Thursday, May 18, 2006

In My Library Bag: Crunchy Cons

It finally came! I'm halfway through the blog-trendy book by Rod Dreher, and it was so worth the wait. Though I already feel connected to this culture via the Internet, it's satisfying to learn more about other people are grappling with faith and right-wing values in a consumerist world. It's also refreshing to see Dreher's Catholic viewpoint mixed in with the evangelical/Reform crowd I expected. And, who doesn't love his imagery/irony of using a National Review totebag to bring home vegetables from the neighborhood coop?
Three of the points in Dreher's Crunchy Con Manifesto that reverberated within the walls of our home:
  • A conservatism that does not practice restraint, humility, and good stewardship--especially of the natural world--is not fundamentally conservative.
  • Small, Local, Old, and Particular are almost always better than Big, Global, New, and Abstract.
  • Beauty is more important than efficiency.


Anonymous said...

I got the book from the library but had to send it back before I finished reading it (you know with 5 children I am not sure WHY I thought I would get to READ it! No time for that....) but anyway, I enjoyed the small portion I got to read before someone else put a hold on it. I am looking forward to buying it with my "allowance". I figured if I enjoyed it that much just in the first few pages, it will be worth the buy.

~ Mrs. DMG ~

Anonymous said...

I am generally drawn to many "crunchy" things too, and when I first read some of Dreher's artcles thought, "This is about me." But I don't really like Dreher's book or the "movement" as such.

My primary complaint is that it is, in my opinion, divisive in the same way that some people see the need to divide all groups into their smallest factions (you are a this-American or a that-American, for instance) instead of considering the actual common ground in beliefs and values one might share.

It also plays into the primarily liberal belief that you can't be conservative and like Birkenstocks, organic produce or whatever. Those are just things. Things that are not political. The Left has long considered them political identifiers and now Dreher makes them a sub-movement of the Right. Neither is true. They are simply choices we make in how to raise families, eat food, wear clothes, etc.

mothersong said...

I just finished this book myself, and I liked it quite a bit. I personally consider myself liberal, but seriously crunchy, so it was like preaching to the choir in some ways.

One thing I really, really did not like was his continuing reference to liberals as people who are sexually irresponsible, and unswervingly pro-choice. In my experience, that is really a sweeping and inaccurate stereotype. My liberal crunchy friends who homeschool, homebirth, and eat vegetarian organic are not out having orgies on the weekends. They also value their own children and all children very highly, and make most of their lifestyle choices around that priority.

Actually, living on the East Coast, but growing up in the mid-west, I think that liberals and conservatives both are more "liberal" on the coasts, and more "conservative" in the middle of our country.

I have to think the guy doesn't know that many liberals personally, or is hoping that kind of polarization helps sell the book.

And I agree with Jordana. I never owned a pair of Birks, and I am as crunchy as they come. Many of the things he pointed out are lifestyle choices, not political indicators. I don't doubt that he and I (and most of you and I) would get along great, but I am a registered Democrat!

Mom2fur said...

Small, local, old and particular--I love that! There's just something so special about things that have stood the test of time.

Meredith said...

You're right about his tendency to subdivide and label. In the end that could be more damaging to our culture than yet another subgroup with which to identify ourselves.
However, I think the book does expose a huge shared common ground between liberals and conservatives, a common ground neither the polarized left or right are often willing to claim. Although Dreher does put a lot of emphasis on the outward objects of lifestyle, he does at least nod to a shared value system--or why nonreligious moms who homeschool have much in common with Orthodox moms who homeschool, because they are both on the same mission of excellence for their children.

It was fun to read, anyway, simply to spot my own choices among his examples.

mothersong said...

I think you are right about the book showing the common ground. Because I homeschooled for years, I spent (and still spend) a good deal of time with Christian homeschoolers. I think that I tend to realize more than many liberal people how much common ground there is because I am familiar and comfortable with people who are religious and conservative.

I am also very religious, and I think there is no doubt that religious people of all political bents have a great deal in common. That's why I so enjoy Christian agrarian blogs, for example. Being into organic veggies, environmental concerns, and close knit families gives me much more common ground than points of dissention with homeschoolers, farmers, etc.