Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Crunchy Cons, by Rod Dreher

This was my second time through Crunchy Cons, by Rod Dreher.  I read it about this same time last year for the first time and really enjoyed it.  My parents were visiting in April and my dad read it and really enjoyed it also. 

How Birkenstocked Burkeans, gun-loving organic gardeners, evangelical free-range farmers, hip homeschooling mamas, right-wing nature lovers, and their divers tribe of countercultural conservatives plan to save America (or at least the Republican Party)

This is the first book on politics I have read since I was in college I believe.  I do not understand the government at all (I look forward to remedying that through my own reading and mentoring of my children), and I know that the government is not the answer to the world's problems.  At the same time, I know that God has ordained the government as a means of leading society.  And the government needs good, moral leaders if it is to do the job God intended.  Basically, it's such a mess, I get overwhelmed and simply vote for who my husband tells me to vote for.  Not the ideal I confess, but an uninformed opinion is not ideal either, so the only answer is to study history and start to understand the roles of government to get a better grasp of how it should be done.  For now, I push the buttons for GOP and pray. :)

Drew ran across Crunch Cons last spring and knew from the cover that I'd be interested in reading it.  While it didn't fix my dismal lack of political knowledge, it did light a fire under me that change was possible, and it had to start with me.  With parents who are raising up the next generation of leaders.  I CAN DO THAT!  Right now, without further study (granted, I am not absolving myself of that responsibility, I just know it will take me a long time to thoroughly understand it-and meanwhile I hated the idea of sitting around doing nothing), I can be a 'crunchy con' who raises thinking, moral (Godly), conscience children for the next generation of government.

Rod Dreher is a political journalist who used to live/work in NYC and now is in Dallas.  He considers himself a conservative (one who wants to conserve what is truly important-namely family and society), but has issues with the political agenda of the GOP.  The political left, is greedy with personal rights and the political right is greedy with money, growth and power.  My sentiments exactly.  Damned if you do, damned if you don't! 

In his own life, he started looking for what was right and good, instead of either or.  And he was surprised with how much he had in common with the tree hugging liberals.  Through a series of articles, he found he was not alone in his thinking.  He coined the term 'Crunchy Cons', crunchy for the granola-eating health-conscious side, earth friendly, and the cons for the conservative.

I could so identify.  I've come to realize that the earth's resources are not something to be wasted.  They were given to us by an Almighty Creator God who gave us the mandate to be stewards of and to have dominion over the earth.  Not to treat it like crap and take away without replacing.  We have no idea when Jesus will return, and until then, the earth needs to be inhabitable.  Dominion is meant as a taking care of, not dominating out of greed.  I was definitely crunchy!  And conservative just made sense from a Biblical standpoint.

Each chapter is a discussion on the Crunchy Con reaction to various facets of life.

Consumerism: "The tragic flaw of Western economics is that it is based on exploiting and encouraging greed and envy.  Because an economy grown from these poisonous seeds is bound to destroy the community of which it is a part."

Food: (my favorite *grins*) He quoted Wendell Barry and Joel Salatin.  Enough said. :)  He was, naturally, in favor of smaller, local food systems, less processed foods, more home-made meals and less fuel being spent to get it to our plates.  Saving the earth while saving our poor, sick bodies.  Win win!

Home:  The concept of true beauty in architecture was new to me. Yet I can look at some houses and almost want to cry, but never knew why.  And others, McMansions as he calls them, are huge and I know are supposed to be beautiful, but I find them repulsive.  I guess that is a natural connection in a lot of people.  Phew!  Glad I'm not insane...  He talks about he and his wife's quest to find the right house in the right neighborhood.  "Since about 1945, we've been building neighborhoods not to suit authentic human needs for beauty and community, but to move product as cheaply and quickly as possible."  Did God really create humans to need beauty around them?  Does God love beauty and surround himself with it? It would certainly appear so. 

Education:  Another favorite of mine.  He and his wife decided to homeschool their boys as a result of thinking through their own 'crunchy con' ideals.  Raising leaders for the next generation of government and leadership.  Quoting a homeschooling mom "The time is past when parents could sort of hand their children over to a school system and expect that the system could form their children to be part of the same community that the children live in.  The parent has to take on the primary responsibility for forming the child into an adult-and not just education about geography, math, and so forth, but their sense of right an wrong, their sense of justice, and how they should relate to other people."  AMEN!!

Environment:  While he confessed to being an 'avid indoorsmen', he also acknowledge that the thought of 'environmentalist' brought up visions of 'sanctimonious cultural elitists who seemed to have such worshipful regard for trees and owls, but so little concern for people.  The animal-rights people were the worst."  After reading Matthew Scully's 'Dominion' however, he came to realize that the earth's resources needed to be 'conserved' to serve humankind.  And that there was a moral factor in how we treat the land and animals.

Religion:  "Scratch the surface of a crunchy con, and you'll usually find a serious religious believer.  Why?  Because it gives crunchy cons the impetus to orient their lives and their efforts toward an ultimate end: serving God, not the self." He discussed various religions and their effects on families and societies.  While I do believe there is only one way to Heaven (through Jesus), it was fun to hear how other religions work towards a morality.  A reaching for the real purpose of our existence-to worship God. 

He ended with this: 'Hope is memory plus desire.  Given how things are these days, it's hard to be optimistic about the future.  But if we are to find our way to a future worth having, we will have to return to the wisdom of the past.  If we conservatives dare to rediscover and reclaim our authentic traditions, and seek with cheerful hearts and generous spirits to make the old ways live anew in our everyday lives, well then we have every reason-every reason to hope.'


  1. Amen Amen Amen And my daughter thought up all of that and put it into very good words. Where did you get such wisdom? couldnt have been from your mom or dad. (:

  2. aww, shucks dad. I learned it all from you and mom! :)