The End of Secularism: “Satanic Optimism”

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At the Name of Jesus, every knee shall bow …
and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

—Phil. 2:10, 11

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord (Deut. 6:4). “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test (Deut. 6:16). Man is not the Lord. If you should choose to walk with man, you shall encounter an absolutely destructive force.

There are those today who seek to destroy the state, and with it, our Holy Church. They are of the Enemy.1 And there are those who walk with the Enemy2, no longer fearing God (Deut. 6:13), “attempting to lure man to willfully ignore God’s judgment.”3 The un-fearing serve “other gods, of the gods of the peoples who are round about you (Deut. 6:14).” The un-fearing are willing enablers of the Enemy.

To walk with the Enemy is to walk with a liar.4

On the other hand, some have been prescient of the present time—it’s coming, and its dangers. One such person is Rod Dreher, the author of The Benedict Option. Yet the nation’s senior Greek hierarch, who appreciates “the emergency of “Black Lives Matter,”5 states, “I am not for the so-called “Benedict Option,” a retreat from the world to some form of Christian “Hasidism” that seeks separation based on external forms.”6

Dreher’s response was classic—if not eviscerating.

Based on this familiar mischaracterization of my work, I would bet my 2021 tithe that the good archbishop has not read The Benedict Option, and is just going on what the liberal Greek Orthodox guys at Fordham told him about it after he arrived in the US in 2019. I would suggest that he read the book for himself. The situation in the Greek Orthodox Church in America is calamitous. Back in 2012, according to the GOA’s own research,7 90 percent of Americans with Greek roots are no longer in communion with the Orthodox Church.8

Why would the archbishop lie? Why would he put the Lord [our] God to the test? (Deut 6:16)9 The only answer as to “why” is because he/man no longer fears God.10

Indeed a simple search for Dreher’s summation of his book would be revealing to the archbishop and all who wish not to read the text. On YouTube—Rod Dreher: What is the Benedict Option?11 posted on January 22, 2020—the author succinctly articulates his vision.

[Begin 4:37.]

I think that we Christians have a decision to make. Either we are going to continue to live in this post-Christian world where Christ, the Gospel narrative, is not how we understand ourselves collectively. If we continue to live in the world as if nothing were wrong, we’re at risk of losing our faith exactly as young Benedict thought he would if he stayed in Rome at the time. But if we take the Benedict option, if we choose to step outside and form communities in which we can be educated in our faith and not only educated, but disciples in the faith, then we might stand a chance of surviving.

What the Benedict Option is not is let’s head for the hills. Let’s live in monasteries. Monasteries are built for monks and nuns, not for laypeople. We are called to live in the world. But, if we’re going to live faithfully in the world, then we have to spend a certain amount of time away from that world, holding on to what we’ve been given, studying our tradition, praying, fasting, and building communal bonds; because, if we don’t, we’re not going to make it. That’s the radical choice we have to make now.

But just going along to get along and pretending that this thing might pass us by—it’s not going to happen. We have to act now if our children, grandchildren, and future generations are going to have a Christian faith.

Lastly, the reason that St. Benedict’s example is so important, Benedict, all he did, was set out to build monasteries [and] establish communities where vowed Christians could live in community and learn to serve God. He died in the year 547 [A.D.]. When he died, he’d left behind maybe 12-13 monasteries; what he could not have foreseen is what God did with his work. Over the next few centuries, the monastic movement spread like wildfire throughout Western Europe. Now, remember, Western Europe was lawless. It was a place of barbarian tribes, fighting, and chaos. But the Benedictines slowly, slowly moved across Western Europe building their communities, civilizing the place, cleaning things up, preaching the Gospel, and helping the local people to learn things about the art of living that they had forgotten when Rome collapsed. And they eventually laid the groundwork for the rebirth of civilization.

I think that that’s our task now... But what we can do is be faithful where God has planted us and create these small islands of light and order and the love of God and use that to build outward from there.

[End 7:40. A summary in less than three minutes!]

