How can orthodox Christians flourish in a hostile modern world? Rod Dreher proposes a way in The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Dreher pitches his idea, explains its inspiration, and insists that he doesn’t mean conservatives should flock to monasteries. He also tells us whether he still considers himself a “crunchy con”–the subject of his first book.

Please Support Our Sponsor!

Support the Ricochet Audio Network

Are you a Ricochet Audio Network podcast listener? Would you like to support the great podcasts you already listen to all the time? Now you can with the Podcast Listener member level at the Ricochet Audio Network for just $2.50 per month. Become a supporting member today.}

Members have made 23 comments.

  1. Profile photo of dukenaltum Member

    While the Benedict option is laudable, it is odd that Christians are compelled to leave their Civilization at that behest of the people who destroy everything they touch.

    The Benedict Option is not a broad path open to all Christians but it has been available in the Catholic Church since Saint Benedict of Nursia found his first monastery in the 6th Century. It is a religious vocation to become a monk not open to all but only those who are called to it. It also requires one to be a Catholic first.

    Saving our Civilization and our Faith is our fight not a retreat. Deus vult.

    • #1
    • March 13, 2017 at 2:55 pm
    • Like1 like
  2. Profile photo of Majestyk Thatcher

    A depressing and defeatist view, if ever there were one.

    That said, I can’t help but wonder at the lack of self confidence held by a religious movement which still boasts something like 70% adherence within the population. Is Rod saying that the dark era is upon us (I say us but really mean ‘them’ – conservative Christians) irreversibly? If this is the end, bring it on faster please.

    • #2
    • March 13, 2017 at 3:22 pm
    • Like1 like
  3. Profile photo of captainpower Member

    Majestyk (View Comment):
    still boasts something like 70% adherence within the population.

    ~ 75% self-identify as Christian (source: Gallup)

    ~ 38% attend church regularly (source: Pew)

    I couldn’t find a handy link, but the voting trends between the two are dramatic

    [edit] …kinda like the voting trends are different between single women as contrasted with married women.

    • #3
    • March 13, 2017 at 4:00 pm
    • Like1 like
  4. Profile photo of Lily Bart Member

    Majestyk (View Comment):
    a religious movement which still boasts something like 70% adherence within the population

    Define ‘adherence’.

    • #4
    • March 13, 2017 at 8:49 pm
    • Like1 like
  5. Profile photo of Ansonia Member

    Since a day or two ago, when I listened on You Tube to Anthony Esolen in an interview on 91.3 FM Radio regarding the uproar over his September 26, 2016 article at Crisis Magazine, and also listened on You Tube to his recent lecture, The Imagination, which he was prevented from giving at Providence College, I’ve been thinking something similar to what Rod Dreher says in this podcast.

    The Benedict Option reminds me of the kind of repair work a person does as she gradually grows to where she can acknowledge to herself and some kind of….I don’t know…..therapist? Al-Anon sponsor?…..some kind of confessor that, say, out of her desire to keep a lover, she at least half knowingly enabled the charming drunk who ran up her credit card, cracked up her car, and threatened her physically when she finally faced the reality of his behavior and began packing her bags to move away from it. A move that would have been easier to make had she made it when she still had money and a car.

    It might actually be our only option, this Benedict Option thing. And harder to take the longer we put it off.

    • #5
    • March 13, 2017 at 10:54 pm
    • Like0 likes
  6. Profile photo of Majestyk Thatcher

    Lily Bart (View Comment):

    Majestyk (View Comment):
    a religious movement which still boasts something like 70% adherence within the population

    Define ‘adherence’.

    Self-identification. There are plenty of Christians in this country – super-majorities, in fact – yet Christians somehow feel as if they’re under siege.

    How large would the majorities have to be in order to make Christians feel comfortable? 95% adherence? What would it take?

    It strikes me that as much as conservatives rail against “victimhood culture” there exists a large cohort of Christians who enjoy being able to don that mantle and wail about how bitterly unfair it is that they don’t have utter control over the levers of power in society. As if it’s their birthright…

    So, Rod Dreher essentially “taking his ball and going home” with the Benedict Option strikes me as sour grapes.

    • #6
    • March 14, 2017 at 4:38 am
    • Like0 likes
  7. Profile photo of Majestyk Thatcher

    captainpower (View Comment):

    Majestyk (View Comment):
    still boasts something like 70% adherence within the population.

    ~ 75% self-identify as Christian (source: Gallup)

    ~ 38% attend church regularly (source: Pew)

    I couldn’t find a handy link, but the voting trends between the two are dramatic

    [edit] …kinda like the voting trends are different between single women as contrasted with married women.

    That was my off the cuff guess without looking up the Pew survey. Not bad, if I do say so… Also, hardly post-christian.

    Nobody is feeding Christians to lions. Stop whining, Rod Dreher.

    • #7
    • March 14, 2017 at 4:39 am
    • Like0 likes
  8. Profile photo of Lily Bart Member

    Majestyk (View Comment):
    Self-identification.

    Many people who ‘identify’ as Christian will fall away when the ‘cost’ to live a christian life becomes high. I don’t think Rod Dreher is speaking to these people.

    • #8
    • March 14, 2017 at 8:19 am
    • Like0 likes
  9. Profile photo of Majestyk Thatcher

    Lily Bart (View Comment):

    Majestyk (View Comment):
    Self-identification.

    Many people who ‘identify’ as Christian will fall away when the ‘cost’ to live a christian life becomes high. I don’t think Rod Dreher is speaking to these people.

    A Christian life… as you define it. Is your definition the final and ultimate form of that life?

    • #9
    • March 14, 2017 at 8:31 am
    • Like0 likes
  10. Profile photo of Icarus213 Coolidge

    I think the important issue being skirted here is that the definition of what it means to “live out” the Christian faith is changing. That is actually the crisis that Rod is observing – not that more and more people are giving up or hating on Christianity, but rather there is pressure that what it always meant to “live a Christian life” should be redefined. And let’s not kid ourselves: that debate is a very legitimate debate, especially when it comes to things like sexual ethics and sexual identities (because that’s 90% of the conflict he is referring to, yes? Gay issues?)

    So what we will see is not a split between Christians and everyone else who is not a Christian, but a war over what exactly “real” Christianity is, and that conflict is just as much an intramural war as it is anything else. If you are not a Christian, this war won’t mean much to you, but to people like Rod it IS the issue. I think his advocacy makes more sense in that context.

    • #10
    • March 14, 2017 at 9:16 am
    • Like3 likes
  11. Profile photo of Lily Bart Member

    Majestyk (View Comment):

    Lily Bart (View Comment):

    Majestyk (View Comment):
    Self-identification.

    Many people who ‘identify’ as Christian will fall away when the ‘cost’ to live a christian life becomes high. I don’t think Rod Dreher is speaking to these people.

    A Christian life… as you define it. Is your definition the final and ultimate form of that life?

    Of course that is my view.

    But if one is not truly committed to an idea or religion why would they sacrifice for it? This is why I don’t think he’s really speaking to people who are nominally or culturally Christian.

    You seem oddly angry about this – ridiculing people over it. You many not be interested in living a ‘Benedict Option’, but why do you care if others want to?

    • #11
    • March 14, 2017 at 9:39 am
    • Like2 likes
  12. Profile photo of Lily Bart Member

    I thinks its a shame that this interview was so short – but let Rod Dreher speak for himself on this matter:

    ….the thrust of the book is not about persecution, but about the loss of Christianity. It’s not a book about how to resist Robespierre as much as it is a book about how to keep your kids and your church from turning into Rachel Held Evans*, which would be a precursor to losing the faith entirely.

    *Dreher views RHE as representing the liberalization of Christianity – of melding it with modern culture (hope I’m representing his views correctly here).

    • #12
    • March 14, 2017 at 10:01 am
    • Like0 likes
  13. Profile photo of Lily Bart Member
    • #13
    • March 14, 2017 at 10:06 am
    • Like0 likes
  14. Profile photo of Icarus213 Coolidge

    Lily Bart (View Comment):
    I thinks its a shame that this interview was so short – but let Rod Dreher speak for himself on this matter:

    ….the thrust of the book is not about persecution, but about the loss of Christianity. It’s not a book about how to resist Robespierre as much as it is a book about how to keep your kids and your church from turning into Rachel Held Evans*, which would be a precursor to losing the faith entirely.

    *Dreher views RHE as representing the liberalization of Christianity – of melding it with modern culture (hope I’m representing his views correctly here).

    Yes, this was my point: the war is more against the redefinition of Christianity rather than its extermination.

    • #14
    • March 14, 2017 at 12:32 pm
    • Like0 likes
  15. Profile photo of Majestyk Thatcher

    Lily Bart (View Comment):

    Majestyk (View Comment):

    Lily Bart (View Comment):

    Majestyk (View Comment):
    Self-identification.

    Many people who ‘identify’ as Christian will fall away when the ‘cost’ to live a christian life becomes high. I don’t think Rod Dreher is speaking to these people.

    A Christian life… as you define it. Is your definition the final and ultimate form of that life?

    Of course that is my view.

    But if one is not truly committed to an idea or religion why would they sacrifice for it? This is why I don’t think he’s really speaking to people who are nominally or culturally Christian.

    You seem oddly angry about this – ridiculing people over it. You many not be interested in living a ‘Benedict Option’, but why do you care if others want to?

    I get irritated when leftists claim some sort of victim status and I feel like this “retreat to our tower” thing because they can’t get their way is a different version of that.

    Sure, the snowflakes are more aggressive about it. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

    • #15
    • March 14, 2017 at 12:40 pm
    • Like0 likes
  16. Profile photo of Brad2971 Member

    Lily Bart (View Comment):

    Majestyk (View Comment):

    Lily Bart (View Comment):

     

    Of course that is my view.

    But if one is not truly committed to an idea or religion why would they sacrifice for it? This is why I don’t think he’s really speaking to people who are nominally or culturally Christian.

    You seem oddly angry about this – ridiculing people over it. You many not be interested in living a ‘Benedict Option’, but why do you care if others want to?

    I’ll jump in on this: Because Christians are called upon to be Salt and Light to the world, per Matthew 5:13-16. What Rod Dreher advocates is abdication. Devout, cultural, even cradle Christians should be, and very likely are, repulsed by such abdication.

    Pope Benedict XVI was “compelled” into early retirement by his fellow Cardinals for a reason. Pope Francis is the current Pope for a reason. Heck, at this stage, the LGBT community is more within the Christian tradition in pursuit of its full rights than the likes of Rod Dreher are.

    • #16
    • March 14, 2017 at 6:56 pm
    • Like0 likes
  17. Profile photo of Lily Bart Member

    Brad2971 (View Comment):
    What Rod Dreher advocates is abdication.

    I think you misunderstand his idea.

    Pope Benedict XVI was “compelled” into early retirement by his fellow Cardinals for a reason

    The book is pattered after the 6th Century Monk named Benedict, not the last Pope.

    ..at this stage, the LGBT community is more within the Christian tradition in pursuit of its full rights than the likes of Rod Dreher are.

    ???

    • #17
    • March 14, 2017 at 8:23 pm
    • Like1 like
  18. Profile photo of Kate Braestrup Member

    I see this as a(-nother) playing out of the old tension between Doing and Being. I am —rather obviously—biased toward the “doing” and get annoyed with those who would withdraw, or who see their task as self-perfection/personal salvation/communion rather than helping the poor whether the poor are deserving or not.

    My annoyance is excessive; even Jesus had to withdraw “across the Jordan” now and then.

    I just started a conversation with a clergy colleague who has been conducting “whiteness” seminars at her church. My (impatient) query: “what good does scrubbing yourself clean of racism do for the impoverished and imprisoned black American?” Are we called to work toward being personally perfect, or to get out there, imperfect as we are, and love the unloveable as best we can?

    I think I’d have the same question for Mr. Dreher, though I haven’t read the book and should probably refrain from comment until I’ve done so? [Don’t be silly, Kate! When has ignorance ever prevented you from having a strong opinion?]

    I don’t recall Jesus expressing much optimism about the crisis in His immediate environment… but if I model myself on Him, don’t I keep showing up and doing my loving best?

    • #18
    • March 15, 2017 at 10:40 am
    • Like1 like
  19. Profile photo of Ansonia Member

    Re # 18

    It’s foolish to try jumping in the water to save a drowning person if you don’t know how to swim.

    The Benedict Option seems to be about learning how to swim. I’ve got to read the book to know, but it sounds, in part, like a kind of “Physician, heal thyself” approach.

    • #19
    • March 15, 2017 at 1:05 pm
    • Like1 like
  20. Profile photo of Kate Braestrup Member

    Ansonia (View Comment):
    Re # 18

    It’s foolish to try jumping in the water to save a drowning person if you don’t know how to swim.

    The Benedict Option seems to be about learning how to swim. I’ve got to read the book to know, but it sounds, in part, like a kind of “Physician, heal thyself” approach.

    True, dat.

    • #20
    • March 15, 2017 at 5:55 pm
    • Like1 like
  21. Profile photo of Front Seat Cat Member

    John – excellent interview. I finally found time to listen and it was much different than I thought it would be. I am fascinated by the other book he mentioned that turned his thinking, “After Virtue”. I remember watching a particular interview on EWTN where the host and clergy predicted in 2003 the very things we are witnessing today. It’s alarming how much has changed so fast, and they said get ready. It was easy to think back then it was an exaggeration, but really it was an understatement, not only country and gov. wide, but worldwide. Who thought we would witness the ethnic cleansing and beheading of Christians in this day and age. Thanks for bringing this book and author to the Ricochet community.

    • #21
    • March 22, 2017 at 6:58 am
    • Like1 like
  22. Profile photo of Front Seat Cat Member

    Lily Bart (View Comment):

    Brad2971 (View Comment):
    What Rod Dreher advocates is abdication.

    I think you misunderstand his idea.

    Pope Benedict XVI was “compelled” into early retirement by his fellow Cardinals for a reason

    The book is pattered after the 6th Century Monk named Benedict, not the last Pope.

    ..at this stage, the LGBT community is more within the Christian tradition in pursuit of its full rights than the likes of Rod Dreher are.

    ???

    Here’s the Benedict he was talking about (brave guy!):

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benedict_of_Nursia

    • #22
    • March 22, 2017 at 7:11 am
    • Like2 likes
  23. Profile photo of Front Seat Cat Member

    Interestingly, the very place the author mentioned that gave him inspiration was struck by an earthquake last year:

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/30/san-benedetto-basilica-norcia-destroyed-italy-earthquake

    • #23
    • March 22, 2017 at 7:14 am
    • Like2 likes