In that strange moment that Petrarch called the Dark Ages and Enlightenment historians called the beginning of the Middle Ages, the great city-builders that once stretched their hand from the Euphrates in the East to the Atlantic in the West ran out of energy, and powerful tribes, perhaps the people who inspired legends like Beowulf, overran Europe. These warlords had little regard for the gods of the ancients and less for their books, and the rise of the monastic community, under the leadership of the obscure Italian Benedict of Nursia, to a great extent preserved both Christianity and literacy in Europe.
More than a millennium later, philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre wondered whether the West, descending into a new kind of dark ages, might be waiting for a new, and certainly a different kind of Benedict. Rod Dreher, mere decades after that, asks us whether, perhaps, we obscure Christians in our own moment might be Benedict. His new book The Benedict Option updates MacIntyre’s diagnosis, offers examples of people living out the Benedict way in the 21st century, and challenges Christians in our own moment to live apart for the sake of the world, to be a new kind of monastic missionaries in a post-Christian moment. Christian Humanist Profiles is glad to welcome him back to the show.
Plough magazine will be hosting Rod, along with Ross Douthat, R.R. Reno, and others, on 16 March at the Union League Club on 37th Street at 6:00 in the evening. For those unable to make their way to the Big Apple in person, Plough will be live-streaming the event on Facebook.