Contra Rod Dreher, Not All Signs Point to a Woke Dictatorship in America


What his new book gets right, and what it misses.

There is much in Rod Dreher’s newest book, Live Not by Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents, that is true, insightful, and in need of serious consideration. At its best, the book forces an increasingly frayed and polarized Christian church to answer for its moral and political apathy. Yet Dreher’s work is missing something: a self-awareness, a careful sobriety, a consciousness that even those on the good side can unwittingly become the thing they seek to destroy.

Dreher, a columnist for The American Conservative and arguably the most-read conservative blogger on the internet, does not lack for eloquence or wisdom. He demonstrated his power of insight in his 2017 book The Benedict Option, a widely read manifesto calling for Western Christians to consciously reinvest in building their own communities of virtue instead of trying to win a culture war through politics. The Benedict Option was a stirring book that spoke powerfully to a church at a crossroads, and it resonated with Christians hungry for a healthier engagement of their culture.

Unfortunately, the spiritual sensibility of this earlier book is often missing in Live Not by Lies. In fact, the majority of the book is not didactic or contemporary at all, but rather a Christian-themed deep dive into Soviet totalitarianism. Most of the book features Dreher’s conversations and encounters with survivors of Soviet oppression and their descendants. Indeed, Dreher attributes his desire to write it to a phone call he received from a Czech family, urgently concerned that attacks on religious liberty in the US resembled their experience with Communist regimes in the 20th century.

Two Books in One

From his travels and conversations, Dreher arrives at a dire diagnosis: …

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