Neither Benedict, Nor Bonhoeffer … But Who?
Not even a month into the new administration, and already its National Security Adviser has resigned after admitting lying to the Vice President and other White House officials about a conversation he had with the Russian ambassador. Just another day in the hot mess that is the Trump administration. David Brooks today writes about how to best resist the calamity.
If the main threat from Trump is that he will impose autocracy, then the model of resistance is Dietrich Bonhoeffer, writes Brooks, and that means mass protests and “aggressive nonviolent action.” But what if the main threat is that national politics turns into a sinkhole of wrathfulness, backbiting, and corruption? Brooks:
If that’s the threat, St. Benedict is the model for resistance. Benedict was a young Umbrian man who was sent to study in Rome after the fall of the empire. Disgusted by the corruption all around, he fled to the wilderness and founded monastic communities across Europe. If Rome was going to sink into barbarism, then Benedictines could lead healthy lives and construct new forms of community far from the decaying center.
If we are in a Benedict moment, the smart thing to do is to ignore the degradation in Washington and make your contribution at the state and local levels.
Karlyn Bowman of the American Enterprise Institute notices that some of the interns in her think tank are thinking along Benedictine lines. In years past they were angling for career tracks that would land them in Washington, but now they are angling to go back to the places they came from.
That’s interesting. Last week, I spoke with someone well-connected in Washington, who said that there are a lot of Christian Millennials in DC who are considering quitting their jobs and moving back home out of disgust, and because they believe that they can do more meaningful work elsewhere.
Read the entire Brooks column. He explains why he thinks we’re neither at a Bonhoeffer nor a Benedict moment, but rather at a Gerald Ford moment, awaiting a figure who can restore confidence and effective government to a system shaken to the core by crisis.
But first, the crisis. After these first three weeks, that crisis is not going to be long in coming.
UPDATE: By the way, The Benedict Optioncontains an entire chapter prescribing “antipolitical politics”.
UPDATE.2: I’m curious to know if any of this blog’s readers who work in or around Washington in a political capacity (including being part of the federal bureaucracy, working in a think tank, for a lobbying group, etc.) have been considering leaving for more settled pastures. If so, why?