Live Not By Lies, with Rod Dreher at the Newman Centre

This is a Newman Centre Toronto Faith & Reason Lecture Series featuring best selling author, Rod Dreher. We discussed his book, Live Not By Lies among other topics.


  • 00:00:00 Introductions & Part 1: Lecture
  • 00:03:00 the Future of a Post-Christian Civilization
  • 00:05:55 Soft Totalitarianism
  • 00:08:40 What is Totalitarianism? Everything is Politicized
  • 00:10:00 the Cultural politics of ‘Wokeness’
  • 00:12:00 the Worldview of Comfort & Moral Therapeutic Deism
  • 00:16:45 the Role of Suffering in Happiness
  • 00:19:55 MLK , Vaclav Havel and Suffering out of Love for the Truth
  • 00:22:30 the Benedict Option and the Founding of Monasteries & Universities
  • 00:25:00 the Benedict Option and ‘Going Deep’ – See, Judge, Act
  • 00:31:15 the Emptiness of Liberal Freedom
  • 00:34:00 Hope vs Optimism and the Meaning of Suffering
  • 00:41:15 Part 2: Interview
  • 00:44:00 the Strength of the Argument in ‘Live Not by Lies’
  • 00:47:40 Enabling or Deterrent effect of the Liberal Culture of Self-Expression and Consumerism?
  • 00:50:45 the Link between Family and Community Breakdown, Social Atomization, Loneliness, & Radical Ideology
  • 00:56:20 ‘Walking on Eggshells’ – Today’s Unique Problem or a Human Reality?
  • 00:59:35 Who is Living ‘the Way of Christ’ Today?
  • 01:02:30 Love as Moral Strength & Compassion
  • 01:05:00 Alienation & Healing
  • 01:08:05 Christianity & Politics – What is the Right Approach?
  • 01:13:55 When to Speak up and When to stay Silent? Blessedness vs Joy?
  • 01:18:00 Practical Advice for Christian Families & Hospitality in the Benediction Option?
  • 01:23:40 Closing Remarks

Also available here on the Newman Centre channel

About this event

Live Not By Lies – impending ‘Soft Totalitarianism’ in the west? Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn once noted that people often assume that their democratic government would never submit to totalitarianism—but Dreher says it’s happening. Sounding the alarm about the insidious effects of identity politics, surveillance technology, psychological manipulation, and more, he equips people to see, judge, and act in response to contemporary circumstances.

It was my great pleasure to moderate a discussion with Mr. Dreher on behalf of the Newman Centre, who hosted the event in tandem with Catholic Conscience and the newly founded St Monica Institute, a ‘seminary for the laity’ in the Archdiocese of Toronto.

We covered the following topics:

  • Soft Totalitarianism:
    • The strength of the argument by analogy in Live Not by Lies – how comparable are today’s cultural circumstances to others that have descended into forms of totalitarianism?
  • The Way of Christ – how ought we live as Christian’s in today’s culture?
    • ‘See how they loved one another’ was said of the first Christians, and Christ commands and threatens as much as he invites and persuades. He is both maximally demanding, and maximally consoling. Who is living ‘the way of Christ’ in our culture today? 
    • Is the way you propose of engaging with the world one of fearlessness, joy and cheerfulness? Reflecting on fair and unfair praise, criticism, and misunderstandings of the Benedict Option and Live Not by Lies.
  • A Christian politics?
    • Whether Christianity can be fit into a political program? What is the right level, manner and style of engagement in politics today for Christians? 
    • Between Traditionalism and Progressivism – the possibility of a non-ideological approach to Christian politics and living the faith in the public sphere?  

About Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By LiesThe Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Leming—as well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

Commentary on The Benedict Option and Live Not by Lies

The Benedict Option

“The most discussed and most important religious book of the decade.”

David Brooks, The New York Times

“A terrific book: provocative in its content, shrewd in its insights, vivid and engaging in its style. The strength of The Benedict Option is not just its analysis of our culture’s developing problems but its outline of practical ways Christians can survive and thrive in a dramatically different America. This is an invaluable tool for understanding our times and acting as faithful believers.”

Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap, Archbishop of Philadelphia

“An insightful and optimistic plan of action for Christians who are starting to realize just how hostile American culture is to their faith.”

Mollie Ziegler Hemingway, senior editor, The Federalist

Live Not by Lies

“As a new cultural revolution aims to institutionalize a tyranny of ideological clichés, Dreher renews Solzhenitsyn’s great call to ‘live not by lies.’ I cannot imagine a more timely and urgent book, or one with a more enduring spiritual, political, and cultural message.”

Daniel J. Mahoney, Coeditor of The Solzhenitsyn Reader

“In this remarkably prescient book, Dreher sets Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s timeless appeal to ‘live not by lies’ as the cornerstone of his own bold warning. His suggestion of a dawning post-Christian, ‘pre-totalitarian’ society is impossible to dismiss in light of the patient case he builds for his passionate, if provocative, thesis.”

Ignat Solzhenitsyn, Conductor and Pianist

“With characteristic foresight, Rod Dreher has written an invaluable compendium of how to live fearlessly under totalitarianisms, old and new. Better still, the book is a counsel of hope and joy for even the bleakest days – and an encouragement we need, especially today in this time of cascading crises.”

Patrick Deneen, Author of Why Liberalism Failed

Links to Critical and Positive Reviews

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