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Young Man At A Crossroads


A reader writes:

I write to you asking for a bit of advice, not just for myself, but for the many young professionals attempting to discern which graduate school programs to attend (if any), and which vocations will allow for both a virtuous life and a sufficient salary.

A key argument of your writing references the ideas of agrarianism and distributism, advocated by Wendell Berry and J.R.R. Tolkien, respectively. In your opinion, should young professionals shift their studies to these more practical matters, such as sustainable farming and the economics of cooperatives, abandoning the expensive and compromised masters programs of major universities?

As an intelligence professional, I worry that another degree spent rehashing the same tired arguments about international relations lacks relevance in this era of cultural disruption. Alternatively, by mastering the field of Middle East language and culture, could I provide a service to whichever Catholic community my wife and I find as a teacher? Should everyone aspiring to bring the Benedict Option into our lay culture become a farmer, teacher, or small business owner? Has government service become too hostile to our way of life to maintain virtue? Is migrating to the Washington DC bubble only perpetuating the loss of rural culture and values?

This young man asks serious questions about vocation. With his permission, I’m asking you all for your answers. Serious responses only, please.

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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