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The New York Times bestselling author of The Benedict Option draws on the wisdom of Christian survivors of Soviet persecution to warn American Christians of approaching dangers. For years, émigrés from the former Soviet bloc have been telling Rod Dreher they see telltale signs of "soft" totalitarianism cropping up in America--something more Brave New World than Nineteen Eig The New York Times bestselling author of The Benedict Option draws on the wisdom of Christian survivors of Soviet persecution to warn American Christians of approaching dangers. For years, émigrés from the former Soviet bloc have been telling Rod Dreher they see telltale signs of "soft" totalitarianism cropping up in America--something more Brave New World than Nineteen Eighty-Four. Identity politics are beginning to encroach on every aspect of life. Civil liberties are increasingly seen as a threat to "safety". Progressives marginalize conservative, traditional Christians, and other dissenters. Technology and consumerism hasten the possibility of a corporate surveillance state. And the pandemic, having put millions out of work, leaves our country especially vulnerable to demagogic manipulation. In Live Not By Lies, Dreher amplifies the alarm sounded by the brave men and women who fought totalitarianism. He explains how the totalitarianism facing us today is based less on overt violence and more on psychological manipulation. He tells the stories of modern-day dissidents--clergy, laity, martyrs, and confessors from the Soviet Union and the captive nations of Europe--who offer practical advice for how to identify and resist totalitarianism in our time. Following the model offered by a prophetic World War II-era pastor who prepared believers in his Eastern European to endure the coming of communism, Live Not By Lies teaches American Christians a method for resistance: - SEE: Acknowledge the reality of the situation. - JUDGE: Assess reality in the light of what we as Christians know to be true. - ACT: Take action to protect truth. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn famously said that one of the biggest mistakes people make is assuming totalitarianism can't happen in their country. Many American Christians are making that mistake today, sleepwalking through the erosion of our freedoms. Live Not By Lies will wake them and equip them for the long resistance.


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The New York Times bestselling author of The Benedict Option draws on the wisdom of Christian survivors of Soviet persecution to warn American Christians of approaching dangers. For years, émigrés from the former Soviet bloc have been telling Rod Dreher they see telltale signs of "soft" totalitarianism cropping up in America--something more Brave New World than Nineteen Eig The New York Times bestselling author of The Benedict Option draws on the wisdom of Christian survivors of Soviet persecution to warn American Christians of approaching dangers. For years, émigrés from the former Soviet bloc have been telling Rod Dreher they see telltale signs of "soft" totalitarianism cropping up in America--something more Brave New World than Nineteen Eighty-Four. Identity politics are beginning to encroach on every aspect of life. Civil liberties are increasingly seen as a threat to "safety". Progressives marginalize conservative, traditional Christians, and other dissenters. Technology and consumerism hasten the possibility of a corporate surveillance state. And the pandemic, having put millions out of work, leaves our country especially vulnerable to demagogic manipulation. In Live Not By Lies, Dreher amplifies the alarm sounded by the brave men and women who fought totalitarianism. He explains how the totalitarianism facing us today is based less on overt violence and more on psychological manipulation. He tells the stories of modern-day dissidents--clergy, laity, martyrs, and confessors from the Soviet Union and the captive nations of Europe--who offer practical advice for how to identify and resist totalitarianism in our time. Following the model offered by a prophetic World War II-era pastor who prepared believers in his Eastern European to endure the coming of communism, Live Not By Lies teaches American Christians a method for resistance: - SEE: Acknowledge the reality of the situation. - JUDGE: Assess reality in the light of what we as Christians know to be true. - ACT: Take action to protect truth. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn famously said that one of the biggest mistakes people make is assuming totalitarianism can't happen in their country. Many American Christians are making that mistake today, sleepwalking through the erosion of our freedoms. Live Not By Lies will wake them and equip them for the long resistance.

30 review for Live Not by Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents

  1. 5 out of 5

    Matt Pitts

    When I first heard that Dreher's new book was about resisting soft totalitarianism I thought the idea was a little over the top, but the events of this spring and summer changed my mind and I eagerly preordered the book. I was even more excited when I was given a pre-pub ebook to read and review (and of course I was not required to provide a positive review). The premise of the book is that we in the west can learn much from those who survived totalitarianism in the east that may help us survive When I first heard that Dreher's new book was about resisting soft totalitarianism I thought the idea was a little over the top, but the events of this spring and summer changed my mind and I eagerly preordered the book. I was even more excited when I was given a pre-pub ebook to read and review (and of course I was not required to provide a positive review). The premise of the book is that we in the west can learn much from those who survived totalitarianism in the east that may help us survive and even thrive as our culture grows increasingly hostile not only to religious liberty but to liberty in general. Dreher is careful to distinguish between the hard totalitarianism of the 20th century and the growing soft totalitarianism of the present. Even if you don't think soft totalitarianism exists, the stories of those who survived the horrors of totalitarianism are reason enough to read the book. But if you read it, I suspect that before you are more than a third of the way through the book you'll be convinced Dreher is right. This is the third of Dreher's books that I have thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend, not because I agree with everything he says, but because his books never leave me unchanged. 4.5 stars

  2. 5 out of 5

    John

    Rod Dreher begins his introduction to “Live Not By Lies” by quoting Alexander Solzhenitsyn, survivor of and writer concerning the Soviet gulags. Solzhenitsyn writes, “There is always this fallacious belief: ‘It would not be the same here; here such things are impossible.’ Alas, all the evil of the twentieth century is possible everywhere on earth.” (p. ix) With this premise asserted in the very opening pages of the book, Dreher then documents three things. First, the totalitarianism of the Sovie Rod Dreher begins his introduction to “Live Not By Lies” by quoting Alexander Solzhenitsyn, survivor of and writer concerning the Soviet gulags. Solzhenitsyn writes, “There is always this fallacious belief: ‘It would not be the same here; here such things are impossible.’ Alas, all the evil of the twentieth century is possible everywhere on earth.” (p. ix) With this premise asserted in the very opening pages of the book, Dreher then documents three things. First, the totalitarianism of the Soviet block countries is advancing in the west—specifically in America. Second, the book spends a great deal of time recounting the lives of those that survived the communist totalitarian regimes. And finally, the book applies the knowledge and experience of the communist survivors to how Christians might survive what is coming in America. Part One of the book is “Understanding Soft Totalitarianism.” These four chapters are meant to awaken American readers to the reality of the growing ‘soft’ totalitarianism we face, rather than the ‘hard’ that was in the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc countries. Dreher uses Hannah Arendt when. Building his definition of totalitarianism. He writes, “a totalitarian society is one in which an ideology seeks to displace all prior traditions and institutions, with the goal of bringing all aspects of society under control of that ideology. A totalitarian state is one that aspires to nothing less than defining and controlling reality. Truth is whatever the rulers decide it is.” The difference between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ totalitarianism is centered upon the way it is enforced. Rather than being enforced by ‘government decree’ as in ‘hard’ totalitarianism, ‘soft’ totalitarianism is enforced by ‘the persuasiveness of consumer capitalism.’ (p. xv) Dreher argues that “Many conservatives today fail to grasp the gravity of today’s threat, dismissing it as mere ‘political correctness’—a previous generation’s disparaging term for so-called ‘wokeness.’” (p. 8) Conservatives fail to see that this ideology has begun to establish itself in ‘corporate America’, having graduated from college campuses. Dreher writes, “Today…dissenters from the woke party line find their businesses, careers, and reputations destroyed.” (p. 8-9) This is the way ‘soft’ totalitarianism has become, and is being established into mainstream America. It “masquerades as kindness, demonizing dissenters and disfavored demographic groups to protect the feelings of ‘victims’ in order to bring about ‘social justice.’” (p. 9) Dreher argues that “The public will support, or at least not oppose, the coming soft totalitarianism, not because it fears the imposition of cruel punishments but because it will be more or less satisfied by hedonistic comforts.” He says, “people will surrender political rights in exchange for guarantees of personal pleasure.” (p.10-11) He goes on to say that “Christian resistance…has been fruitless… Because the spirit of the therapeutic has conquered the churches as well—even those populated by Christians that identify as conservative.” (p. 13) In short, Christians are unprepared to suffer for their faith because “the idea of bearing pain for the sake of truth seems ridiculous.” (p. 13) Throughout these arguments, Dreher brings in anecdotal evidence from those that lived under totalitarian regimes. Those that once lived under the heavy hand of totalitarian governments have been warning those willing to listen for years, that totalitarianism has come to America. Is Dreher an alarmist? Perhaps, but even those, like myself, well acquainted with the works of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Richard Wurmbrand, Orwell, and Huxley—we see signs all around us that we’re already waist-deep in soft-totalitarianism. It has happened hard and fast—becoming especially apparent with the MeToo movement, and most of all in the horrific year that has been 2020. I’ve spent most of this review in the relatively brief first part of “Live Not By Lies” because this is what is ncessary to grasp the importance of this book. But the true and lasting value of the book will be in the “how-to” portion that is most of the rest of the book. This truly is a “Manual for Christian Dissidents.” This book distills the best of what is most needed from the lives and legacies of those that survived the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc countries. If you have time, read those works as well. But at least begin with this book. This will begin the process of preparing to “Live in Truth” as Dreher puts it. Christians must begin preparing now, or we will not be prepared for what is coming. We need to prepare our hearts and souls to survive what is designed to destroy us. But God reigns. He brought a remnant out of the 20th century, and he will bring a remnant out of this one.

  3. 5 out of 5

    T.

