5 Reactions to 'The Benedict Option'

5. David P. Goldman

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(Photo: REUTERS/Darren Whiteside)An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man looks down from a rooftop at a mass prayer in Jerusalem March 2, 2014.

David P. Goldman of PJ Media gave the book a mixed review, noting both strengths and weaknesses in Dreher's chapters.

"Dreher's book has both the charm and merit of a participant's account of the practicalities of withdrawing from the world," wrote Goldman.

"The first half of the book tries to account for the decline of Western civilization … the strongest chapters come later, recounting the experience of the religious who have tried to separate themselves from secular society, and exhorting the reader to embrace work, risk, and faith."

A major issue Goldman took with The Benedict Option was the strategy of withdrawing from society. Goldman described the experiences and struggles of Orthodox Jewish communities, who are known for their largely successful creation of countercultural enclaves.

"Dreher cites Jewish education and the diligence of students at Yeshiva University, but he does not mention how expensive it is to live the simple life outside the orbit of the secular world," cautioned Goldman.

"A relative handful of committed and competent parents now home-school their children, but a larger move to a Benedict Option of sorts will require schools, not to mention teacher-training colleges, adult education centers, publishing houses, and, eventually, universities."

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