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The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  3,175 ratings  ·  644 reviews
In a radical new vision for the future of Christianity, NYT bestselling author and conservative columnist Rod Dreher calls on American Christians to prepare for the coming Dark Age by embracing an ancient Christian way of life.

The light of the Christian faith is flickering out all over the West, and only the willfully blind refuse to see it. From the outside, American ch
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Hardcover, 262 pages
Published March 14th 2017 by Sentinel (first published 2017)
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SiSApis Sounds like there could be another book there. Seems to me that there are a number of different possible good responses to the decline and fall of the…moreSounds like there could be another book there. Seems to me that there are a number of different possible good responses to the decline and fall of the modern West. You can pick your favorite Saint and see what he or she did in response to the inevitable corruption he/she had to face in his/her time, and go from there, guided by the Holy Spirit, to fashion your own response. Best wishes!(less)
Gordon Paisley I would say that the number of people who truly adhere to these ancient traditions are becoming fewer and are considered more 'out there' than ever. I…moreI would say that the number of people who truly adhere to these ancient traditions are becoming fewer and are considered more 'out there' than ever. I think Dreher looks to those contemporary people who hold to these older traditions as heroes for us to emulate. I found myself being inspired by how these people live and trying to determine how to get closer to that way of life myself.
You are very right--this isn't new, but rather is a reinvigoration of an important Christian tradition that should be more common than it is.(less)

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Simon
May 11, 2017 rated it did not like it
In the interests of transparency: I was a Benedictine monk for nearly four years, have spent my working life (43 years) at the college run by the Benedictine monks of my former abbey. So I have some experience in living as part of an intentional community, and not only as a monk. The ethos of Benedict is supposed to permeate our larger academic community, as well as have an impact upon the surrounding area (which it does, and has done since the abbey's inception in 1876, both with the Catholic p ...more
Douglas Wilson
Jun 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: culture-studies
Strong on diagnosis. Strong on exhortation and commitment. Weak on strategic response. A worthwhile book overall.
Calvinist Batman
Mar 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was quite thought provoking. It's one of those books everyone needs to read. I don't agree with *everything* he says, but I agree with way more than I thought I would. Some may see this book as extremely alarmist, but I don't think those people have their feet in reality as a Christian.

I enjoyed the second half of the book more than the first, though it was all really good. The sections on education, liturgy, and work were some of the best. I heartily reco it.
Bob
Mar 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Summary: A proposal that in the face of pervasive cultural decline that has led to political, theological, and moral compromise within the church, it is time for Christians to consider a kind of strategic withdrawal patterned on the monastic movement founded by St. Benedict.

The idea of "the Benedict Option" first came to my attention last summer when I was writing decrying the poisonous discourse, and what I felt was the lack of real choices in our presidential and some other races. A friend pos
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Catherine
no one needs more opinions on this book; i will endeavor to live my answer to it
Jeremy
Katelyn Beaty's review at The Washington Post. James K. A. Smith reviews it in Comment, lasering in on Dreher's alleged alarmism and comparing Dreher's solution to a submarine rather than an ark. Smith says something similar, and harsher, at WaPo, and Dreher didn't like it (although the pun is irresistible). Dreher and Smith have clashed over this before. Negative review by a former Benedictine monk.

Post-publication, Smith wrote a post on the recent use of "orthodoxy" (Dreher's use, although Smith doesn't name Dreher) claiming that
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Stephen Hicks
May 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you are present in the right circles of the blogosphere or Christian cultural commentary, The Benedict Option is a hot topic if not an outright controversial one. Having read Dreher's Crunchy Cons along with probably too many of his blog posts on The American Conservative, I knew exactly what I was in for with The Benedict Option.

Whether you completely agree with Dreher's premise or not is not reason to dismiss this book. There is a copious amount of material that he puts forth that is worth
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Brian
Apr 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: culture
Dreher is Eastern Orthodox, so I differ with him on several theological points, but his analysis of our cultural situation is spot-on, his forecast of what's coming is realistic, and his strategic proposal for how to face it (though it perhaps embraces too much of a fortress mentality) is compelling and worthy of serious consideration.
Charles J
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"The Benedict Option" is, as I expected, an outstanding book. Rod Dreher has definitively shown that he is the Pope Urban of a new and dynamic movement, and this book has occasioned much commentary in the mainstream press. Unfortunately, the main point of Dreher’s book—to make a countercultural call for individual and group Christian renewal focused on communities of believers—has been somewhat lost in a subsidiary point, the real and growing persecution of Christian believers in mainstream soci ...more
Austin Hoffman
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
A fantastic idea and necessary movement, yet I found this book implemented it poorly. It was filled with doom and gloom, mixed with some theologically sound advice as well as a good dose of classic American conservatism, and ultimately, didn't say much beyond, "head for the hills. The barbarians are at the gates."
Chris
Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Rod Dreher's "The Benedict Option" has been the topic of many conversations in Christian circles and has come under not a little controversy. I decided to read it myself to see what, exactly, the fuss was about and am a bit at a loss. While I do have some critiques of Dreher's work (enumerated below) the criticisms I have most often heard leveled at "The Benedict Option" was that it, in effect, prescribed a retreat from the world. This is not, however, exactly true. Dreher does a good job of dia ...more
Matthew
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: catholic
There were some references in the book that I wrote down to check out and read up on further. I appreciated Dreher's approach to this topic. To search out the Benedict Option, one must analyze what motivated them to seek out that lifestyle. I will pray and I hope that God's will for me and my family is to live in a Benedict Option society but I have a feeling that if I were to seek it out at this time, my motivation would be one of fear.

