Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Awful Pleasures of Spiritual Pornography

From LA Review of Books-

Being compared to Nazis is a wonderful goad to research, and I immediately read Dreher’s recent best seller The Benedict Option and a similar book by Anthony Esolen, Out of the Ashes. Both see secularism as an existential threat that has already begun to decimate the West. While Esolen thinks there’s a chance of “rebuilding American culture,” Dreher is less optimistic, instead recommending the formation of tightly knit communities where, as Benedictine monks once did, true spiritual seekers may keep the candle of Christian culture burning through the new Dark Ages, interacting with mainstream culture but protected from it by the strength of their faith.

I struggled to feel spiritual regret, and on occasion succeeded. Dreher’s descriptions of monastic practices are moving, and I am happy there are people like him who believe “everything is a gift from God and is meant to be treated as sacred.” Esolen writes eloquently of the beautiful and — to me — alien promise of Christian faith: “Everything that we have loved in the flesh will be restored to us, cleansed, perfect, never to be lost.” I was grateful for these echoes of a Christian wisdom that has always challenged my own agnostic convictions: a wisdom that I regret not being able to experience fully.

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