So, today marks day five on working on this post… by far the longest I’ve ever worked on a single blog entry (originally posted as “Define: Crunchy”). Two days ago, I started off talking about how I lost a potential friendship over religion and politics. The forbidden subjects.
And then I proceed to wind my way into something that basically said I’m politically somewhere to the left of the Republican party, but in no way am I a Democrat either… only I did it in this weird train-wreck of a blog entry that I agonized over for the entire 5 to 8 hours I had it published on my site.
So after pulling the post off the blog to rethink and edit it into what I intended it to be originally, this is what I have come up with. And my thanks do go out to loyal friends like Rach & Genny who encouraged me to be myself, despite barfing my political and religious stances all over the world wide web.
For me, an organic, holistic lifestyle flows naturally from my Christian beliefs. It’s an extension of my religion, which includes taking care of our bodies and the earth. I believe that women’s bodies are capable of giving birth without a doctor or hospital, that we can be healthy by eating good food and not having to take loads of processed vitamins, that we should respect the earth and be good stewards of it for our children’s sake.
I generally consider myself to be a Republican, though, I admit the party has it’s faults, and many of them are not minor. I take major issue with many of the Democratic views as well, especially on certain controversial issues, and I would not give myself the titles Democrat or a liberal. But I can comfortably say, I am a “Crunchy Con.” I’m a conservative that firmly believes that we can and should as a society, go back to our roots, live simpler, work less, be happy and take care of our families and communities.
I feel that Rick and I have been striving for this lifestyle for quite a while now. With our big garden, and chickens, and cloth diapers and our little house. But not until I picked up Rod Dreher’s book recently, did I know that this lifestyle had a name.
Crunchy Cons: The New Conservative Counterculture and Its Return to Roots.
It’s a political book written by a journalist from the National Review. The back of the hardcover edition reads: “When a National Review colleague teased writer Rod Dreher one day about his visit to the local food co-op to pick up a week’s supply of organic vegetables (“Ewww, that’s so lefty”), he started thinking about the ways he and his conservative family lived that put them outside the bounds of conventional Republican politics. Shortly thereafter Dreher wrote an essay about “crunchy cons,” people whose “Small Is Beautiful” style of conservative politics often put them at odds with GOP orthodoxy, and sometimes even in the same camp as lefties outside the Democratic mainstream. The response to the article was impassioned: Dreher was deluged by e-mails from conservatives across America—everyone from a pro-life vegetarian Buddhist Republican to an NRA staffer with a passion for organic gardening—who responded to say, “Hey, me too!”
From there Dreher was encouraged to write the book about “How Burkenstocked Burkeans, gun-loving organic gardeners, evangelical free-range farmers, hip homeschooling mamas, right-wing nature lovers, and their diverse tribe of countercultural conservatives plan to save America (or at least the Republican party).”
I’ve just started reading the book, but it’s been amazing to find camaraderie in such a diverse group of people. From what I’ve read (and I’m not finished yet), it feels like the author has been extracting my own thoughts on the world and America and putting them down in his book. It is certainly worth reading, whether you consider yourself Republican, Democrat or somewhere in between.
With chapters on food, consumerism, home, education and the environment, Dreher addresses many of the ways Americans have neglected ourselves and our families with our strides towards efficiency, technology, and convenience. He calls the GOP on the carpet. Often, it’s party that so regularly spouts religious and conservative ideals, yet conveniently forgets those ideals as they head into the Super Walmart. Something many of us are all guilty of.
Dreher speaks of being conservative in a whole different way. Of actually conserving the things that matter. And not just bowing down to the almighty dollar. The economy is important, but not more important than life, family, etc. He challenges the idea that acquiring goods and services at the lowest possible price is a fundamental social value. He questions how one can be a traditional-values conservative in a society which finds and expresses it’s identity through the consumption of products. He denounces destructive materialism which often causes capitalism to come before conservatism.
In the chapter on Home, this is abundantly clear as he addresses the lack of community and isolation in suburb living, sacrificed to the sprawling homes with vaulted ceilings, detached garages and big screen TVs.
The chapter on food was amazing. And eye opening even for a “gun-loving organic gardener” like myself. And for the record, if Rick didn’t shoot it, or we didn’t grow it ourselves, or if it’s not free-range & organic, we will not be eating it. It’s amazing and frightening what has been sacrificed in the food industry to get meat into the stores faster and cheaper. “Conservatives tend to ask how we can be more efficient, not how we can be more effective. You can be very efficient in the wrong thing.” And the government regulations make it almost impossible for the little guys to make it. We need them more than ever.
Dreher talks about the Slow Food movement and interviews small local ranchers and farmers. And I have to admit, it is more than encouraging and attractive to me to hear the way these people left their corporate jobs to do what felt right to them in their soul, despite the regulations.
A Crunchy Con Manifesto
1. We are conservatives who stand outside the conservative mainstream; therefore, we can see things that matter more clearly.
2. Modern conservatism has become too focused on money, power, and the accumulation of stuff, and insufficiently concerned with the content of our individual and social character.
3. Big business deserves as much skepticism as big government.
4. Culture is more important than politics and economics.
5. A conservatism that does not practice restraint, humility, and good stewardship—especially of the natural world—is not fundamentally conservative.
6. Small, Local, Old, and Particular are almost always better than Big, Global, New, and Abstract.
7. Beauty is more important than efficiency.
8. The relentlessness of media-driven pop culture deadens our senses to authentic truth, beauty, and wisdom.
9. We share Russell Kirk’s conviction that “the institution most essential to conserve is the family.”
My favorite quote so far: “You know, once you start asking questions, it’s a slippery slope. Those questions lead to these conclusions, which set up new questions that lead to these conclusions. Conservative, liberal, or whatever, I think people who are starting to change their lifestyles and the way they eat are people who realize that you shouldn’t believe everything you’re told now, that you really should investigate it on your own.”