I’ll admit, as cynical as I am about politics, even I was a bit taken aback at this piece from Rod Dreher’s blog today (he has a lot of good things to say lately….) A bit from that…
My colleague Leah Libresco has been at CPAC, where she observed that the libertarians didn’t really want to have much to do with social conservatives…. Leah goes on to say that the panel left her feeling the truth of Ross Douthat’s observation that on gay marriage, social conservatives are now negotiating the terms of their surrender. I take her to mean that the CPAC panel made clear that the “surrender” is not simply over the resolution of gay marriage, but more broadly — even within the conservative movement.
Oye. Dreher goes on to give some sound advice – one bit is which to read his 2003 book, Crunchy Cons. And I noted with real interest how he ends his piece:
If I were a social or religious conservative who had money to donate, I would not give it to political causes. I would use it for strengthening our institutions as places of effective cultural resistance to the times we’re in, and the times that we’re entering. Make them function like the Benedictine monasteries of Western Europe did during the Dark Ages: as institutions and communities that bear and pass on our moral and spiritual vision in a time and place that does not share it, so that one day, far into the future, it will be there for rediscovery, and the rebuilding of society out of the ruins.
All of this put me in mind of a longer piece I wrote about seven years ago called “A child at peace in the presence of his father: a Lutheran monasticism?“ I will admit that to talk about Lutheran monasticism sounds like an oxymoron, but I invite you to check it out – am I on to something?
Here is a clip from that piece:
Bouncing between what seems to be the extreme of attaining material wealth and comfort (often smuggled in to definitions of “quality of life”) for all, and the other extreme of a spiritual liberty (spiritual power and comfort) that degrades the physical (particularly, the human body) men these days religiously strive for a “progress”, often operating in intellectual isolation from any possible consideration of any true progress that may be due to the Christian message (popularized in books like Alvin Schmidt’s “How Christianity Changed the World” or Vishal Mangalwadi’s “Truth and Transformation”). They do not seek to be found in a renewed creation in Christ, where they may more fully grow into a realization of what it means to be creatures made in God’s image. Instead, bolstered in part by the liberation the world has experienced because of the Christian Gospel, they fight against the ancient pagan notions of an unchanging natural order and fate in their own way. The worldly wiser among them do not reject notions of realism, for there is indeed “the world as it is”, even as there is also “the world as it should be”. Still, whether they atheistically embrace the material, seeing it as the only reality, or whether they seek liberation from the material in a more spiritual sense, they both see the need or imperative, now driven more so by new medicines and technologies, to liberate humanity from what it previously meant to be human. They will not “destroy the old man” in God’s way, through the Law and Gospel found in Christ, but rather via their own means, and to their own ends.
Further: all of this takes place as relationships are becoming increasingly atomized, self-focused. The Darwinian life that seems to be required of our persons in the ever-more demanding meritocracy which is our world lends itself to all manner of difficulties, leading to temptations to sin….
But the “private sector” (free market) is not the only one which has become increasingly oppressive. The same can be said for the public realm, the realm of those who govern. After all, families and churches, working hard where God has placed them, making a difference in “Good Samaritan” moments – especially remembering in Christ’s name the poor among them – being supported in their good deeds by a government set up to encourage such work, are not enough….
Here is how I end:
….The new monastics, especially, would be permitted to, in a very real sense, rest in their redemption in Christ. They would retreat from both storms external and internal into the shelter of His house. Like a baby as in a mother’s arms. Like the child playing at peace in the presence of his father. All striving for perfection, doing excellent work with the explicit goal of to promote Christ, sharing His Name upon “re-entrance” into the world, the “secular realm”, would necessarily spring from this truth. And since people, generally, do not know what their real needs are, perhaps this will shake them up enough to start catching a glimpse of just what it is they are lacking – forgiveness, life and salvation in Jesus Christ, the exact representation of God the Father.