Home | Reviews | Blog | Daily | Glossary | Orrin's Stuff | Email

As the most committed indoorsman west of Manhattan, I turned green not because I love to hug trees or bunnies (unless they're baked in mustard sauce). No, I turned green because, as schmaltzy as it sounds, I love to hug my kids.
    -Rod Dreher, Crunchy Cons

I'd like to think that if there was a target audience for Rod Dreher's crunchy con manifesto I'm a part of it. After all, I live in a rural county, I'm not predisposed to dismiss Luddism out of hand, and I've written favorably about the possibility of a conservative environmentalism. But, to be honest, I found this book to be astonishingly shallow and trivial. Here's the orony that resides at the core of Rod Dreher's argument: we live in an age when the consumer culture is so efficient and so comprehensive that it has turned anti-materialism into just another consumer good. After all, Mr. Dreher does not here advocate the kind of agrarianism that earlier conservatives did, nor even working a farm, the way Russell Kirk and Whittaker Chambers did. Instead, he wants to make a virtue of his own decision to live in a city but act as if he were on a farm--a charade that is, obviously, only made possible by the miracle of the modern free market. He hgave the gave away early, in one of his first National Review pieces on crunchy conservatism, -Crunchy Cons: Picking up organic vegetables in your National Review tote bag (Rod Dreher, September 30, 2002, National Review):
One day this summer, I told a colleague I had to leave early to pick up my weekly fresh vegetables from the organic food co-op to which my wife and I belong. "Ewgh, that's so lefty," she said.
It's all in the "up," isn't it? Sure, he wants to extol the sort of life wherein one would pick the vegetables, bu he wants to live the sort of life in which one picks up the vegetables that others have picked and brought to your local store. Oh, and then he wants to criticize the notions of shopping and stores. It's all quite silly.

Things only get worse when he tries to freight it all with meaning and explain his deeper purposes. He considers the organic food he buys to be a kind of sacrament, "At the risk of sounding pompously metaphysical, for people who adopt a sacramental way of being, everyday things, occurrences, and exchanges provide an opportunity to encounter ultimate reality--even, if you like, divinity." But what is a sacrament?:
sacrament (Merriam-Webster On-Line Dictionary)

Main Entry: sac·ra·ment
Pronunciation: 'sa-kr&-m&nt
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English sacrement, sacrament, from Anglo-French & Late Latin; Anglo-French, from Late Latin sacramentum, from Latin, oath of allegiance, obligation, from sacrare to consecrate
1 a : a Christian rite (as baptism or the Eucharist) that is believed to have been ordained by Christ and that is held to be a means of divine grace or to be a sign or symbol of a spiritual reality
Now, when you go up for Communion, it's plain to see why the bread you eat is a symbol. We don't get to have a Last Supper with Christ every week. But, you could easily grow and pick your own corn and carrots and all the rest. A store bought loaf of whole grain bread isn't a symbol of bread; it's a sign that you don't much feel like baking yourself. There's no shame in that, but neither is there any need to inflate our natural laziness into some form of religious rite on the basis of how the guy we bought the produce from prepared it. If the life of a farmer in Red State America is preferable to that of a white collar worker in a Blue city--and there is a serous argument to be made in favor of that position--then go live the life for real, don't try and partake of it vicariously and pretend you have to pluck hayseeds from your hair each night. It's embarrassing.


Grade: (C)


Rod Dreher Links:

