Sunday, May 07, 2017

Considering the Benedict Option

I'm still not sure about the wisdom of the approach. It's basically about whether engagement with the world or riding out the storm is the better approach. I need more digestion of these ideas, but I'm glad we're having the conversation.

This article from Crisis Magazine is a very good argument in favor of the Benedict Option. The term was inspired by the last line of this passage from Alasdair MacIntyre's "After Virtue":

“A crucial turning point in . . . history occurred when men
and women of good will turned aside from the task of shoring up the Roman imperium and ceased to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of that imperium. What they set themselves to achieve instead—often not recognizing fully what they were doing—was the construction of new forms of community within which the moral life could be sustained so that both morality and civility might survive the coming ages of barbarism and darkness. If my account of our moral condition is correct [one characterized by moral incoherence and unsettlable moral disputes in the modern world], we ought to conclude that for some time now we too have reached that turning point. What matters at this stage is the construction of local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral life can be sustained through the new dark ages which are already upon us. And if the tradition of the virtues was able to survive the horrors of the last dark ages, we are not entirely without grounds for hope. This time however the barbarians are not waiting beyond the frontiers; they have already been governing us for quite some time. And it is our lack of consciousness of this that constitutes part of our predicament. We are waiting not for a Godot, but for another—doubtless very different—St. Benedict.”