Sunday, July 02, 2006

We interrupt this blog for a brief public service message

As the founder, chairman, hizzoner, and El Queso Grande of this blog, I would like a moment of your attention.

Some of you may remember a certain piece of "art" by a fellow named Andres Serrano that caused a bit of a stir. Like many, I too was offended--in my case, because it was boo-ring! Epater le bourgeois may have had a point one or two hundred years ago, but really, who cares what artists think is "transgressive" these days, anyway?

Likewise, I am starting to feel like the contra-Crunchy thing is becoming a little stale. And in my book, that is perhaps the worst crime of them all.

So, I am issuing a challenge. I am going to keep this blog open until the end of July, to see if we can reinvigorate the debate a little. There have been plenty of great posts and comments by everyone here but lately it is starting to feel a little... forced.

Last, I'd like to request that everyone do their part to elevate the tone. I'm certainly not above a good-natured ribbing and great truths are often revealed in parody but I don't want this to merely be a place to burn Rod Dreher in effigy. The bottom line here is to win converts or at least ask some challenging questions.



Blogger Bubba said...

To be honest, I think I may be spent of the whole thing. Substantively, there may not much being said at Rod's blog worth parodying (or, rather, parodying again). Even a subject near and dear to my heart -- DC vs. Marvel -- motivates me neither to comment on his blog or ridicule him about it here.

I checked out his book from my library, and I didn't get around to doing more than skimming it. I decided this weekend to return the book unread (this, before I realized just how far the vitriol had gotten in the "Feast" thread), and I feel better for having done so.

There have been a few interesting discussions in this blog and in Rod's, but few involve Frere Dreher himself, and all of them are offshoots or tangents from his thesis/sensibility, not the core of it, nebulous as it may be.

I really haven't encountered anything to make me think that maybe there's something to what Rod's selling. On the contrary, I think what he espouses may not be internally consistent (e.g., in promoting homeschooling and community, and in advocating a return to a past that was chosen for utterly arbitrary reasons).

And I'm not sure I want to give him any more of my time. I'm glad he's as honest as he is, in some rather obvious contradictions with CC-ism: it looks like he won't be homeschooling after all, at least for one of his sons; he has a maid; he travels a lot for someone who praises All Things Local; and his book was published by an imprint of (and I quote) "the world's largest English-language general trade book publisher."

(So much for skepticism of big business; so much for valuing the small, local, and particular.)

But all that's nothing compared to the differences between what I saw in his book and what I see on his blog. The author of the Crunchy Cons book wrote about how we needed a new Benedict to lead a group into cloistering themselves as Western civilization collapsed; the author of the Crunchy Con blog is writing how we need a new William Jennings Bryan to inspire a populist revolution.

The author of the book subtitled his work with a goal to save America or at least the Republican Party. Time and again, however, the author of the blog is begging Democrats to give him a reason to jump ship, telling them, if they moderate on abortion and secularism, he's theirs.

And, obviously, the author of the book was or asserted being a committed Roman Catholic. The author of the blog, um, isn't.

And all of this in the span of how many months? The damn thing was only published February of this year.

It leads me to one inexorable conclusion: Rod Dreher does not know who he is. He has not decided what values and principles will drive his existence. Since he doesn't know who he is, it's questionable whether he can see clearly the environment that surrounds him.

Since he doesn't know who he is, I struggle to understand why anyone should care about what he has to say.

Obviously, I'm venting in this lengthy comment; to put things succinctly, I'm tired of him, regardless of what happens to the Contra Crunchy blog.

8:56 PM  
Blogger kathleen said...

Contra, I think Bubba's right. I really don't see any further opportunity for debate, and I haven't for a long while. There's no there there. All there's left to do is criticize Rod. I don't think anyone's burning him in effigy, but sometimes a little mockery is in order.

and I'm still waiting for the requisite daily meditation on the bounty offered by the great god Nutrasweet.

6:22 AM  
Blogger Cubeland Mystic said...

Before coming here I had never bloged except for Rod’s site. At first I did not understand your dissent, but now I understand it a lot better. I agree with some of it, while still agreeing with Rod’s book to a degree. Mostly I agree with the things that I was doing in our little vacuum, before I heard of this whole thing. If I were to offer criticism, the first thing Rod should do is re-write his housing chapter. Gentrified areas are some of the most exclu$ive areas in a lot of big cities in our country. This is out of reach for most people.

As far as food goes most food snobs will eat dog poop if they think it will add to their own personal prestige. They will even evaluate the different flavors, herbaceous with a hint of chocolate and raspberry with a crisp breath of lemon at the finish. Then everyone sits around the table nodding in agreement in some form of mass hallucination. I’ve sat through pretentious evenings with folks, who never once bent their backs to hard physical labor, while they drone on about terroir as they wave their soft pink hands in the air. I don’t want anything to do with food worship, and I could never be a part of something like what I just described. If there will be a future for this site I would like to see you discuss food, but in a humble way, not so much in the Hole-Foods sense but in a sacramental sense. I’d rather eat a moonpie with you guys while discussing serious things than to spend one more minute of my life with the vampires I described above.

I’ve learned much on this site. This is a very interesting niche. One thing that you could discuss in depth is the notion of entrepreneurship as a way to fix some of the problems we have in society. The original subtitle on my site was, “a journey toward self-sufficiency”. All we intended by this was a way to be in control of one’s time and finances in order to do some good in the world. If more of us ran our own businesses it might be a better world. (Yes there is room for brass knuckle Christians in the business world.)

