As an addition to my post about Os Guinness and the Benedict Option, in which I query readers as to why Guinness and so many other Evangelicals keep misconstruing the argument I make in The Benedict Option, I want to ask a related question about Catholics, or at least American Catholics:
Why are Evangelicals generally more interested in the Ben Op than US Catholics?
In my personal experience here in the US, significantly more Evangelical institutions have invited me to speak about the Ben Op than have Catholic institutions. I have no way of knowing the religious affiliation of the book’s buyers, but judging from the personal reader engagement, the book has been more interesting to Evangelicals than to Catholics. This is interesting to me because though I deliberately chose not to be sectarian in writing the book, its arguments flow more naturally within a Catholic way of thinking. In Europe, young Catholics really like this book; I haven’t heard much from Protestants there. But here in the US, the interest seems to have been stronger among Evangelicals, judging only by the number of invitations I’ve had to speak to either Catholics or Evangelicals.
Why is that, do you think? Is it that most American Catholics don’t feel any meaningful conflict between what they profess and the direction of American culture? That is, they don’t see what there is to worry about? After all, polls show that US Catholics, despite the authoritative teachings of their church, are much more assimilated to the broader culture on matters of sex and sexuality than are US Evangelicals. And the other, non-sexual aspects of the Benedict Option’s claims, they just don’t see what the big deal is — could that be it? If that’s true, then for all the mis-readings of the Ben Op among Evangelicals, at least they grasp the reason it came to be.
I dunno, I’m just spitballing here. What do you think? I’m asking Catholics (and others) in a friendly way, just trying to get a handle on reaction here. I understand the point many of you make about many Evangelicals staying away from the book because it sounds Catholic. But why haven’t more Catholics than Evangelicals embraced it, then, at least in terms of outreach to have me speak at their institutions?
(Here’s something interesting: America magazine is run by the Jesuits, who, given their liberal bent, would naturally be opposed to the book’s claims. But I have to say, gratefully, they’ve given the book an amount of coverage I consider to be unusual, given that they probably, as an institution, disagree with its message.)