Archives For Rod Dreher


Here are a few new book releases from this week that are worth checking out:

(Where possible, we have also tried to include a review/interview related to the book…)


The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation

Rod Dreher

Read our review of this book


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Whose Christianity?
Which Narrative?

A Feature Review of

The Benedict Option:
A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation
Rod Dreher

Hardback: Sentinel Books, 2017
Buy now: [ Amazon ]   [  Kindle ]

Reviewed by C. Christopher Smith


For over a decade, Rod Dreher has been observing and commenting on the demise of Western culture, and sketching the basic ideas that he presents in his new book The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation (which releases today).  His account of the deep fragmentation and crumbling of Western culture, and especially the devastation that flows from our uncritical submission to the economic forces of market capitalism, is one that many social critics across the ideological spectrum have explored over the last century, from Russell Kirk to Wendell Berry to Robert Putnam to Noam Chomsky. The title of Dreher’s book is appropriated from the final pages of Alasdair MacIntyre’s prescient book After Virtue (originally published in 1981), in which MacIntyre suggests that the inevitable end of the crumbling of Western culture will be a sort of “dark age,” in which civilization would only be preserved by communities that function in a similar way to those of the Benedictine monasteries that preserved much of Western culture through the dark ages after the fall of the Roman Empire. I agree with MacIntyre and Dreher that in our age of prevailing individualism, we need to find ways of cultivating community that stand in sharp contrast to the manifold fragmentation of the dominant culture.

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The Life Dante Saves May Be Your Own

A Feature Review of

How Dante Can Save Your Life: The Life-Changing Wisdom of History’s Greatest Poem
Rod Dreher

Hardcover: Regan Arts, 2015
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Joe Krall


“Dante’s epic saved my life,” Rod Dreher writes at the beginning of this strange, moving book, part memoir and part guide to Dante Alighieri’s Commedia. Knowing Dreher as the senior editor of The American Conservative and the writer of a (sometimes ruthlessly) articulate blog, I was surprised by the book’s vulnerability. Those familiar with Dreher’s The Little Way of Ruthie Lemming, a memoir of his late sister, will be in more familiar territory. Like The Little Way, How Dante Can Save Your Life is about the lessons of real life, and the struggle to live out the truth we know.

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Here are a few new book releases from this week that are worth checking out:

(Where possible, we have also tried to include a review/interview related to the book…)

Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church

By Rachel Held Evans

Read an interview that we did with the author…


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Closer to Home.

A Feature Review of

The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life
Rod Dreher

Hardback: Grand Central, 2013.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Ellen Painter Dollar.

In November 1995, my then-boyfriend’s, now-husband’s brother died suddenly. A few weeks later, I preached a sermon at my little coffee-house church about how Jimmy’s death made me impatient with all of the outward-focused ministries for which my church (part of the venerable Washington, DC-based Church of the Saviour) was known. People affiliated with my church were doing wonderful things for DC’s poorest citizens—day care centers and GED prep and long-term supportive housing for those with HIV/AIDS. Good stuff.


But, I admitted, loving Daniel as he mourned his brother drew my focus a bit closer to home. I realized that we Christians are called not simply to do big things for Jesus “out there” in the world, but also to offer sacrificial love—Christ-like love—in our homes and families and friendships, where the needs can be just as big and desperate as those on our city streets or in undeveloped overseas locales.

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Here are a few new book releases from this week that are worth checking out:
(Where possible, we have also tried to include a review/interview related to the book…)

> > > > > >
Next Book

Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes
By Shauna Niequist

Watch for our review in our next print issue.

Watch the book trailer


Greg Boyd Launches a Critique of
the New American Patriot’s Bible

The Patriot’s Bible opens with several prefaces, one of which is an essay entitled A Call To Action. Here the contributors sound the alarm that “[o]ur freedom to serve God and to promote the gospel in our land is disintegrating.” No evidence is given in support of this alarming claim, but fighting this alleged encroaching loss of freedom is one of the reasons this Bible was published. To this end, Christians are encouraged to persevere like George Washington (who elsewhere is referred to as the “American Moses”). Washington, we are told, lost most of his early battles in the Revolutionary War, but through perseverance he ultimately defeated his foes. Consequently, we American’s “won our independence from the British and became a free people.” And then the contributors to the Patriot’s Bible add, “Our Lord taught us that when we put our hands to the plow of a righteous cause, we are never to look back, but to persevere and prevail” (Luke 9:62).

This is most certainly not what our Lord taught us in this passage. In the context for this verse, Jesus repeatedly emphasized the need for people to forgo normal social conventions if they wished to become his disciple (vss 56-62). All of this followed right on the heals of Jesus’ rebuke of his disciples for wanting God to violently punish those they perceived to be enemies of the Gospel (vs. 52-55). In this context, Jesus said, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

Notice how the Patriot’s Bible completely subverts Jesus’ teaching.


Read the full review:

Reflections on Ivan Illich’s

Give an underprivileged child a new set of clothes, a ruler and lunch box at the summer’s end and you will be called a hero. Tell that same child that if she knew what was good for her, she should run the other way when the proverbial school bell rings, and you will be branded a blasphemous heretic.

Yet according to Ivan Illich, Roman Catholic educator, author and social critic of the 1970’s, this latter action would be by far the more humanitarian approach.

In his powerful tirade, Deschooling Society, Illich shows how the institution of school, in it’s very essence, is the primary generator of our consumption driven society.

Read the full piece:

Deschooling Society.
Ivan Illich.
Paperback: Marion Boyars, 1999.
Buy Now:  [ Doulos Christou Books $10 ] [ Amazon ]

Rod Dreher Reflects on

Last night I read a fascinating book, “Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes,” an account of living in the Amazon jungle written by a linguist, Dan Everett, who initially went into the jungle as a missionary, but who came out an atheist. Everett’s website is here; you can order the book through it, if you like, and read interviews with him.

Everett spent decades living with the Piraha tribe, learning their extremely difficult language so he could translate the Bible for them, and lead them to the Christian faith. How he lost his own Christian faith in the process is a story that he tells in the book all too briefly; this is primarily a book about language. Still, I find myself this morning taken by a concept that recurs in the book: the subjectivity of knowledge, or, to phrase it another way, the cultural contingency of epistemology. Which is simply a fancypants way of saying not simply that the truths we know are culturally conditioned, but our way of knowing truth is also.

Everett begins his book with a startling anecdote. One morning, he and his family were awakened in their riverbank hut by the sound of the tribe rushing down to the river to see something amazing: a theophany. The excited Piraha were pointing to a beach on the opposite side of the river, where they saw “Xigagai, the spirit” appearing, and threatening the men with death if they went into the jungle.


Read the full review:

Dan Everett.

Hardcover: Pantheon, 2008.
Buy now: [ Doulos Christou Books $22 ]  [ Amazon ]