Monday, June 13, 2011

News from the Benedict Option front

I'm back--sort of. Last week's "not-blogging blogging" really worked out well for me, and I'm thinking that over the summer I may stick to this sort of non-schedule. That way, I'll blog when I actually have something to say, instead of blogging daily whether I'm stuck on "boring" or not. :)

In other words: blogging will be sporadic--expect me when you see me.

Today a reader shares some interesting, if rather depressing, news from the culture war. She writes as follows:
I thought you'd find this [from the Tonys--E.M.] as sad and unsurprising as I did. Of course, the Book of Mormon (written by the creators of South Park) was the big hit of the night and if you want to know what it's about you can read a synopsis on Wiki but watch out for language (the names of some of the characters are horrific). What I find even more disturbing is that Neil Patrick Harris, who hosted again this year, did an opening number all about how Broadway isn't just for gay people anymore. One of the lines:

"Attention every breeder, you're invited to the theater!"

I wonder if he considers his surrogate a breeder or just a uterus for hire?

Sigh. I used to love the theater. Not so much anymore.
She shared this link as well.

This is the sort of thing I was getting at when I spoke of Hollywood's obvious bias in favor of leftist extremism. Out here in "flyover country" we tend to find the idea of paying some woman to rent out her womb so you can grow someone else's baby in order to create your ideal family a bit disturbing. But in Hollywood and on Broadway they think it's funny to joke about those matters--because they find us rubes and our attachment to the idea of the one father, one mother, biological children norm to be rather silly and bourgeois.

If they do succeed in recreating this nation in their image, we'd better be prepared to take the Benedict Option and preserve what we can of real faith and culture in small domestic monasteries (centered, perhaps, near large religious ones) until the madness is over. Which it will be, eventually, if history is any guide.


Patrick said...

Couldn't it just be that "breeder" rhymes with "theater"?

"Attention every heterosexual; you're invited to the theater" isn't as funny.

Red Cardigan said...

Cute, Patrick. Except that in the gay community, "breeder" is a bigoted term meant to insult heterosexuals for their reproductive ability, which is an ability that is lacking when people of the same gender commit sex acts on each other.

Anonymous said...

What I think is all wrong tho is: "I used to love theater. Not so much anymore."

That's akin to saying "I used to like music. Not so much anymore." because they've given awards to some foul-mouthed rapper.

NO, we should not abandon theater - or any other art that forms our culture! What we should do is defend good art, support good art and make good art! Isn't this what Barbara Nicolosi is always going on about?

Don't withdraw to the caves because the lunatics are taking over. Fight back. Go see a play - a good, well-written, beautifully-acted play. (There's always Shakespeare and most communities have some kind of free Shakespeare-in-a-park show!)

If in NYC, obviously don't go to see Book of Mormon but do go to The Importance of Being Ernest. Or Anything Goes. Or Born Yesterday. Or How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

I know, I know, you're not near NYC, but maybe go see something good at your local community theater or music hall. The point stands: be it TV, film, theatre, art exhibits, music, etc. we need to support the arts, not abandon them! Catholics have always done that.

(and yeah, I'm an actress in NYC. Boy could I tell you stories... Don't leave me alone out here; I'm doing the best I can :-)

Deirdre Mundy said...

About the "Benedict Option" -- I don't think it would really work well for laity--I mean, how can we be the salt and leaven if we stay on the shelf?

If you think about it, the first Christians lived among their neighbors in the ROMAN EMPIRE. You can't seriously argue that the culture of the time was better or purer than the culture we have now. Christians lived among their neighbors, but lived their faith. That's how they made CONVERTS.

The "Benedict option" is seductive and romantic, but it's not actually what the Church asks of us. What it asks of us is that we be "In but not of" the world. It's hard--the good -old-fashioned "white martyrdom" when we'd rather they kill us quick.

Yes, "Catholic town" sounds wonderful, but historically whenever the laity try it, it devolves quickly into "Heretical Cult." But remember, it was only until Pentecost that the disciples shut themselves away from the world. We're all living in a post-pentecost world. We're supposed to go out and live in it.

(On the other hand, it would be nice to see more monastaries offering 'family retreats,' so that we could also have a respite. But it can't be a permenant respite, or we're not really living out our vocation as laity.)

Patrick said...