The thing I like most about this site is that we are mostly religious conservatives who are discussing points of disagreement. It is very refreshing to participate where people disagree than to go over to Rod’s blog and yell “word up” to a lot of the posts. I’ve tried to engage you all in order to convince that a lot of us are not a pack of rabid pinkos. Some of what Rod proposes makes good sense from the conservative point of view.

For me a simple life is really not about better tomatoes, it is about offering you the best that we have. In our home you have safe harbor. There is place for the kids to play, a great meal, and good conversation in a Christian home. A place where you can forget your troubles, and speak your mind without retribution. You have had our best when your soul is fed as well as your body.

This is a good site please consider keeping it going.

9:45 AM  
Blogger Bubba said...

Thanks for the kind words, but I'm not sure how much an effect it will have, at least on me.

As if on cue, Rod's posted about populism ("Populism now!") and, without a hint of irony, how his son has found the small, local, particular literature called Harry Potter.

The first is particularly obnoxious because it's an essay by Caleb Stegall, published Sunday in the Dallas Morning News -- where Rod works as the editor of the Sunday commentary section.

I expressed my irritation in the comments section.

11:32 AM  
Blogger kathleen said...

that Caleb piece is waaaay to long. nice editing!

11:35 AM  
Blogger Bubba said...

Oh, to hell with all of this. Between the job, getting work done on my car, and two weddings (my old roommate's wedding this weekend, mine at the end of August), I have better things to do with my time.

I'm taking a break from this; not sure how long. Many of y'all have my email address; don't be a stranger.

I'll leave with two links, illustrating one of the other sources of frustration I mentioned earlier.

Here's Rod's take on Obama's recent attempt to court the evangelical vote. In contrast, here is commentary from Al Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, who Rod cited on a unrelated subject, about the same time as Obama's speech.

Quoting passages from the complete speech, passages that were not found in the ABC News article Rod cited, Mohler highlights the reality of Obama's message: evangelicals are welcome, but they must bring only secular arguments to policy discussions -- even those who believe in Biblical inerrancy have "no choice" but to defend their position on abortion with principles that are "accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all."

Does Rod too see Obama's speech as "secularism with a smile," as Mohler put it?

Nope. He missed it, possibly because he only read stories about the speech instead of reading the text of the speech itself, possibly because he so desparately wants the Democrats to welcome evangelicals with open arms.

In my opinion, the reason doesn't matter all that much.

TTFN, guys.

11:53 AM  
Blogger Jonathan Carpenter said...

Mr. Dreher is like those Fundamentalists who always accuse us of worshiping the Virgin Mary. I mean you can show him articles and other reasons that prove this to be nonsense. That will not satisfy him, because his mind is made up.

Jonathan Carpenter

9:16 PM  
Blogger Cubeland Mystic said...

I just posted this on Rod's blog. Sorry if I misrepresented your postion. I am posting here so you guys can see the challenge I issued.

“Why are you so obsessed with Rod, his supposed sinister motives, his personality, the ways he talks about his religious experience or what foods he likes? If it doesn't float your boat, why do you bother reading it?”

It’s not an obsession in my view. Rod wrote a book about the influence of faith on politics. He created a category of conservatives that may or may not exist. The dissenters have some skin in conservative politics, and I suspect they see Rod's incursion as a weakening of the base. They are pointing out the inconsistencies of Rod's message. For example in this specific case Rod makes negative public statements about our faith as practicing Roman Catholic, and then talks publicly about his infatuation with Orthodoxy. (Disclaimer: I have the same infatuation and respect for Eastern Orthodoxy, but I will not convert.)

When the dissenters pursue Rod he does not engage them. Since he makes his statements publicly in a discussion forum they think that he should debate them on the issues. Hence they keep criticizing his ideas. Rod has the ability via his position in the media to influence thousands of people's decisions on faith and politics.

Here is where they are rightly concerned, Caleb Stegal. Right now the thought of a third party is laughable. However in a perfect storm scenario a power splitting third party scenario could occur in the near future. This would be a bad thing.

If Rod's book were called Crunchy Catholics you would have never heard of Pauli, Contra, Bubba and Kathleen or anyone else I forgot. If they were off point stragglers or whacko’s you would have forgot about them by now. However, they have consistently and intelligently stated their cases against Rod's ideology for a long time now. The problem is Rod does not challenge them on this forum or their own contra crunchy site. By allowing them to drive the debate here unchallenged, he is weakening his own credibility in my view.

I propose the following challenge.

Rod should go out and get some of his high powered Crunchies (Stegall, Larison etc.) and the Contra's should get Goldberg and other dissenters. You have 10 crunchies vs. 10 contras. Create a blog with only the selected 20 participants. Come up with a list of 30 questions, and have a neutral party post them over the course of a month. I volunteer to be the neutral party.

10:32 AM  
Blogger Pauli said...

I think I'm done. Thanks for the opportunity. You could always just close comments and use the site for when Bubba finishes his book about Batman and/or his travel guide for Southerners attending college in Pittsburgh.

11:12 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

I'm done, too. But man, I wish Rod would stop saying such very silly things at his blog...makes it hard to refrain from responding.

And boy, his supporters--what a bunch. Oy!

2:49 PM  

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