Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Long Con Of Rod Dreher

The percentage of Christians in the US has dropped 7.8%, from 78.4% to 70.6% and Rod Dreher cries Apocalypse Now!

Look at those numbers. We are staring at the face of a European-style collapse within a couple of generations. If you think the children being born now to religiously observant Millennial parents are, on the whole, going to be more pious than their parents’ generation, you are whistling past the graveyard. Once this decline gets going, it’s very hard to stop. 
Again and again: these are not normal times. We can’t be about business as usual. The future of Christianity in America will be Benedictine — as in Benedict Option — or it won’t be at all.
Moore and Stetzer are mostly right. This is a winnowing-out of nominal Christians, and it could make the church stronger. The down side of this is that a post-Christian culture can and will slide into an anti-Christian culture, one that will not content itself to let us be weirdoes off by ourselves, but will actively attempt to suppress us. I am certain this will happen. It may be good for us, ultimately, but I cannot say that I’m looking forward to watching institutions be torn apart.
The number of people who were unaffiliated with religion rose 6.7%. Fascism is bound to follow.
Not long ago, a senior figure engaged in legal strategy on religious freedom issues told me that we cannot disengage from court fights and politics, because we have no choice but to keep fighting to protect ourselves. But we should not be under any illusions about the prospect of any kind of solid or lasting victory, nor should we deceive ourselves by thinking that winning lawsuits and elections is any kind of alternative to doing the hard, long, necessary work of building a strong, resilient Christian culture.
We must live a Christian life while persecuting gays. It's not all fun and games, you know.
I have called the showdown in Indiana over RFRA an “apocalypse,” not in the “end of the world” sense, but in the original Greek sense of an “unveiling.” The reason it was so shocking to many religious conservatives is because it showed us how things really are in this country — specifically, that religious liberty is far more imperiled than we previously believed. It’s not so much that people weighed religious liberty against gay rights claims and found them wanting; it’s that people didn’t seem to weigh them at all. It was naturally assumed, and assumed with great moral indignation, that of course religious people are entitled to no consideration in the face of anti-discrimination claims. Patrick Deneen can read the signs of the times, and sees that neither Republicans nor Democrats can be counted on to value the principle religious liberty when it opposes what the mob, including the mob in the boardroom, wants[.]
Christianity is going to cost us something in the near future, and for the foreseeable future. This can be the seed of a greater faith, and I hope it is. But I also hope that Christians don’t underestimate the difficulty of the road ahead. As I keep saying, these are not normal times, and things we have always been able to take for granted are going to erode badly, even disappear. Prepare.
How is Rod Dreher preparing for the coming annihilation of the Christians? He is retreating to his happy place, the Benedict Option. This Benedict Option is a little vague, it seems to entail a kind of retreat into a strong religious community. Surely that would make the pogroms easier to carry out but Rod was not clear.

Finally Dreher described what he meant by finding a more Godly way to wait out existence until he is carried off by the wings of an angel.
Our friends arrived tonight after eight hours on the road, and we served dinner, had beer and wine, then retired to the living room for coffee, tea, and long conversation about life, about church, about books, about God. This is part of the Benedict Option for us. Of course you don’t have to be any sort of lay Benedictine to be hospitable; all good people are hospitable. My point is simply that this kind of hospitality is not something we do in spite of our Christianity; it’s something we do because of the kind of Christians we are. I am basically a Byzantine hobbit who lives by a Christianity that both fasts and feasts, and that sings psalms, and says the knots on a prayer rope, and lights candles, and makes prostrations during Lent, and on and on.  
It’s a life that is vivid and joyful, with the sacramental worship of Jesus Christ at its center. Not as an add-on, but at its center. That’s what I mean too by the Benedict Option.

The Benedict Option has a predecessor, the Crunchy Con movement. You might notice a pattern in Dreher's description of the Crunchy lifestyle.

When Matthew came along, we didn't often have the opportunity or the money to go to restaurants, so we spent many a weekend night cooking dinners for friends at home. Out of sheer curiosity and the pleasure of discovery, we learned about cheese and wine, and began spending some of the happiest evenings of our lives in the basement living room of our little apartment on the Brooklyn waterfront, laughing and talking politics, religion, books, movies, travel, and everything under the sun amid steaming platters of garlicky roasts, tureens of peppery remoulade, crisp-crusted frittatas, tangy giambottas, napoleons of beefsteak tomatoes and basil from our own patio garden, and bottle after bottle of robust Italian and Spanish wine. For us, family, friends, and feasting was pretty much what the good life was all about. The food we prepared with such enjoyment and care was, at bottom, an expression of love for our companions, and our long suppers an occasion for communion.
Rod, a true Louisiana son, loves his food and alcohol, don't you cher?

But let's go further back.

 By that time I was between my freshman and sophomore semesters at LSU in Baton Rouge, and was home working a summer gig at the nuclear plant. There was no place I wanted to be less than stuck in Starhill. So I checked out. I'd come home from my nine-to-five job, make myself a tall glass of Tanqueray gin, grapefruit juice, and soda, and retire to my room to drink, read Hemingway, listen to ska, and marinate in self-doubt. To the rest of my family I looked like a self-centered, uppity layabout. There was no doubt some truth to that, but it was also the case that I was confused and drifting. 

