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The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation (Rod Dreher)

The Benedict Option is, as I expected, an outstanding book.  Rod Dreher has definitively shown that he is the Pope Urban of a new and dynamic movement, and this book has occasioned much commentary in the mainstream press.  Unfortunately, the main point of Dreher’s book—to make a countercultural call for individual and group Christian renewal focused on communities of believers—has been somewhat lost in a secondary point, the real and growing persecution of Christian believers in mainstream society.  This was inevitable, I suppose, because persecution is more interesting to outsiders than a call to holiness, but unfortunate, because it caricatures Dreher and tends to erode receptivity to his message.

On the other hand, I also think that Dreher tries to wholly separate those two things, when they are necessarily intertwined.  If I were forced to produce a criticism of this book, it is that Dreher is too optimistic about the continued existence of a private religious sphere in the world of, and opposed to the core beliefs of, a technologically advanced, all-intrusive Leviathan state.  He makes a few nods in the direction of this concern, but no more (though those nods are aggressively enough phrased to make the reader wonder if Dreher is merely holding his fire).  Second, if I had to produce an addition to this book, it would be that I think there is a key distinction to be made between Christianity as religion and Christianity as the mainspring of Western civilization, but that both must be renewed, for they are the warp and the weft of any decent future that Man has.  Third and finally, I think that this criticism and this addition require the same response, which will help bring Dreher’s vision to life.  Namely, the extension of Dreher’s call to, or an incorporation within Dreher’s call of, the expansive and outward-directed faith of the medieval military orders, or, for those not inclined to weaponry, the spiritual militancy of St. Ignatius (not the desiccated, impotent heterodoxy that passes for “Jesuit” today).  For in these latter days, everything old is new again, and sometimes the old answers are necessary to complete the new answers.

Oh, I can hear you saying, “What an unrealistic fool!  Dreher shows us that the wolf is at the door, and your response is to take the fight to the wolf, and to the wolf’s kin?”  Yes, to an extent, but hear me out.  After all, that approach worked for the Three Little Pigs, who, like the characters in all great fairy tales, embody timeless truths about humanity.

Dreher’s main focus is on the necessary renewal of orthodox Christianity, its rescue in the West from the morass of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.  (He also notes and cites, in several places, Orthodox Judaism, though that is not his tradition and he has less to say on that topic, but presumably what he would say is not substantially different.)  This is a personal call to each of us.  He demonstrates with efficiency and without possibility of meaningful contradiction that the number of American Christians who understand, much less believe, and even less practice, orthodox Christianity, doctrines that have been held to be central requirements of Christian faith for millennia, is vanishingly small.  And in tandem he convincingly demonstrates that the modern American state (consisting not only of the government but also of the oligarchy of the powerful), which state is the armed herald both of absolute liberty and of denial of the telos of man based on the logos of God, is locked in irreconcilable conflict with orthodox Christianity.  Dreher approaches this as a religious question, which it is, and places most of his emphasis on how orthodox believers can preserve, strengthen and carry on their faith.  But, of course, this is also a civilizational question—what does it mean for our civilization that orthodox Christianity, on which it is based, is being squeezed out of existence?

Before we get to the civilizational question, first, on the Leviathan state.  “Leviathan” is really a misnomer—the term conveys size and power without an ideological component, and it is redolent of the 17th Century, of the famous image on the cover of Hobbes’s book.  Perhaps “Cthulhu state” would be a better term, after Lovecraft’s otherworldly creature of subterranean horror, multi-tentacled and capable of reaching into the souls of men.  And also unlike Hobbes’s Leviathan, in the West today the Cthulhu state has a very specific ideological vision, not merely a lust for power.  Its vision is of man as malleable and infinitely perfectible machine, rather than a created being ordered by something outside himself and containing inherent qualities and limits.

As Dreher says, what Christianity means is “the discovery of the order, the logos, that God has written into the nature of Creation and seeking to live in harmony with it.  It also implies the realization of natural limits within Creation’s givenness, as opposed to believing that nature is something we can deny or refute, according to our own desires.”  And, “Over the past six centuries, Western man has come to reject the idea that there is intrinsic purpose built into Creation, and instead come to see meaning as something extrinsic—that is, imposed from outside. . . . Poet Wendell Berry responded to techno-utopian scientism with the observation that civilization must decide whether we see persons as creatures or as machines.  If we are creatures, he argued, then we have purpose and meaning, but also limits.  If we see ourselves, and the world around us, as a machine, then we believe the Faustian myth of our own limitless power to recreate ourselves.”  Thus, since the Cthulhu state embodies this modern vision, it and Christianity necessarily are embroiled in a conflict of visions, and there can be only one victor, for the two visions are incompatible.  Christianity may co-exist with Leviathan; it cannot co-exist with Cthulhu.  There can be only one.

