Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The cons of Crunchy Cons

"Oh my God, we're a demographic," says my wife. It's been happening more and more. We think that we're different from most other people, unusual in our habits or tastes or values, and then suddenly we see a product or article or opinion that is targeted squarely at us.

Such was our initial reaction to seeing Rod Dreher's book Crunchy Cons, a self-described "manifesto" about the politically and religiously conservative people who are embracing such "counter-cultural" practices as limiting media exposure, home schooling, homesteading, community-building, etc. It seemed at first like a fit to us . . . my wife has often joked that she looks for all the world like an "earth momma" in her Birks, tie-dyes, and long hair, but none of her friends at school would guess that she listens to Rush Limbaugh.

But now I've read a couple reviews of the book, and I'm not sure we fit into the crunchy con category. I certainly hope we don't seem as smug and self-righteous as these people, in their continuous distain for the majority of people who define themselves by "things." Yes, we have a strong committment to our family life, and to doing things differently for the sake of our children, like eliminating television, embracing alternative education (in our case, Waldorf), etc. But I don't think we ever tried to build an identity out of it. It's not like we were longing to be rebellious counter-cultural types . . . we just wanted the best thing for our kids, and it was clear that public schools sucked.

In a lot of ways, I've come to realize that we are not nearly as concerned about transforming our kids into paragons of virtue, as the crunchy cons are. That would be nice . . . but actually our mission is (like most folks), "Let's not screw them up too badly." Yes, we raise our children in a "mission-minded" (as Dreher puts it) way, but the mission is to nurture, not to mold. I don't have to tell myself, "Someday they will become their own persons." Jesus, they're already their own persons. Their individual qualities and flaws have emerged fully-formed, with seemingly no regard for my designs. If I water and fertilize the tree, can I take credit for it? Well, yeah, I helped . . . but the tree did most of the work.

I also think we lack some of the prophetic zeal for conversion that Dreher seems to possess. I have very little interest in convincing others to change they way they live. I alway told folks that the SKS never converting a single person -- we only served the people who already knew that they needed something beyond the ordinary bounds of traditional religion. Janet's work with API is not really geared to changing parenting practices, so much as supporting people who already intuitively guess that Dr. Ferber is a barbarian. In short, our community building is pretty self-serving; we just want to build islands of sanity in remarkably disfunctional culture.



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