This is the first in a series of posts in which I will be blogging through Rod Dreher’s book The Benedict Option. This post covers the book’s introduction and chapter one.
I first began reading Rod Dreher’s work sometime in 2008 or 2009. I can’t recall exactly when, but it was shortly shortly after the election of Barack Obama. As a conservative working in conservative media, the 2008 presidential campaign felt surreal. The ascension of Obama and the bizarre twists and turns of the McCain-Palin campaign left a lot of conservatives bewildered. It was like standing on the beach, watching the tsunami waves rising, and then feeling the weight of the water crash down up you. Eventually, when you surface, soaking wet and gasping for breath and looking around, you ask yourself, “Why was I standing on that beach in the first place?” (Oddly enough, I had this same feeling for the entire 2016 presidential campaign, but it was in super slow motion.)
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
— T.S. Eliot, “Hollow Men”
Bathrooms? We’re talking about bathrooms?
I suspect this would be the the reaction of the Founding Fathers, were they to be transported to 2016 and be exposed to the average person’s social media timeline. After getting over the shock that Facebook and Twitter are the driving forces within our democratic process, they would, with a certain level of Allen Iverson-esque incredulity, shake their heads at the idea that the president of the Unites States is issuing decrees about which bathroom schoolchildren should be allowed to use.
They would probably be less shocked to learn that a wealthy East Coast mercantilist celebrity is contending to replace the sitting president who has been handing down said restroom directives.
Heaven has been a hot topic in recent years, with many accounts of individuals encountering heaven during near-death experiences. There’s also been a lot of confusion among evangelicals about the nature of heaven — what it will be like, who will be there, etc. McKnight does an excellent job in this book framing the idea of heaven as a promise from God, and the implications of that promise for all of us. This is a serious, but utterly hopeful, examination of the topic of heaven. Regardless of what you think you might know about heaven, I highly recommend this book.