    UPDATE 3: This review by Trevin Wax is a helpful counterbalance to some parts of Dreher's narrative. It should go without saying, but still important to reiterate, that “living by lies” is not an issue of blue/red, left/right. Truth is not the exclusive province of any party or group or ideology, and everyone, whatever one's affiliation, is vulnerable to the temptation to power, vengefulness, and destruction. Hence, we ought not to live by lies, whether they come from the left, right, or whereve UPDATE 3: This review by Trevin Wax is a helpful counterbalance to some parts of Dreher's narrative. It should go without saying, but still important to reiterate, that “living by lies” is not an issue of blue/red, left/right. Truth is not the exclusive province of any party or group or ideology, and everyone, whatever one's affiliation, is vulnerable to the temptation to power, vengefulness, and destruction. Hence, we ought not to live by lies, whether they come from the left, right, or wherever. I think this point is supported by Dreher's story of Fr. Kolaković, who experienced both Nazi and Communist totalitarian regimes: left and right are meaningless terms when it comes to totalitarianism, just as it is meaningless to distinguish between innocent lives killed by leftists or rightists. But this brings one back to Alan Jacobs's point below: We can and should interrogate Dreher's diagnoses of our times, but the need for formation in Christ and sacrificial love for others is still our task. Furthermore, Christians will always be dissidents in this now-and-not-yet period before the eschaton. Indeed, the siren song of consumerism and the deadening effects of online life are at the very least clear and present corrosives to the life of sacrifice and the work of peace to which Christ calls us. May we all be ready to answer the call to take up our crosses and offer our lives to Christ, and to walk humbly with Him as we seek what Ivan Illich calls the way of the friend, the way of hospitality, in a world that is so spiritually hungry and homeless. May we live a eucharistic life. Finally, a word from Rhys Laverty is, in its turn, a counterbalance to Trevin Wax: Dreher’s reputation as a doom-monger is unfair. He is, by his own admission, a Hobbit-like creature who would like to be left alone to worship, and to enjoy good food, good drink, and good company. Live Not By Lies is therefore a basically positive and convivial book about how, in a world where Mordor is real, Christians can still carve out a scouring-proof-Shire in their homes and churches. It is animated by characters such as the Benda family – Czech Catholic dissidents whose home was always open and table always full, often with those being harried by the Stasi. I finished this book not full of despair at our pre-totalitarian society, but full of excitement and hope about the kinds of homes and churches which will be built within it. UPDATE: A quick read, but really worth it, especially for the last half where we get the stories of survivors of several Communist regimes and discover how they withstood totalitarianism while also keeping their faith and sacrificing comfort for the sake of truth in love. We hear the stories of the Romanian Orthodox priest Fr. George Calciu, who spent over twenty years in a gulag; the Benda family in Czechoslovakia, whose home became a haven for Czech dissidents; Baptist resistors in Soviet Russia; the Croatian priest Father Tomislav Kolaković, who escaped the Nazis and came to Czechoslovakia to prepare the Slovak Catholic Church for the coming of another totalitarian regime; Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, from whose 1974 speech “Live Not by Lies!” the title is taken; and more, including appearances by Milan Kundera, Franz Jägerstätter, Czeslaw Milosz, and Hannah Arendt. This paragraph from the Acknowledgements expresses the reason for the book: This book exists because of Dr. John Schirger and his mother, Milada Kloubkova Schirger. It was she, a former Catholic prisoner of conscience in her native Czechoslovakia, who said to her US-born son that she was seeing things happening in America that reminded her of her own homeland under communism. Dr. Schirger passed his mother's remarks on to me in 2015, but at the time he preferred to keep their identity private. His mother's story was the genesis of Live Not by Lies. Milada Schirger died in 2019, at the age of ninety-two. In gratitude for her witness, her son gave me permission to identify them both....My friends Béla and Gabriella Bollobás, who fled Hungary for freedom in Britain in the 1960s, first confirmed to me that I should take Milada Schirger seriously. “What is fear? Someone who is afraid is going to be made to do the most evil things. If someone is not afraid to say no, if your soul is free, there is nothing they can do to you....In the end, those who are afraid always end up worse than the courageous.” –Mária Wittner, survivor of the Soviet regime in Hungary “The love of fathers and mothers is the seed of the church.” –R. Dreher -- UPDATE: I also appreciated Elizabeth Corey's review in Modern Age: “Hurricanes and Soft Totalitarianism” (https://isi.org/modern-age/hurricanes...) Alan Jacobs on “Learning from Rod Dreher” (https://blog.ayjay.org/learning-from-... My buddy Rod Dreher has a book coming out soon called Live Not By Lies, and it’s about what American Christians can learn about living under an oppressive regime by studying what believers did under the old Soviet Union. I think this is a story that Christians ought to be interested in, whether they agree with Rod’s politics or not. Every thoughtful Christian I know thinks that the cause of Christ has powerful cultural and political enemies, that we are in various ways discouraged or impeded in our discipleship by forces external to the Church. Where we differ is in our assessment of what the chief opposing forces are. Rod is primarily worried about the rise of a “soft totalitarianism” of the left, what James Poulos calls a “pink police state.” Other Christians I know are equally worried, but about the dangers to Christian life of white supremacy, or the international neoliberal order. For me the chief concern (I have many) is what I call “metaphysical capitalism.” But we all agree that the Church of Jesus Christ is under a kind of ongoing assault, sometimes direct and sometimes indirect, sometimes blunt and sometimes subtle, and that living faithfully under such circumstances is a constant challenge. Why wouldn’t we want to learn from people who faced even greater challenges than we do and who managed to sustain their faith through that experience? Isn’t that valuable to all of us? I felt the same way about The Benedict Option, which was mostly not an argument but rather a job of reporting, reporting on various intentional Christian communities. I read the book with fascination, because I was and am convinced that the primary reason American Christians are so bent and broken is that we have neglected catechesis while living in a social order that catechizes us incessantly. What can I learn from those communities that would help me in my own catechesis, and that of my family, and that of my parish church? I read The Benedict Option with the same focus I brought to my reading of a marvelous book by another friend of mine, Charles Marsh’s The Beloved Community. Charles’s politics are miles away from Rod’s, but their books share an essential concern: How can the church of Jesus Christ, how can Christ’s followers, be formed in such a way that they can flourish in unpropitious conditions? That’s exactly the right question, I think, and both The Benedict Option and Live Not By Lies introduce me to people who help me — even when I don’t agree with their strategies! — to think better about what its answers might be. (And The Beloved Community as well. Christians under Marxism and the Black church under Jim Crow offer remarkably similar kinds of help to us, a point that deserves a great deal more reflection than it is likely ever to get in our stupidly polarized time.) Often when I make this argument people acknowledge the force of it but tell me that Rod is the “wrong messenger.” I understand what they mean. Rod is excitable, and temperamentally a catastrophist, as opposed to a declinist. (That’s Ross Douthat’s distinction.) Like the prophet of Richard Wilbur’s poem, he’s gotten himself “Mad-eyed from stating the obvious,” and I often think that if he writes the phrase “Wake up, people!” one more time I’m gonna drive to Baton Rouge and slap him upside the head. Also, when Rod rails against “woke capitalism,” he clearly thinks that “woke” is the problem, without giving real assent to the fact that Christians are susceptible to woke capitalism because they were previously susceptible to other kinds. He perceives threats to the Church from the Right, from racism and crude nationalism and general cruelty to whoever isn’t One Of Us, and writes about them sometimes, but they don’t exercise his imagination the way that threats from the Left do. I can see why people whose politics differ from Rod’s don’t what to hear what he has to say. But, you know, Jonah was definitely the wrong messenger for Ninevah — he even thought so himself — and yet the Ninevites did well to pay attention to him. And if you think Rod has a potentially useful message but is the wrong conveyer of it, then get off your ass and become the messenger you want to see in the world. Lord knows we need more Christians, not fewer, paying attention to the challenges of deep Christian formation. Wake up, people!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Murtaza

    I might write a longer critique later, but there are a few things to note about Rod Dreher's work here. There are two parts of this book consisting of unequal quality. The first part is an analysis of contemporary American cultural and political trends given from a Christian perspective that I consider to be an exercise in catastrophic thinking. Dreher has laid out all the reasons that he believes a historic persecution of Christians is about to happen in America, waged by liberals and using the I might write a longer critique later, but there are a few things to note about Rod Dreher's work here. There are two parts of this book consisting of unequal quality. The first part is an analysis of contemporary American cultural and political trends given from a Christian perspective that I consider to be an exercise in catastrophic thinking. Dreher has laid out all the reasons that he believes a historic persecution of Christians is about to happen in America, waged by liberals and using the tools of modern surveillance technology. The worst possible outcomes of progressive thought for Christians are laid out here and Dreher evidently is preparing himself for them, in line with his previous works calling for Christians to withdraw from society into monastery-like seclusion. I have as little predictive power as anyone else (including him) and cannot entirely dismiss the fact that this might happen. But it strikes me as unlikely for a number of reasons, even if, having lost the culture war, American Christians are likely to become more marginal to the country than they have been historically. The second part of the book is more compelling, due to the fact that it has little to do with America. Dreher spends much time interviewing Christian dissidents living under the Soviet Union who really were persecuted in horrific ways. The gruesome details of these persecutions were largely unknown to me. But they remind of teachings from Islam and Stoic/Neo-Platonic thought about how to bear suffering and even appreciate it as a beautiful and necessary part of life. Against the false promises of the therapeutic state these are worthwhile reminders: life is about overcoming suffering rather than chasing the mirage of a life freed from it. Dreher seems to have taken his interviews with Soviet dissidents and projected a future America based on the Soviet model. These interviews were valuable and often moving on their own. But he fails to connect them with the eye-brow raising claim that anything like that is about to happen in the United States. Rather than darkly ruminating over future hypothetical injustices one might be called to address the many real and existing injustices plaguing society today. These include the incarceration of millions in brutal conditions, endless wars abroad that destroy whole societies, human trafficking, environmental destruction and more. These actual bad things get literally no mention in this book, which instead is concerned with hypothetical crimes that may be inflicted by a future police state. Perhaps if we focused more on reality rather than fears of a terrible future, the future might not end up being so terrible in the first place.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Charles Haywood

