Benedict Option by Rod Dreher
Book Summary

There are a number of things in the Benedict Option by Rod Dreher that will make sense to faithful Catholics. He articulates the problem well about where we, as Christians, may find ourselves in the near future. He's not "saying let's wall ourselves away from the world". In fact, he points out that that would be a disaster and gives examples of failed movements that have attempted that. The book is eccumenical and has broad appeal to all Christians who are following the culture wars.

Summary of the main points in the Benedict Option

  • Go deep in our personal walk with God and try to spend an hour a day in prayer.
  • Seek out like minded families and form a community.
  • Focus hard on creating a parallel education system.
  • Focus almost all political attention on Religious liberty because without that, many of the recommendations in the Benedict option won't work because we won't be free to practice them, especially the parallel education proposition.
  • Get ready to suffer for the faith and don't expect a quick resolution. The suffering and effort and willingness not to compromise is sufficient unto itself without the reward of being successful, we might be martryed.
  • Be prudent when refusing to cooperate with immoral things... Make a distinction between silence, and not actively participating which may be Ok vs be asked to endorse or participate in evil which is not OK.
  • Any society that abandons Christianity descends into barbarism, and that is where western civilization is going. The dark ages are coming and many wounded souls will come to us during those times if we have robust communities.
  • Make alliances with other denominations.
  • Learn to work with your hands, in the trades, die cutting, and in professions that have lower risk of making you cooperate with LBGT alliances such as "HR, Legal, medicine, etc...".
  • Hire other Christians and buy from Christians even if the price can't compete with big business.
  • Be entrepreneurial in creating work when Chistians can't find work.
  • Dramatic ending: the year he released the book, the Italian Benedict Abby, the original location of the first one by Benedict that he refers to throughout the book, is demolished by earthquake. Nowhere on earth is safe... only heaven.
  • If a Benedict monk got too proud of their work they were moved off it... good message for those of us who can be prideful, that is, all of us.

Weaknesses

  • Rob Dreher was a protestant who turned Catholic for about 10 years, but then left after abuse scandals. He joined the American Orthodox, and he's a bit casual about Catholicism. Doesn't seem to understand that the Church is THE Church.
  • He's a bit too nostalgic about the past which is the Orthodox position in general.
  • We wouldn't agree with his assertion that the Middle Ages were the high point in humanity's right relation to the world and creation and it's been downhill from there. That was a very violent time full of superstition, crusades, witch hunts and more.
  • He asserts that technology is NOT morally neutral but rather, it is evil. It is true that we may end up giving up technology so we're not tracked by big brother, but technology has done much good for humanity. 
  • We don't think it's time to give up the Pro life fight in politics.
  • Not sure that classical education is the way to go for all (or most) students. It should certainly be part of education to study the classics.  Montessori is also viable.