Throughout this book, I have fought the fear I
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Melanie
Apr 23, 2017 rated it liked it
I was looking forward to this book for quite awhile. I wanted to like it, but it was just ok. Maybe because I've read a lot of Dreher's thoughts on this topic on his blog and there wasn't much new. Chapter 3, about the Rule, was the chapter I most enjoyed - it made me think of ways I could imitate monastery life in my own family life.

Esolen's "Out of the Ashes" has a similar message, but is better written and gives more practical suggestions.
Matt Pitts
Mar 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, book-club
Dreher's book inspired all kinds of ideas for me about how to move toward building stronger Christian communities (schools, churches, co-ops, reading groups). I hope to read it with some folks at my church, not because I agree with everything he says, but because it is wonderfully thought-provoking and prods us in the right direction.
Rachel
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
A timely book for all Christians and yet I didn't come to this book expecting to agree with the premise. I honestly thought having monks as a framework for the book already made this at odds with the Great Commission. My skepticism was wrong.

It was actually refreshing to read a book that gives a name to the tension my husband and I have been feeling as we raise our girls. Most every chapter hit on an area of life that we are currently doing (homeschooling classically, restricting technological
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Ben De Bono
Apr 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Rod Dreher's new book is one of the most important contemporary reads for orthodox Christians of all denominational stripes. That's not because it's a perfect book or because his presentation or ideas are an ideal solution, but because he's seemingly the only person willing to have an honest conversation about the state of Christianity in the West.

I've found most of the book's critics to be pretty disappointing. A book like this needs critics because that's the only way to have an honest conver
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Francis
Apr 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
For many reasons I am not a fan of this book. The author accurately identifies many of the serious problems we face in contemporary society; problems with family, marriage, faith, culture,education etc. It is some of his solutions that I am most uncomfortable with.
He certainly has some good common sense suggestions about preserving our families in these times. He talks about having better community relationships with like minded people, starting and/ or participating in small private schools as
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Jeanette
Mar 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Asking some of the most central questions and defining the crux of "the world" or Moralistic Therapeutic Deism that is currently defined as "good" that is 5 star. And actions in Christian morality with Christian definitions of living "good" as the goals, that's the object. Because it is true, the barbarians ARE at the gate.

BUT- I'm not sure his overall tone and answer to this ravaging or dominant philosophy will be in the mode or in the conceptions of structure that he is most attracted to as b
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Jack
Jul 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
I was disappointed in this book, but not necessarily because of the content. The title and template of a “Benedict option” is misleading and misapplied by Dreher. He is clumsily repackaging a timeless Christian message that has been more adeptly expressed by theologians and clergy like Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

The title and introduction leads me to believe that he is calling for a near-complete withdrawal from secular life. In reality, he is calling for a deliberate withdrawal from certai
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Robin Mccormack
My feeling is everything he suggests is just common sense for any Christian who is true to his or her faith and values. People are resilient and yes there are new challenges within every church community, but we can’t hide away from the world. Jesus ate dinner and talked with both sinners and believers and all had value. Although he has some good suggestions, I don’t necessarily agree with all of it.
J.A.A. Purves
Apr 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: own
So if I could light up this review with attention signs, I would. Attention everyone: regardless of what you are hearing about this book, you do need to actually read it. Dreher is not advocating for withdrawal from cultural engagement. He is advocating for a rejection of modernity, individualism, consumerism, and a number of other underlying cultural foundations of our society, which are, in fact, already soundly rejected by traditional, historic, orthodox Christianity.

