The Benedict Option – Book Review

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.



Just do something!

I have been working with teenagers for about 12 years now. Here is a game with a short message, a quick activity and hopefully something these kids can remember. Please remember that these games are just to help make a point and are not exhaustive in explaining the Scripture cited. Feel free to use them with your group.


Explanation:  Our obedience to God has nothing to do with our feelings. You cannot always wait to feel like reading the Bible, or feel like praying, or feel like going to church. Actually most of the time you don’t – especially if you are a non-Believer. You may not get why you have to go to Church, but go anyway. You may miss the mark and forget to pray all the time, but do it anyway and next time you may be closer to understanding more about who God is and who you are in Him. You may not want to read the Bible, but read it anyway because next time you do, you may even get saved if you are not! And even if you don’t, do it again until you love going to church, until you look forward to spending time in prayer, until you crave His Word! And the closer you are to God, the greater chance you have of making the mark which can be anything from salvation for the lost to further sanctification for the Believer or getting what you didn’t understand before or finding pleasure in what you despised (obedience), or despising what once was pleasurable (sin). There is always blessing when we obey Him even though you don’t understand why you should.


Proverbs 3:5 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.

Philippians 2:12 – Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,

Isaiah 55:11 – so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Hebrews 2:5 – and having been made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him

Philippians 1:6 – And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Things needed: Trash bin, lots of sheets of paper of any kind.

What to do: Have kids sit down where they usually sit. Place the trash bin in a semi-central place. Hand out two sheets of paper and have the kid make them into two balls. They cannot move from where they are. Those sitting closer to the trash bin have an advantage than those far away (closer is better). Point that out. Have them try to make their ball into the trash bin. Then have them do it again? Was their second try closer to the mark? Ask them what they did different? Eventually, given enough time, they will make it. Encourage your kids to keep praying, to keep seeking God, to keep reading Scripture. Sometimes they may not understand why they have to do this, but God promises to not leave them where they started. Sometimes they may not feel like doing anything for God, so confess that even you feel that way also. Close in prayer begging the Holy Spirit to open their eyes and ears even more to the things of God.

You can do this activity in any order or tweak it to your groups specific needs.


Woman in White – Book Review

Reading Challenge: Read a book over 100 years old.

The Woman in White is a book about the lives of several people affected by a mysterious woman who seems to appear out of nowhere. The book is written as a collection of several narratives given by the main characters and their testimonies about their time spent at Limmeridge House or around Laura Fairley – one of the main characters. This book was written by Wilkie Collins and was published in 1859.

Like most 19th century books there are a lot of long monologues in this book. I also found a lot of the characters expressed an emotional hyperbole I couldn’t quiet relate to, even as an emotional person, these impassioned rants just seemed over the top to me. This was the same problem I had with Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray.

Although the story is a very long one, it is a really good one. The book is considered one of the earliest examples of English detective novels, but there is just so much detail and over dramatic passion that some of the characters get annoying. Laura Fairley was one of them. Her over sensitivity about everything and the love shown to her by Walter Hartright seemed to enable Laura’s irritating weakness of mind. The plot twists though were exciting and they left me guessing until the several mysteries were finally revealed towards the end of the book.

I did use Audible for this book and the reader did an excellent performance as he read and acted out the scenes.

The book is about 672 pages long. And I recommend it to anyone who likes Gothic romance,  mysteries and books written in the 1800’s.  Because of the length and long-winded explanations I do not think any of my children would enjoy reading this book. I did enjoy it mostly. There were even some times when the book was a bit spooky, but it did drag on in some places.

You can buy this book here.