Note: This book came up in conversation recently, and I took a moment to move my review onto my current blog, with some minor changes. This review is from August 2017.
The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher ⭐️
This was an incredibly disappointing book. If you are looking for a better account of modern “Options”, read something from one of the “new monastics” or spend some time learning from an intentional Christian community (such as Catholic Worker houses, Reba Place Fellowship, Rutba House, the Simple Way community, the Bruderhof, or Hutterite communities).
Dreher’s focus in this book is much less about saving faithful Christianity, and much more about saving Conservatism. He laments the fall of corrupt Christendom but doesn’t appear to embrace the subversive and loving alternative of the Kingdom of God. He struggles more for power & control than mercy & justice.
He seems obsessed with issues of sexuality, spending a great deal of the book talking about his personal perspectives on it, but doing little to engage actual scholarship on the topics. It far outweighs the time he spends on other topics, and he gives little attention to the life and teachings of Jesus.
To underscore the point about his conservative priorities: Dreher spends time revering Mormonism and Orthodox Rabbinical Judaism over Christian traditions that aren’t Orthodox/Catholic.
My specific alternative recommendation to reading this book: get a copy of Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals, and start using it with your family, friends, small group, house church, and/or faith community.
Further recommended reading: this review from an actual Benedictine Monk.