Some thoughts on the Benedict Option

1. The mission of the mormon church is not related to the preservation or propogation of an ethnic group. The church attempts to preserve cultures when it is able to, but ultimately missionary work and temple work are core functions. (My view of culture is like that of Spengler (Goldman), cultures and peoples are mortal and all will die, except for the jews who are the Lazarus of peoples (among other things) – to demonstrate that God has all power over death. I’d add that just like individuals we try to preserve life and honor in memory those who have gone before.)

2. The core ethnic groups of the church is new englander, english, and scandinavian. All of these ethnicities “in the wild’ have embraced the project of radical individualism in a goverment frame that has lead to SSM, and is contrary to mormonism as we understand it. Any attempt to promote and preserve a mormon ethnicity will by istelf be self-defeating. Those ethnicities are weak reeds.

3. Given 1 and 2, the church will fail and corrupt if it is dependent on our children alone. Because the core mission will be lost-replaced with preservation of the ethnicity, and the church will be bent to accomodate the needs and desires of this ethnic group. And sooner or later bent to the point that it is broken.

4. The key question then becomes one centered around missionary work. How do we continue to do missionary work in the changing culture of the mainstream. Where will new converts come from? How will they be converted? What restrictions will be placed on missionary work? From this perspective what the bendict option offers is bases of refuge to recuperate and rearm between sallies into the unbelieving world.

5. I don’t think our wards can always be considered that base. As pointed out there are considerable  numbers of members who are not on the same page as the brethren with SSM. Wards vary of course, but I don’t think we can assume that the world is not with us when we are at church. Now if we pursued the jettboy option and tried to purge them I think this would not get them to where we would want them to be. The results of the purge would poison the goodwill and damage the community that still remains. It would also limit missionary work because some of the purgees will have been doing missionary work, also it would change us to be less accepting of converts who though sincere are often not orthoprax or orthodox. The risk also is that we get in an ratcheting escalator of purging and purity that can only end in the churchs destruction.

6. I would like to respond to the comment that missionary work outside of the US is little value becuase the culture don’t transmit and retention rates are poor. As for culture, as per point 2 our culture is not a source of salvation. If the culture is put in pre-eminent place we will fail because the culture will (is)corrupt. It is only as the members seek Christ and work with him in the vineyard that the culture is leavened. As for poor retention rates: don’t look at those rates, rather look at what percent active people who are attending a ward are converts. I was in a latin mission. Easily more than half of the active members were converts. Even in the US wards I have been in its a third or more. I’d guess  if you included children whose parents are converts it would easily exceed half.

7. I think T. Greer is closer to the truth. Wether to accept or reject the gospel as mostly in the person, not in his upbringing. We need to teach the gospel to our children, but we need to accept that we cannot gaurentee that it will take. We also need to teach the gospel to everybody so that those who are his sheep will hear his voice and believe. Again, as per the scriptures this is not, and will not be most people. But there are people even now in the world rejoicing at the triumph of SSM who will become disillusioned with it, will see it as at best hollow, and will start to seek something else, something more meaningful.

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