Thursday, July 06, 2006

More about Crunchy Cons

Well, I finished the book. It was excellent. As Laura put it, could have used some tighter editing, perhaps, but other than that, the content was great. As a matter of fact, I intend to buy a copy. My reason is, it reads like a who's who of conservative thought, in some ways. Dreher does ALOT of name dropping, and I'd like to be able to mark up a copy and do follow up reading on some of the names he dropped. Names like Wendell Berry, a fellow Kentuckian farmer/writer/philosopher. Sounds interesting. I did not know there were interesting people here in my home state...just kidding (sort of).

Basically, this book covered all the lifestyle bases of how people live: food, home, education, the environment, religion, and the last chapter, entitled "Waiting for Benedict" which is not about the current Roman pope, but rather takes a look at what it will take for adherants to Truth to survive the coming/come dark ages...St. Benedict having precipitated monastic revival which pulled Western Christianity through the fall of the Roman empire.

So, it really resonated with me in many many ways. The things he said about culture and beauty and economy could have come from my own lips. The things he said about religion I also consider to be true and very profound. To his credit, Dreher (a convert to Roman Catholicism) gives both Protestantism and Eastern Orthodoxy a very fair shake, and he also features an interview with an Orthodox Jew which was respectful and interesting.

Dreher does not mince ideas at all, but the overall tone of this book seemed postive and respectful to me. He spends his time describing what crunchy cons are, not polemicizing against those who are not. At least it seemed like that to me, who happens to agree with pretty much everything he wrote.

This book challenged me to take seriously the consideration of where my food comes from, and to at least start making small positive changes towards supporting more sustainability. That will be an interesting challenge on a budget, but I'm finding I'd rather have organic veggies or well raised beef than diet coke. Someday I hope to become a food grower, at least in a small way, not because I think it will be cheaper, but because it is the right thing to do, as a human being.

The only chapter that had me itching under my collar of course was the chapter on homeschooling. Been there, tried that, found it to be something beyond the scope of my personal sanity. I know, I know. IMO it's still the ideal. It hurts to not live up to the ideal. But that's how it is in my family. I also like the fact that my kids are in band and orchestra and getting things like speech therapy. Enough self justification already, and moving right along.

Crunchy cons, Dreher says, live sacramentally, with an awareness of the permanent things, the important things and the interconnectedness of humans with the rest of humanity and the earth and all creatures that fill her...and our dependance on God who sustains all. This is something Dreher articulates well for me, a reader who is a part of a religious tradition that does view the world sacramentally. I wonder if someone from a Church which does not have an overt sacramental understanding of life the universe and everything would be left scratching their head over this aspect of the book.

Reading this book certainly won't make the struggle I experience at the polls on election day any easier, but at least I will know that I'm not alone.

I thought I was a libertarian, but looking at this book, I'd really have to say on the spectrum of political defninitions that I was defining myself that way for lack of a better category, and that morally and spiritually I fit much better into the Crunchy Con category than I do in the libertarian categorgy. I did not have any "aha" moments reading this book, and Dreher did not convince me of anything. It was more a matter of picking up a book that was surprisingly what I'd been saying/thinking for years myself.

So, now I've totally outed myself politically. If you want to know where I Crucny Cons.


Anita said...

It's nice having a category to fit into other than libertarian and Crunchy Cons describes where I'm at, too. I, too, want to read some of the writers he mentioned. I love Wendell Berry, especially his What Are People For book. Dreher has a blog (of course): and is considering converting to Orthodoxy. I was somewhat annoyed at his chapter on stay at home moms - it was too black and white. And our movement needs a better name than Crunchy Cons. I'm tired of that name already.

Romani said...

Thanks for your review- I've been considering picking up this book and I think I will now. God Bless!

Mimi said...

I'm pretty crunchy, but doubt I fall into the conservative category. It does sound pretty good and I would like to read it, though.

Thanks for the review.

DollyMama said...

I had that same experience about libertarianism while reading the book.

The main thing I thought about all his waxing eloquent about homeschooling is that his child that is homeschooled is very young, and they only have two kids. Give 'em a whole passel of kids and his tune might change. ;)

I found it largely boring that he blabbed on and on about high-falootin' food and wine and stuff like that. It seemed like he was trying too hard to impress the reader, and that always works in the opposite direction for me.

BUT I liked knowing that I have not been the only person seeing things through a different filter. For a long time I have said that it seemed to me like rather than a long line with conservatives and liberals each at a different end, it seems more like a circle. The more extreme people seem to have a lot in common. (like when you see the conservative Christians and pagans and liberals at the same home birth meeting or health food store or homeschool event)

Glad you enjoyed it!

alana said...

I totally got what he was saying about wine and food. I think it plays deeply into his sacramental understanding of life, the universe and everything that he holds as a Roman Catholic Christian.

Meg said...

Reading your comments about Crunchy Cons, it sounds as if this book is a must-read for me. For years now, I've been describing myself as "America's only socialist conservative" -- maybe not, maybe not!

I remember asking once in an Economics class why conservatives were so protective of their money, but not too concerned about surrendering some of their individual rights in the interests of the common good, while liberals had no trouble parting with money (preferably others'), but shrieked at the very thought of abridgement of their individual liberties. I was wondering where someone who was protective of *both* money *and* individual liberties would fall in. My professor responded that terms like "conservative" and "liberal" are really misleading; we should really describe political thought in terms of "libertarian" or "communitarian." And the puzzle pieces all fell into place: I'm a communitarian.

Rebecca said...

Okay I have got to find this book, it's been hitting me all week. I keep seeing it mentioned, and I am just itching to find it.
I guarantee our small redneck library system doesn't have it, but I will check anyway.

I admit to homeschooling, but I failed to plant a garden this year. I just can't do it well, and get enough food away from the insects! And I am not having fun with my special needs dd in a public school, but some therapy is better than none, right? I wonder where I will fit after reading this book!?