Thursday, August 24, 2006

Mixed Emotions

I always have mixed emotions when someone channels my exact thoughts. My initial reaction is "Great, that's better than I could have put it myself!" Then I think -- wait a second, what else did they see inside me little head? I'm not even sure what's all up there in the ol' noggin attic.

Here's a great line in the combox from Mrs. Darwin: "The provenance of one's vegetables is not the best indicator of the quality of one's values."


Blogger Bubba said...

Steven seems inclined to accuse Dreher of hypocrisy, of proposing an alternative to materialism while presenting a lifestyle that is "overly concerned with material objects."

As if Rod Dreher would ever betray an inconsistency of that magnitude! Next thing you know, some skeptic will suggest irresponsibly that the same man who wrote that "Beauty is more important than efficiency" is now talking about eating right while looking at the monetary cost!

Or some loser will have the stones to criticize Rod for calling others "hothouse flower types" by making the ridiculous suggestion that he is less than wholly willing to engage his critics!

Consistency, thy name is Dreher.

10:24 PM  
Blogger Cubeland Mystic said...

It is not that we are overly concerned with material objects, we are saying that the little house you have now is enough. Channel the time that you would spend acquiring more and better things into some other useful activity like making database clustering more efficient, developing a vaccine for bird flu, or design more fuel efficient cars.

The food criticisms are out of context too. In my case, I assert that you can feed your family better cheaper food if you are willing to prepare it. The assumed alternative is that some dual income families exist to support a consumptive lifestyle, and that the cost to keep the second person employed results in diminishing returns for the family. Like having to buy a pizza rather than make it from scratch.

1:48 PM  
Blogger kathleen said...

"I assert that you can feed your family better cheaper food if you are willing to prepare it."

what about the time and effort spent preparing it? in many cases that is worth more to my family when that time and energy spent doing something else -- taking them on a trip, or playing a game with them, for instance. why should i discount the cost of foregone trips or games so i can grow and prepare homegrown kale? and who is in a better position to decide how i spend my time most fruitfully than me? (oh, rod dreher is, right)

5:49 PM  
Blogger Cubeland Mystic said...

Your priorities are well ordered. Other people's priorities are not. Some people have the right priorities, but cannot afford a lot. Some people have the right priorities but since both parents work have little time. There are more activities in life than what the dominant culture presents to us.

Food is not the only part of family life. We read lots of books, we watch movies together. We talk about science. In the garden my kids learn about nature. They learn about plant biology, complex systems, discipline, efficiency, learning to finish tasks they start. My daughter knows that spinach is high in protein and broccoli is high in calcium. She is becoming competent in the kitchen with basic food prep skills. We hope these skills will someday prepare her to complete complex tasks like perform surgery. We still even get to the museum and library too.

We simply want to make a counterculture lifestyle not so counter cultural. Food is a common denominator that we can all relate too. You can pass more wisdom, virtue, and knowledge to your children performing a shared task than you can watching a movie or placing them in an endless stream of activities.

8:47 PM  
Blogger kathleen said...

"There are more activities in life than what the dominant culture presents to us."

Cube, I can't think of a single person i have ever met in my entire life that doesn't know this. there are people who fish, and there is no dominant culture telling them they must fish. there are people who do martial arts, and there is no dominant culture telling them they must do martial arts. there are people who paint, and there is no dominant culture telling them they must paint. everyone either has, or wishes they had, a hobby or vocation like music, sports, art, etc. again, i'm left to wonder, who is this proverbial dolt that the crunchy con is distinguishing himself from?

9:58 AM  
Blogger Pauli said...

Kathleen wrote: "who is this proverbial dolt that the crunchy con is distinguishing himself from?"

LOL - right. The existence of this dolt is critical for the arguments made in CC to have real strength, but I have never met anyone like him.

Cube, I'm not going to club you for not seeing that Dreher is straining for absolutes which don't exist and continuously placing externals over intention and taste over substance in his meta-narrative. When you look at CCism, you might sincerely not see the narcissism that Jonah pointed out, the inconsistency that Bubba illuminates, the difficulties with anecdotal evidence that Pink Logician and others have blogged about, SVS's "rose-colored glasses" syndrome, etc. Not to mention the absurdity of M. Pyhton-esque proportions which spawned this parody blog. And that's fine. You're a great apologist for what you and your family have going. Seems to me like it is the embodiment of the virtue of true simplicity as opposed to the nit-pickiness of CCism.

Whenever Rod brings up a point in his book or in his blog that I agree with -- e.g., the blog posts which get jumped all over by libs in the comboxes -- I can generally name you 2 or 4 other conservative pundits and columnists who've communicated the same points more effectively and without that wide-eyed "I just came up with this!" attitude. He could be congratulated for tying a few unrelated ideas together and throwing in a twist of lemon to create a new brand. But that's about it.

12:13 PM  
Blogger Cubeland Mystic said...