Dreher, of course, draws an explicit analogy between today and the time of St. Benedict.  His reference to St. Benedict originates in Alisdair Macintyre’s call for a “another—and doubtless very different—St. Benedict.”  The flaw in this analogy as applied here is that in St. Benedict’s time, there was no government to notice what Benedict did.  The tottering Empire cared nothing for what happened in rural areas of the lost Italian provinces.  The only extant government of the time (other than the distant Ostrogoth overlord in Ravenna), local government, was either indifferent, or, more likely, favorable toward monks who caused no problems, enhanced the stature of the local lord, and prayed for his soul when he was dead.  For after all, the local lords, and the local population, were Christian, even if the lords were often religiously indifferent, in the manner of most men of power.

But today, all levels of the Cthulhu state care very much what we, Dreher’s proposed inheritors of the new Benedictine way, do.  Our Empire is an empire in the full and poisonous flower of decadence, violently opposed to the thought crimes of adherents of the Benedict Option, since they deny the core ideological foundation of the Empire, which in its service commands power and reach undreamt of in any past age.  Our government may not control the Mark of the Beast, withdrawing power to buy and sell, but it is not far off, for it controls whether a man may earn his daily bread, and whether his children will be snatched from him by masked men wielding guns, for teaching them that a man is a man and a woman a woman.

Dreher has a beautiful vision.  He returns again and again to scenes of the present-day monks of Norcia, and communitarian groups raising olives in sunlit groves.  Of course, these are exemplars, metaphors, for his vision of groups of normal people leading normal lives in average places, but organizing them around renewed orthodoxy and community with others of like mind.  Dreher sees challenges to this, among them that, in his view, persecution is possible, but the largest one is that renewed orthodoxy in a time of material plenty, alienating yet seductive technology, and spiritual anomie is not attractive to most.

But Dreher fails to project the future adequately.  He errs, as Orwell said of James Burnham, in predicting “the continuation of the thing that is happening.”  Not wholly, of course—he predicts, or at least hopes for, that faithful Christians will heed his call, and make a change in the arc of history.  At the same time, he predicts that powers opposed to the orthodox will continue much as they are, or perhaps become mildly worse, and that Christians should remain politically involved to limit the damage.  But they will in fact become much worse, and Dreher himself identifies that orthodox Christians today lack all traditional political power, so limiting damage is a false hope (and Dreher does quote a modern Benedictine that “the best defense is offense” and “we have to push outward, infinitely,” but he does not pursue the point).  The ideology of the Left commands no deviation from the path to atomistic individuality enforced by the iron will of the state, and no quarter for deviants.  You may be allowed to fast on Wednesdays and Fridays, if you keep it to yourself.  Sooner rather than later, no matter how you humble yourself before the state, you will no longer be allowed to teach your children truths that contradict the premises of the state, or to do anything else that may preserve and maintain your vision of the good.  There can be only one.

Thus, whatever happens with Trump (and Dreher puts no faith in him, nor should he), soon enough the harpies will return on the wing, as always, to advance their vision of the world, as if Trump never was.  One step back, two steps forward, always and forever.  For them, there can be no rest from the need to impose ideological uniformity to pave the road to Utopia.  It is of no matter, to them or us, that as ever, in reality Utopia will never arrive and at the end of the road lies not a shining city but yet another sprawling delta of blood and pain.  To avoid this, reordering our lives and communities is necessary, but not sufficient.  We must dynamite the road to the chimerical Utopia, salt the earth, and leave the harpies’ corpses to rot on the lone and level sands.  Only by this act of overwatch can Dreher’s communities of virtue survive.

