Yesterday I read a book called Crunchy Cons by Rod Dreher, an editor at the Dallas Morning News and I thought of you. More than forty years ago you folks got my attention with your book, The New Left and Christian Radicalism and our journeys have interconnected ever since. While I spent a little too much of my adult life recovering from my distaste for farm work during my childhood, you have stayed the course with your ringing commitment to grass roots organic food and culture. Our common work in Christian peacemaking over these years has strengthened our bond
Now back to Crunchy Cons. For the last year I have had time to do the reading that I should have been doing over the last 40 years. One of the threads of my reading has been to try to figure out what that vast body of people in our nation called the right wing is so upset about. I have known for decades because of my travel in churches that there were some really good people who didn’t share all my core commitments. I didn’t take enough time to talk with them. Peggy and Art, you need to read Crunchy Con. You will find an emerging group of people who are expressing some of the same core values you are, but coming from a perspective of radical conservatism. Here is how the book quite accurately describes itself, “How Birkenstocked Burkeans, gun-loving organic gardeners, evangelical free range-farmers, hip home schooling mamas, right-wing nature lovers, and their diverse tribe of counter cultural conservatives plan to save America (or at least the Republican Party)”. Wendell Berry even gets a fairly prominent space in these pages.
A lot of what Dreher says in critique of the Republican party and establishment conservatives will ring real true for you as well. Too little is based on true values except get ahead fast and take care of big business. Growing the economy will not work forever because we are borrowing or stealing from future generations. The planet will not stand for it. Nationalism and individualism among Republicans, much like all the other children of the enlightenment comes in for strong words. The book is primarily stories of people who are trying to be more authentic. I believe that in every chapter Dreher lets his readers know that their family is home schooling, lives on one income, and eats organically grown meat even though it costs more.
If you are looking for a critique of violence, Republican (or Democrat) of American militarism or the war in Iraq you will not find it here. Dreher’s neat little phrase that we need “fair trade not free trade” might show a tentative beginning towards internationalism. The author, a lapsed Methodist and present day Catholic, is critical of any church that takes its traditions lightly and treats God as something that can be reinvented at will. I found no connection in the book between 9/11 and the international culture of terrorism in which our nation was been an active participant since its founding.
So Art and Peggy if you can pull yourself away from the strawberry patch long enough to have a good read, try this book. I am not sure you can afford to pay $24.00 for Crunchy Cons nor will most people in the small farm, organic movement, but maybe you can find it in the library or tell one of your neighbors who is on the fast track to buy it and then borrow it when you get home from the Farmer’s Market.
I do not think I ever told you how much I respect you for the way you have joyfully sustained your commitment and enlarged the vision and hope of multitudes often at great sacrifice. Thank you for all you are doing on the farm and around the world as peacemakers. .