How can any true God-fearing bishop reject the preceding? But a non-God-fearing bishop, by his admission, does reject the preceding.

Is not a parish to be a “small island of light and order and love of God?” Are we not supposed to lay the foundation of our Orthodox Christian faith for our children, grandchildren, and future generations? Are we not supposed to catechize and welcome the tired and beleaguered into our faith? I believe the answer is yes to all of the above.

But for some hierarchs, it is about earthly power - “the eclipse of any reference to the transcendent reality in general, or God in particular. Human flourishing, moral life, and nature all come to be understood in a self-sufficient, “this-worldly,” naturalistic, immanent way.”12 This is, sadly, what has been seen and experienced in the past few years from the Greek diocesan, archdiocesan, and patriarchal realms of power. It gives rise to a “satanic optimism”—a temporal thirst for power that is shared by liberal capitalism with Communism.13 As manifested by their deeds, theology has become ideological conformity with the world, creating an intolerant climate to tradition, Holy Tradition, and the Truth.

It can be the only explanation for the denigration of the Holy Eucharist—the heart and embodiment of the Church—by the Greek communion with non-apostolic heretics in Ukraine to the unholy dispensing of the precious Body and Blood to non-Orthodox Christians in America.

Ideological conformity to this world is evident when

“The new Greek archbishop went to a Black Lives Matter march in Brooklyn recently. [While] one is certainly pleased that the Greek Orthodox primate stands up against police brutality and against racism, but as the ‘What We Believe’ page of the Black Lives Matter website indicates, the organization is directly opposed to some fundamental teachings of Orthodox Christianity”14 . . .

Yet the archbishop states

“I will continue to speak and to act in the ways that are consistent with the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the high office with which I have been entrusted by our Holy Mother Church.15 [Emphasis added.]

Given his words and deeds, the archbishop thus stands with the BLM agenda.

We make space for transgender brothers and sisters to participate and lead.

We are self-reflexive and do the work required to dismantle cisgender privilege and uplift Black trans folk, especially Black trans women who continue to be disproportionately impacted by trans-antagonistic violence.

We build a space that affirms Black women and is free from sexism, misogyny, and environments in which men are centered.

…We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.

We foster a queer-affirming network. When we gather, we do so with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking, or rather, the belief that all in the world are heterosexual (unless s/he or they disclose otherwise).16

I believe we now know where the archdiocese is taking its people. And it is doing so by trampling on the bones of its faithful across the centuries, becoming a part of the cancel culture—canceling our Holy Traditions, if not God—the transcendent reality.

Satanic optimism exists when bishops walk with the Enemy. Walking with the Enemy is to walk with a liar—and to lie. Walking with the Enemy also means it, the Enemy, will lie to its allies—and consume them.

We would do well to remember the biblical admonition.

You shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the peoples who are round about you; for the Lord your God in the midst of you is a jealous God; lest the anger of the Lord your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth (Deut. 6:14–15).

God is just, not kind.


2 “Phanar hierarch in US: Joining protests is my duty as a Greek and Christian”