Second, on Western civilization, or what is more accurately called Christendom.  Dreher focuses not on civilization but on explicitly local communities and how Christians are failing to maintain and pass on their religion at the local level.  In essence, Dreher writes civilization off.  Perhaps this is correct; a Toynbee or a Spengler would say that civilizations rise and fall in rhythms not amenable to repair.  And perhaps it does not matter; one possible Christian response is that since we are assured Christianity is forever, our civilization is of no consequence, and that Christianity will be the leaven of a new civilization, if ours is doomed.  In this case, the Benedict Option, in the long term, serves primarily to form seeds that can regenerate Christianity in the new world as it arises.

But this is the counsel of defeatism.  Our culture is wholly based on Christianity.  It is the common inheritance, and the common framework, of the West.  Every moral virtue and aspiration we associate with civilization; the core values that even the minions of the Cthulhu state pay lip service to, is a Christian value.  We forget that life for any but a select few before Christianity, even in advanced civilizations such as Rome, was extremely unpleasant and based on domination of the weak (as shown in detail in Sarah Ruden’s excellent Paul Among the People).  We forget that the same is true for any other civilization before or since the rise of Christianity, except for ours (and except for the civilization of Islam, which is, after all, just a distorted vision of Christianity, containing some of its good points with an admixture of new bad points).  It is not likely that a new civilization, with a new religion (for the ideology of the Cthulhu state, being based on denial of human nature, could never survive a civilizational collapse, thus some religion will rise, which could be Christianity again, but we cannot be certain of that), will embody any of the tenets of Christianity which ennoble our civilization.  Thus, we should strive to maintain and rebuild Christendom, not just our local communities.

So we must renew this civilization, or face an eon of darkness.  No civilization but ours has ever tolerated Christianity, for that religion fundamentally undermines the power of any state that does not respect the telos of man, and that undermining cannot be tolerated except by a civilization in which the rulers are themselves civilized by Christianity.  Again, as Dreher says, “[H]owever far any given society in Christendom has been from the ideal—and every one has—there was a shared understanding that there was an ideal outside of ourselves to which we must aspire.”  Christendom is the last, best hope of mankind; it is unique, not just another civilization.  Our future if we do not renew this civilization is likely to be similar to the far future depicted in the epic science fiction cycle of Cordwainer Smith (the pseudonym of Paul Linebarger, mid-20th Century US diplomat to China,  godson of Sun Yat-Sen and confidant of Chiang Kai-Shek).  His stories take place thousands of years in the future, when the worlds of humans are run by the Instrumentality of Mankind, an oppressive, yet not evil, oligarchy which forbids the export of religion.  Nonetheless, the Lords of the Instrumentality face the survival and slow spread of Christianity, religion of the oppressed half-human Underpeople, known as the Old Strong Religion with its tokens of the God Nailed High.  Such is the long-term fate of Christianity in a civilization that is not itself Christian.  It is not nothing, but it is not enough.  Therefore, we cannot be indifferent to the fate of this, our, civilization.

I have above offered two points in response to Dreher’s carefully tailored recommendations for Christian renewal.  Both of my points came with vague prescription of some form of unspecified resistance, which on the surface seems wildly unrealistic, to stand against the might of a powerful state and the currents of civilizational history.  But perhaps we are not just waiting for a new, and doubtless very different, St. Benedict.  Perhaps we are also waiting for a new and very different St. Francis, an unforeseeable and unknown quantity, a man (or woman) who arises unexpectedly to lead us and to fight the future.  After all, we are assured that nothing is impossible with God.  If we truly believe that, it is our responsibility to do what is necessary to make straight the way, that we may have clean earth for our children, and our children’s children.  And to wait, armed with the necessary spiritual and physical weapons, for the time to present itself.

Fine words, but as they said in Hobbes’s time, fine words butter no parsnips.   So what does this mean in practice, beyond Dreher’s own prescriptions, which, as far as outward direction, center on largely passive witness?  That is hard to say at this moment, for we also should not make the error of merely predicting the continuation of the thing that is happening.  It certainly means being aggressively uncompromising, for any compromise is merely seen as weakness and taken as the new starting line for further attacks against us.  And it means, for every action, a reaction.  But it means more.  It means aggressive proselytization of the heathen, perhaps with a new set of Jesuits, with the heathen as our neighbors, not primitive tribes in the jungle or the educated mandarins of an alien civilization.  In a future time, it may mean defending against, or even prophylactically instigating, violence when and where violence is proffered to us, either by the overweening state or as a result of the fragmentation of the state’s authority.  Without thorns to repel those who would do it and its people harm, if the Benedict Option gains traction, it will be attacked and destroyed.  In that time, we would need a new and very different set of Templars.

