viernes, 5 de agosto de 2016

The Benedict Option, the Escriva Option and the Gregory Option.

Tolkien Alternatives to the “Benedict Option”


What’s happened to the world?

Even a quick glance at the newsfeeds will confirm it: times are dark, full of spiritual confusions and physical dangers. Sweeping judicial fiats have redefined the nature of human relationships with a speed, boldness, and radicalness that even Comrade O’Brien might find injudicious; educational revisionists now baldly proclaim their utilitarian goals to condition young people to be consumerist, economic agents instead of forming them into citizens of virtue and insight; terrorist madmen lie hidden throughout Western civilization, making hay on liberalism’s unwillingness even to question its pluralist shibboleths; an exceedingly brazen political class no longer even attempts to hide is malfeasance, but rather highlights it as a point of pride or a sign of cunning; “dogs and cats, living together, mass hysteria!”

As a description of reality, perhaps the above account contains a smattering of hyperbole. But as a description of an increasingly common perception of reality, the exaggeration is accurate and revealing. Certainly, something unsettling has risen to the surface of our national self-understanding, and with it has come a great deal of disorientation. Whatever categories common folks used before to gauge the goings-on of the world seem to have disintegrated. Old political fusions have fizzled out, and men and women of faith who, like their compatriots, relied on those fusions to make sense of their world are now vulnerable to the same disorientations that grip their non-religious counterparts. Our world is a mess, and whether stated explicitly or simply intuited, the most pressing, most common question now is the one Francis Shaeffer gave us: How should we then live?

Specific answers to that question are largely prudential and must be almost entirely local. But it is difficult for parents, students, pastors, voters, butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers even to consider their local responses without at least positing a working foundation for that response, without adopting some schema of analysis that might bring a modicum of stability to their hearts and minds, without acquiring some working, cultural lexicon that will service at least long enough to acclimate them to the underlying verity that many of us are just recently rediscovering: we are exiles, strangers in a strange land. How are we to make it in this, our exile?

To this end, there have been a number of suggested treatments for our cultural vertigo. Among the more well-known is what has been called the Benedict Option. Less discussed prescriptions include the Escriva Option and the Gregory Option. Each of these are meant to suggest some new starting place for self-understanding, some new filter or working worldview whereby people of faith can come to grips with their surroundings and get on with the business of living the faith. The hope is that, by looking to history and the examples of the saints, one might rediscover a practical grammar of life, and in each of these options there is much good to be considered.


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