Some critics
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Kristen
Mar 26, 2017 rated it liked it
About ten years ago, I read another book by Rod Dreher, Crunchy Cons: How Birkenstocked Burkeans, gun-loving organic gardeners, evangelical free-range farmers, hip homeschooling mamas, right-wing nature ... America. I was excited about the premise, but I felt like it overpromised and underdelivered. My thoughts about the Benedict Option are more or less the same. Dreher identifies some real problems and questions Christians should be wrestling with, and if they aren't on your radar at all, it could be a ...more
Katelyn Beaty
I wrote about this book recently for The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/a...
Josiah
When I first began reading this book, I imagined most of my skepticism about this book would have to do with the alarmism I expected to encounter about the state of the “Christian West.” After Trump’s dark horse victory, I’ve become more skeptical of attempts to predict the course of history, and so I wasn’t sure how relevant this book would still be without a Clinton presidency.

As it turned out, though, my continued skepticism toward the Benedict Option has little to do with alarmis
...more
Lynne
Apr 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, religion
My first criticism comes before even opening the book...I mightily disagree that we are a "post-Christian" nation...we have never BEEN a Christian nation, therefore we can't be a post-Christian nation. I strongly feel we are headed into being a nation divided between those who can only function in a society of rule rigidity and those who function according to the Golden Rule alone; the prior's rules do not base rules on the Golden Rule, but on what the god of their own making would rule. The lat ...more
Heather
Oct 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
From what I'd heard about it, I was both intrigued and skeptical about this book; having now read it, I am glad to say there is more to be intrigued by than to be skeptical of. Although the first couple chapters worried me that Mr. Dreher was headed in the direction of proclaiming worldly cataclysm and calling for extreme Christian hermitage, what he proposes is not so apocalyptic.

Despite using the Benedictine monastery as the central image for his social plan, Dreher is not actually calling fo
...more
Alex Stroshine
Mar 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
4/5 for the uninitiated reader (maybe even 4,5), but 3.5/5 for me because I've followed Rod Dreher's posts on the Benedict Option for the last few years and so some of the content was repetitive.

Throughout his book, Dreher warns faithful believers that even with the election of Donald Trump, orthodox Christianity is threatened by the subtle but steady forces of liberalism while much of the religion present in America is infected by Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. In the midst of this s
...more
Steve
May 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Feels like the chatter about this book had been reaching "viral" status over the past few months, so I decided to check it out, despite the fact that I'm more of the "Christ transforming culture" mindset than (what appears to be) Dreher's "Christ against culture" approach. His central argument is that secular liberalism and moralistic therapeutic deism have so dominated American culture that it's time for committed Christians to form "alternative polises" in the model of Benedictine communities ...more
Joshua
Nov 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
In a nutshell: Western culture, built on the foundation of the Christian Church, is dying, and is not going to be resurrected any time soon. Christians must therefore deliberately rebuild Christian society.

Rod Dreher is a well-known journalist and writer/blogger, often arguing that unless the church actively grows against modernist society, it will die in the West. He starts with a cultural/spiritual history of the West, which is short, but excellent. As an Eastern Orthodox Christian
...more
Mary Lou
Aug 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was not necessarily an easy read. However, this is an extremely important read. From a Christian point-of-view, this book has had me pondering for a couple of months now. I feel the whole point of the book is well summed up the author, Rod Dreher, in the subtitle: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation.

Dreher begins with Christian history, detailed enough to make some interesting points about the course of Christianity. I don’t necessarily hold with some of the things he says
...more
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The Catholic Book...: 3. The Benedict Option 21 30 Oct 26, 2018 08:42PM  
The Catholic Book...: 5. Christian Education 12 12 Oct 24, 2018 06:40AM  
The Catholic Book...: 1. Diagnosis 7 16 Oct 18, 2018 02:40PM  
The Catholic Book...: 4. Christian Politics 2 9 Oct 18, 2018 02:35PM  
The Catholic Book...: 9. Quotes 2 9 Oct 18, 2018 02:24PM  
The Catholic Book...: Introduction 2 12 Oct 10, 2018 03:33PM  
The Catholic Book...: 7. Along the Way 10 9 Oct 10, 2018 08:06AM  

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Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has app ...more
“I am a college-educated American. In all my years of formal schooling, I never read Plato or Aristotle, Homer or Virgil. I knew nothing of Greek and Roman history and barely grasped the meaning of the Middle Ages. Dante was a stranger to me, and so was Shakespeare. The fifteen hundred years of Christianity from the end of the New Testament to the Reformation were a blank page, and I knew only the barest facts about Luther's revolution. I was ignorant of Descartes and Newton. My understanding of Western history began with the Enlightenment. Everything that came before it was lost behind a misty curtain of forgetting. Nobody did this on purpose. Nobody tried to deprive me of my civilizational patrimony. But nobody felt any obligation to present it to me and my generation in an orderly, coherent fashion. Ideas have consequences - and so does their lack.” 10 likes
“A church that looks and talks and sounds just like the world has no reason to exist.” 7 likes
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