But if, as Dreher says, orthodox Christians are a tiny minority who must band together more tightly for survival, what possible chance does aggressive action have?  Perhaps so, yet orthodox Christians have always been a minority; they just need to always be enough to offer the true path to those who have ears to hear, and to form the framework of a civilization in which most people try, to a greater or lesser degree, to adhere to the tenets of Christianity, often failing, but structuring their world around it.  The reality is, as the Jesuits once knew, that sending messengers to the heathen, even if some of the messengers are killed, brings people to Christ in a way that mere lived example and passive witness does not.  Nobody is rushing to join the Amish and they have no influence on the larger world, for they offer nothing but their example, hidden largely away.  The truth is out there, but it must be advertised, as when a lion roars.

Who can say what the future holds?  It is a great error to divine the precise outlines of the future and then to base one’s action upon the vision.  Not only will the vision never exactly match the future, but when the two diverge, the impulse is to try to force reality into the vision, which can only cause harm.  Rather, we should make ready for the uncertain future, both through following Dreher’s wise prescriptions, and by realizing that on the basis of what we thereby create, supplemented as necessary with the tools of evangelization and of war, each used as an embassy or a spear, we also make possible the maintenance and renewal of all things.


  1. Anonymized Commenter says

    While I commend the breadth of your knowledge, including scientism & technocracy’s ever increasing hold on Millennial’s unspoken craving for a god or God, I feel your solution is calling for nothing more than a Christian Jihad. You may justify such a thing as necessary, however, as you know, the Bible is clear, that violence, and all sins that lead to it from adultery to hypocrisy, causes Him to discipline us. Atheists of course would find this a terrible idea, but even they would have to concede that discipline is necessary to ensure a child’s safety. It is Jesus who will come with a sword, not us. Taking up arms, while I personally feel is an important choice for families considering protection to consider; especially if they’re believers, because *they* will come for us, going from defensive to offensive is a wholly different and dangerous thing.

    The result of your vision would lead to loss of life for one too many innocents. We treat every person like “the little one’s” because once upon a time this person was a baby, and therefore a God created entity as human, who deserves life regardless of their views. If the person is going to kill you first, then absolutely, a person must decide if their own life is more or less important, as a last resort. Even if we decide to choose ourselves, that doesn’t mean we can be 100% assured we won’t have to answer for the violence by God’s law.

    If we trust in Jesus, we know that he will guide us to the best ways for each of us to do battle. We should do many things including read the Bible (and not some crap like “The Message”) more, get physically fit, take responsibility to be informed and prepared, and pray. How each person does that and what they focus on is for them only. Us all taking up arms assumes too much, like utopias attempted by socialists, ideological apostasy leads to chaos. Only, for Christians the apostasy is about more than ideological differences at war with each other and within each other. Apostasy leads to the very ruin of our souls by the enemy. Ravenous wolves come to us in the form of the cloth too. Any godly person who suggests strife, would be an apostate. Apostasy keeps an unjust hold on free people’s that could only continue in the sin and filth it created, albeit in new and more seductive forms. Just look at Rick Warren, Robert Schuller, Joel Osteen, TD Jakes, Hillsong Church, etc. These vague Christians are apostate to the core. Do you want these people leading a violent cause?

    I appreciate your mind Charles. I hope you use it to glorify Him who gives us his Word.

    • Charles says

      I appreciate your thoughts. A few thoughts in response, without writing an entire new review!

      1) The Bible is not clear on any such thing, that “violence . . . causes Him to discipline us.” Leaving aside the theological question if in the new dispensation we are disciplined in this world for our sins at all, it is not true that the “Bible is clear” that violence is forbidden to Christians.

      2) It is certainly true that (a) the New Testament in parts, though not exclusively, counsels pacifism, and (b) this was a common, though not universal, interpretation of early Christians, who often refused to serve in the military, and of Church Fathers, such as Tertullian and Origen. And up until the Crusades, pacifism was the dominant thread of thinking among Christians.

      This was for a variety of reasons—Scriptural exegesis, general principles regarding the importance of human life, and also because to be in the military meant involvement in idolatry and other pagan rituals.

