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Skyping With Ben Oppers

François Nolle, with the French edition of ‘The Benedict Option’

Since its publication last year, I’ve enjoyed seeing the ways you’ve applied The Benedict Option to your own lives and communities. I receive e-mails all the time from readers who are starting a classical Christian school, or bringing together several Christian families to live in closer geographical proximity (and therefore fellowship), or simply convening reading groups as a starting place for figuring out how to live out the Benedict Option within their own given circumstances.

I have been amazed and delighted by the creativity I’ve run into while on the road giving Ben Op talks. Above, see François Nolle, a young French husband and father of three, who is one of the founders of an “eco-hamlet” in La Bénisson-Dieu (The Blessing of God), a tiny village of 300 in rural France. The community members moved to the village in search of a more humane life, and are building ways of living (and housing) to reach out to those in need. They did not found this community after reading The Benedict Option (which didn’t appear in French translation until last September), but rather in response to Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato si. Nevertheless, I met François in France recently, and he said that everything about the way they are living in their new community is consistent with the Benedict Option. I agree!

I’m doing an e-mail interview with François now, to learn about his community’s story, and to pass on the things they’ve learned to you readers. We have to be creative minorities, you know.

People ask me all the time, “What should I do?” when I talk about the Benedict Option, and the truth is that I am not equipped to answer this question alone. While the book lays out principles for building thick Christian culture, there’s simply no one-size-fits-all practical application. I don’t have the breadth of experience and creativity to generate new tactics for everyone, but I have confidence that the Holy Spirit is at work in His people and will inspire communities with answers to their particular challenges.

Many of you are already having these conversations, and I hope to encourage you to have more of them by including a reader’s guide in the paperback edition forthcoming in early April. But what I really want is to find a way to connect your communities, to provide a forum where you can share your best ideas with other Christians, and to support the practical creativity of Christians on the ground. I’ve a few ideas of how to do this, but I’m beginning by chatting with as many Benedict Option communities as I can.

Write me with how you’re using The Benedict Option in your community, and I’d love to join you for a Skype conversation. Please email [email protected] with your name, contact info (phone/Skype) and a brief description of the Benedict Option conversations your community has been having, and we’ll sort through the responses and pick a few communities to chat with.

I look forward to hearing your plans.

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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