After all, some of these guys want to follow St. Benedict into monasticism -- presumably with enough of a budget to keep the neo-monks in Priuses and organic toothpaste for as long as it takes Moloch to fall.
Crunch Master Dreher tips the cowl to Alasdair MacIntyre :
It is always dangerous to draw too precise parallels between one historical period and another; and among the more misleading of such parallels are those which have been drawn between our own age ... and the epoch in which the Roman Empire declined into the Dark Ages. Nonetheless certain parallels there are. ... A crucial turning point in that earlier history occurred when men and women of good will turned aside from the task of shoring up the Roman imperium and ceased to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of that imperium. What they set themselves to achieve - often not recognizing fully what they were doing - was the construction of new forms of community within which the moral life could be sustained so that both morality and civility might survive the coming ages of barbarism and darkness.
Now, I find this exceedingly strange on two fronts. One, because in my youth you couldn't sit still for over half an hour without somebody letting you know Why Rome Fell. It generally had something to do with whatever that person found particularly distasteful in that day's news: topless waitresses, student sit-ins, letting Negroes vote. And it was utter horseshit, of course; Rome fell for all the complicated and untrackable reasons anything happens, but hedonism and toleration weren't among them. Those are attributes of Rome at its height. So here we sort of turn that game inside out: Rome fell because Christians (presumably) decided to turn aside from shoring up the Imperium, even though Rome was explicitly Christian for the last 200 years of the Western empire.
So the lesson here seems to be that you can't trust Christians. As Nick Lowe warned us:
When the going gets tough, the tough get going,
Every now and then I've seen them running, running.
Not to mention the fact that they've had a 1600 year run in the West and now they're telling us we're back to square one. Maybe people who've managed to splinter the Truth of the Gospels among 200 plus Protestant sects in this country alone are not the last word in how to keep Society humming along. Dreher has an exegesis:
MacIntyre’s book argues that we have reached a decisive point of moral and cultural fragmentation in the West, having pushed radical individualism and moral relativism to the point where it is difficult to appeal to shared moral norms as a way of deciding public policy. Our moral language is increasingly empty, as we haven’t kept the communities and traditions that gave meaning to our moral language. He argues that we are at the point where the only sensible thing for traditionalists to do is to withdraw into smaller groupings and to construct “new forms of community within which the moral life [can] be sustained.”
Jesus, how we love the Apocalypse, especially when we know ahead of time we'll be the ones coming out on top. It sure is comforting to know that running for the hills will be a Christian calling when the Big One hits.
We've dealt before with this "shared moral norms" stuff. Dreher's complaint here is that we haven't solved our public issues by letting him do so by fiat. I'm not sure what era this represents a change from. One week Dreher can't find enough common ground to talk to liberal members of his own Church; the next he seems to have excommunicated them in bulk. Solve these issues within Christianity; I'm sure the remaining 10% of us wil be easily swayed after that.
This definition of society as something which it is so desirable to save that the application of the Supreme Ultimate's thumb to everybody who doesn't fit the requirements leads to an interesting revelation, as these religious debates tend to do:
We know how bad civil society broke down in New Orleans after Katrina, though happily many of the initial claims proved to have been exaggerated. What made an impression on me was three weeks later, when Hurricane Rita hit the Cajun country. I was down in south Louisiana that weekend, and it was instructive to watch the TV coverage of the aftermath on a Lafayette TV channel. Those rural and small-town Cajuns took care of each other.
Teevee! The Evil Living Room Eye rides to the rescue (God works in wondrous ways!) and provides us with pictures of (lowly) white people helping each other out in an emergency! They even got in boats and rescued people! Boy, that's something you didn't see in N'awlins, (where, praise de Lord, many of the initial claims proved to be exaggerated) huh ?
What contemptible, racist crap. And yes, I am aware how sensitive these types are to being called on their racism. Sorry. Community-lovin' Bayou whites took care of their own. Urban blacks looted and shot at medvac helicopters and raped infants, except when they didn't. Even when we acknowledge that our opinions are based on erroneous information, which was itself of a suspicously racist nature, we're justified in using that information, and in having no curiosity whatever about the real human beings who get slandered in the process. Because, I guess, we have no more shared moral norms to obliterate the objections in the first place. I need to get Amy Sullivan to guest blog for a week. Somebody needs to explain to me why I'm supposed to cede the moral high ground to someone who constructs an altar around his own white ass and everybody else be damned.