On Prayer and Options

[The Editors of the Georgia Wonk would like to announce that, for reasons unclear to all of us, Rooster O’Connell has decided to change his name to “Casanova Bedlam.” He informed us of this change mere minutes before this article went live, and then stared at us, seemingly waiting for our reaction. The official stance of the Editorial Board is that it is, indeed, a bitchin’ name.]


All men pray.

But we all choose our gods. For example, my good friend and spiritual adviser the Rt. Rev. Jack Roller prays to the old God of the Hebrews, who, we will all agree, is a much less forgiving being than the one we are introduced to in the New Testament. Jesus was a carpenter, a humble man, and He prayed to a humble God; the Reverend has no time for weakness.

My other good friend, Ross Hardy, who runs this blog, tells me he prays infrequently, although not by choice; his eyes grow distant when he describes the difficulties he has had, of late, in trying to center himself enough for the soul-searching witness prayer requires. I can tell that this troubles him, which makes me sad, as he is a good man. I hate to see him in pain.

I am no theologian, nor am I a scholar. I am a perfectly ordinary layman of the American Church, and as such, my gods cannot hear me. But at least I can see them. They come in bottles and boxes, with names like “120 proof” and “77 grain FMJ.” They speak to me rarely, but their works are profound.


This is a hard time for praying types, I think. Rod Dreher, with whom I have never spoken, nor even met, advocates for something called “the Benedictine Option,” which, as far as I can understand it, is radical survivalism dressed in a clergyman’s robes. Mr. Dreher takes the opinion that we are Rome, it seems, which is a possibility I have discussed with the Reverend [1]. If we are Rome, of course, barbarians are crashing against the gates. Far more likely, they are already here.

I have been preparing for the Benedictine Option for my entire life, it seems, although I did not ever call it that; flipping through books with titles like Foxfire and How to Survive the End of the World As We Know It are long on practical skills for self-reliance, but rather short on spirituality. Dreher advocates, it seems, “[drawing] on the secrets of Benedictine wisdom to build up the local church, create countercultural schools based on the classical tradition, rebuild family life, thicken communal bonds, and develop survival strategies for doctors, teachers, and others on the front lines of persecution.”

How familiar was Dreher, I wonder, with Dmitri Orlov? I found his book difficult to read in many parts–I cannot now remember any specifics, only a vague sense of frustration. But I do remember Orlov’s conviction that the only sustainable community model post-collapse was a more traditional one. He placed great emphasis on elders, if I recall correctly, and believed that a strong family structure would be sufficient to outlast major crises. I am troubled, I think, by the fact that different people have come to such similar conclusions; it implies that I am not alone in my particular brand of apocalypticism.

Usually, when I see that my beliefs are being reinforced, I increase the dosage of my medication. It is not healthy to attempt to maintain a career at the same time you are calculating the long-term cost of ammunition storage. In general, I try to stay as grounded as possible, and that process is not aided by end-time prophets. But these are, as always, VUCA times, and it would not be prudent to dismiss as ramblings otherwise intelligent conversation.

That’s not to ignore the possibility that Mr. Dreher and Mr. Orlov are rambling. It just means you should not dismiss them.

[1] The Rev. Roller is of the opinion that modern Americans need to understand that, whenever they read the New Testament, they are not the Jews–they are the Romans, the overwhelmingly powerful occupying force, the dominant culture attempting to quash dissent. But in a post-9/11 world, no one wants to read the Bible and imagine that the brown people in Iraq are probably much closer to Jesus’ intended audience.


Categories: Dispatches from the Mojo Wire

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