    A disease is going around. No, not the Wuhan Plague. This malady only affects the Right, and I name it Scrutonism. The symptoms of Scrutonism are a razor-sharp ability to identify one’s enemies and to understand their plans to destroy us, combined with a complete inability to imagine any way in which those enemies can be defeated. For a sufferer of this disease, his headspace is occupied by nostalgia and fear, in varying proportions—mostly the former in the late Roger Scruton’s case, mostly the A disease is going around. No, not the Wuhan Plague. This malady only affects the Right, and I name it Scrutonism. The symptoms of Scrutonism are a razor-sharp ability to identify one’s enemies and to understand their plans to destroy us, combined with a complete inability to imagine any way in which those enemies can be defeated. For a sufferer of this disease, his headspace is occupied by nostalgia and fear, in varying proportions—mostly the former in the late Roger Scruton’s case, mostly the latter in Rod Dreher’s case. Scrutonism’s harm is that it makes sufferers ignore the only question that matters for the Right today: what are you willing to do, given that your enemies are utterly committed to destroying you and yours? I used to be a Dreher fanboy, until he lost the plot with the Wuhan Plague and, more generally, descended into constant unmanly maundering. I’m still a fan, however (to steal a line from Aaron Renn, though he was talking about Tim Keller, not Dreher). And Live Not by Lies has partially restored my opinion of Rod Dreher as a pillar of today’s Right. It is an outstanding book, tightly written and tightly focused. That does not mean it is complete, for reasons I will lay out today, but it is good for what it is—the sharp diagnosis of the ways, means, and ends of our enemies. The outline of the book is simple. Dreher shows how life in America (and more broadly much of the West, though America is his focus) is swiftly becoming indistinguishable from life under totalitarian Communism, in its essence, if not yet all its externals. The Left, now as then, will do anything to impose its evil will across all society. (This is obvious on its face and established in detail in many of my other writings, and also at enormous length on Dreher’s blog at The American Conservative.) The Left’s political vision is wholly illusory while at the same time utterly destructive. A necessary part of their plan, again now as then, is suppression of all dissent, especially religious dissent, through controlling all aspects of every citizen’s life. This plan is already largely implemented for many sectors of American society, although Dreher claims this is a “soft” totalitarianism, different in degree from the “hard” totalitarianism of Communism at its height. He talks of Czesław Miłosz and the pill of Murti-Bing, of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, of Hanna Arendt. He deftly draws parallels between the rise of Communism in Europe and our present situation. He identifies the appeal of the Left, and of its totalitarian ideology. He talks of progressivism as religion and of the cult of social justice. He talks of woke capitalism and the surveillance state built by the Lords of Tech. He talks of the oppressive social credit system in China (under the funny heading, “The Mark of the East.”) These chapters are uniformly excellent and I strongly recommend them to anyone not already familiar with these truths. But my purpose here today is not to summarize what is happening now. Many others have summarized this book well. And to be clear, as with most of my book reviews, I am not actually reviewing Dreher’s book. Rather, I am delivering my own thoughts. If you don’t like that, well, you’re in the wrong place. A crucial internal ambiguity pervades this entire book. Dreher’s frame is totalitarianism. He channels men and women who suffered under the most evil regimes the world has ever known. He paints a picture that offers gruesome tales of torture as a regular instrument of state control. The epigraph he uses, from Solzhenitsyn, says such evil “is possible everywhere on earth,” and Solzhenitsyn was not talking about a social credit system, but real torture and death. Yet Dreher disclaims, repeatedly, that this might happen here. Instead, he suggests a Huxley-ite future, or Murti-Bing, or Shoshana Zuboff-ite/PRC-type consumerist monitoring. At the same time, though, he talks about ever-growing state and, more, private corporate actions that are not yet physical torture, yet are meant as severe punishment, such as job loss and social ostracism. The reader is confused. What, precisely, is the future Dreher is predicting, and why? The question remains unanswered. Dreher does, however, offer a type of solution. In the face of these poisonous headwinds he prescribes spiritually-centered private organizing, in essence his famous Benedict Option. “[The Christian dissident] needs to draw close to authentic spiritual leadership—clerical, lay, or both—and form small cells of fellow believers with whom [he] can pray, sing, study Scripture, and read other books important to their mission.” He must be prepared to suffer, because in the new dispensation, he will suffer, if he refuses to worship the new gods. Dreher, in short, recommends the “parallel polis,” with a strong religious component. He has discussed this before. I have also discussed this before, more than once, and that it will not be allowed, because our enemies have learned from their earlier defeats, and as Dreher himself repeatedly says, they have vastly more powerful tools than their Communist forbears did. Thus, for example, he is correct that families are resistance cells—but our enemies see this too, which is why families will not be allowed to be resistance cells, but will be forcibly broken up if parents dare to instruct their children aright. No, the parallel polis will be of short duration, if indeed it can be set up at all, and the Benedict Option, without an armed wing, is dead on arrival. Dreher does not offer any non-passive mechanism for success (but I will—just wait a few minutes). Dreher recommends Christian witness such as that of Václav Benda and his family. He recommends retaining cultural memory, and accepting suffering. But nothing succeeds like success. We know about the Bendas because Communism fell. And Communism fell both because of its internal contradictions and because it faced massive external pressure put on it by the West. Dreher is unclear as to what exactly he expects the future to bring to people of today situated like the Bendas. In essence, his argument seems to be that it ultimately worked out for dissidents under Communism, so it will, someday and in a manner yet to be shown, work for us. Maybe. Or maybe not. In other words, Dreher seems to think that the parallel polis is self-executing, as long as strong religious faith is kept. Moreover, whether Dreher sees it or not, we are indeed heading to hard totalitarianism, not merely soft totalitarianism. To our enemies, justice delayed is justice denied. That inescapable inner logic, combined with Girardian scapegoating, means soft totalitarianism will never be enough for them. We already have soft totalitarianism, for any white collar worker, and anybody can see that the demands for compliance are accelerating, not slowing down. The reader sees no reason at all we’re not heading to “prison camps and the executioner’s bullet,” because Dreher doesn’t give one, while at the same time talking a great deal about the Gulag, the Rumanian torture camp at Pitesti, and so on, continually recurring to such history. Then he says “American culture is far more individualistic than Chinese culture, so that political resistance will almost certainly prevent Chinese-style hard totalitarianism from gaining a foothold here.” This is whistling past the graveyard—how has this supposed individualism slowed down our enemies even a whit? Soft totalitarianism may lie on the far side of hard totalitarianism (as it was with late Communism), but it will get worse long before it gets better. The reader gets the impression Dreher is pulling his punches, afraid of being seen as too extreme, too “out there,” in our controlled political discourse. Hope is not a plan. Dreher should see that; he even quotes a Slovak dissident, “If they had come at us in the seventies, they might have succeeded. But we always remembered that the goal was to turn our small numbers into a number so big they could not stop us.” Dreher doesn’t acknowledge that getting those big numbers is crucial to success, along with a will to action (used in later Communism for mass demonstrations), and he has no plan for getting them. “Only in solidarity with others can we find the spiritual and communal strength to resist.” True enough—but what is “solidarity” here? Is it meeting in the catacombs to pray for a better day? Or meeting to plan action? Apparently only the former. Yes, Dreher offers some legislative solutions. They make sense. But, as Bismarck said, politics is the art of the possible. He meant compromise is necessary, but if your enemies have all the power and no need to compromise to get everything they want, what is possible of what you want, is nothing. Nobody with actual power will even associate his name in public with Dreher’s legislative proposals, because they are cowards, and they refuse to be seen opposing globohomo. Political proposals in the current frame will not come to fruition; they will die like the seeds in the Parable of the Sower, either among the brambles, or fallen on rocky ground. Legislative proposals are not a mechanism for success. Scrutonism, of which as you can see Dreher has a bad case, is a call to be a beautiful loser. But you can’t inspire anyone with a program that offers being a loser. People cowering under fire want a plan; they want a leader to point not only to what Christ would do, but how that will help them, and more importantly their children, come out the other side, cleansed and victorious. What Dreher offers instead is a call to martyrdom. This is theologically sound, but not politically. And unlike Communism, the modern Left, globohomo, faces no external pressure. This is a strategic question, of passivity versus aggression. When I think of 1453, I think not only of the priest, celebrating the Divine Liturgy as the Turks tore into the Hagia Sophia, turning to the eastern wall and walking into it, from whence it is said he will return when the Turks are expelled (which will hopefully be soon). I think also of Constantine XI Palaeologus, the last Emperor, cutting off his imperial ornaments and rushing out to die with the common soldiers. How about some of that? Dreher talks very often of the Bolsheviks. He never mentions the Whites, who after all could easily have won, or other heroes who actually did defeat Communism, such as Francisco Franco or Augusto Pinochet. My point is not that we need to encourage violence, though I am not opposed in the least to violence in the right circumstances—quite the opposite. My point is that people need positive, active heroes, not just heroic sufferers. No man is an island, in the John Donne cliché, but that means that very few have the internal resources to passively suffer. They need inspiration about how the future will be better, both in this world and the next. Dreher does not offer it. He instead offers a variation on The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, a book I read (said to be second only in popularity to the Bible), and thought was depressingly passive and navel-gazing. People like me may go to the back of St. Peter’s line—or maybe not, since we did not take what we were given and bury it in the ground of personal introspection, but rather grew it. So, if you do not have enough people or enough power at this moment to impose precisely your vision of the world, where do you start? You form alliances with those who have similar goals. Yet Dreher never talks about alliances, except briefly in connection with Charter 77 in Czechoslovakia. As Dreher mentions, most of Charter 77’s participants weren’t Christian, and some were radical Marxists. But he suggests no equivalent for the religious Right today, alliances with those with alien views who, together with us, oppose the totalitarianism of the Left. Why? Because he has been instructed that policing one’s rightward boundary is what he must do, before anything else. (There are no possible leftward alliances for us; what are sometimes called “good faith liberals” are merely willing dupes in the Left’s totalitarian agenda, and of no use in this fight.) This policing has, for many decades, been the original flaw of the Right, for which William F. Buckley bears most of the responsibility—hobbling ourselves by permitting our enemies to dictate with whom we may ally. Dreher may not even realize it, but his enemies have crippled him before he can leave the gate. I’ll give Dreher a short break here, for this problem is not his alone, but general. A few months ago the generally excellent Sohrab Ahmari, who is much more aggressive than Dreher, was hyperventilating, on his own initiative, that VDARE (a racially-tinged anti-immigrant front in which John Derbyshire is prominent) was absolutely, unequivocally, beyond the pale and nobody at all should have any interaction with it. (He was complaining that Trump advisor Stephen Miller had shared VDARE links years ago while at Breitbart.) His support for this was, I kid you not, an article from the far-left Guardian newspaper, a British paper, extensively quoting the odious so-called Southern Poverty Law Center, a noted hate group. This shows that, still now, even the dissident Right of men such as Ahmari voluntarily debilitates itself by letting the Left set limits for it on what is acceptable discourse and what are acceptable alliances. This is no way to win. Utterly smashing the SPLC is the way to win. Does that mean I think we should ally with racists and the like? Yes. Yes, it does. Absolutely. Six days a week and twice on Sunday. We should ally with anyone who will help us win. I resisted this obvious conclusion for a long time, but . . . [Review continues as first comment.]

