The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher

A Review

Western civilization will soon collapse.  Rod Dreher gives us a brilliant way out that we all should at least consider.  In his book, The Benedict Option, Dreher holds St. Benedict up as a prime example of how modern believers can form lasting institutions that can survive the impending collapse of the West and help remake the West post-collapse.

Basically, we have to build strong Christian communities and institutions if we hope to survive the future.  He calls this the Benedict option.  His primary example is the monastery in Norcia Italy which is where a group of monks strictly follow the Rule of St. Benedict.  Dreher has talked with most of, if not all the monks in Norcia and how they are living out the Benedict option to the fullest.  Other examples of the Benedict option are given such as the Catholic community around Clear Creek Monastery in Oklahoma.

The Chapter on education was especially important.  Christian education must be recovered since anti-Christian leftists have polluted education and turned it into a racket.  Since he is not Catholic, he doesn’t emphasize the importance of Scholasticism.  Perhaps an idea for a Benedict option community would be to create a society where Scholasticism is studied.  Regardless, overall Dreher is correct.  Benedict option communities based on education need to be formed.

Another thing that I liked about the book is the brilliant writing style.  Dreher’s writing is extremely witty and to the point.  Here are some examples of his brilliant writing:

Today we can see that we’ve lost on every front and that the swift relentless currents of secularism have overwhelmed our flimsy barriers. – page 9

With a few exceptions, conservative Christian political activists are as ineffective as White Russian exiles, drinking tea from samovars in their Paris drawing rooms, plotting the restoration of the monarchy.  One wishes them well but knows deep down that they are not the future. – page 12

On page 210 when speaking about the parents role as primary sex educators, on page 210, he says:

If we don’t do it, the culture will do it for us.

This brilliant writing style makes the book very enjoyable to read.  Little gems of wit are found throughout the book.  Thank you so much Rod Dreher!

The book does have a few problems with it.  Dreher’s theology is somewhat weak.  This is probably because he’s been around the theological block sampling religions.  He was raised a Protestant, became a Catholic, then converted to the Eastern Orthodox Church.  One can only wonder where he’ll end up next.  Since he’s not Catholic, this probably provides a good grounding for his non-emphasis on Scholasticism.  Dreher also doesn’t seem to know the totalitarian nature of the left.  The left would love nothing more than to use the power of the almighty state to thoroughly wipe out Benedict option communities.  I don’t think Dreher understands this.

Regardless, I highly recommend The Benedict Option for all serious Christians.  Dreher knows that we need to follow the example of St. Benedict in building institutions to protect our future and our communities.  We know that Jesus wins in the end but that doesn’t let us off the hook and the Benedict option is what we need.  In fact, I would say that it’s not an option at all.

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