The New Dark Age

Writing in the February 2002 issue of Chronicles, Thomas Fleming says that we are already being ruled by the barbarians:

So the question is not whether American civilization will collapse but when – and what are we prepared to do about it. Until we are willing to give up the fiction that we are living in a decadent period of the Roman Empire – say, the reigns of Nero and Caligula – we can never appreciate our situation. The barbarians rule our world just as surely as they ruled Rome during the sixth century.

Up until a few years ago, I thought that Bubba might have a little fight left in him; but Bubba watches the WWF and the Playboy Channel, and his wife is on Prozac.

A Drive to Kilmarnock

This past weekend we drove to a town called Kilmarnock which sits in a region of Virginia called the Northern Neck, on the Chesapeake Bay. It is something that I’ve wanted to do for three years but have been prevented from doing for one reason or another.

The drive over was beautiful and very typical of Virginia. By that I mean rolling hills, trees, farms, small towns and lots and lots of old churches with their attendant graveyards. Why is it that our modern churches never have graveyards? I understand that property is at a premium for most churches and perhaps a graveyard would be “wasted” when it could be a parking lot, but I think we would do well to re-establish the practice of Christian burial in a church graveyard.

Most of these old, rural towns have a United Methodist parish, a Baptist church or two, and sometimes an Episcopal parish. It is truly heartbreaking to see these gorgeous old buildings most of which are in the hands of heretics. Just imagine working and praying to build a parish, teach, preach and serve. You go down to your grave when your alloted span is done only to have the entire thing fall into the hands of the enemy within a century or so.

The churches that we saw were mainly built of brick. I imagined what life would be like if they were inhabited by preachers with evangelical fervor and sound doctrine. What would it be like to have our rural areas dotted with churches that were sacramental and reformed? Instead we have these sad monuments to a bygone age inhabited by the opponents of the truth.

Kilmarnock itself is not much to shout about, but if you drive down the roads that lead to the Bay, you find mansions of breathtaking size, all of them new. Apparently there is a lot of old money in Kilmarnock, or else folks in D.C. and Richmond who weekend down there. These homes are unbelievable, sitting right on the Bay with no neighbors to speak of. Trust me, these folks aren’t working in town. It never ceases to amaze me how no matter where you go in this country there are loads of rich people (or massively indebted people).

We ate lunch in the parking lot of the local Episcopal parish which is gorgeous. It looked like a small version of Truro in Fairfax. I looked it up on the web and of course it is in the revisionist camp and will probably vanish within a generation.

The entire drive led me to think about the AMiA and ACNA in general with regard to church planting. For obvious reasons the AMiA has focused most of its church planting activities on cities and urban centers. I favor this and think AMiA should have a 50-state strategy of hitting key urban areas. My question is how do the rural areas get served in any new evangelization? In some sense it is much easier to plant churches in urban areas because you have so many more people to potentially draw from, whereas in a small town there are only a limited number of people.

So do entire swaths of the country stay unserved by a Medieval Protestant alternative to unbelief? Can we reach small towns as well as urban areas? How many guys would we need in the pipeline of ministerial training in order to reach these places? What kind of resources would it require? I imagine that in the old days most of these churches rose from within the ethnic communities that were pioneering these new towns, but that pattern is gone now. What is the new method of reaching the rural parts of America with a liturgical, Bible-centered church?

The Anglican Benedict Option

I’ve written a bit about creating an Anglican community by like-minded Anglicans moving to the same location. Steve has put down some great thoughts about what educational praxis could look like in an Anglican setting. I’d like to see all of this come together in an Anglican Benedict Option – fleeing the collapsing modern state and “preserving the remnants of Christian and classical virtues and laying the groundwork for the rebirth of a new civilization.” If you have any interest in really doing this and not just thinking about it, please contact me!
It seems to me that this would require some agricultural know-how. Working the land might be necessary in a small town with no big job-provider around. I am presuming that the internet and modern communication will persist, but that the permanent things will be left behind by a reckless culture. So I speculate on other trades that could provide income in a situation where a new community attempts to carve out a place and survive on the outskirts of the empire. I wonder if typography in the form of a type foundry could work in a small town? Fonts are distributed globally so perhaps that is a flexible enough craft to be performed from anywhere. Book binding is a niche market that would seem logical for the people of the book. Publishing in general would be desirable, and creating lasting editions of works like the Book of Common Prayer, the Bible, and the Church Fathers would be essential to a Benedict option for Anglicans. Depending on proximity to the ocean or lakes, some type of boat building / repair might be profitable. Establishing a school and a university would seem to be necessary to perpetuate learning in the face of global ignorance and the bankrupt university system of the United States.
We can cultivate a different way of life in the face of the moral miasma that is the air we breathe. Formed by the cycle of the Church year and daily prayer, devoted to alms giving and works of mercy, fearless in proclaiming the Gospel and practicing the liturgy that has undergird the Church since her earliest days, we can begin again.