Professor Stephen Millies will critique the best-selling book The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher on August 6, in an event sponsored by the Chicago Chapter of the International Thomas Merton Society.
Steven Millies, associate professor of political science at the University of South Carolina, Aiken, will explore “The Merton Option: Religious Responsibility and the Common Good in the Post-Christian Era” at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 6, at Immaculate Conception Parish Rectory Assembly, 7211 W. Talcott, Chicago. The program is open to the public. Admission is a freewill donation; refreshments will be served. RSVP welcome, but not required. For more information, contact Mike Brennan at 773-447-3989 or email email@example.com.
The New York Times described Rod Dreher’s The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation as “the most discussed and most important religious book of the decade.” Dreher surveys the 21st century landscape, finding a failed Christian culture beyond repairing, and he urges Christians to withdraw into local communities where they can focus on living lives of faith so that Christian culture can survive this new ‘dark age.’ Dreher’s inspiration is the monasticism of St. Benedict, a topic about which Thomas Merton wrote and thought for decades. Yet Merton’s monastic reflection calls us into responsibility and solidarity with the community that Dreher urges us to abandon. “The Merton Option” raises an alternative to Dreher’s somber conclusions, urging Christians—and, all women and men—to take up their responsibilities to one another and to work every day for the common good.
Dr. Millies recently wrote about “Catholicism and the Common Good” for the Chicago Catholic newspaper and previously addressed the Chicago Merton Chapter on “Thomas Merton: Love and Citizenship.”
The Chicago Chapter-ITMS was formed in 1992 to promote a greater knowledge of the life and writings of Thomas Merton (1915-1968), a Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky. In his address to Congress in 2015, Pope Francis described Merton as “a source of spiritual inspiration and a guide for many people” who was “above all a man of prayer, a thinker who challenged the certitudes of his time and opened new horizons for souls and for the Church. He was also a man of dialogue, a promoter of peace between peoples and religions.”