    -Rod Dreher (Wikipedia)
    -BOOK SITE: Crunchy Cons (Crown Forum)
    -BLOG: Crunchy Cons (Rod Dreher, National Review)
    -BLOG: Crunchy Cons (Rod Dreher, BeliefNet)
    -ARCHIVES: Rod Dreher (National Review)
    -ARCHIVES: Rod Dreher (Dallas Morning News)
    -ESSAY: Birkenstocked Burkeans: Confessions of a granola conservative. (Rod Dreher, July 12, 2002, National Review)
    -ESSAY: Crunchy Cons: Picking up organic vegetables in your National Review tote bag (Rod Dreher, September 30, 2002, National Review)
    -AUDIO ESSAY: What Is a Crunchy Conservative? (Rod Dreher, March 10, 2006, All Things Considered)
    -ESSAY: Mr & Mrs Crunchy: There's a new political buzzword in America: 'crunchy conservative'. And David Cameron fits the type perfectly, says (Rod Dreher, 1/01/06, Times of London)
    -ESSAY: What is Left? What is Right? (Rod Dreher, August 28, 2006, The American Conservative)
    -ESSAY: A green Christian conservative (Rod Dreher, 4/24/06, USA Today)
    -ESSAY: Go Tell It on the Mountain: Tennessee nuns take up the cause of sex-abuse victims. (ROD DREHER, March 5, 2004, Opinion Journal)
    -ARCHIVES: Conservative Environmentalism (Brothers Judd)
    -ARCHIVES: Rod Dreher (Brothers Judd)
    -ARCHIVES: Rod Dreher (Find Articles)
    -PROFILE: Crunchy Culture: Author Rod Dreher Has Defined A Political Hybrid: The All-Natural, Whole-Grain Conservative (Hank Stuever, May 3, 2006, Washington Post)
    -PROFILE: The New Counterculture: Meet Rod Dreher, a conservative who is critical of capitalism (GEORGE H. NASH, February 21, 2006, Opinion Journal)
    -INTERVIEW: Crunchy Time: Rod Dreher says that conservative man cannot live by the free market alone. (Interview by Stan Guthrie, May 2006, Christianity Today)
    -AUDIO INTERVIEW: Crunchy Conservatives (Neal Conan, October 17, 2002, Talk of the Nation)
    -INTERVIEW: Crunchy Cons Rising: An Interview with Rod Dreher: When Rod Dreher wrote an article for National Review confessing to being a Birkenstock wearing, countercultural conservative, hundreds of emails and letters of support came pouring in. Now hes published Crunchy Consa manifesto that celebrates faith, family, community and nature against the forces of greed and lust. We spoke to him recently about his book, and why conservatism needs an overhaul (Angelo Matera, 2/24/06, Godspy)
    -ESSAY: Crunchy Conservatism, Reconsidered: Of granola and First Principles. (Jonah Goldberg, October 8, 2002, National Review)
    -ESSAY: Imagining Conservatism in a New Light (Daniel Larison, February 2006, New Pantagruel)
    -ESSAY: A Peculiar People (Chuck Colson, March 7, 2006, Breakpoint)
    -ESSAY: Ten Conservative Principles (Russell Kirk, Adapted from The Politics of Prudence)
    -ESSAY: New ideas are welcome, but ...: This movement needs to find a place for practical politics (William McKenzie, February 21, 2006, Dallas Morning News)
    -ESSAY: Towards a Conservative Environmentalism (Brothers Judd, 9/18/02)
    -ESSAY: Conservatism: Green vs. Crunchy (Ben Domenech, September 25, 2002)
    -REVIEW: of Crunchy Cons: How Birkenstocked Burkeans, gun-loving organic gardeners, evangelical free-range farmers, hip homeschooling mamas, right-wing nature lovers, ... America (or at least the Republican Party) by Rod Dreher (Jonah Goldberg, National Review)
Nearly 50 years ago, Whittaker Chambers famously "read" Ayn Rand out of the conservative movement. His most famous, though not really his most constructive, passage was his assertion that "From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding: 'To a gas chamber  go!'" Now, I'm no Whittaker Chambers, nor have I been granted the power to excommunicate anybody, but there are times where Rod Dreher is simply begging for the Rand treatment. And not just because from almost any page of Crunchy Cons, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding: "To your local organic food co-op  go!"

    -REVIEW: of Crunchy Cons (Gilbert Meilaender, First Things)
    -REVIEW: of Crunchy Cons (Douglas A. Jeffrey, Claremont Review of Books)
    -REVIEW: of Crunchy Cons (Spengler, Asia Times)
    -REVIEW: of Crunchy Cons (Brian C. Anderson, National Review)
    -REVIEW: of Crunchy Cons (Florence King, The American Spectator)
    -REVIEW: of Crunchy Cons (Eric Miller, Books & Culture)
    -REVIEW: of Crunchy Cons (David D. Kirkpatrick, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Crunchy Cons (GERALD RUSSELLO, NY Sun)
    -REVIEW: of Crunchy Cons (Bernard Chapin, Enter Stage Right)
    -REVIEW: of Crunchy Cons (Paul M. Weyrich, Opinionet)
    -REVIEW: of Crunchy Cons (The Week)
    -REVIEW: of Crunchy Cons (Kelly Jane Torrance, American Enterprise)
    -REVIEW: of Crunchy Cons (Pete Vere, JCL, Catholic Exchange)
    -REVIEW: of Crunchy Cons (Rick Henderson, Rocky Mountain News)
    -REVIEW: of Crunchy Cons (Robert Stacy McCain, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)
    -REVIEW: of Crunchy Cons (Carter Wilkie, Blueprint)
    -REVIEW: of Crunchy Cons (Robert Stacy McCain, Reason)
    -REVIEW: of Crunchy Cons (David Dark, Christian Century)
    -REVIEW: of Crunchy Cons (Jeffrey Tucker,

Book-related and General Links: