Much conservative discussion of the Benedict Option forgets that the ultimate goal for MacIntyre is a community rooted in tradition driven by practices. That’s only possible with a lot of communal interactions and common living. It’s obviously possible (indeed, intended) in a Benedictine monastery. It’s also possible in a kibbutz and a collective household and all sorts of other leftist ways of living. But the problem for many conservative Americans is that they don’t see the necessity of this communal experience part.
— No Benedict Without Benedictines – Ethika Politika. This is a strange post by Jeff Gushin. What he says is forgotten in discussion of the BenOp is the very thing that people interested in it talk about all the time. The whole question of the BenOp is how it might be possible in a liberal order to act with the same degree of communal intentionality that characterized early Benedictine life. This will require, as MacIntyre points out, not simply a continuation in late modernity of ancient Benedictine practice but the arising of “a new, and doubtless quite different, St. Benedict.” No one yet knows what that might look like; but to say as Gushin does that the conversation about the BenOp neglects these matters is like saying that the problem with Marxists is that they neglect political economy.
One factual correction: Gushin attributes to Michael Warner the concept of “counterpublic,” but that term was coined much earlier by Nancy Fraser in this article. In my view, Fraser’s exploration of how “subaltern counterpublics” organize themselves in relation to — often but not always in opposition to — the public sphere should be required reading for anyone interested in a Benedict Option.