  6. 4 out of 5

    Gideon Yutzy

    Dreher's logic runs something like this: 1) Love of pleasure and high surveillance has been characteristic of many places just before a totalitarian regime set in. 2) Some people in America love pleasure and many are the subjects of surveillance because of Big Tech, who often do not tolerate anti-gay rhetoric. 3) Therefore, gay activists will soon usher in a "soft totalitarianism" in the West. Dreher's writing style is easy to read, and he records some neat interactions with individuals from post-Co Dreher's logic runs something like this: 1) Love of pleasure and high surveillance has been characteristic of many places just before a totalitarian regime set in. 2) Some people in America love pleasure and many are the subjects of surveillance because of Big Tech, who often do not tolerate anti-gay rhetoric. 3) Therefore, gay activists will soon usher in a "soft totalitarianism" in the West. Dreher's writing style is easy to read, and he records some neat interactions with individuals from post-Communist countries whom he interviewed. And I agree that we should be vigilant about our data--the only difference is that I would uncouple it from some vast, anti-religious conspiracy. I also agree with the value of suffering, but unlike Dreher I think we should suffer for the cause of humanity as a whole, not just for our own little enclaves. And one wonders, did it not occur to him that his book is freely available in this free-speech-thwarting world that he imagines?! Two stars, because 1)he built his case entirely on anecdotes and interviews, 2)he fails to specify just what kind of pleasure is bad and what he is doing that is so much holier, and 3) most problematically, he doesn't convince readers that his "traditional Christianity" is the authentic one. For instance, Dreher's Christianity will culminate in a "violent apocalypse" (p. 51) and while true social justice is important (he dedicates 2 whole paragraphs to it, in fairness), maintaining strong family values is clearly more important. Hm. How often did Jesus talk about building strong families again? And how often did he talk about feeding the poor and bringing deliverance to captives? I say, read the book, especially if you just want to enjoy another bout of good old fashioned bogeyman-induced gooseflesh. PS I admit I was a fan of Dreher's first book, but after witnessing one too many right-wing Christians throw a hissy fit about being wished "happy holidays" at Target instead of "Merry Christmas" (or throw a hissy fit about some other, similar inanity), I have slowly come to reject his simplistic narrative of the complexities of the 21st century. But then I probably just got sucked in and became a Social Justice Warrior...

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Huston

    As I finished reading this book, my mind rung with this infamous line from Cardinal Francis George: "I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history." Live Not By Lies is a spiritual sequel to Dreher's earth shattering bestseller The Benedict Option, and as such, it illustrates the kind of As I finished reading this book, my mind rung with this infamous line from Cardinal Francis George: "I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history." Live Not By Lies is a spiritual sequel to Dreher's earth shattering bestseller The Benedict Option, and as such, it illustrates the kind of cycle that George had in mind, first by pointing out the red flags in our midst (as The Benedict Option did), but then, even more powerfully, by giving us dozens of vignettes from the lives of Christian heroes who endured and even thrived under the yoke of Soviet oppression. The first few chapters are fairly standard stuff--if you read Dreher's blog (which you should), it's the kind of reporting and commentary we're used to--and I wondered if the whole book would be like that: the kind of tome that wants to convince us that the sky is falling because it has fallen elsewhere before. Dreher is just setting the stage, however, and I hasten to add that even in this preliminary section, there's one chapter about corporate surveillance under woke capitalism that was absolutely terrifying. Literally, I got goose bumps. Stephen King could write an effective thriller based on that chapter! Once Dreher gets to the main event, though...this book is as powerful as anything you'll read this year, or this decade. This is one of those books that has the ability to change lives. Dreher knows that, and openly wants it to. Generously illuminated with scores of interviews and anecdotes from the last half century, Live Not By Lies turns out to be something akin to Foxe's Book of Martyrs meets Schindler's List: a monument to those who suffered insane inhumanity in recent history, presented as a guide to enable us to continue their tradition; if we can't prevent future atrocities from repeating, then we can at least endeavor to carry on the noble example of those who have carried the fire before us. This is an important book. I was lucky enough to be given an advance electronic copy by the publisher, but as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I want to buy a bunch of copies for all the leaders in my church! Dreher's focus on preserving faith traditions through generations of family life, by living our religious traditions seriously and fully, even in the face of dwindling liberty, is a theme that resonates strongly among the "Mormon" people, whose founding scripture is obsessed with remembering the past and learning from it. On behalf of Latter-day Saints everywhere: Mr. Dreher, thank you for this added guide to joyful discipleship in a darkening age. And it is a surprisingly hopeful book! Though Dreher tells stories of the most gruesome tortures, he always includes the light that shone from each of these heroes. They all said that is was worth it. Their legacies survive. They won. Those of us who have read about the dissident resisters against Soviet communism know great names like Solzhenitsyn and Havel, and our various churches all have their own prophets and martyrs...but if we want our children and our civilization to make it through the 21st century, we would do well to learn other names, too, amazing and inspiring names like Calciu, Krčméry, Ogorodnikov, Benda, and Kolaković. I have seven children, five of whom are still at home. Every Monday night, my family gathers for stories and songs and prayers and games and treats--an evening of family worship and fun. We take turns performing different roles, and in two weeks it will be my turn to give a spiritual lesson again. My next message to my family will be about Live Not By Lies--the history and the examples and the warnings and the victories, the scary and uplifting and crucial lessons it holds for us all. I hope that mama and papa Benda would be proud.

  8. 5 out of 5

    raffaela

    Let me start this review by saying that I am not the biggest fan of Dreher. He like to claim the conservative label, but at bottom his allegiance is to the liberal order. He rightly sees the threat radical leftism poses, and yet somehow doesn't understand that leftism is the natural outflow of the liberal ideal of complete autonomy for the individual. Worse, he looks down on those who might actually listen to his ideas because they're not sophisticated enough or they like Trump a little too much Let me start this review by saying that I am not the biggest fan of Dreher. He like to claim the conservative label, but at bottom his allegiance is to the liberal order. He rightly sees the threat radical leftism poses, and yet somehow doesn't understand that leftism is the natural outflow of the liberal ideal of complete autonomy for the individual. Worse, he looks down on those who might actually listen to his ideas because they're not sophisticated enough or they like Trump a little too much. (This is a perfect example of what I'm talking about: https://twitter.com/TheIllegit/status...). A case of trying to have your cake and eat it too. That said, he really does see the threat of radical leftism and its similarities to last century's Communist regimes clearly, and that's the main subject of this book. The first half is spent building the argument that we live in a "soft totalitarian," anti-Christian society that is hell-bent on destroying any semblance traditional culture and religion in favor of the alternative religions of race and/or sexuality, enforced by good old-fashioned Mammon in the guise of woke capital. It wants you isolated from your ancestors, family and church in order to sell you whatever Wall Street wants you to buy and keep you dependent on their drugs of porn and the adrenaline you get from talking down your racist uncle at Thanksgiving dinner. Unlike in Communist countries in the last century, this is no government-enforced slavery; people have learned to love the chains that make their lives so convenient and pleasurable. (Oddly, Dreher never mentions how COVID has played a major role in speeding up soft totalitarianism; then again given his track record that's not completely surprising). The second half of the book details how Christians can combat this threat. In short: live not by lies. Or to put it in the words of Václav Havel, talking about his famous greengrocer who decides to not put up a Communist poster in his shop: By breaking the rules of the game, he has disrupted the game as such. He has exposed it as a mere game. He has shattered the world of appearances, the fundamental pillar of the system. He has upset the power structure by tearing apart what holds it together. He has demonstrated that living a lie is living a lie. He has broken through the exalted facade of the system and exposed the real, base foundations of power. He has said that the emperor is naked. And because the emperor is in fact naked, something extremely dangerous has happened: by his action, the greengrocer has addressed the world. He has enabled everyone to peer behind the curtain. He has shown everyone that it is possible to live within the truth. Living within the lie can constitute the system only if it is universal. The principle must embrace and permeate everything. There are no terms whatsoever on which it can co-exist with living within the truth, and therefore everyone who steps out of line denies it in principle and threatens it in its entirety. Essentially, the answer is to be a real Christian who lives in the truth. Preserve cultural and religious memory. Be involved in your family and church. Do not love anything in this world so much that you are not willing to let it go for the sake of Christ. Be willing to suffer. Quite the tall order, but that is nothing new: take up your cross and die to yourself. There is no other way if you want to truly live. And above all, cling to hope. Christ is Truth itself, the King of kings, the author and Lord of history. He will break the teeth of the wicked and redeem His people. Nothing is in vain if done for Him, and not even the most alluring lie can ever compare with that truth.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rick Davis

    An important book, and one that deserves to be read and discussed by American Christians. A good book to start 2021.

