ACF PoMoCon #10: The Benedict Option


Folks, here’s a podcast for the weekend–my conversation with Rod Dreher on traditional conservatism’s new moment. We talk about his books, about Christian communities facing the Pink Police State (hat tip to our friend James Poulos) and the need to retrieve pre-modern resources for communities of faith. We also talk about what Rod has learned from Christians surviving communism (hat tip to our friend @FlaggTaylor).


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  1. Jim Beck Inactive
    Jim Beck

    Evening Titus,

    Wonderful conversation,  listening to the pleasure you had in knowing mutual friends even though you were from different worlds was a treat in itself.  I think Rod could benefit from greater exposure to the Evangelical world.

    Your conversation brought to mind the part in Solzhenitsyn’s “The First Circle” where he is discussing with Lev the nature of happiness:  “But the meaning of life?  We live—-that’s the meaning.”  {the atheist French man [is that a redundancy? Joke] Rod met} “Happiness? When things are going very well, that’s happiness, everyone knows that.”  Here is the line that changed my life. “Thank God for prison!”

    Later linked to your conversation about material success I was again reminded of the part in “The First Circle” Solzhenitsyn says, “the books of the Sankhya say: “For those who understand, human happiness is suffering,’”

    Perhaps a few of Evangelical friends will recognize Paul Tripp.  He developed a life threatening condition and out of his experience, he wrote “Suffering”.  From it; “Suffering confronts us with how little in life we actually control….Suffering doesn’t make us weak; it simply exposes the weaknesses that have been there all along.  It exposes the delusion of our sovereignty and independent capability.” Paul reminds us that this is for our benefit because we forget as he notes. “It’s important to remember that we were never created for independent.”

    We in America have always hoped in a better tomorrow in part because of scientific or technological advancement. Cancer will get cured, this device will make life easier (we all want that easy life, which is a tough temptation).  I will have greater control over my life, it is my life after all, it is my body, I choose my own obligations or I choose not to be obligated.  Our freedom has tempted us to want a total freedom, freedom from judgement of course unless it is those kids from Covington Catholic (right across the Ohio from Cincinnati). It seems as if those in the universities claim a suffering, like an oppression at the hands of others to give their lives substance,  so in a sense they want a self created suffering, which of course is the opposite of the suffering we all face, illness, death, weakness, loss. The loss that I think plagues many of the younger folks is as you noted, they have not had the blessing of having an intact family.  Perhaps since so many have come from broken families, they don’t exactly know what they have missed, but it has left them vulnerable.

    Also Paul gives me a rebuke (well deserved) “First, it’s important that we humbly admit that it is easier to complain than to praise. It is easier to notice all that things that are wrong or missing in our life than to recognize and celebrate all the ways we have been and are being blessed.  Par of why we do this is sin”

    It would be super to have you and Rod and Flagg on a podcast.

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  2. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey

    Rod Dreher has long been one of my favorite American writers. I am so pleased that you recorded this podcast! He’s always a timely reminder that what we call, for the sake of simplicity, cultural conservatism is a very complex mix of affiliated feelings and ideas that are sometimes in necessary conflict. 


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  3. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera

    Gary, I would not have figured you for a fan of Rod! The stuff you learn–glad to hear it!

    Yeah, I’ve been pleased to learn both that his kind of American conservatism does very well in Europe & that it has a counter-cultural appeal to some minority of young people–this will be needed, I feel…

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  4. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey

    Thanks for the typically thoughtful response, Titus! Ingenious, inventive, compelling counter-cultural appeal is going to have to be your stock in trade, perhaps for another generation–if we are lucky; the challenge for fans of Techera, Dreher, and groups like the ACF is not only to turn around this tub of an ocean liner called dominant culture, but to do it at unprecedented speed. It is extremely likely that you are more than up to the task, personally and even, what the hell, generationally speaking. 

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