The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher
Summary: This book is very much about the current state of the American church and how Christians should worry more about living out their lives helping others and other believers instead of delving too much into politics and trying to save America from foreign or domestic invasion. The book emphasizes living out Christian virtues and being the hands and feet of Jesus. It also implores the Christian to look less like the world by living simpler, being less plugged in to technology and social media, and working to help out the least of these. He encourages the Christian to influence culture and others locally.
My take: Although the author does speak about not trying to sound too doom and gloomish, he does. Also, he really doesn’t bring anything new to the Christian’s table. If you are a practicing Christian, you are already doing what he recommends. I didn’t see the Benedict option as something new, more of just a carrying out of the Two Greatest Commandments. Although he talks about influencing unbelievers with how we live, he also glorifies seclusion. He exalts monks and nuns who cloister themselves apart from the world. Throughout the book I remember thinking, “Well if we seclude ourselves, how do we influence or love on the lost?”.
I did agree with most of what Mr. Dreher wrote, I just didn’t think it was new. He did have some new information on current events, but nothing really unfamiliar in how to respond to it. A better title would have been: “The Christian Option”, because truly that is what he is writing about. I don’t think if it had had that title that it would have sold as many books though.
I don’t recommend this book to the modestly practicing, unpolitical Christian. I do recommend it to the Christian who may struggle with over-politicizing everything. As American Christians we do have that beautiful liberty to be involved in politics, but there are those who battle too much for this kingdom and not the one to come. This would be a good book that I think would benefit, in that case.
You can buy the book here.