Book Review: CR Wiley

I first encountered CR Wiley during Season 1 of Man Rampant where he was featured on Episode 4, “The State vs Your Family”. Intrigued, I found his book The Household and the War for the Cosmos. It was available to read for free through Kindle Unlimited so I plunged in. Much of the modern world has suffered from decades of philosophical schizophrenia as materialism and post-modernism incubated cultural Marxism. Wiley presents a coherent and holistic worldview, so it should not have been a surprise to be plunged back into the Greco Roman world of history, mythology, and philosophy from the outset. Before Wiley tells us what he believes about anything, he tells us what he believes about everything. Unfortunately, Wiley almost lost me here and I would have surrendered (probably due more to my own lack of understanding than any deficiency in writing) had it not been for the sense that he really is getting at something. That sense was paid off with dividends down the road.


Wiley encourages us to ditch the feelings-oriented individualism that characterizes so much of Western life in exchange for piety, which is pictured in Aeneas’ carrying of his father out of Troy. He rags on hymns like “In the Garden” (not cool, dude) to make his point. And despite his lack of appreciation for certain sacred hymns, it is a point well worth making. Because as we actually bind ourselves together in covenant type relationships, we form something of value: the household.

I went on to read an earlier book of Wiley’s called Man of the House, which is the more practical of the two but is based on the same philosophy. As some time has passed and I have not gone back and read both books, I am treating them as one for the purposes of this review. I didn’t make notes (shame on me!) so cannot say for certain in which of his books each idea was most clearly presented.

A Household Should Be Something

The first thing I remember jumping out at me was a line (not quoting verbatim) that went something like, “We tell men to be the head of their households, so what does that put them in charge of? The remote control?” Wiley’s description of the modern family as something not much more than roommates is unfortunately all too accurate. Modern families struggle to find time to eat together, much less do something productive together. But the first household was a union of productivity, not only in regards to the fertility of the womb but also the fertility of the world.

Generally speaking, modern storytelling presents any form of familial duty as negative. For example, the heroin is the one who turns her back on her parent’s wishes so that she can pursue true love. The young man is really brave because he doesn’t take over the family business that his grandfather and father worked to build. The wife who falls in love with the fella at work really deserves to leave her husband and find happiness. Wiley flips that script around.

Slave Wage vs Ownership

“Slave wage” is a phrase that comes up frequently in Wiley’s books and one that I believe can be traced back to Chesterton (Perhaps in The Everlasting Man or What’s Wrong with the World, but I can’t remember which. Clearly I have a problem taking good notes!) Wiley presents what so many dream of – getting a job at a big corporation that can provide a salary and benefits -as a terrible fate. Instead, he would have more people to be proprietors. Small business owners. Families working together to build a structure that can support their family, potentially for several generations. There’s an entire chapter dedicated to a parable of what it means to work for a large corporation which I will not spoil by recounting here.

In Praise of Women

The industrial revolution not only changed the way economies operated, it changed the way families related to each other. Prior to it, most families worked together cooperatively from their own property. Marriage was an economic partnership and there was no financial incentive to dissolve that union. Following the industrial revolution, the man would head off to work and live a distinct life from his wife, who would feel “stuck at home”. The secularists thought this would be cured by getting women into the workforce, which only unleashed further problems like the outsourcing of child-rearing and the further separation of husband and wife from each other’s daily worlds, resulting in higher divorce rates and sexual infidelity of all sorts. The idea of a productive household would mean that the “man’s world” was really a shared world between husband and wife and then children and down to grandchildren.

Feminists would doubt that anything Wiley says is in praise of women, but I would disagree. I am both an orthodox Christian with a biblical approach to the distinction and roles of the sexes as well as a man married to a gifted wife. Our commitment is to raise our own children and it falls to my wife to stay home with them, a situation for which we are both thankful. However, there is a daily sense of abandonment that we have to fight as walk through the portal of the business world. As I discussed the concept of a productive household, she was like, “Yes! I love staying home with the kids and getting to just be a mom, but I want to be helpful in other ways, too. That’s the perfect solution.” In theory, a productive household would allow everyone to contribute, even children.


As a pastor with a degree in Biblical Counseling, I have read a lot of books for men. Wiley’s books take a different approach and are refreshingly blunt and biblical. For a young man, I would recommend Man of the House as it is the more practical of the two. The events of 2020 have only heightened my appreciate for the need to establish households.

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