Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Response to Alan Jacobs on the Benedict Option

Matthew Loftus writes a good article, mostly stuff we've already said here. Excerpts:

[T]he potential for good-hearted Christians to go to war with one another about anything seems to be elided in most BenOp discussions. Every Christian community I have ever participated in has seen heated debates about theological or practical issues drive friendships apart; the more intense communities seemed to be the ones with the greatest potential for enmity. There is no amount of liturgy or localism that will address this fundamental defect in the human heart that is one of Satan’s greatest strategies against ministries all over the world. I cannot say for certain that it is any worse in modernity, but the discipline of Christian love for one another deserves more serious consideration as we talk about how to form more intense Christian communities. How would parachurch organizations, nonprofits, and churches work together in a BenOp vision, and how would the BenOp schema alter the tendency towards petty infighting that often besets attempts at such cooperation?

That bit reminded me of this. Here's another:

After all, another theme that dominates Dreher’s writing is the cultural morass which various communities in the West seem to have found themselves; presumably many BenOp communities would find themselves in proximity to the people drowning in the waste products of promiscuity, drug abuse, and self-centeredness that cultural elites have flushed downstream. It seems obvious to me that for every BenOp community nestled into an isolated riverbend, there should be two in a trailer park or neglected inner-city neighborhood. Yet I still get the sense that the BenOp is trying to protect us from lost people as much as it is trying to be a light to them. The Bible clearly teaches both, but it always speaks as if the lost– powerful cultural elites and powerless victims of sins– are a present fixture in our lives to bring the Holy Spirit to bear upon. I suspect that the healthy fear that animates much of the BenO might lead us to hide our light under a bushel unless we clearly plan ahead to do otherwise.

Rod Dreher Orlando Confidential

Rod Dreher
What Rod Dreher thinks may have killed 49 in Orlando

Rod Dreher writes:

1. He was likely a closet case.

2. He was probably mentally ill. 

3. He was filled with rage at everybody. 

Before I go any further I need to stress for readers who may be confused that this is not a confession. Rod is not talking about himself, but rather about Omar Mateen, the self-professed ISIS martyr who killed 49 in an Orlando gay club and wounded at least as many more.

Rod takes pains to elaborate under 1.

What kind of devout Muslim goes drinking booze at a gay bar? You’re going to blame Islam for this guy? Really?

Um...well, yeah, Rod...really.

The guy whom the FBI investigated twice previously for Islamic terrorism. Yeah, really.

The guy who shouted "Allah hu Akbar" as he methodically shot gays - who are routinely murdered in Islamic nations when not formally sentenced to death by their various governments - yeah, really.

The guy who calmly pledged allegiance to ISIS on 911. Yeah, really.

Commenter Fran Macadam points out:

He’s not the first Islamist terrorist to enjoy a libertine Florida lifestyle; so did the 9/11 perpetrators.

Yeah, really, really, really.

But Rod has a big problem that desperately needs a solution. His blog boasts more than a few Muslim and gay readers, and so he needs a narrative solution to Orlando that won't dare alienate even one of them, because they might also purchase his upcoming Benedict Option book, if only out of fondness for his blog or curiosity.

So Rod needs an Orlando narrative that pops into our universe, does its dirty work, and then vanishes back into the mysterious alternate universe from whence it came - sort of like the Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man in Ghostbusters.

What can pull off this neat trick of producing a mysterious one-off, other-dimensional, self-extinguishing injection of mass murder into our universe?

Why, a unique, mentally ill, self-loathing homosexual.

Rod's Muslim commenter Jones? Not implicated. Rod's mentally "healthy", butt-humping gay commentariat at large? Not implicated.

Just Sta-Pufty Omar Mateen, random, idiosyncratic, incomprehensible hate-bot.

"Dangerous faggot" Milo Yiannopoulos, an actual conservative not needing to desperately suck up to every possible Muslim, liberal, or even gay reader, sees things a bit differently
Milo will be expanding on this epiphany today at 6:00 PM EST at the University of Central Florida, Orlando.

Rod's newly discovered existential innocence obviously has implications for his Benedict Option - or does it?

Come to think of it, Rod's Benedict Option has always explicitly declared it was never about resistance to, well, anything other than those particular elements of contemporary culture each BOpper decides for themselves they find aesthetically unattractive.

Instead, it has always instead used the vague term "thickening", which cynical readers can't be blamed for believing probably refers to over-consuming the delicious goodies featured in Rod's regular food porn posts.

So...eat, drink, and thicken, pretending you're invisible to everyone else, and hope that Sta-Pufty doesn't suddenly burst into your universe inexplicably shouting "Allah hu Akbar" while pumping slugs into your little girls head.

UPDATE (as they say):  Beyond Rod's immediate publishing interests, what other factors might be contributing to the fantasy balloon commenter Fran Macadam so neatly popped?

Hmmm...what does Wick Allison, the guy who ultimately pays for Rod's health care and other family benefits think about this?

Well, he thinks, through his FrontBurner blog puppets, this:

Dan Patrick Biblical Tweet, conceivably but not at all necessarily pointing to Orlando - bad.

Lovely gay marriage celebration as Dan Patrick-cleansing mouthwash - good.

