Fostering Hope

Last night at GRACE CHURCH was one of the more moving experiences I have had in a church service. The Pastor spoke on Christians stepping up to the need for foster care and adoption here in Massachusetts. He talked of the protection of children being spiritual warfare, referencing Russell Moore’s book, “Adopted for Life (Updated and Expanded Edition): The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches.”

Pastor Sean rather practically suggested that Christians who do not believe this is God’s call on them to step up financially and support other Christians financially who want to be foster parents and/or adopt. A special fund has been set up for this at Grace Church. Bryan and Stevie in our Life Group are in the process of adopting a teen. It’s not a cakewalk, and there are many ups and downs and hoops to jump through.

If I recall correctly, there are 125 million children globally waiting to be adopted. That’s a lot of kids being thrown onto the mercy of strangers!! The Dept of Children and Families here in Massachusetts is in a state of emergency trying to find sufficient numbers of adults for foster care right now. Dept Heads are having to build into their job descriptions more PR time in the midst of their already strained resources to get the word out.

Executive Director Jonathan Reid of/http://fosteringhope.org/ presented their work last night.

It’s hard for me to imagine that after the services this weekend Grace Church there won’t be at least a few more families stepping up.

Sign Up For Rod Dreher Conversation On The Release of “The Benedict Option”

Here is a letter to me notifying me of this livestream conversation with Rod Dreher next Thursday.

Dear Donald,

In just under one week, on March 16 at 6:00pm EST, we’ll invite you to watch the livestream of our gathering in New York City for a conversation on community, counterculture, and Christianity’s future in the West, on the occasion of the release of Rod Dreher’s book The Benedict Option.

Dreher will propose a strategy for building up communities of faith that are robust enough to flourish in a hostile culture. A panel of respondents will probe what the Benedict Option means – and how it looks in practice. Panelists will include First Things editor R.R. Reno; New York Times columnist Ross Douthat; Jacqueline Rivers, Executive Director of the Seymour Institute on Black Church and Policy Studies; and Randall Gauger, bishop of the Bruderhof communities in the United States. I will moderate.

You may have already read my interview with Dreher. As you begin to reflect on these things yourself in preparation for this gathering, I invite you to read as well my interview with theologian Stanley Hauerwas, which touches directly on Dreher’s work. The upcoming public discussion comes at a crucial time for the Church in America, and we look forward to a fruitful and rewarding evening.

Regards,

 Peter Mommsen
Editor in Chief

Evangelicalism and the “Benedict Option”

Ordered a copy of Rod Dreher’s “The Benedict Option,” which will be released on March 14. I am eager to read it.

Dreher has spoken and written about enough that its outlines are clear. The basic thesis is that the West has already entered a new Dark Ages as western civilization breaks down and supports for a Judeo-Christian worldview are eroded to the point where opposition to that worldview is considered a good thing. Like the Benedictine monks of old the church must create and nurture intentional communities of Christians who have withdrawn from trying to mainstream culturally, which increasingly means giving up Christian distinctives, the very distinctives that nourish its vitality. This goes beyond church as usual, as in “going to church” and doing the church program thing. What does Dreher mean by this withdrawal? That’s what the book is all about.

Already many Evangelicals are rejecting the book’s essential posture toward culture, accusing Dreher of a withdrawal from its mission and imperatives. The loudest voices raised against it come from the Evangelical left, voices like Ron Sider. This has somewhat surprised Dreher, but I am not sure why. Dreher is Eastern Orthodox after years as a Roman Catholic convert in his twenties. Both Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism have a long tradition of monasticism. Protestantism has none.

An early distinctive of Protestantism was its rejection of monasticism and its clericalism. Protestantism does have a strain of Anabaptism, which nurtured separatist communities, such as the Mennonites today, but it has never captured the Evangelical mind as a serious option. In fact, most Anabaptist churches today are Left oriented churches with progressive agendas and an ambiguous line separating the Church and the world.

My guess is that Dreher’s book will not gain anything approaching a serious foothold in Evangelicalism, though there will be some attempts to include it but with a mellowness which will make it indefinite and amorphous. Evangelicalism tends to be activity and optimistic. While it freely critiques culture, it has a genetic disposition to believe that victory over darkness is just around the corner. Dreher is too pessimistic ( Dreher would say realist) for their tastes.

This discussion is worth having. Everyone agrees the new hostility toward religion in the Western world is a virulent strain of a cultural disease that threatens the health of the church. A definite answer to the question of how the Church should cope is in the making. Stay tuned.