The Benedict Option

The outrage from big business (even Walmart!), the media, and the culture at large over Indiana’s Religious Freedom bill has many Christians thinking that America is a lost cause.  The dominant culture is so fixated on gay marriage and sexual permissiveness that it will not tolerate dissenters.  Even religious liberty, in the court of public opinion and likely legal opinion, will have to give way, and conservative believers will increasingly be demonized and punished.

Whether we are actually at that point or not, a number of thinkers–mostly of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox persuasion–are raising the possibility of what they call  The Benedict Option.

After Rome fell to moral chaos and then to the barbarians, St. Benedict formed distinct Christian communities where believers could practice their faith separated from the world.  Similarly, mainstream American culture may become so hostile to Christianity, so the reasoning goes, that Christians must form alternative communities, carrying on an alternative culture, until, as with Benedict, the barbarians are converted.

Rick Strickert posted some powerful quotations on this subject on Lutheran Forum, which I give after the jump.  And then I want to pose a question:  Can there be a Lutheran version of the Benedict Option, and, if so, how would it be different from the Roman Catholic and Fundamentalist versions? [Read more…]

Politics in the biggest “hinge moment” since the industrial revolution?

Political thinkers are pondering recent claims that we are in the midst of an epic  transition that will rival the industrial revolution, wondering what difference these changes will make politically.  The projections deal with technology but also demographics, as whites will soon become an aged minority in the United States.

So far the political implications being heralded are that the midwest will fade in political clout in favor of growing ethnically-diverse states.  And that Republicans need to reach out to immigrants.  But if we are going through a change bigger than the industrial revolution, there is surely more to it than that!

After the jump, an excerpt and a link to a much-talked about article in Politico, followed by an excerpt and a link to Peter Wehner’s discussion of what this needs to mean for Republicans.  But then I will weigh in on what these political analyses are missing. [Read more…]

Social Capital and the Opportunity Gap

More on Robert Putnam and his book Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, on the class gap in raising children.  The Chronicle of Higher Education tells about how Putnam came upon his thesis and conducted his research.  The article also tells about the neo-traditional “Ozzie and Harriet” families that have come back in middle class families, even as working class families are often abandoning marriage altogether.  It also talks about the religious gap, with middle class families taking their kids to church, while working class families are abandoning churchgoing altogether.  (We’ll be talking further about this last point.) [Read more…]

Americans who want everything

A major opinion poll has found that Americans want BOTH more government spending AND lower taxes.  Also legalized marijuana.  When it comes to religion, the poll shows the vast majority of Americans believe in God, with only 3% being atheists; and yet 21% say they have no religion.

How can people who want EVERYTHING, including what is contradictory, govern themselves? [Read more…]

Diversity and Empire

Which is better?  A society characterized by cultural diversity?  Or a society in which its many different kinds of people are assimilated into a single nation characterized by cultural unity?  Today, the former view dominates, but the goal through most of history throughout the world has been the latter.  More to the point, cultural diversity has always been the characteristic of an empire.  Republics have always been built around national unity.  The Claremont Review of Books discusses a new book on diversity, William H. Frey’s  Diversity Explosion: How New Racial Demographics are Remaking America, delving into these topics and other provocative questions:  such as, how will affirmative action laws work when white people become the minority? [Read more…]

The case for a North American century

Many have been saying that  America is in decline, that our political, cultural, and economic contributions are slipping. China, some say, is the up-and-coming nation.  Others say that the age of the dominant world power is over.

But an op-ed piece by former General David Petraeus and Brookings Institute researcher Michael O’Hanlon say that the United States, in partnership with Canada and Mexico, has economic and demographic advantages over all comers that may make for a “North American Century.” [Read more…]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X