      3) But it was far from the exclusive position. Many Christians served in the military, and, after all Jesus and St. Paul both implicitly endorsed them doing so. Jesus did not discipline the Centurion; he praised him for his faith and healed his servant. And many Church Fathers in a little later period supported some uses of violence, most emblematically Augustine. This is not limited to self-defense of the individual, either, in any way. Your stated position is a minority position among Christians. Again, certainly the Centurion was not in the business of self-defense.

      Christian thinking then shifted even more, at the time of the Crusades. And ever since there has been a wide range of Christian thinking on the matter. See, e.g., Joan of Arc, or Bonhoeffer, for a modern example.

      4) So to say that Christians cannot condone violence is wrong. If the response is that those who condone violence aren’t Christian, but apostates, that’s simply the No True Scotsman fallacy.

      5) That said, my “vision,” to the extent I have one, does not involve current violence (which would be wholly unjustified), nor does it really involve offensive violence (although it is possible that might become necessary). I merely predict violence is likely to be brought to us, and we should be ready.

      6) It is therefore not true that “Any godly person who suggests strife, would be an apostate.” Apostasy means abandoning the faith. Such a person might be a sinner, but he would not be an apostate. (Though I agree that prosperity gospel preachers are mighty close to apostate.)

      7) I don’t really want anyone leading a violent cause. I’m pretty sure Joel Osteen isn’t going to put on either the metaphorical or actual armor of God. It would certainly be nice if we could avoid all violence, and that’s not impossible. But as Thomas Paine (no Christian) said, “If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace; and this single reflection, well applied, is sufficient to awaken every man to duty.” Our duty is to be prepared. Being prepared for violence is only one aspect of this.

      8) Jihad is the Muslim religious commandment to ensure Muslim political and physical dominance (but not conversion to Islam) throughout the world. That is certainly not my suggestion and has never been a part of Christianity, and to confuse the two is a basic error. Yes, the Crusades had a lot to recommend them, but only in that time and place, and they were defensive wars. And, of course, Christians have often been known to conflate conquest and Christianity. But the details are a discussion for another day.

    • The Sanctuary Society and its Enemies
      By Gary North:

      One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you.

      At least two fundamental principles of Western law had their origin in Mosaic Israel. The first principle was the rule of law itself: every resident was to be protected equally by the civil law. The second principle was open immigration. The nation’s treatment of the immigrant served as a touchstone in Israel of the nation’s faithfulness to the first principle.

      The Mosaic law did place some limitations on non-Israelites who lived in the land of Israel, but not many. The main one was the system of inheritance governing rural land. Nevertheless, strangers and newcomers could buy, sell, bequeath, and inherit houses in walled cities. In general, the rule of law was to prevail.
      This made national Israel unique in the ancient world.
      The rule of law was God’s way of announcing His universality to all nations: His law was universal and just.

      The righteousness of God’s law would be seen by strangers and praised. This was a form of international evangelism. Resident aliens could provide testimonials to the folks back home regarding the justness of Israel’s law and Israel’s God. Because of this aspect of the Mosaic legal order, it was a violation of the law for Israelites not to honor the rule of law. To do so constituted false evangelism, i.e., false testimony regarding the sovereignty of God over all men and nations as the Creator and Lawgiver.

      The sanctuary status of Israel was to serve as an international testimony to the righteousness of God. Fundamental to this sanctuary status were open borders. In a legal sense, Israel was supposed to become a refuge for the afflicted, even the runaway slave.

      The landless, oppressed alien had a sanctuary in Israel, if he could reach the borders of the land. Freedom was available to all by law in Israel, and this lure of freedom was designed to bring strangers into the nation.
      Open immigration was an important means of evangelism. Strangers could come to Israel, settle there, buy houses in walled cities, become productive, and live in peace. They could obtain security of ownership for their property even though they were not citizens or members of the religious congregation. They even had access to the temple if they were willing to be circumcised, which was a unique openness in the ancient world. This was also part of the rule of law.

      The stranger was listed as one of the three representative classes that deserve honest treatment, along with orphans and widows.

      Thus, Israel was not just the Promised Land for Abraham and his heirs. It was supposed to remain the Promised Land for the oppressed of the world. And, in some periods, it really was.

