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The Compassionate BenOp Conservative?

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Julie and I spent an enjoyable afternoon and evening with WORLD magazine editor-in-chief Marvin Olasky and his wife Susan. They came by on the road back to Texas from North Carolina. They wanted to talk about the Benedict Option. It’s hard to express how grateful I am for their critical interest in the idea. Most of our conversation centered around the idea of withdrawal, and I once again learned that when Evangelicals hear me talk about these things, it sounds to them like an abandonment of the Great Commission, and of serving those in need.

It’s not what I mean at all, but the fact that so many Evangelicals of good will hear this makes me realize how much work I have to do. It was especially meaningful to me to hear critical thoughts and questions from Marvin and Susan both; Marvin has thought and written a great deal about the role Christians can and must play helping those in need, and I needed to hear his and Susan’s questions and concerns. As Alan Cross, my friend and a Southern Baptist pastor, said in a comment on an earlier post, I’m speaking from a Catholic/Orthodox set of assumptions, but Evangelicals hear it with their own assumptions, which inadvertently distorts the meaning I intend. It’s helping me a lot to talk to thoughtful Evangelicals about these ideas, to clear up misconceptions, to sharpen my own thinking, and to help me find the language to articulate my meaning clearly.

Marvin and Susan went to vespers with us. We came home to a delicious dinner of crawfish pie (made with shrimp; crawfish are out of season) and chicken and sausage jambalaya, all made by Julie. After dinner, Marvin and I made mint juleps, which he had never tried. He wielded the Hammer of the Heretics against the ice (see below), smashing it to a fine powder suitable for julep-making. Add some muddled mint, simple syrup, and Maker’s Mark, and you’re in business.

I’m liking the way so many people are coming together to brainstorm around the Benedict Option — especially if, at the end of the brainstorming, there’s a little bit of brain-fogging with Cud’n Walker Percy’s eyewash eye medicine. Thanks to the Olaskys for a very enjoyable and thought-provoking day.

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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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