The sixth chapter of Rod Dreher’s book, The Benedict Option, is about building strong Christian community from the family to the local church to local ‘grass roots’ ecumenism between conservative believers. Rooted in Scripture and tradition, drawing strength from those who have gone before, we turn turn to fellow believers around us to nourish and strengthen our faith and grow in Christ.
I don’t know how to respond personally to this chapter. I recommend it to you to see how it would work in your situation. I certainly find appealing the idea of turning my home into a domestic monastery — that is, where my wife and pray and live with discipline and intentionality and raise our son ‘Christianly and virtuously’ (to quote the BCP).
But some of it won’t work for us now.
We are victims of our atomised culture and the economy of how universities are run. I am not interested in retreating from secular academia just yet (thankyouverymuch, chh. 7 & 8), so that means working within the broken system to provide for my family, taking one-year contracts as they come and building up my CV to land a permanent job.
That means that we are living in a new city with a 4 1/2-month-old baby with no settled church, no community for both of us, no local ties so no ecumenical ties. Besides, I’ve felt on the fringes of church for a few years now (whether my own local community or the wider Anglican world), so this is a hard chapter to apply. Just who on earth am I supposed to be living closer to? With whom will I start a study of the great classics of the Christian faith?
I don’t know.