The New Yorker a few weeks back had an insightful profile of columnist and blogger Rod Dreher, a religious traditionalist who urges his fellow traditionalists to form their own communities of faith within but apart from the greater secular society.
— Joshua Rothman (@joshuarothman) April 24, 2017
In the main, however, Christians have sought to make America itself one big Christian community. Dreher thinks that this effort, most recently associated with the religious right, has been a disastrous mistake—it has led Christians to worship the idol of politics instead of strengthening their own faith.
“I believe that politics in the Benedict Option should be localist,” he said. The idea was not to enter a monastery, exactly. But Christians should consider living in tight-knit, faith-centered communities, in the manner of Modern Orthodox Jews. They should follow rules and take vows. They should admit that the culture wars had been lost—same-sex marriage was the law of the land—and focus on their own spiritual lives. They should strive to make Christian life meaningfully different from life under high-tech, secular capitalism; they should take inspiration from Catholic dissidents under Communism, such as the Czech activist Václav Benda, who advocated the creation of a “parallel polis”—a society within a society. They should pray more often. Start their own schools. Move near their church. St. Benedict, Dreher said, didn’t try to “make Rome great again.” He tended his own garden, finding a way to live that served as “a sign of contradiction” to the declining world around him.
The article continues:
The writer Andrew Sullivan, who is gay and Catholic, is one of Dreher’s good friends. … Sullivan has a long-standing disagreement with Dreher over same-sex marriage, but he believes that the religiously devout should be permitted their dissent.
“There is simply no way for an orthodox Catholic to embrace same-sex marriage,” he said. “The attempt to conflate that with homophobia is a sign of the unthinking nature of some liberal responses to religion. I really don’t think that florists who don’t want to contaminate themselves with a gay wedding should in any way be compelled to do so. I think any gay person that wants them to do that is being an asshole, to be honest—an intolerant asshole. Rod forces you to understand what real pluralism is: actually accepting people with completely different world views than your own.”
The profile’s writer, Joshua Rothman, notes that Dreher:
…argues that “the question is not really ‘What are you conservative Christians prepared to tolerate?’ but actually ‘What are LGBTs and progressive allies prepared to tolerate?’ ” He wants them to be magnanimous in victory; to refrain from pressing their advantage. Essentially, he says to progressives: You’ve won. You wouldn’t sue Orthodox Jews or observant Muslims. Please don’t sue us, either.