In a radical new vision for the future of Christianity, NYT bestselling author and conservative columnist Rod Dreher calls on American Christians to prepare for the coming Dark Age by embracing an ancient Christian way of life.
The light of the Christian faith is flickering out all over the West, and only the willfully blind refuse to see it. From the outside, American 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 pseudo-spirituality. Political solutions have failed, as the triumph of gay marriage and the self-destruction of the Republican Party indicate, and the future of religious freedom has never been in greater doubt. The center is not holding. The West, cut off from its Christian roots, is falling into a new Dark Age.
The bad news is that the roots of religious decline run deeper than most Americans realize. The good news is that the blueprint for a time-tested Christian response to this decline is older still. In The Benedict Option, Dreher calls on traditional Christians to learn from the example of St. Benedict of Nursia, a sixth-century monk who turned from the chaos and decadence of the collapsing Roman Empire, and found a new way to live out the faith in community. For five difficult centuries, Benedict's monks kept the faith alive through the Dark Ages, and prepared the way for the rebirth of civilization.
What do ordinary 21st century Christians Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox have to learn from the teaching and example of this great spiritual father? That they must read the signs of the times, abandon hope for a political solution to our civilization's problems, and turn their attention to creating resilient spiritual centers that can survive the coming storm. Whatever their Christian tradition, they must draw on the secrets of Benedictine wisdom to build up the local church, create countercultural schools based on the classical tradition, rebuild family life, thicken communal bonds, and develop survival strategies for doctors, teachers, and others on the front lines of persecution.
Now is a time of testing, when believers will learn the difference between shallow optimism and Christian hope. However dark the shadow falling over the West, the light of Christianity need not flicker out. It will not be easy, but Christians who are brave enough to face the religious decline, reject trendy solutions, and return to ancient traditions will find the strength not only to survive, but to thrive joyfully in the post-Christian West. The Benedict Option shows believers how to build the resistance and resilience to face a hostile modern world with the confidence and fervor of the early church.
Christians face a time of choosing, with the fate of Christianity in Western civilization hanging in the balance. In this powerful challenge to the complacency of contemporary Christianity, Dreher shows why those in all churches who fail to take the Benedict Option aren't going to make it.
About the Author
Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative and the author of Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Little Way of Ruthie Leming.
"The Trump era...has not made The Benedict Option...less timely, but more so....Conservative Christians active in politics have no choice but to do the best they can from that unsteady, wavering position. But only a robust counterculture, a healthy sense of their own freakishness and, yes, a few St. Benedicts will save them if they fall."
--Ross Douthat, The New York Times
"The Benedict Option is already the most discussed and most important religious book of the decade."
--David Brooks, The New York Times
"I'm more missionary than monastery, but I think every Christian should read this book. Rod Dreher is brilliant, prophetic, and wise. Even if you don't agree with everything in this book, there are warnings here to heed, and habits here to practice."
--Russell Moore, president, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention
"A terrific book: provocative in its content, shrewd in its insights, vivid and engaging in its style. The strength of The Benedict Option is not just its analysis of our culture's developing problems but its outline of practical ways Christians can survive and thrive in a dramatically different America. This is an invaluable tool for understanding our times and acting as faithful believers."
--Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Philadelphia
"This is the kind of book I am going to use to get the thoughtful people in my congregation reading and discussing. It is going to be helpful to the very people who have to live on the front line."
--Carl R. Trueman, Westminster [PA] Theological Seminary; writer for First Things
"An insightful and optimistic plan of action for Christians who are starting to realize just how hostile American culture is to their faith."
--Mollie Ziegler Hemingway, senior editor, The Federalist
"Deeply convicting and motivating. This book will be a grounding force for the Church in the decades ahead."
--Gabe Lyons, author of Good Faith; president of Q Ideas