So good, in fact, that new D Magazine Executive Editor Kathy Wise comments

 Beautiful. Thanks Peter! Reminds me of my wife's wedding proposal. Minus the blindfold. And the dancers. And the ribbon wavers. And the choir robes. #loveisloveisloveisloveislove

So, if Rod wants to keep his kids in braces, he'd better understand how the cow eats the cabbage: the people who buy the fabulous, high end stuff Wick Allison depends on to keep his magazine afloat have the tastes and disposable income concentrated in gay communities, so Orlando must implicitly become an act of "homophobic terrorism", not something divisive and distracting like Islamic terrorism.

And besides, Sta-Pufty can't be killed by a Sig Sauer MCX, not even by "a Glock with a lot of clips in it".

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Alan Jacobs explains why the Benedict Option is authoritarian

Benedict Option

There's only so much room on the Benedict Option Ark. Know nothings, ye of bad faith, and unscrupulous vendors of content-free grumbles need not apply for safe passage through the unsavory waters of our disgusting common humanity (and - shhh!!! - it probably helps if you're white.)

In his most recent post, Benedict Option apologist Alan Jacobs explains how dissent from and disagreement with Rod Dreher's Benedict Option - though fully embraced as a response by the white suprememacist Alt-Right - will be tolerated: why, not at all.

Mr. Jacobs hurls questions at potential dissenters, but lacks the courage to entertain answers. His blog doesn't accept comments, not even the finely sifted residue of sycophantic assent Rod Dreher himself publishes. His questions, then, not intended to be answered, become purely rhetorical.

Alan, if you want people to believe you still identify with the genitals you were born with, don't pick fights with people by hiding in your house and taunting them through the mail slot like a little bitch. (Or - could I have missed something this sublime? - the Benedict Option as demonstrated by Jacobs is simply this: hiding alone, muttering to oneself.)

But what if someone does attempt to answer in another forum, as Greg Forster, target of Jacob's irritation did here?

As with Rod Dreher's characterization of dissenter Shaun Kenney as a "know nothing", Jacobs in turn tags Forster as a "Humpty Dumpty", finding reflexive comfort in dismissing his response as a "content-free grumble".

In psychology, this is recognized as a "double-bind", made famous in Joseph Heller's Catch-22.

First, it's very difficult to respond to the Benedict Option directly. Rod Dreher scrupulously prunes his own comment section of any but the most fawning agreement or softball criticism and, as noted, Jacobs flees from responses entirely.

 If one does answer affirmatively, whatever one says, even the Alt-Right, supports the Benedict Option, because there's nothing that the Benedict Option's is not; the Benedict Option's only content is the Benedict Option affirming the Benedict Option, whatever the Benedict Option happens to be at any given random moment. There's no way to actually do the Benedict Option wrongly, but if one should ever happen to disagree or dissent, one becomes, by definition, a "know nothing" offering "content-free grumbles" in "bad faith".

So why not agree and assent? If you agree and assent, you'll always be right, no matter what you do; if you disagree and dissent, you'll always be a "know nothing" offering "content-free grumbles" in "bad faith".

In this way Rod Dreher's Benedict Option becomes self-evidently revealed truth, needing no conceptual underpinnings, arguments, or architecture. One either "gets" the Benedict Option osmotically, or one is self-evidently a "know nothing" offering "content-free grumbles" in "bad faith".

What could be more tautologically pure, its own tail-in-mouth Alpha and Omega?

The newest front by apostles of the Benedict Option traffics in amazement at the "hostility" to the Benedict Option. This sort of passive-aggressive victimology script - "If you don't agree with me, you hate me, you HATE me!" - is straight out of the contemporary disagreement-as-mental-illness political correctness playbook: if you disagree with President Obama, you are, ipso facto, a racist. The BenOp Way above doesn't point left by accident.

Jacobs' and Dreher's Benedict Option in three words: Christian political correctness.

So this is what we can expect Benedict Option Communities to be:

- monasteries,  like the one in Nursia, Italy. Well, actually, no; that predated the Benedict Option. Rod Dreher just superimposed his brand on it

- monastery-centered communities like that around Clear Creek Abbey in northeastern Oklahoma. Well, actually, no, again. Like the monks in Nursia, that also predated the Benedict Option and will no doubt persist even after Rod's book is mothballed in the remaindering house. Besides, as Rod has said, Alasdair MacIntyre was just a springboard for Dreher's own unique, proprietary formulations, monastic or not monastic, white supremacist or not white supremacist, .38, .39, whatever it takes.

- African-American...um...hard to imagine 21st Century African-Americans voluntarily yoking themselves anew to the new sort of Caucasian-led authoritarianism Jacobs and Dreher tacitly espouse. Besides, many of them have to work for a living.

- Latinos. Much like African-Americans, one might imagine. Streaming north from the southern continent in search of opportunity, a better life - all in order to finally be told by gabachos named Dreher and Jacobs to reject the poisonous culture they crossed the Rio Grande and the Sonoran desert to find a place within. Not quite feeling that one.

So who's left?

Maybe a few white boys like this guy

Benedict Option
A true believing BOpper

establishing their own special Greg Marmalard-brand Christianity table in the cafeteria, where they can put ordinary Christians and anyone else they decide to look down upon on double secret Benedict Option probation.

How is all this silliness really likely to end? Yep:

Benedict Option
Alas, an ordinary Christian

'Cept the Alt-Right BenOppers will probably bring guns.