  10. 5 out of 5

    David Steele

    When Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was annexed from the country he loved, he published a parting message to the Russian people. “Live Not by Lies” was a bold challenge to the brutal totalitarian system that raved countless thousands of people. Rod Dreher picks up where Solzhenitsyn left off in his new book, Live Not By Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents. This riveting work helps readers discover what it means to live not by lies. The author interviews Christians who endured the days of totalitarian When Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was annexed from the country he loved, he published a parting message to the Russian people. “Live Not by Lies” was a bold challenge to the brutal totalitarian system that raved countless thousands of people. Rod Dreher picks up where Solzhenitsyn left off in his new book, Live Not By Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents. This riveting work helps readers discover what it means to live not by lies. The author interviews Christians who endured the days of totalitarianism behind the Iron Curtain and gains a wealth of information that both inform and inspire us today. Part One: Understanding Soft Totalitarianism Part one explores the underbelly of what Dreher refers to as soft totalitarianism. “A totalitarian state,” according to Hannah Arendt, “is one that aspires to nothing less than defining and controlling reality. Truth is whatever the rules decide it is.” Mussolini defined totalitarianism as, “Everything within the state, nothing outside the sate, nothing against the state.” Wherever this worldview reigns, mankind declines, and decays. The author explains the essence of soft totalitarianism: Today’s totalitarianism demands allegiance to a set of progressive beliefs, many of which are incompatible with logic - and certainly with Christianity. Compliance is forced less by the state than by elites who form public opinion, and by private corporations that, thanks to technology, control our lives far more than we would like to admit. A cursory glance at culture reveals the rise of social justice, the “woke revolution,” radical environmentalism, acceptance of sexual deviancy, reverse racism, and identity politics. Soft totalitarianism includes educational propaganda like the “1619 Project,” an attempt to brainwash students and cause them to abandon the principles that help birth the United States of America. The list goes on and on. Yet more and more people are willing to accept this radical ideology for the sake of convenience. Dreher adds, “And this is the thing about soft totalitarianism: It seduces those - even Christians - who have lost the capacity to love enduringly, for better or for worse. They think love, but they merely desire. They think they follow Jesus, but in fact, they merely admire him.” The author warns that Christians who refuse to speak up and resist soft totalitarianism will pay a heavy price. Literary critic and poet, Czeslaw Milosz agrees: “Their silence will not save them and will instead corrode them.” Part Two: How to Live in Truth Part two helps readers respond biblically and decisively. It shows them how to “live in truth.” The principles that Dreher shares are invaluable and will be a great encouragement as Christians navigate their way through the social sludge. Dreher encourages readers to fight for and defend free speech. “To grow indifferent, even hostile to free speech is suicidal for a free people,” writes the author. He encourages truth-telling that is wisdom-based and prudent. Dreher admonishes readers to foster cultural memory. He says, “Everything about modern society is designed to make memory - historical, social, and cultural - hard to cultivate. Christians must understand this not only to resist soft totalitarianism but also to transmit the faith to the coming generations.” The author urges Christians to cultivate strong family units. “Christian parents”, writes Dreher, “must be intentionally countercultural in their approach to family dynamics. The days of living like everybody else and hoping our children turn out for the best are over.” Fathers, in particular, must lead their families and help them exercise biblical discernment. They must fight for the truth. Dreher promotes religion as the “bedrock of resistance.” He continues, “This is the uncompromising rival religion that the post-Christian world will not long tolerate. If you are not rock-solid in your commitment to traditional Christianity, then the world will break you. But if you are, then this is the solid rock in which that world will be broken. And if those solid rocks are joined together, they form a wall of solidarity that is very hard for the enemy to breach.” We must stand in solidarity. “Only in solidarity with others can we find the spiritual and communal strength to resist,” says Dreher. He adds: And this is the thing about soft totalitarianism: it seduces those - even Christians - who have lost the capacity to love enduringly, for better or for worse. They think they love, but they merely desire. They think they follow Jesus, but in fact, they merely admire him. Each of us thinks we would be like that. But if we have accepted the great lie of our therapeutic culture, which tells us that personal happiness is the greatest good of all, then we will surrender at the first sign of trouble. Conclusion There is much more to explore in this fascinating book. I challenge readers to dig deeply into this “treasure chest.” In the end, both varieties of totalitarianism enslave people. Dreher reminds us, “Hard totalitarianism depends on terrorizing us into surrendering our free consciences; soft totalitarianism uses fear as well, but mostly it bewitches us with therapeutic promises of entertainment, pleasure, and comfort.” It is to this end that we must resist soft totalitarianism with all our might or we, along with the proverbial frog in the kettle will slowly boil in a kettle that appears safe but will, in the final analysis, result in a grizzly death. Live Not By Lies delivers a powerful and unforgettable message. The price of liberty is costly. This much is true. “There is no escape from the struggle,” writes Dreher. “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance - first of all, over our own hearts.” Live Not By Lies is a must-read book for freedom-loving Christians. To ignore the principles that Dreher sets forth would be foolhardy at best. Heeding the warning of the author will help pave the way for fruitful discussion and greater liberty in the coming days. Highly recommended!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dave Courtney

    I picked this up after noting it making its rounds in feeds of poeple who I know tend towards the far right of political and religious lines. If this was representing a manual of sorts for their cause, I felt like reading it might give me a glimpse into this way of thinking. Help me understand their fears and concerns. This seemed especially pertinent for me because I know for a fact that although I have many of these voices in my friends lists and personal feeds (which I think is a good thing), I picked this up after noting it making its rounds in feeds of poeple who I know tend towards the far right of political and religious lines. If this was representing a manual of sorts for their cause, I felt like reading it might give me a glimpse into this way of thinking. Help me understand their fears and concerns. This seemed especially pertinent for me because I know for a fact that although I have many of these voices in my friends lists and personal feeds (which I think is a good thing), I also know that the entire second chapter of this book, which functions as a call to response, a way of battoning of the fortress of resistence, sees me (by nature of affiliation) as a part of the lie for simple reason that I see the Gospel as a call towards social reform and social policy. The book is divided into a very simple structure- the first half outlines the problem, the second outlines a practical call and response to resistance. The most glaring part of this treaties on resistance of Marxism and Communism, which the author sees as creeping in through what he calls "soft totalitarianism" in America, is how much Dreher imagines a persecuted right. With the admission of the Christians losing their grip on power and losing the "culture wars", he goes out of his way to imagine the Christian right as the persecuted masses and the soon to be marginalized voices under socialist rule. What's ultimately shocking is how hard pressed one would be to find even a single space in this book where the author actually criticizes and warns about the ver real dangers of the far right. Where this side sees any socialist policy as an inevitable slippery slope into a demonized depiciton of Marxism (anchored by interviews with Christians from the former Soviet Union) and Communism, apparently the far rights marriage to fascist totalitarianism is not at all in the same category. The right is, after all, the final representation of Christian truth regardless of what someone like Trump both symbolizes and perpetuates in terms of oppressive policies. In one of it's more decisive statments, it defines living by lies int his way. "Accepting without protest all the falsehoods and propaganda that the state compelled its citizens to affirm." The author sees the message from that clearly defined and ever so dangerous "left" as making us powerless and convincing us that we, as Christians, should not and cannot resist. Thus where this book looks to empower is by saying the Christian right might be losing it's power and it's ability to control (oh the irony of this sentiment), but that just means Christians have an opportunity to rise up as the necessary resistance. To represent the voice of God, also ironically as the voice of reason, the very language that helped bolster the dangerous Marxism that they see happening here in the West. Not unsurprisingly, the word "progressive" is utilized, coopted, demonized and universalized all throughout this book under a single depiction of communism. What is wholly discouraging, and rather frightening about this book is how it caters to those who feel they are paying alleigiance to some true Gospel all while quietly stripping the Gospel of its potential force to be a source for change. Where is the call for people to be in the trenches not in response to a loss of political power, but in response to actual social change? The call in this book to see the Christian right as the very image of "suffering" for the Gospel is a huge part of the problem in isolating one side from the other and polarizing so called conservative and progressives. Christ has no place in what is a call to "true beliefs" it seems, especially when these true beliefs become synonymous with a political side and a political front. There is actually real worth in considering the call in this book to see ouresves as Christians as standing apart from political affiliations altogether. We are called to represent a different kind of Kingdom, a different way of living in the world. The problem is that the author describes this language of living as "Christians" in the world in worldly terms. And then it sells this hook, line and sinker to the conservative Christian right who have already been handed a well defined persecution complex. It is a classic case of the once powerful front losing their ability to control responding by labeling themselves as the martyrs, the marginalized. The little guy being bullied by the big guy. That the Gospel narrative tells a completely different story seems entirely lost to this discussion. There are real points, real stories present in this book that deserve to be heard and deserve not to be lost to the dominant rhetoric that the author is fostering. He doesn't seem to be aware of the lies he is perpetuating in the process, which only serves to make the divide worse. There is a sense in which this book will preach incredibly well to the choir and be immediately dismissed by those it wants the choir to resist. That's what makes this so very dangerous. It is confusing and completely misplacing the call to sacrificial living in scripture. it is completely misplacing the oppressed-oppressor paradigm that is present within the Gospel framework and integral to living out it's context in the here and now. It assumes that Christians should have power and control, whereas the Gospel calls us to give up our rights for the sake of the powerless, the actual marginalized. By marrying socialist leaning policy and socialist concern to its depictions of Marxism, it forces itself to rewrite the Gospel in its own terms and according to its own merit and rights. This is antithetical to the Christian witness. Worse so, by demonstrating this fear mongering of the left, it makes an entire facet of Christianity blind to the similar problems that come from the right. It makes the argument that the left in America is the sliippery slope to Communism, while the right cannot in any shape or form be a slippery slope to fascism. It's completely disingenous. But hey, it will also play like gangbusters to the choir.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Becky Hintz