@ Red Cardigan:

Ok; I just thought that if Neil P. Harris did an "opening number" at an awards show, it was in the context of humor. In my imagination, Neil P. Harris had a little skit wherein he said this in the most cartoonishly effeminate voice possible to make this a somewhat funny thing. Say this in a "cartoonishly-effeminate-gay-man's-voice":

"Ateention every breeder, *YOU'RE* invited to the theater."

See? It's funny. And tongue in cheek, because nobody really believes straight people avoid Broadway plays or any other plays. Anyway; that's how I imagines this little ditty, which was after all a quip by an awards show emcee. But, yes, I have *no evidence* that it was meant in jest...

Red Cardigan said...

Patrick, even if it was meant to be funny/silly, the fact that Harris and his partner paid some woman to be the reproductive prostitute who manufactured a child for them to raise makes it extremely distasteful.

Turmarion said...

Anonymous and Deirdre, excellent--well said.

Red, let me agree with you enormously on one issue--having actually seen a few episodes of South Park against my will, I think Stone and Parker (also creators of The Book of Mormon and the execrable Team America) are disgusting, revolting, puerile, and a disgrace to television, animation, and culture in general. All this is true even when they satirize things that need satirizing (e.g. the Church of Scientology). I can watch something I strongly disagree with and still at least respect it if it's done artistically; but the thing these days that all humor has to be done with a toilet mouth and a toilet brain is beyond me.

Anonymous said...

If you think about it, the first Christians lived among their neighbors in the ROMAN EMPIRE. You can't seriously argue that the culture of the time was better or purer than the culture we have now. Christians lived among their neighbors, but lived their faith. That's how they made CONVERTS.

ummm...I seem to recall the catacombs. Also, as someone once pointed out, the unconverted world of Rome was like a virgin bride waiting for her spouse. Today it is more like a bitter divorce. Also, I see nothing "seductive and romantic" about the Bendedict option. It sucks big time. Catholic town does not sound wonderful (unless you think life on a Viking Life Raft after your Alaskan crab boat has gone down is wonderful)--I think you are arguing against a caricature of an idea rather than an actual idea.

Anyway, that Broadway has always had a dispropotionate number of homosexuals in it is not in dispute. What is different is that until recently, Broadway catered to a broad audience and thus promoted productions that were relatively unoffensive. Today? Broadway is still stuck in the 80's. The first award went to The Normal Heart--the 1985 play about the AIDS crisis of the 80's that, as far as I can tell, consists of an hour of so of screaming.

Patrick said...

@ Red Cardigan:

I guess so. Jokes about "breeders" could only be funny if you're not, well, paying a woman for use of her uterus. "Breeders, haha!'re serious?"

Still; I said "attention every breeder..." in my most effeminate voice and added a pirouette, and my female friend seemed very amused by it. I thought it was kind of funny, but I guess that's because I find the *actual* idea of a rich homosexual renting a uterus *so* utterly absurd that the seriousness is lost on me.

I suppose you're right, though. The joke at the end of "Some Like It Hot" isn't as funny following that same principle: it relies on the idea that a man "marrying" a man is *obviously* ludicrous, that it is an obvious punch line. It's a little sad that once *nothing* is sacred, *nothing* can be funny in the isn't-that-ridiculous way...

Anonymous said...

Hi, Red. I just saw your comment on my blog and wanted to say thank you. I would also like to respond to your comment, but I don't want to use this space here, and I'm wary of giving out my email in comboxes. If you like, why don't you comment on my latest post, and I can answer. (my moderation is on) Thanks!

Deirdre Mundy said...

Romish-- There's a difference between having your Church services in the catacombs and LIVING FULL TIME in the catacombs.

And I'm not sure you can really say that our communities are more "bitter divorce" than "virgin bride." Many of these people aren't lapsed or fallen away christians, they're the second or third generation of 'unchurched.' And, in a sense, they're MORE fertile ground than the protestants of 3 or 4 generations ago. They haven't been taught wrong things about Christ yet, because really, they know NOTHING about Christ. If you look at what they believe and how they live, they really are pagans and they really DON'T know better. Who are we to decide that it's OK to leave them to burn? Isn't the "Benedict option" a bit like the Jonah (PreWhale) option?

These people haven't had the CHANCE to embrace the truth--they've never come across it. If anything, I think we need to be bolder and better at engaging with the culture---fostering arts with a Catholic world view (without preachiness), reaching out to our neighbors, even the apostate ones. The world is already suffering from a lack of salt. If we remove all the salt, it will just spoil that much faster.

Anonymous said...