It was just a general rhetorical statement. That's all. Was writing quickly at the time.

12:19 PM  
Blogger kathleen said...

"that wide-eyed "I just came up with this!" attitude. "

oh yeah pauli, dreher to a T. mighty impressed with himself. he is his own novelty act.

12:26 PM  
Blogger Cubeland Mystic said...

I admit that since he described a lot of my lifestyle and wrapped in a Catholic wrapper that I do not see the narcissism.

It's just so much fun to get outside and work. This may seem strange to you, but if we lived in the same neighborhood, and you came to my house and said that you just had a load of sod come in for the back yard, and your helper didn't show up, and that you were sorry to ask but could you please give up your weekend and help me on my yard? Before you could lift your humbled gazed from the doorstep, I would have my boots on and the wife would be at the store buying beer and steaks for the cookout 12 hours later when we were done. I love shared labor!

People justify so many of their choices based on their economic conditions. Not stupid things like whether to buy food at the A&P or Hole Foods. But real painful things like have abortions or get divorced because of a disordered attachment to small-m materialism. That's why I advocate for a simpler lifestyle.

4:56 PM  
Blogger kathleen said...

"People justify so many of their choices based on their economic conditions....real painful things like have abortions or get divorced because of a disordered attachment to small-m materialism."

right, so how does shopping organic, or living in a craftsman bungalow, help things? if anything, those who give a great deal of energy thinking about the kind of house they live in or the kind of food they eat are MORE LIKELY to get abortions, so they can reserve a larger chunk of their incomes for great food or great real estate. thus persuading people to eat organic, for instance, is going at things backwards. lovers of organic food are more likely, not less, to support abortion. thus the sacramentality of organic food isn't all that valuable in leading someone to englightenment, is it?

5:24 PM  
Blogger Pauli said...

Kathleen: "....thus the sacramentality of organic food isn't all that valuable in leading someone to enlightenment, is it?"

It seems like to Cube that this manifestation of simplicity (organic food, home-grown food, etc.) is valuable and points toward virtue Many even enlightenment. To me it simply doesn't because that's not how I'm "wired", and to many others it obviously doesn't lead to rejecting evil because they aren't seeing things in the proper hierarchy. E.g., physical health > spiritual health.

I'll end my comments on this thread with a Deep Thought by Jack Handy: "If you ever reach total enlightenment while drinking beer, I bet it makes beer shoot out your nose."

5:50 PM  
Blogger Cubeland Mystic said...


I am trying to highlight the simple beauty of domestic life. I agree that a lot of people who eat organic food and live in hip housing are more likely to get an abortion or divorced because they put a high value on these things.

I put a high value on the time spent working as a family. A young women faced with this terrible choice, who never herd an alternative view to the economic justification for abortion, might reconsider if she sees some hope in domestic life. I never heard our Catholic message of life till I was in my mid thirties. Before that, I never even considered any other alternative other than that girl should kill her baby rather than face poverty.

My goal is to try show that those things that are eschewed by the dominant culture are what make domestic life so attractive and beautiful. Sure she has to scrimp and save, and for a time it might seem that she is sacrificing everything. But there are ways endure these hard times if understood that there is virtue in her sacrifice. In my opinion, there is joy in these domestic tasks, and because they cost little.

If you read me as a greedy boomer who is promoting an elite lifestyle you are misreading me. I am promoting a simple lifestyle based on work and sacrifice. Not hyper focusing on self indulgence like the dominant culture does. Obviously a mom barely scraping buy cannot shop at Hole Foods, or pay for that type of food. I’ve never advocated shopping at Hole Foods because it is rip off for ignorant elitist snobs.

It would be foolish to recommend these things to someone who is poor. I am saying that if you have access to a patch of ground, and you are poor, rather than sitting around in despair about all that is lacking in your life, pick up a shovel and make a garden and eat better than the fools who shop at Hole Foods.

None of the things you mention stop abortion, neither does having money and all the ability in the world. Women from all walks of life have abortions. Couples from all walks of life get divorced. Food , housing or money have little to do with it. My blogging in this specific area is to highlight the joy of domestic life. The things that you, Paul, and myself experience everyday. My efforts in this context are to help those folks who don’t know the joy of domestic life find it in their despair.

7:10 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

LOL! I've missed this blog. :)

Someone said at the CrunchyCon blog the other day--and I forget the context--something to the effect of, "We don't all have to be your clones, Rod." EXACTLY. That's it in a nutshell. Why Rod wants to form us all into his clones is beyond me. Wouldn't it be rather boring if everyone else were just like oneself? Isn't variety the proverbial spice of life? Shouldn't a journalist of all people have a special appreciation for the richness and diversity of human behavior? Isn't it curiosity about the Other that drives journalists in the first place? (I dunno; I'm not a journalist...but it seems to me that curiosity about and appreciation of other people's personalities, choices, lifestyles, etc., would be an occupational prerequisite.)

3:04 PM  

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