Rod Dreher's The Benedict Option: A Review

“[T]he Benedict Option is a call to undertaking the long and patient work of reclaiming the real world from the artifice, alienation, and atomization of modern life. It is a way of seeing the world and of living in the world that undermines modernity’s big lie: that humans are nothing more than ghosts in a machine, and we are free to adjust the settings in any way we like.” Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation (236).

If you’re a Christian, don’t read this book unless you are truly willing to face the deep realities that Rod Dreher presents within its pages.

But if you are a Christian, you really should read this book.

It will move you to change your life.

And you will find it is not the same book some critics have described.

The Benedict Option is not a call for the faithful to cloister ourselves in a monastery or don white robes and sit on a mountaintop awaiting the Apocalypse.

Dreher calls us to a more focused faith walk, to “be the church, without compromise, no matter what it costs” (3, emphasis Dreher’s).

He calls us to a deeper prayer life. A life steeped in community with other faithful Christians. A life that looks very different from the lives many of us lead–pursuit of consumerism and busy-ness with splashes of church sprinkled between. Continue reading “Rod Dreher's The Benedict Option: A Review”

Do Christians really want to help?

A reader on niume.com responds to my recent post about Congress proposing a cut to the Meals on Wheels program:
“What will happen with medicaid? Are churches ready and able to serve the people who depend on this program as well? Half of all medicaid dollars go to help the elderly and disabled who need long-term care. If medicaid no longer is available to pay for these folks to stay in nursing homes, are churches and Christians going to step up to provide this care? If so, I suggest they start with the thousands upon thousands of disabled people who are waiting for medicaid waivers to become available in each state across our nation. In Kentucky alone, there are 7,000 people on the waiting list for the Michelle P. waiver, a medicaid waiver that serves individuals with developmental disabilities like autism. I keep hearing from the Christian community about these great opportunities for service, but in my mind I am thinking they don’t want to do it. If they did, they would already be doing it because unmet needs are tremendous.”
That critique is a bit stinging. Probably so stinging because it is so true.
We have gotten used to government having programs to fix problems. We forget that government fixing problems often makes them worse. We forget that government isn’t tasked with solving these problems–meeting these needs. We are.
Where to begin? First, we work to overcome the isolation that is so prevalent today. Continue reading “Do Christians really want to help?”

Fed Budget: A Window of Opportunity?

He who has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Rev. 3:6
There may be an open window of opportunity for Christians. But the window may not stay open for long.
President Trump’s proposed budget cuts funds to Meals on Wheels–a program that provides prepared, hot meals for the elderly or infirmed. A CBS News story reports that the program helps 2.4 million people.
The CBS story also says that Meals on Wheels received a surge of donations and volunteer inquiries when news of the proposed cuts hit the streets. Continue reading “Fed Budget: A Window of Opportunity?”

A Change of Seasons

“We say that flowers return every spring, but that is a lie. It is true that the world is renewed. It is also true that that renewal comes at a price, for even if the flower grows from an ancient vine, the flowers of spring are themselves new to the world, untried and untested.” Daniel Abraham, The Price of Spring
Every new season is different. And there are seasons within seasons. Early spring is more like winter. Late spring more like summer.
Each season of life is so. We grow up in a nest of sorts. We leave the nest. Perhaps we do not settle right away. Then we make a new nest. We welcome young ones to it. They leave.
A new season.
New flowers never before seen on earth.
Today is the first day of spring. A new season to find new plantings.
A new day to become new growth. Continue reading “A Change of Seasons”

Saint Patrick: Church Planter

I’ll be wearin’ the green today! My maiden name is Bulger–doesn’t get more Irish than that!
But today honors a saint. A man who planted the Gospel–planted churches–throughout Ireland.
Thomas Cahill calls him the first missionary.
If you’re wearin’ green today or not, enjoy the shamrocks. Patrick used them to explain the Trinity.
He spread the light of the Gospel.
Be the light. Continue reading “Saint Patrick: Church Planter”

Appalachia: Can the American Dream Return?

“Whatever talents I have, I almost squandered until a handful of loving people rescued me.” J.D. Vance
He has become the voice of an unheard America. A part of America that has lost the American Dream. The dream that, if you work hard, you can make a good life.
J.D. Vance grew up in Rust Belt, USA. His grandparents had migrated from Kentucky to Ohio–but never escaped their hillbilly roots–until Vance graduated from Yale Law School. Yet he doesn’t seek to disassociate himself from his forebears. He carries with him lessons they taught.
His journey to Yale is remarkable. But many of his peers remain in Appalachia living unremarkable lives. Their dreams are not remarkable. They have lost hope.
Many analysts blame the economic downturn for this lack of hope. But as with every sociological phenomenon, there are many factors.  Continue reading “Appalachia: Can the American Dream Return?”

Truth, Justice, and the Twilight Zone

“You walk into this room at your own risk–because it leads to the future. Not a future that will be, but one that might be. This is not a new world. It is simply an extension of what began in the old one. 

“It has patterned itself after every dictator who has ever planted the ripping imprint of a boot on the pages of history since the beginning of time. . . . It has one iron rule. Logic is an enemy and truth is a menace.” Rod Serling, The Obsolete Man

It’s one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes.

The story centers around a librarian (Burgess Meredith) named Wordsworth. Since books and religious faith have been outlawed, the librarian faces execution. He has become obsolete.

Before he dies, he finds a way to teach the world. He shows them that humans cannot violate each other without violating themselves.

He reads his illegal Bible. He asserts that there is a God. He has peace even in the face of death. The one who condemned him dies pleading and begging. It is the second man who has become obsolete. Continue reading “Truth, Justice, and the Twilight Zone”

Lent: A Season of Remembering

For you are dust, And to dust you shall return,” Genesis 3:19b.
Lent started on Wednesday. For many, even some Christians, it was just another day. But it begins a season I mark every year now.
As a child, I didn’t work very hard at Lent. I’d decide to give up potato chips until there were some potato chips around. Then I’d switch to something else, like chocolate. And then, to something else. I was like Huck Finn deciding what not to steal today. Continue reading “Lent: A Season of Remembering”