We are all familiar with the Benedict Option which is basically the formation of self-sustaining hobbit hole communities away from the broader Body Politic. Many people have pointed out the numerous problems with the Benedictine Option, but the main one is basically that the Powers that Be will not leave you alone in your hobbit hole, and that basically you are just surrounded by your enemies. You have nowhere to go. This also points to the risks and dangers of trying to build a lasting “landed” heritage which could simply be confiscated tomorrow, etc. We also shouldn’t forget that Benedict communities were built on the periphery of extensive imperial networks, and as I’m always reminded, the Shire is defended by the Rangers of Gondor. You cannot have a hobbit hole without a broader empire protecting it.

But a hostile environment will require a set of political strategies and attitude which differs from that of Christendom. In that, I propose as an alternative to the Benedict Option, the Lollard Option.

The Lollards historically were the “Proto-Protestants” of the Christian world, John Wycliffe being the main representative of that movement. Along with the Waldesians on the Continent, it was an underground Church which objected to many corruptions and objectionable practices of medieval Christendom, until they emerged from the underground during the Protestant Reformation and was merged with established Protestantism. Unlike the Benedict Option, which attempts to create a visible distinct Christian community, the Lollards hid their faith or practiced it in private, while publicly being fully integrated with society. Today, this form of Lollard Proto-Protestantism is practiced in places where Christians are being persecuted such as China, and establishing a fixed visible Christian presence would merely be painting a bull’s eye on one’s back.

I’ll sketch out what I think are some core principles behind the Lollard Option:

(1) Mobility is essential. You have to be able to flee a city or locality in an instant, and cannot be too attached to any visible community or place, or at least treat it with penultimate irony.

(2) “Evangelical” faith, in the individual and family sense, is critical and core to one’s Christian practice. You cannot depend on visible institutions or organisations, or even networks. They may become compromised tomorrow, whether from being infiltrated by the Woke, CCP spies, or having one’s pastor being arrested tomorrow. The Word and I should be sufficient.

(3) Possessing skills is more important than possessing property. You could lose your property overnight, but with the proper skillsets you can always be employable or productive or of use.

(4) Only an explicit and substantive confessional Christian polity can do politics in a truly “principled” and consistent manner, drawing conclusions from Christian first principles. A deistic polity has some coherence under the law of nations/international law, where even Israel could make treaties and take oaths before God with foreign tribes and powers, and we can have some reasoning with people who share the common precepts known via natural religion. But a secular polity is a pure machine/force of nature, it only has interests, not principles, they are to be used, managed, and manipulated, not reasoned with because it has no reasons, it has no conscience, it has no soul.

(5) Outside of a Christian polity, use politics and laws as instruments, transcationally and opportunistically, not as principles. Even the Lollards from time to time enjoyed the protection of powerful patrons against the ire of the established church or hostile noblemen. And of course, we have the supreme example of St Paul in Acts 23:11-35 where he used his Roman citizenship to secure the protection of Roman legions against his opponents who plotted to kill him.

(6) (5) is not merely restricted to mere bodily security. We must live in this bodily life and need bodily means, including the means afforded by laws and politics. What use of whatever legal instruments are available, voting, political campaigning, rights, freedoms, political and civic connections, contracts, legal loopholes, etc, etc, to secure your family’s sustenance and material well-being, to make your environment more livable for the Christian life, less hostile and more comfortable, and to advance your own ends. Live peaceably with everyone as far as it is possible. Love your concrete neighbours and your enemies as you would love yourself, but a secular state, along with its laws and policies, is a mere machine, it is not a person, it has no conscience, and it is there for you to used, not to be loved, even less applied consistently or fairly or universalised. If they want to create a stable arrangement, they can begin by confessing Christ as Lord.

(7) Christendom is a desirable end point, and if one could have it, one should strive for it as a visible sign of the realisation of God’s Kingdom, which commands all men including kings to confess Him as Lord, and obviously as a great aid for the advancement of the Gospel. Even the Lollards and Waldesian eventually emerged from the shadows and joined the broader Protestant polity. But it is not essential to the faith, and it maybe a gift which is rare and takes a long time to come.

I’ll update this list as I reflect more. But these are the principles which I can think of for now.

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