Matt Lorrain, Pastor
St. John the Baptist Church
The relationship between Christians and secular society can be somewhat difficult to negotiate. It need not be an adversarial relationship as if the world is totally evil and the church is perfectly good. But neither are the world’s values always compatible with Christian values.
Rod Dreher is an Orthodox Christian, a senior editor at The American Conservative, and a resident of St. Francisville. He has written a book entitled “The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation,” which has received quite a bit of interest among those who follow religion and culture.
I must confess that I have not read the book so I apologize in advance if I misrepresent his major themes. But the premise, as I understand, is that our culture is in serious crisis, and Christianity is in grave danger of being subverted by the dominant culture. Therefore the time may have come for Christians to reestablish islands of sanity, much like St. Benedict did in the sixth century with the founding of monasteries, in order that the faith can be fully practiced.
Here are some of the signs that our Western culture is headed for trouble: 40 percent of Americans under the age of 30 now identify as having no religion; traditional teaching in regard to sex and marriage has been greatly undermined by recent court decisions and public opinion; and morality has more or less become a matter of personal choice for many.
Dreher bristles at the idea that his proposal is essentially a retreat from the world. He states, “No church can be authentically Christian without evangelizing.” But at the same time young Christians must be provided a protective environment or culture in which they can grow and develop a spiritual relationship with God that is not impeded by unhealthy secular pressures.
The Benedict Option does not imply that committed Christians literally withdraw to monasteries but rather that they create new forms of intentional communities where family life can be strengthened, and grace and love increase. He mentions homeschooling movements, the opening of “classical Christian schools,” and the birth of new lay communities such as the Tipi Loschi community in Italy.
We are fortunate to live in an area with a strong sense of community and an abundance of churches. We can choose to be sources of light for one another and the world, or contribute to the growing darkness and despair.
The Cornerstone is a weekly column in the West Side Journal that features a West Baton Rouge Parish pastor’s thoughts, teachings and writings. The inspirational messages by the participating pastors are not edited for content by The West Side Journal staff. If your pastor would like to participate in this column, please have them contact the editor at email@example.com, or by phone, at (225) 343-2540.