4 Gen. 3:4-5. But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”





9 Deut. 6:16

10 Deut. 6:13. “You shall fear the LORD your God’“


12 Quoting philosopher Charles Taylor in Rethinking Secularization: Philosophy and the Prophecy of a Secular Age

edited by Gary Gabor, Herbert De Vriese -

13 Quoting Pope Pius XI in Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes; Fourth Edition by Eamon Duffy -




John from Texas7/11/2020 9:36 pm
“I am not for the so-called ‘Benedict Option,’ a retreat from the world to some form of Christian ‘Hasidism’ that seeks separation based on external forms.” The operative words in the objection are “based on external forms.” Translation: Rod Dreher is a racist separatist. It’s a typical tactic of leftists. They claim to be against imperialism and colonization but when conservative traditionalist Orthodox Christians find a way for them (and their kids!) to live separate from the post-modern nihilistic progressive influence, the leftists object loudly and strenuously when they are denied access to the minds of children of the Orthodox and try to shame people out of their families’ spiritual self-djefense. They claim to be against a “supremacist” mentality but it never occurs to them that people are not required to seek their permission. I read a number of leftist criticisms of The Benedict Option and concluded they were all disingenuous, each one “bearing false witness” against Rod Dreher. It took reading only the first 25 pages to see all their negative assertions answered, each criticism proven wrong and not at all accurate.... if only they they would read the book and(!) be honest. Never the less, the tactic continues. Object to or remove oneself from their cultural toxicity, and they shame people as bigots.
Basil7/10/2020 11:49 pm
Thank you, Father, for your direct and succinct analysis of the dangerous secular and, in the case of BLM, Marxist ideology which, despite being plainly contradictory to the Faith, seems to be permeating the discernment and faith of Church leaders. You rightly identify the folly of not fearing God - which is a prerequisite for wisdom (Pr. 9:10). May we test the spirit (1 Jn 4:1) lest we subjugate Truth to the political expediency of the day (which is demonic). May God grant us tears of repentance, literacy of the Faith, and boldness of spirit to practice The Benedict Option - which, for the faithful Christian, is really no option at all as much as it is a consistent application of orthopraxy. Well done.
Panayotis7/10/2020 1:58 pm
Another thing is that due to the fact that Dreher is not a member of the clergy and thus captive to the institutional system (ie. the when the canonical system is dysfunctional), Dreher is in position to share some fresh and important insights that challenge the prevailing wisdom in some Orthodox circles. Essentially, he is doing to work of the shepherds for them. More Benedict Optionish insights for the American believer: “We are also...having the same internal conflicts within Orthodox academia and among the clergy, over sexual morality and theology, as other churches. There is no place to escape this stuff completely. Father Alexander [former dean of Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville, NY] said in his talk that we Orthodox in the US ought to look to Russia as our protector. Huh? What on earth is Russia, or any other nation, going to do for the Orthodox wedding photographer forced by law to close her business because she won’t photograph same-sex weddings? It’s a total fantasy. Anyway, even if Putin sent regiments of Cossacks to stand guard around Orthodox parishes, that wouldn’t do a thing to prevent internal decay. If we American Orthodox (and other Christian churches) can’t succeed in passing our faith along under conditions of freedom, what makes people confident that we would be able to do it better when there are serious costs to pay for being a believer?”
Panayotis7/10/2020 1:20 pm
There are more ironies to this piece. For one thing, Dreher refers to the monasteries that St. Benedict established and the evangelizing role that they played during the time of darkness and lawlessness but this is exactly what is happening within the GOA through the holy monasteries that Elder Ephraim established. Actually, not just the GOA members but Orthodox from all over the world have flocked there in search of the spiritual nourishment that they thirst for. But this nourishment also involves spiritual struggle for he who seeks to save his soul must lose his life and hate the world of the passions. However, the requisite kind of struggle is usually avoided or even rejected today by all those who seek to advise on how to save the Church and so their message ends up being an empty one.
Panayotis7/10/2020 12:19 pm
I was really surprised to see the contrast in the response to the protests between the Orthodox outside of the US and the American Orthodox. While the former are on the whole sympathetic to black voices, the latter generally dismiss those voices as attempting to besiege whites: Contrast the position of Fr. Andrew Phillips, English Orthodox priest, with that of the author: Q: What should our attitude to the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement be? I have heard that an Antiochian priest in America has excommunicated anyone who takes part in their demonstrations. A: Obviously, we would never support violence, anarchy, law-breaking, looting etc. However, that is just the opportunist fringes, it is not what that movement is about. It is about restoring the human rights of all human-beings. All Lives Matter. I cannot see how anyone can be against that. As for some untrained and unintegrated crazy American convert, or rather semi-convert, from the conservative evangelicals, I think we can forget him. No priest has the right to excommunicate anyone.
allan dart7/10/2020 11:01 am
I bend my knee to my lord and saviour jesus Christ only may god bless us every one
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