    This is the most important book I've read all year. In it, Dreher puts the spotlight on the "soft totalitarianism" emerging in the west: the combined efforts of the government, corporations, academia, and media elites to control the thoughts and actions of the people. As in all totalitarian societies, Christianity is viewed as a force that hinders the collective pursuit of happiness, and thus it must be silenced. To show us the way, Dreher turns to survivors of the "hard totalitarianism" of the This is the most important book I've read all year. In it, Dreher puts the spotlight on the "soft totalitarianism" emerging in the west: the combined efforts of the government, corporations, academia, and media elites to control the thoughts and actions of the people. As in all totalitarian societies, Christianity is viewed as a force that hinders the collective pursuit of happiness, and thus it must be silenced. To show us the way, Dreher turns to survivors of the "hard totalitarianism" of the former Soviet states. Their stories and words of wisdom demonstrate how our faith can survive--even thrive--under conditions of extreme persecution. Each story made me yearn for ten more like it. This book is a gold mine. I devoured it and marked it up heavily. I made a mental list of people I need to give it to. If you are a Christian, Catholic, or convictional believer of any kind, buy this book. If you treasure the promise of a liberal society--that people should be free to live according to their conscience, that free speech matters, that truth exists-- buy this book. If you are a person of goodwill who simply believes that we should not punish others for their thoughts, buy this book. And then buy an extra copy for a friend.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tom Marshall

    Historians are going to have a wealth of events to study from 2020.  Perhaps more than the year 1968. No doubt one thing they will analyze will be the unabashed rise of totalitarianism in the West, which is the topic of Rod Dreher’s new book Live Not By Lies. Dreher analyzes the rise of what he calls “soft totalitarianism” in the US by talking to people who lived through totalitarianism in the Soviet Bloc. As he did in his book The Benedict Option, Dreher focuses on how Christians can preserve t Historians are going to have a wealth of events to study from 2020.  Perhaps more than the year 1968. No doubt one thing they will analyze will be the unabashed rise of totalitarianism in the West, which is the topic of Rod Dreher’s new book Live Not By Lies. Dreher analyzes the rise of what he calls “soft totalitarianism” in the US by talking to people who lived through totalitarianism in the Soviet Bloc. As he did in his book The Benedict Option, Dreher focuses on how Christians can preserve their faith during these troubling times.    If you’re wondering what totalitarianism is— According to Hannah Arendt, the foremost scholar of totalitarianism, a totalitarian society is one in which an ideology seeks to displace all prior traditions and institutions, with the goal of bringing all aspects of society under control of that ideology. A totalitarian state is one that aspires to nothing less than defining and controlling reality. Truth is whatever the rulers decide it is. As Arendt has written, wherever totalitarianism has ruled, “[I]t has begun to destroy the essence of man.” I grew up in the 1980s during the Cold War. It seems bizarre to me to even need a discussion on the dangers of totalitarianism; yet, here we are. From cancel culture having people fired for differing opinions on Twitter to mobs screaming at passive diners to raise their fists in solidarity at restaurants, totalitarianism is being accepted. Let’s be honest. It’s even being celebrated by some. I realize that not everyone will agree with that statement. Many will not agree with Dreher’s conclusions in Live Not By Lies, but it’s very difficult to ignore the facts. Dreher interviews Christians who lived through brutal totalitarianism in the Soviet Bloc, and here’s what he found: What makes the emerging situation in the West similar to what they fled? After all, every society has rules and taboos and mechanisms to enforce them. What unnerves those who lived under Soviet communism is this similarity: Elites and elite institutions are abandoning old-fashioned liberalism, based in defending the rights of the individual, and replacing it with a progressive creed that regards justice in terms of groups. It encourages people to identify with groups—ethnic, sexual, and otherwise—and to think of Good and Evil as a matter of power dynamics among the groups. A utopian vision drives these progressives, one that compels them to seek to rewrite history and reinvent language to reflect their ideals of social justice. These Christians survived absolutely brutal persecution. Dreher describes horrific torture methods used by the Soviets. Many of the people he interviews or their family members spent decades in prisons or gulags. As Dreher examines how they maintained their faith, it’s obvious that there are differences in the totalitarianism we face. In some ways, what we face is even scarier. Dreher writes: To be sure, whatever this is, it is not a carbon copy of life in the Soviet Bloc nations, with their secret police, their gulags, their strict censorship, and their material deprivation. That is precisely the problem, these people warn. The fact that relative to Soviet Bloc conditions, life in the West remains so free and so prosperous is what blinds Americans to the mounting threat to our liberty. That, and the way those who take away freedom couch it in the language of liberating victims from oppression. Live Not By Lies starts with a brief history of the rise of totalitarianism in Russia. He looks at the sources and the parallels with what is happening in the US today. Dreher analyzes what he considers the two factors driving “soft totalitarianism” today: the social justice movement and surveillance technology, which has become a huge part of our consumerist culture. The second part of the book examines forms, methods, and sources of resistance. Dreher attempts to answer the following questions by examining exactly what the Christians in the Soviet Bloc did in order to survive: Why is religion and the hope it gives at the core of effective resistance? What does the willingness to suffer have to do with living in truth? Why is the family the most important cell of opposition?... How did they get through it?... Why are they so anxious about the West’s future? Obviously, this is a contentious topic. Live Not By Lies discusses some difficult topics. Dreher has already been attacked and criticized. He doesn’t seem to accept the media-driven narrative of the death of George Floyd and the social justice movement. How exactly does he describe the soft totalitarianism affecting the US? Dreher writes: Today’s totalitarianism demands allegiance to a set of progressive beliefs, many of which are incompatible with logic—and certainly with Christianity. Compliance is forced less by the state than by elites who form public opinion, and by private corporations that, thanks to technology, control our lives far more than we would like to admit... Today’s left-wing totalitarianism once again appeals to an internal hunger, specifically the hunger for a just society, one that vindicates and liberates the historical victims of oppression. It masquerades as kindness, demonizing dissenters and disfavored demographic groups to protect the feelings of “victims” to bring about “social justice...” This is what the survivors of communism are saying to us: liberalism’s admirable care for the weak and marginalized is fast turning into a monstrous ideology that, if it is not stopped, will transform liberal democracy into a softer, therapeutic form of totalitarianism. For Christians, therein lies the rub—“liberalism’s admirable care for the weak and marginalized.” Aren’t Christians supposed to care for the weak and marginalized? The answer is yes. Christians should and do care for the weak and marginalized. The problem is ideology in these movements is king, and the ideology is ultimately atheistic and therapeutic. Christianity is allowed as long as it bends to the ideology, not the other way around. These movements are trying to use totalitarianism to create a utopia based on their ideology. As Mark Sayers says in one of my favorite quotes, “They want to create the kingdom of heaven, but without the King.” That is their end goal. Ask yourself, what is the end goal of Christianity? What happens when the goals of the ideology clash with Christianity? Dreher writes: In therapeutic culture, which has everywhere triumphed, the great sin is to stand in the way of the freedom of others to find happiness as they wish. This goes hand in hand with the sexual revolution, which, along with ethnic and gender identity politics, replaced the failed economic class struggle as the utopian focus of the post-1960s radical left. It all goes back to the original sin: the individual wants to be a god. The individual wants to create his or her own brand of heaven where the only sin is anything causing unhappiness. In that kind of culture, even using the pronouns “his or her” is controversial because it could offend someone. Dreher writes: Christian resistance on a large scale to the anti-culture has been fruitless, and is likely to be for the foreseeable future. Why? Because the spirit of the therapeutic has conquered the churches as well—even those populated by Christians who identify as conservative. Relatively few contemporary Christians are prepared to suffer for the faith, because the therapeutic society that has formed them denies the purpose of suffering in the first place, and the idea of bearing pain for the sake of truth seems ridiculous. Honestly, the scariest part of all this is we unsuspectingly welcome totalitarianism. We live in a far more technologically advanced society than the 1980s Soviet Bloc. The opportunities and ability to surveil private life are unbelievable. As Dreher says, “There’s nowhere left to hide.” It’s almost cliche to point out anymore. We are far more similar to the society in Huxley’s Brave New World, than we are Orwell’s 1984. Why? Because we happily invite our oppressors into every aspect of our lives, as long as we’re kept happy with endless entertainment and shiny consumer goods. We don’t want to offend anyone, and we don’t want to suffer. Dreher even recounts how one Soviet Bloc survivor he talked to is horrified at the use of smartphones and Amazon Echo in US homes. They lived the nightmare described in 1984. The subtitle to Live Not By Lies is “A Manual For Christian Dissidents.” The second part of the book specifically gives the strategies the Christians in the Soviet Bloc used to maintain their faith and survive. If you haven’t guessed it, the title of the book has a lot to do with it. The title comes from a quote by Solzhenitsyn, a Christian who survived the gulags. And yes, their Christian faith was crucial to their survival. In fact, much of what our society wants Christians to let go of turns out to be crucial for surviving totalitarianism. Let’s not fool ourselves. There will be suffering, but we must persevere. This is a difficult topic. It’s hard to hear these comparisons and read these stories. It’s difficult to step outside the ideologies and narratives that seem to want to help people and really see what the end goal is. I think the strategies presented in the second part of the book will be essential in the coming years. Live Not By Lies is not a happy book, but it’s a necessary book. I recommend you read it and ask yourself the hard questions.

