Sunday, October 29, 2006

What's the big Ikea?

There is an idea out there floating around on the net and in some skulls that the cheap crap Wal-mart sells is really bad for the well-being of the planet, but the crap Ikea sells is a blessing. Who cares? Watch this.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Rod Dreher, Journalist for Jesus.

It's really arrogant to claim guidance from above, unless you really have heard God's calling. To wit:
You know, whenever someone says, "God called me to do..." or "God told me to do...," my b.s. detector automatically comes on. It's not that I disbelieve that God calls individuals to do this or that. In my life, I got a very clear and even startling call back to journalism at a time I was considering leaving it, and spent months in prayer and reflection about the path I should take. I honestly believe the hand of the Divine was in that. But I can't imagine declaring so confidently, "God told me to run for Congress" (or write a book, mow the grass, adopt an African orphan, whatever). Isn't that dangerously presumptious? Don't we risk confusing the promptings of God with our own desires? What if God "told" Bachmann's opponent to run for office against her? What's wrong with saying simply, "I believe part of my Christian vocation is to public service as a U.S. Congressman?" Why bring God into it like this? [emphasis mine]

To think, I've been spending so much time criticizing one of God's own reporters. As a faithful Christian, I suppose I should apologize for impeding Rod's work to do the Lord's will.

I'm not quite doing that, but I do have more to say, in the comments.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Congratulations Are In Order .

We here at The Contra-Crunchy Conservative may not have always agreed with Rod Dreher, but a lack of full esteem for a man's professional talents and irritation at his sometimes less-than-professional habits is a far cry from outright hate (got that, Mr. Shea?), and we would like to extend our warmest congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Dreher in the birth of their third child, Nora.

We would also like to convey our respect for Mr. Dreher in his living out his principles during this most momentous time. We believe that the free market, industrialization, globalization, big business, and modernity have their advantages as well as their drawbacks -- and one of their greatest achievements is the advancement of medicine. It's becoming almost routine for an expectant mother to go to a hospital and have a C-section, but the Dreher's eschewed all that. We hear that mother and daughter are doing fine, thanks to the professionalism of the midwife and the charming voodoo priest from Louisiana.

As the Missus recovers, there's a temptation to let her relax by watching shows like Gray's Anatomy -- to buy the show's DVDs and play them on a laptop computer, to embrace Big Media and what he believes is that damnable idea of choice in terms of what you watch, when, and where. Rod resisted the temptation, and it's a shame that we can't all be entertained by watching him whittle figurines of Wendell Berry and sing Negro spirituals.

Rod's living by his beliefs and proving that he is in a position to criticize others for their compromises, as he did in his book:
You don't have to be a religious believer in the formal sense to be a crunchy conservative, but you do have to believe that accumulating wealth and power is not the point of life. Now, if you took a poll, ninety-nine out of a hundred conservatives would deny that they subscribed to that vulgar credo. But that's not how they live —- even if they profess to be religious.

Did Rod compromise his love of all things small and local by allowing his book to be produced by a giant publishing company like Random House? Has he given up on homeschooling for even one of his children? Has he ever even contemplated that detestable expression of consumerism that is church hopping?

Heavens, no. He may indulge the occasional bit of fast food, but on the big stuff, he's rock solid and -- even though we disagree with his criticisms -- his consistency gives him the authority to criticize others when they stray from the crunchy ideals. For that, we salute him.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Ain't Nothing Perfect

Yesterday I was down in the outer wastelands of Parma, wandering through a bland strip-mall when I came upon this enormous sign. This was by far the biggest Bingo sign I'd ever seen, boasting of instant gratification and 6-day availability, obviously providing the nearby parish with plenty of funding.I frowned, I scowled, -- then I said to myself, what did you expect? In an area rife with capitalistic opportunism and exploitation, oozing with shifty-eyed loiterers and disinterested cops lazily walking their beats, with thrift stores, pawn shops, martial-arts schools and obvious front businesses and restaurants, all grown-up like toadstools after the acid rain of urban decay, with the putrid stench of adult bookstores and consumer electronics outlets filling the nostrils and driving out all memory of the permanent things, the crawling filth seeping from......

Crunchy me. Where was I?

Oh, yes, Parma. I wondered, are the refreshments better at Orthodox Bingo than the Catholic ones? Not being a Bingo-kind-of-guy I would have no point of comparison. Certainly either would have to be better than at a Southern Baptist Bingo, if there could be such a thing, at least to my sophisticated Yankee tastes. I don't know if Anglicans do Bingo either, although their founder was known to be an "avid gambler and dice player".

But anyway, after snapping the picture with my trusty Treo, I went into a great little thrift store and bought a knick-knack shelf for $2.14, tax included.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

That Much?

"Good grief, this is just a blog where I give my opinions. They're worth what you pay for them." -- Rod Dreher

Update, October 12th: It's worth noting that Rod's stated the obvious again, this time announcing that he's joined the Eastern Orthodox church, in a 5700-word essay that immediately attracted a lot of comments from all sides. I can understand counter-crunchies' wanting to comment in a less (hyper)active setting, so I think we should follow the lead of SiliconValleySteve and use this post's comment thread for commentary of our own...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

If Rod Questions Your Conservatism, Is It a Compliment?

A blogger named Clark Stooksbury recently took a potshot at Rush Limbaugh, and another blogger -- a friend of Rod's named Daniel Larison -- picked up on it, adding his own idiocy.

Dreher has since excerpted Larison's blog entry, saying that Larison "catches Rush Limbaugh out on an astonishingly un-conservative tear." I think a case can be made that, in context, Limbaugh's comments weren't as unorthodox as they think -- that none of these three stooges care too terribly much about the accuracy of their criticism -- but I wonder:

Is it really an insult if Dreher questions your conservative bona fides?

And just who the hell is Rod Dreher make such a charge? Consider how often he cites the New York Times as authoritative, how just this week he referenced Bob Woodward and John Murtha as reliable sources in attacking Bush's policy in Iraq and accusing Bush of lying, and (let us not forget) how he nearly wept for Dan Rather while he called Rush a "pillhead."

In the comments here this week, SiliconValleySteve observes that Dreher "has no center". I believe that's true, though I believe we should be charitable toward people who are figuring themselves out, as all of us could improve and even those of us who know the course we need to chart hardly ever navigate that course unfailingly.

But what I can't abide is this: Rod doesn't know who he is, but he's happy to tell others who we are and -- more appallingly -- that who we are is morally inferior, that we are not only different from him, but also deficient.

A person who's figuring himself out could still write a worthwhile account of his personal journey of discovery or of how others are finding meaning in their lives, but it's overreach to pretend that a comprehensive (and comprehensible) philosophy can be gleaned from the jumbled mess of positions Rod holds, and it's infuriating to pretend that others can be judged by that philosophy.