The Benedict Option

The Benedict Option

A Strategy for Christians in A Post-Christian Nation

Book - 2017
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American Christianity is in decline. From the outside, churches are beset by challenges to religious liberty in a rapidly secularizing culture. From the inside, they are being hollowed out by the departure of young people and a watered-down pseudospirituality. Conservative Christian political influence has collapsed. Confused and frightened Christians wonder: What went wrong? What's next? Do we have a future in post-Christian America?Rod Dreher argues that the way forward is actually the way back--all the way back to Saint Benedict of Nursia. This sixth-century monk, horrified by the decadence of Rome, retreated to the forest and created a new way of life for Christians under Barbarian rule. He and his fellow monks built resilient communities based on principles of order, hospitality, stability, and prayer. By creating spiritual centers of hope that were strongholds of light through the Dark Ages, they saved not just Christianity, but Western Civilization.The Benedict Option is the guide for Christians under siege today. Politics won't save them, and neither will the courts. In this visionary book, Dreher urges today's faithful to be new Saint Benedicts. Drawing on monasticism's ancient wisdom, Christians must build up the local church, create new schools, and take up practices that prepare them to face the twenty-first-century world with the confidence and fervor of the early church.Both philosophically astute and eminently practical, The Benedict Option is for Christians who know something has gone terribly wrong but don't know what to do about it. This book offers hope and a plan for surviving and thriving in the chaos and growing darkness of our time.
Publisher: New York : Sentinel, 2017
ISBN: 9780735213296
0735213291
Branch Call Number: 261.0973 DREHER
Characteristics: viii, 262 pages ; 24 cm

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DPAndersen
Sep 02, 2017

Oddly, Mr. Dreher doesn't define the Benedict Option. Instead he offers vague complaints and impractical solutions such as this: "Because public education in America is neither ordered, nor religiously informed, nor able to form an imagination devoted to Western civilization, it is time for all Christians to pull their children out of the public schools." He offers only "Classical Christian" education as an alternative and admits that such education is not currently available.

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dennismmiller
Jul 08, 2017

For too long, Rod Dreher suggests, American Christians believed that all that was necessary to live their faith was to go to church on Sunday, believe in the right things, and live ordinary lives. The past few decades, however, have seen the rise of an activist progressivism which is intrinsically hostile to authentic Christianity, while conservative Christians have atrophied into the chaplains of consumerism. It is now time, Dreher insists, to face hard truths - the culture war has been lost, and orthodox Christians are an increasingly despised minority, under legal and social pressure to compromise their beliefs. To survive, traditional Christians must cultivate detachment and build a parallel culture, a key feature of which will likely be the formation and cultivation of intentional communities of like-minded believers.

It is easy to misunderstand Dreher as advocating a retreat from the world, but the path sketched in The Benedict Option aims at more effective engagement, beginning with an awareness that orthodoxy is not merely a matter of correct doctrine, but of consciously living in harmony with a transcendent order. Even if the "Benedict option" is not the best strategy for the future of Christianity in the West, Dreher should be thanked for reemphasizing the truth that the challenge facing Christians in the 21st century is not primarily legal, political, social, or even moral, but anthropological and cosmological.

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