Pope Benedict XVI, and other contemporary critics of modernity, Rod Dreher contends that the most important work orthodox believers can do is to construct local forms of community within which traditional Christianity can thrive in what he sees as a new Dark Age. The sixth-century Rule of St. Benedict and the monastic spirituality that emerged from it can inspire Christians today to be a countercultural, creative minority.

Please join us on Saturday morning, October 10 at Gaston Hall on the campus of Georgetown University for what promises to be a fascinating discussion of what Dreher, inspired by the cultural diagnosis of philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre, has termed the “Benedict Option.”

When: Saturday, October 10, 2015, 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Where: Gaston Hall, Georgetown University 3700 O St. NW

Go to the Facebook page and let us know if you’re coming. Not strictly required, but it would be nice of you. I predict that after you hear Ken Myers speak, you will subscribe to his Mars Hill Audio Journal, which, if you ask me, is the aural companion to the Benedict Option. In my experience, there are two kinds of Christian intellectuals: Journal subscribers, and those who have not yet heard the Journal.

By the way, Father Raphael Barberg has started a Facebook discussion group about the Benedict Option. 

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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