Who are we to decide that it's OK to leave them to burn? Isn't the "Benedict option" a bit like the Jonah (PreWhale) option?

Again, this is caricature of the position.

Deirdre Mundy said...

So how would you describe the position? The "caricature" is the one I hear most often from friends and acqaintances who are talking the "monastic communities of laity" possible near real monastaries.

What is the ACTUAL benedict Option?

For example, I could see making the home a respite from the toxicity of the culture and homeschooling to give kids a classical catholic education before we send them out into the world, but Erin, in the last few posts at least, has been arguing for total disengagement! Are you saying she's arguing for a caricature?

What do YOU see as the "Benedict Option"? Or is this one of those things that has as many definitions as there are Catholics?

Alice said...

Can someone please define the Benedict Option (shouldn't that be the SAINT Benedict Option?!) and tell me how it differs from the many failed attempts at intentional communities, Catholic and otherwise?

Anonymous said...

Entry tags are a good thing. Click on "Benedict Option" below this entry and you get this. that distinguishes between "ghetto" Catholicism and the "Benedict Option" and what Red means by it. It even includes this [My bold]: The point is that seeking a community of like-minded people is not necessarily the same thing as withdrawing to a ghetto, just as refusing certain kinds of social interactions which take us too much into the mess that is our culture (such as believing that all neighbor kids are equally appropriate playmates for all of our children) is not necessarily withdrawing into a ghetto. We're all called to be in the world, but not of it; how we figure this out may differ widely from family to family, but no one option (probably, alas, not even the Benedict Option) is going to be the best option for all.

Now I happened to have been in a rather unpleasant Catholic "we're more purer than THOSE Catholics" circle, so the idea of bad ghetto mentality is not lost on me, but as Red points out, banding together as a defense against some of the more toxic cultural smog isn't retreating or going ghetto.

John E. said...

>Out here in "flyover country" we tend to find the idea of paying some woman to rent out her womb so you can grow someone else's baby in order to create your ideal family a bit disturbing.

I think you overstate the general public's reaction.

My circle of friends includes a married heterosexual couple in which the female cannot carry a child to term. They paid IVF professionals to create at least three fertilized blastocysts which were implanted into the husband's sister. Triplets resulted.

The reactions ran from, "Huh...well she's going to be busy raising three kids," to "That was really nice of his sister to do that." - with one outlier opinion of, "It would have been a lot easier just to get puppies." That last was mine, of course...

Where I'm going with all this, Red, is that the perception battle with respect to IVF has already been lost in Middle America - the people who reallly, realllly want their own genetic children have won.

Deirdre Mundy said...

I don't think that in the earlier post we ever hashed out what the Benedict option entailed. BUT in this most recent one (with the reference to Clear Creek) she seems to be talking about something more concrete than a 'virtual Benedict.'

Erin, care to clarify?

Red Cardigan said...

Check the new post, Deirdre! :)

All: I'm still working out my ideas about the Benedict Option. Discussion welcome--check out today's post.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

I only have one question: what is "leftist" about all this? Aristocracies, plutocracies, monarchies, even papacies when there were feudal estates across the middle of Italy to harvest revenue from, have indulged themselves sexually in all kinds of ways, some of them rather perverse. What does that have to do with the liberation of the working class from capitalist exploitation? If its about something else, it's NOT leftist, whatever it may be.

Alice said...

Actually, Romishgraffiti, my husband and I read that particular post when Red posted it and neither of us could figure out what the Benedict Option was/is. We've read what Rod has to say as well. It's not that we haven't tried, it's that we apparently don't get it.

John E. said...

Alice - it's Survivalism, Catholic style...

Siarlys Jenkins said...

John, does that mean what you do is Catholicism, survivalist style?

John E. said...

Well Siarlys, I would like to answer in the form of a Venn Diagram:

Siarlys Jenkins said...

That is as illuminating as a Venn diagram can be.

Anonymous said...

Siarlys, genius, as usual. There is nothing "leftist" about this.

To the anonymous actress above and others advising Red to go watch some Shakespeare and leave the book of Mormon alone, I say "what the what?" Shakespeare includes the bawdy, the profane, premarital sex, corrupt monarchs and church officials, suicide, etc., etc., etc. Surely most all of his plays would be banned from any Benedictine community.

I'm not sure what you are used to acting in, but I'm guessing you haven't done much Shakespeare. Either that, or the language is getting in the way of the meaning for you.