It will never happen, and when it does, you will deserve it

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

Two years ago, Handle reviewed Rod Dreher’s The Benedict Option:

Almost all Dreher’s critics accuse him of crying wolf or being a Chicken Little at best… Meanwhile, I’m saying that Dreher is underestimating his enemy, painting an overly rosy picture, and not being nearly alarmist enough.

Now he reviews Dreher’s Live Not By Lies:

“Live Not By Lies” is a sequel of sorts to “The Benedict Option”, in what I’m sure will one day be called “Volume 2 of Dreher’s Benedict Option Trilogy.” It’s is a good book, you should read it, and Dreher is in general right about the soft totalitarianism, and if anything, not right enough.


As a friend of mine put it, “The single biggest problem is lag-seriousness. We are always just at best about grim enough for yesterday’s battle.”

That is where “Dreher’s Law of Merited Impossibility” comes from. “It will never happen, and when it does, you bigots will deserve it.” If it were possible, despite denials, and by pointing out a clear logical implication of progressive ideology — and even going so far as to supplement with the early appearances of those explicit proposals — to scare conservatives enough, early enough, to do whatever it takes to avoid it, then the impossible wouldn’t keep happening to them, over and over again.


The anti-audience already believes Dreher is far more of a kook and Chicken Little than his Christian critics do, and just a continuation of “The Paranoid Style In American Politics.” To them, Dreher can get in the back of the line behind the McCarthyists, “Eisenhower was a Commie!” John Birchers, QAnon conspiracy theorists, and low-status judgment-day-is-just-around-the-corner-all-the-signs-are-actually-happening prepper types. They are once again proclaiming the first half of the law, “It will never happen.”

And without the list of lies, their argument wins the day. It seems fully plausible and convincing. It sounds like this:

Oh look at these idiots going off again. Here we are, just trying to make sure love wins and hate loses. Our ‘radical ideology’ amounts to “Don’t be a bigot, help your fellow man, and keep your toxic hatefulness to yourself.” Everybody should be included, and nobody ought to be unjustly discriminated against. Simple, self-evident, human universals, really, do real, loving Christians really disagree so much with any of those? And because the white supremacist homophobes can’t think of anything else to say in response, the hide behind ‘Christianity’ as a pathetic rationalization for their simple irrational animus, and resort to inventing fantasies like gulags and torture rooms and KGB agents. Like *they’re* the victims! Delusional! What kind of creepy psychological problems do they have to really imagine that with all their wealth, comfort, freedom, privilege, and petty first world problems, that they are remotely spiritual kin with people who endured the worst suffering possible? Crazy!

Do you see the problem? It’s the ‘merited’ part of the law. Dreher wants to respond with the simple truth, “We’re not bigots, and we don’t deserve it.” The response would be, “Ok, let’s find out. What is it exactly that you are going to insist on believing or doing, that we would possibly think was worth throwing you into a gulag?”

He can’t beat around the bush with something general and evasive, “For being devout Christians.”

The response (at least from the rare one who knows anything about Christianity) would be as follows:

Look, we just think your religion is mostly a collection of mythological fantasies and superstitious prohibitions, but combined with a salvageable core of a worthy moral perspective that, like almost all ancient and traditional lines of philosophy, represents an incomplete and imperfect grasping toward the same ethical framework we now hold dear. That’s why Jefferson rewrote the bible, removing all those superfluous distractions. Following the actual bible seems kind of nutty and backward to us, but now that it’s in clear political retreat in terms of numbers and influence, and since most self-identified Christians don’t really seem to live like they take most of it seriously, we regard it as mostly harmless. So long as you keep it to yourselves.

So, nobody is going to throw you in the gulag for going to church. Or for believing Jesus is Lord, that he is the Savior of humanity and God’s only son, that he was born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary who in turn was immaculately conceived, that he performed miracles, made water into wine, multiplied bread and fishes, walked upon water, healed the sick, raised the dead, died for our sins, and was resurrected. That he saves his people by means of their repentance and confession to sin and commanded his followers to love each other and their neighbors and their enemies, and to spread his word and the gospel of the good news of their salvation to every soul.

Seriously now, is that not Christian enough or you? Are these not the central claims of Christianity? Is that not enough freedom to be a Christian?

And we aren’t going to do a single thing to anyone for any of that. Why would we even care? Maybe if proselytizing is done obnoxiously in an imposing manner and makes people feel unsafe and not included. But let’s face it, 99.99% of American Christians aren’t ever doing that anymore, so it’s kind of absurd to spook them, right? Now we will insist that you not discriminate against LGBTs, and not to teach people to hate them, and yes, you will indeed get merited punishment if you persist in doing so. But seriously, is Hate the hill you are choosing to die on?

As another friend of mine put it, “We do not want you to subtract from your faith, only to add to it. Just don’t be a jerk and you’ll be just fine.”


  1. I’m pleased to see Handle came out of retirement for this. Good find!

  2. Cynewulf58 says:

    You have the rare and valuable ability to understand and paraphrase opposition positions without malicious distortion.

  3. Sam J. says:

    I read a good deal of both of these reviews and didn’t see him say one thing about the Jews. Here he is highlighting the trouble we are in but neglects to mention exactly who is in the drivers seat. It’s like telling kids that to walk around a race track is dangerous but neglect to tell them speeding cars are flying around at hundreds of miles and hour. You have to know what the danger is to fight it. Not some nebulous fog of a notion.

    Even worse the examples he gives it’s clear the Jews were the primary mover in the tragedy as they are now.

    Both reviews and most likely the books they were about are dishonest and a waste of time.

    You want to really know what is going on, what has happened to get us in this fix and what to expect. Read this.

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