      America as a Sanctuary

      Americans like to think of their nation as the “Land of the free, home of the brave.” Indeed, the image of America as a sanctuary was a dominant one in the nineteenth century and the early twentieth. This image goes back to the early colonies. It was the steamship, with its low-cost, relatively safe passage across the Atlantic, that made this image nearly universal.

      Americans retained the image of America as a New Jerusalem or New Israel through World War I. One aspect of this image was of America as a sanctuary. Emma Lazarus’s famous poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty was consistent with this earlier, highly religious image.

      The New Priesthood

      In ancient Israel, there was a national priesthood, which was assumed to be the primary agency of cultural assimilation for immigrants. This is why immigrants were allowed to become Israelites through circumcision.

      Political citizenship followed in three generations for Egyptians and Edomites, and in ten generations for Moabites and Ammonites.

      Confession, circumcision, and Passover were the initial means of assimilation. That is, the assimilation process began with religion. The same outlook long prevailed in the West, with the Christian church serving as the priesthood. The church was the primary means of cultural assimilation.

      There never was a national priesthood in the North American colonies. In New England, citizenship was officially based on religious confession and local church membership, but this legal restriction was changed by Charles II as soon as he ascended to the throne.

      Land ownership was substituted for church membership as the basis of the franchise. Even those colonies that used tax money to support the churches never suggested, after 1660, that the established denomination should enjoy monopoly status. A century later, the mere hint that the Church of England might send a bishop to the colonies, who could ordain Anglican pastors here, was a major factor in origin of the War of Independence.

      This did not mean that there was no priesthood after 1830. A new established church was substituted for the old: the public schools. There was also a new priesthood: the teachers. Under the guidance of Horace Mann, Massachusetts created a comprehensive tax-supported public school system. It was designed by Mann to inculcate a common national morality rather than sectarian religion.

      To this new established church fell the responsibility of assimilating the flood of immigrants for the next nine decades.

      The problem was, and remains, the fact that government-funded public education is not neutral. It is not religiously neutral, ideologically neutral, or tax neutral. Each political group with a vision of what America should be has seen control over the public school system as vital to the success of its mission. The quest for power has led to a quest for authority over the primary agency of assimilation. The continuing call for the centralization of public school standards, textbooks, and funding is part of this quest. It is less expensive for a dedicated ideological group to take control over one national school system than over thousands of local school systems.

      The religious question of every civil covenant is the question of the terms of confession.

      • fkader says

        > Open immigration was an important means of evangelism. Strangers could come to Israel, settle there, buy houses in walled cities, become productive, and live in peace.

        I’m not sure where this idea of ancient Israel as some kind of “open borders” society came about.

        It’s a false image, as on the main it was rather the opposite: a close-knit society based on ethnic and religious cohesion (it’s easy to be “open” when the stranger is a rarity coming to trade etc.). If they had been tested with mass immigration (as opposed to the rare persons seeking work and residence), they’d have adjusted their views accordingly.

        And of course had their beefs with all kinds of “strangers” (not to mention having taken over land from several other tribes/nations), and considered several of them “inferior”.

        Here’s a more balanced picture:

        Since all of the landed property belonged to Israelites (cf. Lev. 25:23–24), the gerim were largely day laborers and artisans (Deut. 24: 14–15; cf. 29:10). Both the Book of the Covenant which classed them among those who were dependent (Ex. 23:12) and the Decalogue which referred to them as “your stranger” (gerkha; Ex. 20:10; cf. Deut. 5:14) attest their inferior position in Israelite society. While a few acquired wealth (cf. Lev. 25:47), most of them were poor and were treated as the impoverished natives. Thus, they were permitted to share in the fallen fruit in the vineyard (Lev. 19:10), the edges of the field, and the gleanings of the harvest (Lev. 23:22; see also Poor, Provisions *for). Like the other poor folk they were also granted a share in the tithe of the third year (Deut. 14:29) and the produce of the Sabbatical Year (Lev. 25:6).

        Since the foreigners’ defenselessness made them vulnerable, the Israelites were frequently reminded of God’s special concern for the weak (Ex. 22:21–22; cf. Deut. 10:17–19) and were enjoined not to molest them (Ex. 22:20; cf. Jer. 7:6). They were not to be abused (Deut. 24:14) and were to receive equal treatment before the law (Deut. 1:16; cf. 24:17; 27:19). In case of accidental homicide, the cities of refuge were open to them as well (Num. 35:15), for there was to be “one standard for stranger and citizen alike” (Lev. 24:22). Moreover, the Israelites were enjoined to be especially solicitous of the welfare of the ger and to befriend him as one of their own, since they could recall the sufferings of their own people in the land of Egypt (Lev. 19:34; cf. Deut. 10:19).

