June 29th 2019

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY John Setka, for all his faults, is the perfect scapegoat

FIGHTING FUND NCC president Patrick J. Byrne outlines the goals for 2019

SPECIAL FEATURE Author Rod Dreher brings St Benedict to bear on our decline and fall

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS One million protest China's attack on Hong Kong's freedom

GENDER POLITICS Vatican issues document on gender ideology

POLITICS AND SOCIETY New secularist strategies to bury Christianity

HISTORY OF SCIENCE Faith and reason and Father Stanley Jaki, Part 4: Ancient Jewish view of the cosmos

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Cardinal Pell's appeal: An account from the live streaming

BANKING FEATURE Greed works ... at least for a while and for a few

IDEOLOGY Feminist claims for equality, Part 2: What feminism should be

IDEOLOGY WARS Roger Scruton and the Tories: a sorry tale

MUSIC Melodic abundance: John, Paul, Duke and Antonio

CINEMA The End: Staging the apocalypse

BOOK REVIEW Scenes from Dante's Inferno

BOOK REVIEW Mrs Gould: she who drew the pictures



NATIONAL AFFAIRS A Q&A to clarify issues in Cardinal Pell's appeal

HUMOUR A Western flop lob-story and that

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Author Rod Dreher brings St Benedict to bear on our decline and fall

by Chris McCormack

News Weekly, June 29, 2019


  • Christians are under attack. What do we do?
  • The Benedict Option outlines how we can remain faithful in a post-Christian world
  • Dreher sees networks of professionals and the faithful as key

Christians and others who have not abandoned certain truths are increasingly under attack in the media, workplace and schools. In this context, a book by American Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option, looks at our options.

In May, Campion College Australia hosted an Australian Speaking Tour with Mr Dreher to explore the ideas in his book. So, what is The Benedict Option? News Weekly asked him the question.

Dreher puts it this way. The Benedict Option explores how we are to live as Christians in a post-Christian civilisation. The Benedict part of The Benedict Option refers to St Benedict of Nursia, Italy, (480–547AD) who emerged out of the fall of Roman civilisation and became the founder of Western monasticism.

Dreher draws on St Benedict’s res­ponse to the question of living in faithful community to serve Christ in a time of great crisis. St Benedict laid the groundwork for the renewal of Christian civilisation during the time of barbarian incursions into Europe in the sixth, seventh and eighth centuries by building a monastic network and living the Christian life within the monastery walls.

Dreher poses the question, “What would a 21st-century St Benedict instruct us to do?”

He does not, as some have mistakenly concluded, simply suggest that people pack up their bags, retreat from the world and live in monastic seclusion. Far from it. Rather, he advocates involvement in the public sphere while also “build[ing] a network of small groups to get ready for a time of persecution”.

We must build small communities of catechesis, mutual support and solidarity outside of the public square that are prepared to suffer for the faith in the face of overwhelming opposition, he says.

He sees schools as the key to socialising young people and passing on the culture, and views schools as they are today in the United States as factories for producing secularists who are oblivious to the norms of Western civilisation and religious faith. Dreher urges us to form groups and construct schools that will be faithful to the Christian ethos, as we cannot rely on the state or, in some cases, even the church to provide an education free from heresy, propaganda or the denial of biology, as children are assailed by gender-identity and sexual-orientation agendas, among others.

Dreher does make the point that it is a mistake for people to put all their faith in politics to solve the problem of Christian persecution. In relation to the United States, he says: “Many believed that as long as we just elect Republicans and get conservative judges, everything will take care of itself. That has been a big mistake.”

Dreher sees big business as being every bit as repressive as the state. Corporations have enormous influence over people in the workplace, and their purchasing options. Just look at WarnerMedia, Disney and Netflix, which have threatened the U.S. state of Georgia that they may discontinue production there unless the state abandons a law that prohibits abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, that is, as early as six weeks.

In Australia, it seems that Rugby Australia (RA) sponsors Asics, Land Rover and Qantas call the shots. They leaned on RA to sack Israel Folau for expressing his religious beliefs on social media, as well as discontinuing sponsorship deals with him personally.

Ordinary workers without national profiles like Folau have lost their jobs, without fanfare, for expressing a religious or natural-law belief, or else they capitulate to insidious agendas in order to keep their jobs. These people have little recourse to natural justice.

Dreher suggests that lawyers of good faith form law firms to represent such people pro bono, in cases of religious liberty, although he realises that those in certain professions – medicine, counselling, the law and education – are themselves particularly susceptible to being held hostage to social agendas. As practitioners, they require professional accreditation, which can be revoked at any time if they refuse to accept the popular narrative on abortion, transgenderism, gender fluid marriage and so forth.

“It may soon be the case that there are certain fields that Christians cannot enter in good faith. This will mean having to reckon with the fact that upper middle-class success may not be possible for us. If we are not having those conversations now, among ourselves and with our children about that future, then we are being negligent,” Dreher says.

He calls for churches and Christian organisations to fashion informal employment networks to help those who have lost their jobs due to standing up for their faith.

Politically, there are lessons here for Australians too. While the Coalition victory in the recent federal election was a reprieve from the totalitarian ideology of the ALP, especially in relation to redistribution of wealth, socialist-inspired environmentalism, entrenching abortion on demand and LGBTI “rights”, the Coalition is only as good as the sum of its parliamentarians, and many are insipidly weak on issues of life, marriage and freedom of religion and belief, or openly hostile to traditional virtues.

There is no guarantee that the Coalition will strengthen rather than weaken laws around freedom of religion.

In terms of the Western world, Dreher says: “My concern is that too many Christians haven’t thought about what happens if we lose. What then?”

To this, he answers: “You don’t have much time left. Act now to strengthen religious liberty protections but also organise yourselves for the day when these things are taken away from you. You can’t just give up.”

The Benedict Option ($39.99) by Rod Dreher is available from Freedom Publishing.

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TRANSGENDER: one shade of grey, 353pp, $39.99

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