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...]

A scholarly study of anti-Christian bigotry

Sociologist George Yancey has conducted a study of people who are bigoted against Christianity.  He has found that conservative Christians share at least one thing with atheists:  both are hated by large numbers of people.  (Half of the public hate atheists, but a third hate conservative Christians.)   Prof. Yancey has found that “Christianophobia” is similar to bigotry against racial and ethnic groups and is found  largely among affluent white people.

Prof. Yancey tells about his study after the jump, which includes a link to his book on the subject, So Many Christians, So Few Lions:  Is There Christianophobia in the United States? [Read more...]

How they hate us

We saw the movie The Kingsmen this weekend, a throwback to the over-the-top James Bond style “gentlemen spies.”  It was mostly entertaining, and lots of conservatives like it because the villain is a global warming fanatic who wants to exterminate the human race to save the planet.  But it included a scene in which the hero goes into a crowded church and just slaughters everybody, men and women alike, the bodies heaped up on the pews and in the chancel.

This was supposedly a “racist” church, though among its members’ crimes was being opposed to abortion. And the hero was supposedly sent on his rampage by the villain’s mind-control devise, and a couple of characters said how awful it was.  But the scene of church ladies getting shot in the face, the minister getting impaled, and crosses and a Bible used to kill people, was played as entertainment–not as shock–and there were just too many laughs in the movie theater.  It struck me just how much many people in the world hate Christians–just HATE us–and how what happens in the fantasy of the imagination may well happen some day in real life.

Responding to satire with satire

Anthony Sacramone, no mean satirist himself, shows how a religion that is being attacked by satire should respond:  with satire.  And he gives the example of one of the great apologists of the Early Church:   Tertullian. [Read more...]

Resenting Christian compassion

Ross Douthat has a rather brilliant essay in which he considers whether the church is facing a new pagan society, as in the first century.  He thinks not, but he notices that some of the hostility against Christianity is very similar to the resentment against the faith expressed by pagan Romans.  He cites a recent rant in Slate complaining that so many of the doctors battling Ebola are Christians and missionaries, and calling for a separation of religion and health care.  Douthat said  this is like Julian the Apostate’s frustration that “all men see that our people lack aid” from pagan sources, even as “the impious Galilaeans support not only their own poor but ours as well.” [Read more...]

“First it was your turn, and now it is our turn”

The Pope made an interesting comment to visiting Jewish leaders.  He compared the atrocities being committed against Christians in parts of the Middle East and the world’s overall silence on the subject to the way Jews were treated in the run-up to World War II.  The pope, who sees us in the beginning stages of a new world war, thinks Christians will increasingly be the new target.   “First it was your turn,” he said, “and now it is our turn.” [Read more...]


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