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Benedict Groeschel. I still get irritated when I remember how the MSM abused him after he made a few confusing remarks about women that were deemed unacceptable, but at the same time, I take consolation, knowing he couldn't have cared less.

I keep a handful of books on my Kindle that I read from sporadically. These aren't books that I dive into, but rather books that I read at odd moments when I don't feel like reading anything else.

One of them is E. Michael Jones' little book, Benedict's Rule: The Rise of Ethnicity and the Fall of Rome. From what I can tell, it's about how Benedict saved western civilization after Rome's fall (or, how I would be more inclined to phrase it, "how Benedict and his successors inherited the soul of western civilization from Rome as its imperial apparatus shrunk away"). There's undoubtedly going to be a twist in Jones' account ("the rise of ethnicity"), but so far, it's about the fall of Rome and the rise of monasteries.

The Introduction drew comparisons to the fall of the Roman Empire and the fall of the American Empire. His basic point is that, just as Rome rotted internally as it concentrated on regions far removed from Rome, American is rotting internally as it concentrates on regions far removed from, say, Ohio. The American rot is embodied in its inner cities.

He might have a point, which isn't surprising because Jones always has a point that makes you stop and think, even though those points sometimes veer too closely to uncomfortable subjects (is he an anti-Semite? I doubt it, but I haven't looked at the evidence either way; if I declined to read everything that might contain inappropriate thoughts, I couldn't even read my own TDE archives . . . or my own soul, for that matter).

Just as the monks saved western civilization, Jones thinks the monks could help revitalize our innter cities. If you read accounts of Groeschel's grey friars in the South Bronx, you know Jones has a point.

I especially liked this proposal from his Introduction:

What I'm proposing is very simple. Let one or two or three Benedictine monks take over one or two or three abandoned parish buildings in cities like Philadelphia, Detroit, New York, or Boston and turn them into monasteries which could provide affordable housing for young Catholic couples who want to live according to the 21st century version of the rule of St. Benedict.

Such a project, of course, comes with a lot of economic and regulatory hurdles. If the Church owns the buildings, they could simply convey them to the Order for $1.00, but the rehab costs would be astronomical in light of the Americans with Disabilities Act and ordinary housing codes. And if there are any environmental concerns . . . well, good bye. The project ain't gonna happen. You'd hope there would be no environmental concerns in an old church building, but in light of ground water migration and other potential pollutants, you never know.

But the project isn't quixotic. It deserves consideration. And who knows, it might just save a few inner-city neighborhoods . . . and maybe America. Hope springs eternal.