In The Benedict Option, the socially conservative culture warrior Rod Dreher argued that things in America have gotten so bad for Christians that they need to withdraw from society like medieval monks to live faithfully. In his newest book, Live Not By Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents, Dreher takes his argument one step further, arguing that “Liberal democracy is degenerating into something resembling the totalitarianism over which it triumphed in the Cold War” (page xiv). This new “soft totalitarianism” will make it difficult, if not impossible, for Christians to live their faith openly. To develop strategies to cope with this awful situation, Dreher argues that Christians should look to the example of East European dissidents under communism, who “lived in the truth” with courage and at great personal cost.
But how well does Dreher understand Eastern Europe? And is he right to draw a parallel between the United States today and communist totalitarianism?
I took up these questions with two people highly knowledgeable about religion and Hungary: Joseph Novak, pastor of the American Hungarian Baptist Church in Alhambra, California, and Alexander Faludy, an Anglican priest and journalist living in Hungary, who is also the only grandson of the prominent Hungarian poet and dissident György (George) Faludy. They offered great insights and good conversation, which I share below in this video.