viernes, 3 de marzo de 2017

A lot of people are talking about rural life these days



Some tend to treat a move to the country as if it is a move to something wildly different from “normal” life. As someone who lives in the country, I have an opinion there, but first – a lot of people are talking about rural life these days, so where did all this talk come from?

A lot of the conversations seem to stem from Rod Dreher’s idea that Christians take a “Benedict Option”, which as I understand it seems like the simple proposal that we continue to engage the world for Christ, yet ensure that we have enough space, especially for our families, that allows for a Christian culture to really exist and grow, instead of living in constant reaction to the increasingly hostile world around us. Or something like that.

The whole idea seems to have struck a nerve since so many people have weighed in on it. And despite the fact that Mr. Dreher has repeatedly insisted it is not a retreat from the world, people cannot help but think it means (a) retreat in defeat and (b) you should probably retreat to the countryside and be a farmer. He has a book coming out on it soon – perhaps the critics will read it?


Dreher was responding to hostile and ugly secularism, and blogging Christians have responded to the response, offering alternative “options” to help persuade all those poor saps that are running to the hills and “hunkering down” in the Benedict Option. I’ve heard of the Francis option, the Jeremiah option, and the St. Josemaria option. All of them basically saying don’t retreat – engage! Perhaps the authors hope their “option” will get as much play as Mr. Deher’s, but all of them, Benedict Option included, are simply Christians doing the necessary discernment of “how much am I in the world but not of it?”

I’d point out that the reason the “Benedict Option” resonates more than others is because of the fact of Benedictine renewal. It was the Benedictines that had so much to do with preserving civilization and renewing culture in the midst of darkness after the collapse of the Roman Empire and the birth of Christendom. It’s a historical reality recognized and written about by, among others, Alasdair MacIntyre (where Dreher got the idea), Christopher Dawson, Bl. John Henry Newman, G.K. Chesterton, Dorothy Day (an oblate) and her coreligionist Peter Maurin, John Senior (an oblate), and not to mention Pope Benedict XVI, who I think is pretty clear-sighted on problems and solutions.


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