  14. 4 out of 5

    NinaB

    4.5* This read like a horror story for thinking and concerned conservatives like myself. I have spent time in the former Soviet Union over several trips. I lived there for months right after communism fell in the early 1990’s. I saw the destructive aftermath of this dangerous ideology. I experienced getting in line for food, not finding enough food to buy, seeing white Europeans living in poverty comparable to what I knew in the Philippines where I’m from. Because I’ve been there, I believe what 4.5* This read like a horror story for thinking and concerned conservatives like myself. I have spent time in the former Soviet Union over several trips. I lived there for months right after communism fell in the early 1990’s. I saw the destructive aftermath of this dangerous ideology. I experienced getting in line for food, not finding enough food to buy, seeing white Europeans living in poverty comparable to what I knew in the Philippines where I’m from. Because I’ve been there, I believe what Mr Dehrer’s claims in this book. It is a word of warning for Americans. We are living in a world of lies, where truth is relative, cancel culture rules the day, society is held hostage by senseless ideologies (sex is relative and no longer based on the science of genetics) and history is being changed to fit the narrative of the “intelligentsia.” Democracy has taken a back seat to the “tolerant” left and its derision of capitalism and embrace of socialism. The right fights back using the same cancel tactics, in senseless anger and crude words that only fuel the division. The America we’ve known is quickly disappearing. Patriotism is dead. There are no more civil conversations happening between opposing sides. We are divided and it is hard to watch us destroy our beloved nation. This book points out clearly the calamitous consequences of living by lies and we are there. We are being primed for soft totalitarianism, and our society is running toward it without hesitation. The situation seems bleak and hopeless, but the book offers how to counter our culture of lies with practical advise. Basing on people’s experience living under communism, Mr.Dehrer spends the second half of the book explaining how to resist the lies and to live in truth. I especially love the list of suggestions by the Benda family on how to raise your kids to be able to, not only survive, but thrive in a society ruled by lies. As a career missionary serving in a post-Christian, formerly Communist culture, I agree with these points and follow them when raising our girls in a country hostile to our Christian beliefs. Perhaps it is time American Christians need to be shaken up from their comfortable faith. Perhaps living in a post-Christian America is what the Church needs to separate the wheat from the tares. Whatever happens to our society, the true Church will be ok. I don’t think the situation is hopeless because I know the sovereign God who is still ruling on His throne, and because He is truth, the lies will not prevail.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    Review here. Negative review here, describing Dreher's concerns as being based on fear and anxiety; of course, what people are and are not fearful of says a lot about them. The CT review was predictably critical. TGC review. Review here. Negative review here, describing Dreher's concerns as being based on fear and anxiety; of course, what people are and are not fearful of says a lot about them. The CT review was predictably critical. TGC review.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Myersandburnsie

    Christian, Follower of Christ, read this now

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    This was a really good book to read after "Brave New World" which I read last month. I do think there's a lot of soft totalitarianism going on right now, which the church is not immune to. Dreher points out how much of the American church has bought into the lie of the comfortable, easy, consumer-driven life as much as anybody. In general, we do not view suffering as a good thing, a necessary part of our witness, or something that can make our faith stronger. In the second part of the book, he u This was a really good book to read after "Brave New World" which I read last month. I do think there's a lot of soft totalitarianism going on right now, which the church is not immune to. Dreher points out how much of the American church has bought into the lie of the comfortable, easy, consumer-driven life as much as anybody. In general, we do not view suffering as a good thing, a necessary part of our witness, or something that can make our faith stronger. In the second part of the book, he uses interviews of Christian survivors from communist era Eastern Europe and Russia to give examples of how to cling to the truth under a totalitarian government and be a dissident even if you struggle immensely for it. Those interviews were really interesting and encouraging and really do give a lot of practical advice, which can be put into practice even now. A few points: value and use the family unit to teach the next generation, create face to face networks (like small group Bible studies) that can continue even if churches fall under government control and which will give you a sense of community (social media doesn't count! He points out how people feel more isolated and depressed despite the prevalence of "social" media and the internet), retain cultural memories and history and teach it to others, memorize Scripture. Some of his points get a little muddled. In the first section, he makes clear delineation between hard and soft totalitarianism, and he thinks we are already at the soft totalitarianism, driven more by media, cancel culture, and our own consumerism. But it's unclear if he thinks this will yield to a more government run hard totalitarianism. It seems, based on the advice he is giving, that he thinks that is coming, but then he goes out of his way to say he doesn't think our government will be able to pull that off.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Heidi

    On the one hand, the broad treatment of the topics, heavy quoting, wide margins, and big font brought to mind the image of a procrastinator who is too smart for his own good scrambling to finish a college term paper at the last minute. On the other hand, when the library due date for this book approached, the subject matter, combined with the author's fairly clever and beautiful turns of phrase, was compelling enough that I finished the book before I returned it. Dreher does everyone a service i On the one hand, the broad treatment of the topics, heavy quoting, wide margins, and big font brought to mind the image of a procrastinator who is too smart for his own good scrambling to finish a college term paper at the last minute. On the other hand, when the library due date for this book approached, the subject matter, combined with the author's fairly clever and beautiful turns of phrase, was compelling enough that I finished the book before I returned it. Dreher does everyone a service in introducing a history that contradicts the modern narrative and encourages readers to consider what they will stand (or fall) for in times of trial. However, the resources in his notes might be the most valuable thing about his book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Coyle

    "The American Evangelical church is weak, flabby, and utterly unprepared for the least deprivation, let alone actual physical suffering.... So writes Rod Dreher in his new book Live Not by Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents. And as far as it goes, Dreher is certainly right about this. Our skinny jeans preaching (or whatever the 2020 equivalent of that is–I don’t keep up wish fashion trends) and rock concert worship services aren’t preparing us for suffering. No one is going to go to the lion "The American Evangelical church is weak, flabby, and utterly unprepared for the least deprivation, let alone actual physical suffering.... So writes Rod Dreher in his new book Live Not by Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents. And as far as it goes, Dreher is certainly right about this. Our skinny jeans preaching (or whatever the 2020 equivalent of that is–I don’t keep up wish fashion trends) and rock concert worship services aren’t preparing us for suffering. No one is going to go to the lions with the latest from Hillsong on their lips." Read the rest here: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/schaeff...

  20. 4 out of 5

    John Boyne

    Live Not by Lies is a book that explores the often forgotten history of totalitarian regimes in the 20th century and the horrors and death that were created as people attempted to make heaven on earth. We here in the West have too easily forgotten the pain that this ideology creates. This has reached a point where now many of us are flirting with a new form of totalitarianism called 'soft totalitarianism'. No longer do we need to fear the secret police knocking down our doors when we disagree wi Live Not by Lies is a book that explores the often forgotten history of totalitarian regimes in the 20th century and the horrors and death that were created as people attempted to make heaven on earth. We here in the West have too easily forgotten the pain that this ideology creates. This has reached a point where now many of us are flirting with a new form of totalitarianism called 'soft totalitarianism'. No longer do we need to fear the secret police knocking down our doors when we disagree with the government but instead we are now faced with cultural and social persecution in the form of cancel culture and the removal of ideas from the public square. Dreher brings to light these problems and works to prepare Christians for how to live during it as well as to resist its changes. Dreher begins with a short history of communism in Eastern Europe, showing how the ideology of socialism and communism, while started with the best of intentions, leaves out a fundamental truth of humanity. That left to our own devices, pain and sorrow will be the only result. This is history that must be remembered and taught to ourselves and to our children. The misery of the 20th century can not be whitewashed over in order to promote an agenda. The second part of the book begins to describe what we as Christians can do today to foster resistance and to prepare for how we can continue to live our lives under soft totalitarianism. The biggest factor is that we must continue to seek out truth on our own. We can not allow others to feed us what only they want us to know, we must seek it out on our own. Next we most hold fast to our faith, family and church. Without the support of our church communities and the education of our children, our ability to stand would be severally diminished. This book is very compelling and I hope you'd find it difficult to put down. It is relatively short so that it can be completed in just a few days or weeks. Even non-Christians should pick up this book so that the lies of our culture can be exposed and that the truth can set us free.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Marian

