Wednesday 1st July, 7pm
by Fr. Thomas Plant
Ron Dreher’s Benedict Option has invited emulation and opprobrium in equal measure, with some Christians embracing his call to the cloister and others finding his vision isolationist, exclusive or worse. Is it possible to resist the relativist and consumerist ideology so inimical to a sacramental understanding of the world without complete withdrawal? Might Christians not find allies outside the fold? The 6th century writings of the monk who called himself Dionysius the Areopagite were inspired by S Paul’s mission in the marketplace of polytheistic Athens. They offer an ascetical, sacramental approach to the re-enchantment of the secularised world based on a metaphysical nondualism shared by the majority of the world’s ancient religious philosophies, leaving modern western secularism isolated in its dualistic tendencies. The method, means, metaphysics and influence of the Areopagite show a way for adherents of traditional philosophies to work together without conforming to the secular categorisation of mutually exclusive “religions,” relativised into discrete, commodified identities and lifestyle choices.
Priest, Platonist, Prayer Book provocateur, Fr Thomas Plant has served in parish ministry, school and cadet force chaplaincy, and as a university lecturer. A classicist-turned-theologian, he has studied at St Andrews, Bristol and Cambridge, where for his doctorate he compared the metaphysics and soteriology of Dionysius the Areopagite and the Japanese Buddhist Shinran Shonin. He is a frequent contributor to the Living Church: Covenant blog and publishes his own catechetical books on greatersilence.com. He moonlights as an Aikido instructor and writer of Lovecraftian horror fiction. Follow him on Twitter @thosplant.