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OK, remind us: what is the Benedict Option?

It’s my name for an inchoate phenomenon in which Christians adopt a more consciously countercultural stance towards our post-Christian mainstream culture.


The only way to stand firm against the “barbarians” of our dominant culture is to form stronger, thicker communities based on a commitment to virtue.

What I propose is that we Christians should soberly, but with a sense of urgency, discuss and act to build these communities now, because the power of secular popular culture is dissolving Christianity. Christians, especially in the United States, have been able to live for a long time as if the mainstream culture reinforced what we believe to be true. This hasn’t actually been true for a very long time, but now, nobody can possibly believe that. The Benedict Option is a call for cultural resistance through building endurance and resilience within ourselves, our families, and our communities.


there is no formula! We are going to have to be experimental, because we have never faced a post-Christian culture. The first point is for Christians to wake up and face reality. There will be no “take back our country” moment, because we have lost, and lost decisively. We are rapidly de-Christianizing. True, we have a long way to go before we get to European rates of secularization and religious indifference, but the trajectory is the same. Rather than change the world, the world is changing the churches. The power of popular culture is overwhelming, and in ways that many Christians scarcely grasp


We cannot be what we Christians are called by God to be to the world without undertaking a renewal of our own inner lives. It would be like putting a potted sapling on the front porch in a hurricane, and expecting it to thrive. The Benedictines of the Cluny monastery ended up having a lot to do with the Christianization of Europe because they first built their monastery and nurtured the internal spiritual lives of its monks, and sent them out across Europe to spread the faith by establishing other monasteries. Had there been no monasteries, one wonders if the faith would have survived the storm and stress of the so-called “Dark Ages.”

In our time and place, it is clear that to keep doing what we’re doing, assuming that we can go along to get along, is going to result in the steady erosion of Christianity, especially small-o orthodox Christianity. Look at Europe. We have to try something different, something more radical.


The Benedict Option is not possible. The government will not leave traditional Christians alone. You’re living in a dream world if you think you can get away with this. 

This is a common misunderstanding of the Benedict Option. I do not claim that we should embrace political quietism. We must keep fighting, if only for our right to be left alone.

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