    A couple different people referred this book to me ahead of its release, so I got in line early for the library ebook and the paperback. I read it in a day or two over Christmas break. Live Not by Lies is about the arrival of persecution against Christians in the West and how we can approach it with a Christ-like mindset. Dreher outlines what he sees as the increasing encroachment upon Christians’ lives by certain leftist ideology. He gives some concrete examples from recent events and trends, wi A couple different people referred this book to me ahead of its release, so I got in line early for the library ebook and the paperback. I read it in a day or two over Christmas break. Live Not by Lies is about the arrival of persecution against Christians in the West and how we can approach it with a Christ-like mindset. Dreher outlines what he sees as the increasing encroachment upon Christians’ lives by certain leftist ideology. He gives some concrete examples from recent events and trends, with the larger theme being “cancel culture” and a general coercion to live in a lie…that is, to say (and think) what society wants you to say regardless of what you believe. Dreher doesn’t leave the right blameless, either, pointing to the excesses of capitalism as an equally dangerous idol, which, in the form of big tech, is about to eat us whole (my words, not his). As its basis, the book leans on the history and examples of Christians who were arrested, tortured, or even murdered during the worst of the Soviet years. Dreher includes interviews from survivors and family members, which I found especially encouraging. Solzhenitsyn’s essay "Live Not by Lies" provides the titular theme, and Havel’s story of the greengrocer features as well, so for anyone who had not come across them before, this is an excellent starting point. The book started out slow but improved as it went on. Dreher’s advice—and the framework See, Judge, Act—is solid. He advocates for strong family, community, knowledge, and self-awareness. And last but not least, a willingness to endure. There is absolutely nothing here about use of force or race, and I applaud him for not even entertaining those kinds of ideologies. What he describes instead is a non-violent self-assurance that includes compassion for the persecutors—the only way to truly win. On the cons: I would’ve liked to see more content on Christianity in China, since there is already massive persecution there of the underground churches. I also think the technology factor is a huge hurdle that wasn’t quite as pernicious during the 20th century. (To his credit, Dreher does reference We Have Been Harmonized , another book on my shelf waiting to be read). Lastly, this book would be kinda tough for the average teen, and I feel this is a topic that needs to be accessible to that age group. These are minor critiques, though. I would recommend the book to any Christians.

  22. 4 out of 5

    David Shane

    Good book - a serious and sobering book, especially toward the end. Most of the book is stories of Christians who lived under and (for the most part) survived communism, and what we can learn from their example. The first four chapters are, "recognize the world you are living in". One reads these chapters, especially about the worldview and cultural environment under communism, and says to oneself repeatedly (and sarcastically), "well fortunately that doesn't sound anything like today". The Unite Good book - a serious and sobering book, especially toward the end. Most of the book is stories of Christians who lived under and (for the most part) survived communism, and what we can learn from their example. The first four chapters are, "recognize the world you are living in". One reads these chapters, especially about the worldview and cultural environment under communism, and says to oneself repeatedly (and sarcastically), "well fortunately that doesn't sound anything like today". The United States won't be turning actually communist anytime soon, but the mindset that made communism possible, the politicization of everything (sound familiar?), the judgment of people by group membership (sound familiar?), the decay of civil society that left people lonely and starved for meaning, even the idea of progress as religious substitute, are all recognizably around us right now. The scariest chapter in this part of the book, and something that might make the 2020 United States rather more frightening than the 1930 Soviet Union, talks about surveillance technology and our ability to track and manipulate people like never before, about the Chinese "social credit" system and how very easy it would be to institute such a system (we'd give it a friendlier-sounding name of course) here in the US, and so greatly punish those who engage in wrongthink without ever needing to put them in a prison. And then the second half of the book is "what do we do about it?" Far as Dreher is concerned, Christians have lost the culture war and must now be prepared to live under the loss - but we can take comfort here in that, for many Christians under communism, it seemed that communism also would endure for a thousand years, but it fell to pieces almost in a moment. I won't discuss these chapters in detail, but the titles tell you the main idea - "value nothing more than truth", "cultivate cultural memory" (shout-out to classical education in this chapter), "families are resistance cells", "religion, the bedrock of resistance", "standing in solidarity" (with other rebels, essentially), and "the gift of suffering". I did sometimes wish there were more practical suggestions in these chapters - here is a five step plan you need to begin today. But there are some. Small groups are a needed encouragement (my Christian tradition does these well, but they are completely foreign to some others, including Dreher's Orthodoxy). The importance of cultivating cultural memory, on the other hand, may be an area my tradition is quite weak in and so something to consider doing more intentionally (though I did appreciate the classical education shout-out). So recommended, and a quick read.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Amelia Stieren

    I recently realized it’s a bit of a pet peeve of mine when Christians are overly-enthusiastic about just one specific destructive ideology in history and overlook other ones. Though Dreher emphasizes most specifically the destructive nature of communism through anecdotal and historical accounts of several Czech and Slovakian Christian dissidents, he by no means glosses over other dangers of this fallen world of people striving for power and purpose. He critiques several aspects of capitalism and I recently realized it’s a bit of a pet peeve of mine when Christians are overly-enthusiastic about just one specific destructive ideology in history and overlook other ones. Though Dreher emphasizes most specifically the destructive nature of communism through anecdotal and historical accounts of several Czech and Slovakian Christian dissidents, he by no means glosses over other dangers of this fallen world of people striving for power and purpose. He critiques several aspects of capitalism and it’s more recent “woke” and surveillant nature, as well as the general danger of Christians leaning into the decadent lifestyles that capitalism can encourage. Dreher doesn’t ignore the history of national socialism in Germany, either. In other words, this guy covers his bases regarding the dangers of any kind of totalitarianism or ideology that steers the Christian away from Christ and the truth found in him. This book was also easily digestible and contained practical tips (simple but crucial things like reading Scripture and being part of a local church community) for being a so-called Christian dissident in places like the U.S. where totalitarianism is “soft”. I also appreciate reading a Roman Catholic author who doesn’t belittle the faith of Protestants.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    I wonder if Dreher wrote this book partially in response to criticism that The Benedict Option advocated too much for Christians withdrawing from the world. (Whether that is a fair criticism of his previous book is another matter, nevertheless...) Here he maps out the potential course toward which American society is headed: soft totalitarianism. For the most part, he details the methods of Soviet Communist hard totalitarianism, drawing parallels to the current liberal, woke American society. Th I wonder if Dreher wrote this book partially in response to criticism that The Benedict Option advocated too much for Christians withdrawing from the world. (Whether that is a fair criticism of his previous book is another matter, nevertheless...) Here he maps out the potential course toward which American society is headed: soft totalitarianism. For the most part, he details the methods of Soviet Communist hard totalitarianism, drawing parallels to the current liberal, woke American society. These parallels are, indeed, striking. Dreher's advice not to bend away from the truth but to see, judge, and act against the lies of the culture is timely for Christians. As in The Benedict Option, at its core this book's urging is for Christians to BE Christians, not just weekly church-goers or Jesus-admirers but followers of Christ whose whole lives are permeated by their conviction of Scriptural truth. Who are not only willing to suffer for their beliefs but expecting to suffer for Christ's sake. Though we are not glad to see times such as these, Dreher's work reminds us to be glad that the difficulties coming upon us are not unprecedented, nor can they rob us of the great and transcendent truth that is ours by faith.

  25. 5 out of 5

    The Book Distiller

    Absolutely fantastic and important book!! One I will read and reread repeatedly!!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Colvin

    Dreher has written a modern day Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. Though I am a very Protestant Anglican, and thus differ from him greatly in doctrinal matters, I am very thankful that he has written this book. Every Christian should read it. The Wokism of our day, with its denials of reality, its informal social credit system, and its triumphant conquest of all our society’s institutions, has all the marks of a totalitarian diaster in the making. It wields “racist” and “homophobic” the way the French Rev Dreher has written a modern day Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. Though I am a very Protestant Anglican, and thus differ from him greatly in doctrinal matters, I am very thankful that he has written this book. Every Christian should read it. The Wokism of our day, with its denials of reality, its informal social credit system, and its triumphant conquest of all our society’s institutions, has all the marks of a totalitarian diaster in the making. It wields “racist” and “homophobic” the way the French Revolution wielded “aristocrat” – as a label that puts one beyond the pale, disqualifies one from enjoying free speech, association, and exercise of religion, and opens one up to dehumanizing treatment and abuse. We need to know how to be faithful when Wokism comes for us. Dreher is correct that the culture war has been lost. Already in 2004 and 2005, I had interviews for university professorships that turned into inquisitions about my opposition to the sexual revolution and my refusal to parrot its shibboleths. I thank God that He has given us Dreher to sound this call to vigilance and preparation. The examples of Christian dissidents in the Soviet Eastern bloc are essential for us to think about.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ginger Hudock

    I encourage all Christians to read this book to understand what is going on in today's American culture. Dreher discusses the history of totalitarianism, especially in the Soviet bloc. He interviews a number of dissidents, especially Christians, who lived in those countries and witnessed those regimes. It was very sobering for me to read about how they lived and the courage they needed to live out their faith. Dreher states that America is now facing a soft-totalitarianism where the media, acade I encourage all Christians to read this book to understand what is going on in today's American culture. Dreher discusses the history of totalitarianism, especially in the Soviet bloc. He interviews a number of dissidents, especially Christians, who lived in those countries and witnessed those regimes. It was very sobering for me to read about how they lived and the courage they needed to live out their faith. Dreher states that America is now facing a soft-totalitarianism where the media, academia, corporate America and other institutions are compelling people to toe their line. I witnessed this just this week in our little South Carolina town where the college baseball coach may be fired from his job just because he dared to indirectly question the BLM movement in a private comment on a Facebook post. As Dreher states, Progressivism is religion and if you don't toe their line you may face huge consequences. Read this book and be prepared.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    I suspect Dreher is right about what’s coming though I wish he had supplied more evidence for his position that it might be more convincing to those who are not yet aware. I wanted to love this book but ultimately found it wanting. I suppose it’s a bit more general and vague than I anticipated. Not a bad book, per se, just not quite what I was expecting. It needs more Jesus.

  29. 4 out of 5

    A.J. Jr.

    This is an important book. I recommend that all Christians read it. I agree with the author: very difficult times are coming for believers. And these difficult times are coming sooner than we think. We must be prepared.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Travis

    Easily the most important book I read in 2020. Should be required reading for every American.

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