And further still.

Fishing was our family's thing, and Paw's pond was our family's place. Though I was no fan of the outdoors, I would be lying if I said I didn't enjoy it.

But I would also be lying if I said I wouldn't rather have been in city, at the movies, or better ye, at a bookstore. I loved science fiction, and novels, and books about space, and comics from Richie Rich to Archie to the Green Lantern. And best of all, there was Mad magazine, with its smarty-pants humor, and its snappy Yiddishisms. Nobody around here talked like that. I wanted to be where people talked like that.

In college, he finally was.
One evening [his sister Ruth] shared a table in the cafeteria with my best friend Paul and me. Paul, a political theory major, and I, minoring in philosophy and political science, loved to talk about big ideas. That evening we got off on something about Nietzsche and the death of God. Ruthie listened patiently, but finally lost her cool. She told us she thought that we the "stupidest bunch of you-know-what" that she had ever heard....  
She wouldn't listen to anything either of us had to say in defense of philosophy or philosophizing. At the time I thought Ruthie's prickly anti-intellectualism was funny.
Rod Dreher wants nothing more in this life than to be able to afford a comfortable upper middle class lifestyle doing what he does best: pseudo-intellectual moralizing and gay-bashing. It doesn't matter what he actually says; anything that will sell a book will do. He sold the Catholic Church and then he sold liberal conservatism and when that quickly exhausted he sold the Benedict Option. He'll keep on making up new philosophies and contemplating his navel at enormous length as long as there is a buck to be made or a gay to bash.

And if he has to whip up an Apocalypse to get his luxury and ease that's a small price for someone else to pay so he can live like a Southern Gentleman.


Downpuppy said...

You know who could easily turn the trend around?


Rod does not appear to believe in GOD.

Susan of Texas said...

God's kind of beside the point. So is helping the poor, visiting the sick, and anything else that entails physical or monetary effort.

Mr. Wonderful said...

Rod's a spiritual masochist. He wants to be persecuted and oppressed for his religion. Maybe it's the only way he feels alive--by suffering, or at least by predicting suffering. Or maybe it's the only way he can be sure he's got the right religion (finally). If the fallen, sinful world doesn't hate you, how right can you really be?

Susan of Texas said...

It is our Christian duty to make him suffer.

Kathy said...

"We are staring at the face of a European-style collapse within a couple of generations."

They don't care if the oceans are hundreds of feet higher in a couple of generations, that there is world-wide drought and famine in a couple of generations, that the oceans and many population centers will be irradiated by nuclear power plants failing in a couple of generations.... but fewer Xtians?

"A - POC - A - LYPSE!

DocAmazing said...


I'll take a double!

Peter said...

This is uncanny. They're saying the same things here:

Smut Clyde said...

a post-Christian culture can and will slide into an anti-Christian culture, one that will not content itself to let us be weirdoes off by ourselves, but will actively attempt to suppress us. I am certain this will happen.

It's what he would do, after all!

You'd think Dreher would notice the contradiction between his dire prophecy and his statement only a few sentences earlier that there will be "a European-style collapse", i.e. one lacking in persecution... but this is Dreher, after all.

Susan of Texas said...

Peter, it's no surprise that someone would be able to see through Dreher. Even his commenters often do.

Dreher is a study in contradictions. He can't help himself. In his book on his sister he says that he used to stay out late drinking beer and philosophizing, didn't study, and still aced tests. He made sure to point out that his sister must have felt some of the frustration and envy he felt as a kid when she constantly outshone him. Yet in the paragraph before that he also says that Ruth worked hard and got very good grades while his grades were lackluster.

Dreher is one of the most blatant cases of denial in action that I've seen.

Duncan Mitchel said...

Why is Dreher unhappy? The dwindling numbers of Christians, the "persecutions" of the faithful, and everything else he complains about are signs of the End. Things are supposed to get worse, not better, before the Second Coming. Jesus himself said that only a few would be saved, while most would find perdition. So as long as Dreher is sure that he's one of the happy few, he should be praying, as did the early Church, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus! Amen."

Smut Clyde said...

I have called the showdown in Indiana over RFRA an “apocalypse,” not in the “end of the world” sense, but in the original Greek sense of an “unveiling.”

Then just call it an "unveiling", you histrionic synecdouche.

Susan of Texas said...

Heaven doesn't have oysters.

Dreher should just sell reliquaries and save himself all that writing.

tony in san diego said...

Geez, he acts like he is the only guy that likes to have dinner parties with friends and talk about deep things.
ALERT: Rod, most of us do, too!

cynic said...

Oh, no. Dreher's deep thoughts are better than your deep thoughts. So, STFU.

Tommykey said...

A Byzantine hobbit? What the hell is that?

Kathy said...

Me & my friends used to philosophize over the nature of reality, solve the world's problems, drink coke with something alcoholic added to it ("Id like to buy the World a Coke!") AND play Hearts at the same time! Sometimes we made popcorn. Rod is a piker.

Pauli said...

This is a wonderful post. It's refreshing to see people who love Truth and despise nonsense as much as we do.