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The Guiding Light of St. Benedict

What does meaningful Christian community look like in today’s world, and how can we reclaim it? The so-called Benedict Option, proposed by Rod Dreher a few years back, tends to be viewed as a reactionary isolationism away from the modern world (which—turns out—is totally a misreading of the idea, but that’s another conversation), and so there’s a risk of missing what we might learn from the real Saint Benedict and what the in real life actually opted for. Now, the Notre Dame ethics professor Alasdair MacIntyre, who spelled out the inspiration for Dreher’s later idea of the Benedict Option, gives us some direction as to where to begin looking, but he assumes a great deal of knowledge on the part of his audience and is primarily focused on speaking in abstract philosophical terms about virtue ethics, so that unless you specialize in a very particular (*very* particular) area of academics, it’s hard to distill out what he’s aiming at and how to apply it.

So what do a 6th century Italian monk, an elderly philosopher at the University of Notre Dame, and an Orthodox blog editor from Louisiana (and if I may make so bold as to throw myself in with the mix: an anthropologist-writer recently come home to Europe) have to do with the 22nd century renaissance of Christian civilization? And what the heck does that have to do with what you do, right now, after reading this?

I propose that we should look to what St. Benedict of Nursia himself can tell us to shed some light on the present situation, which in many ways is quite similar to the predicament of Christian culture that he boldly faced in his own day. Now, the Rule of St. Benedict—especially in its received form, in its abysmally arcane translations into English—can be a bit overwhelming to try and make heads or tails of. Which is why, after decades of study, I undertook the painstaking task of rendering a better translation into modern English and conveniently organizing it by topic, and published this new edition along with practical commentary guiding the reader through Benedict’s wisdom in how we can apply these principles in our real lives. What resulted from these decades of study and translation research is a—what I hope to be extremely fruitful—guide to what Benedict himself proposed for the original Benedict Option (and how it can change the way we do things today, by reclaiming the BenOp for what it was originally meant to be).

So What’s This All About?

It is important to note right from the beginning that the Benedict Option... [continue reading here]

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