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MacIntyre, Dreher, and *After Virtue*

August 5, 2017

After many years of delay, I think I’m ready to read Alasdair MacIntyre’s *After Virtue*.

The only other work I’ve read by him is *Marxism and Christianity*. I found it interesting but somewhat underwhelming—not the kind of synthesis I craved. As an aside, I might be getting more of that synthesis in Leilah Danielson’s *American Gandhi*.

Returning to *After Virtue*, what sealed its addition to my the reading list was a review of Rod Dreher’s *The Benedict Option*. The review by Michael Baxter, which appeared in Summer 2017 issue of *The Catholic Worker*, faults Dreher for a flawed use of *After Virtue*. The complaint is that Dreher misinterprets MacIntyre’s call for a “very different St. Benedict” by ignoring the latter’s Marxist inspired critique of advanced (late?) capitalism and the modern state. In other words, Dreher selectively uses MacIntyre, focusing on the latter’s critique of culture and society while ignoring MacIntyre’s criticisms of capitalism and imperialism.

Dreher, ironically, falls into the liberal trap of choice while forgetting the structures that informed MacIntyre’s call for a new Benedict. MacIntyre wanted transformation, not Christian withdrawal into a parochial remnant society.

So Dreher’s flawed use of MacIntyre has pushed me into a thinker who I’d allowed to recede into the background because of overuse by conservative Christians. – TL

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