Gaining momentum, Rod Dreher devotes the last three chapters of his book to two favorite topics for everyone: sex and technology. With regard to the former, it’s all the arguments about sex outside of heterosexual marriage from the culturewar. No real news there.
Conservatives (and, admittedly others too) wring their hands a lot over the internet. I doubt Mr Dreher would have as many readers without it. I was surprised he was surprised with the lack of smartphone reception at a monastery.
Online things and devices, like anything else, are a tool. The printing press led to big problems on the faith front in the years 1453-1517 and beyond. Just because something could be easily printed, didn’t mean it was reliable, true, or useful.
Some final thoughts … I admire the option to go Benedictine. Maybe I’m a bit envious of those I know who do. My wife, with her roots in evangelical Christianity, is a lot more suspect of “special communities.” So living apart and intentionally is not likely a working solution for me. I’m not invested enough to be persuasive of my spouse. Plus, I’m not so sure a skeptic like me would fit in one of Rod’s circles. I suspect it would be easier on me than on them. Living in an intentional community was something of a personal aspiration when I was in my twenties. But I’ve lived long enough to see the virtues of being realistic. Living in the world does not preclude good, constructive friendships–influencing and being influenced. I might even suggest that living in the world leaves some Christians more open to others who might need their friendship, guidance, and perspective. Not always, but sometimes. It’s a matter for discernment, not uniformity.
For the large part, Mr Dreher’s book adds to a larger discussion. It addresses questions primarily to lay people: How serious are you about your faith? What do you need to be a better person for Christ and his mission? For my part, I’d ask Rod why his inverviewees and acknowledgement credits are almost all male? He huffs and puffs a lot about sex, but despite going far afield in his conversations, he plays it pretty safe talking to conservative academics, conservative bloggers, conservative Christians, etc.. His book is valuable, well-written, and I’d recommend it if you like the topic, despite its flaws. But as a B-minus work, it just doesn’t go deep enough. For a guy who advocates “preparing for hard labor” in chapter 8, this effort is ideologically lazy. Several idoleogical activists and but one Benedictine monastery. That tells a lot.