        With the passage of time, the gerim were assimilated culturally and religiously. Doeg the Edomite, for instance, was a worshiper of YHWH by the time of Saul (I Sam. 21:8), as was Uriah the Hittite in the reign of David (II Sam. 11:11). Hence, the ger, in contrast to the nokhri, was required in many cases to conform to the ritual practices of the native Israelite. Thus, gerim were subject to laws dealing with ritual purification (Num. 19:2–10), incest (Lev. 18:26) and some of the food taboos (Lev. 17:10–16; but cf. Deut. 14:21). They were expected to observe the Sabbath (Ex. 20:10; Deut. 5:14), participate in the religious festivals (Deut. 16:11, 14), and fast on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:29). They were permitted to offer up burnt offerings (Lev. 17:8; 22:18; Num. 15:14ff.) and, if circumcised, even to sacrifice the paschal lamb (Ex. 12:48–49; Num. 9:14). Indeed, they, no less than the Israelites, were expected to be loyal to YHWH (Lev. 20:2; cf. Ezek. 14:5–8).

        However, social differences did remain, and some gerim were better received than others. While third generation offspring of Edomites and Egyptians might “be admitted into the congregation of the Lord” (Deut. 23:8–9), Ammonites and Moabites were not to be admitted “even in the tenth generation” (23:4). Furthermore, even while the Holiness Code admonished Israelites not to subject their fellows to slavery (Lev. 25:39), they were specifically permitted to do so to the children of resident aliens (25:45–46). A Hebrew slave belonging to a ger could be redeemed immediately, and if not redeemed served until the Jubilee Year (25:47ff.), but one belonging to an Israelite served until the *Jubilee (25:39ff.). Correspondingly, a Hebrew could serve as a hired or bound laborer (25:40) of an Israelite, but only as a hired laborer of an alien (25:50). Indeed, the humble position of the ger generally was emphasized by the usage of the term in the Holiness Code: e.g., “The land is Mine; you are but strangers resident with Me” (25:23; cf. 25:35, but see *Proselyte).

  2. Daniel says

    A prophecy, gleaned not produced:

    « The Church’s ultimate trial

    675 Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers.The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.

    676 The Antichrist’s deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, especially the “intrinsically perverse” political form of a secular messianism.578

    677 The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection. The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God’s victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven.God’s triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgment after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world. »

    There will be violence which is our lot to play, but it will be no more than the cutting off of the obedience of the false high-priest’s slave, that even here the violence which is our lot to suffer may heal and save.

    Given the arc of the whole, this inflicting-violence of ours will be a small affair. Unless, of course, we find ourselves charged with crucifying the Incarnate, or find ourselves Judas and afflict ourselves.

    No, the orthodox cannot but follow her Head. And the violence will be presence, one neither ashamed nor compromising to make eye-contact, seeking to draw humanity out of the chaos that makes brute beasts out of men. (This is why they had to blindfold Him.)

    You wish to stand till the end? In Him?

    Then you must be honest, and resist with force, and then deny and fly like you’ve never flown before. Or be honest, and true (not in yourself but in Her) and accompany the injustice to its dregs, in silence and in sorrow, and in that fiat that conquers the world, with eyes only for He. Or be honest and the little child that you are, standing there by her strength when all your brothers have scattered.

    Or be honest with His call. And become the Lamb you consume, and be consumed by His Spirit. And suffer in freedom and joy and trust, thankful that it is you and not your little ones and your beloved who are ravaged and pressed, but that it is only your Father drawing you upwards to Himself, and with you the whole host at your feet.

    Here, because we are not spotless as He, they might even rape and torture your little ones before your eyes (since they are only pressing-outwards what the demons do to they). But any real harm to yours will be cut off forever , because He chooses to be true in you.


  3. Luca says

    Ostrogoths, not Visigoths, ruled Italy.
    Anyway, congratulations for your excellent reviews and your battle!

    • Charles Haywood says

      Yeah, you’re right. I even sort of knew that. Ah well. Thanks for pointing it out; corrected!

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