Finding a Community for Ourselves and Our Children
What are we Christians to do? There are a hundred voices, who don’t believe in God, calling to us and our children every day – in education, in science, in entertainment, in the media, etc, etc.
Rod Dreher has a plan for us. In The Benedict Option, A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation, he looks back to a time in the 6th century after Rome had fallen to barbarians and the city was in ruins. Saint Benedict, shocked and disgusted by the vice and corruption of the city left his privileged position behind, and started monasteries which helped keep Christianity alive.
In a similar way today, Christians need to put their focus, not on politics and materialism, but on building Christian principles in their own lives, their families and their own small communities.
Recognizing the failures of politics and those in high positions to stem the tide of anti-Christian thought, we turn our focus toward building little communities of light, toward which those in distress can turn to find hope in a nihilist society.
If we hope to save ourselves and our children from this Godless society, we need to form tight communities, centered around our Christian beliefs. These tight communities could be a church (orthodox with a small o – theologically traditional Protestants, Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox) and/or the tight community of a Christian school. Don’t just go to church on Sunday. Attend all the services of your church, and become involved spiritually and in community.
Dreher tells us we need to guard against two evils of our time – sexuality and technology.
Sex is a divine gift if cherished properly (within marriage), but if used in a disordered way can be one of the most destructive forces on earth. Dreher says there is no core teaching of the Christian faith that is less popular today, and perhaps none more important to obey.
Dreher also tells us to be aware of the harmfulness of technology. He tells us that online technology by its very nature “fragments and scatters our attention like nothing else, radically compromising our ability to make sense of the world, physiologically rewiring our brains and rendering us increasingly helpless against our impulses.” The internet has rewired our brain in a way that makes it increasingly difficult to pay attention, to focus and to think deeply.
Using the Web makes it much easier to find information but much harder to devote the kind of sustained focus it takes to know things. Dreher recommends taking on Digital Fasting as an ascetic practice. Having Sunday as an electronic fast is one possibility; another is certain hours of the day could be electronic free.
We need to pursue a goal that is greater than ourselves. What better goal than that suggested by “The Benedict Option”–building yourself, your family, and your small community in a Christ-like manner, and in so doing lighting a lamp for others to follow.
Dreher explains, “(We)…go on, walking the pilgrim path in the way of Benedict, out of the ruined imperial city, to a place of peace where we can be still and learn to hear the voice of our Master. We find others like us and build communities, schools for the service of the Lord. We do this not to save the world but for no other reason than we love Him and know that we need a community and an ordered way of life to serve Him fully.”