I am deeply wounded that Peter Wolfgang, author of last week’s misguided critique of the so-called “Benedict Option,” bypasses my own critical remarks on his article in his latest piece (ok, not really). It matters not, for the same problems present in his original article are alive and kicking in this one, specifically not knowing what the “Benedict Option” is and, more critically, offering neither empirical evidence nor even a plausible research model which could in some way, shape, or form show that the “Benedict Option” caused Donald Trump. Where I do find myself agreeing with Wolfgang is with respect to his assertion that the “Benedict Option” can have real-world effects. The problem is that it’s far from clear that it has had any effect thus far — a problem Wolfgang chooses to ignore.
As for the rest of Wolfgang’s article, it’s a meandering mess of anecdotes blended with confusing claims about elementary terminology. So I am left wondering why Wolfgang is still going on about this topic. Could it be that the “Benedict Option,” despite its limited circulation in the winder world, is still a “hot property” among religious writers and thus an easy draw for clicks? That was the hunch which closed-out my initial post on this matter, and Wolfgang’s latest provides me with no reason to revise it.
To close on a positive note, let me say this. Wolfgang is right to decry retreatism even if he does it in the context of an ill-fitting critique of an idea he doesn’t seem to grasp in full. If the “Benedict Option” is nothing more than a bald call for retreat, then it seems patently obvious to this Christian that it is impossible to support it. It seems, however, that there is a bit more to the “Benedict Option” than this, but it will probably take some time before Rod Dreher (and others who support it) fully articulates what the term means in full.