Comments 3

  1. Dreher’ profession is journalism. Journalism–good journalism, anyway–is great because it introduces and explains complex ideas to a mass audience. Indeed, much of Abraham Kuyper’s success can be attributed to his adroit use of journalism to take simplified versions of his theology and praxis to the masses.

    Culpepper is correct that Dreher oversold his project. He took the idea of the BenOpt from Alasdair MacIntyre but Dreher is no MacIntyre (or Charles Taylor, for that matter) but so reduced its bite that he’s been swallowed by his own hype.

    Of course, Dreher is selling lots of copies of the BenOpt, something that I suspect sticks in the craw of some of his critics. I hope that whatever its shortcomings as a work of scholarship, groups of Christians who find tackling thicker stuff too daunting will read the BenOpt and talk about Dreher’s suggestions.

  2. The Dreher-Smith debate makes more sense if you understand its context. Dreher has blogged his thoughts about why Smith turned from a supporter to a harsh critic, but he was blindsided by the charge that BenOp amounts to a very white Christian withdrawal from our cities while less affluent and non-white Christians fight on in the churches and schools alone. If you have read Smith much over the past few years (especially his twitter feed) you will recognize he is making an argument against Dreher’s BenOp that he hates when it is made against Christian education. Smith does not like the argument that advocacy for Christian education amounts to advocacy for white Christian withdrawal into homogenous enclaves. His usual defense is that there are some racially diverse urban Christian schools, which represent something of an ideal for Smith. Conservative Christian enclaves do remain extensively white enclaves, and if they insulate themselves further Smith fears this will validate critics of private education as a privileged enclave for white students that drains support or simply does nothing to help minority communities.

  3. Enjoyed the review. I especially enjoyed your bit about Charlemagne and his support of monastic communities in Europe as I am about to talk about that today in my Western Civ. class. Of course, Charlemagne’s scope of influence was much broader than the walls of the church in the early Middle Ages. It is sad to see a lack of nuanced historical care, yet, Dreher is not a historian. If he had given more time and care in regards to the historical treatment, do you believe his argument would have been better?

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