Friday, August 25, 2006

Crunchy Cons: What is a Crunchy Conservative

Given the vitriol that Rod Dreher received from his fellow conservatives, you'd think he pronounced Karl Marx as a patron saint. Jonah Goldberg from National Review delivers a withering attack followed by Kevin Holtsberry giving duck and jive punches. Meanwhile Radley Balko writes what appears to me to be a shallow and kneejerk critique (and I don't say these things lightly). After you've dipped into those critiques -- read what Dreher actually says about his concept:

“Crunchy conservatism is not, as you’ll read here, a political program; it’s a sensibility, an attitude, a fundamental stance toward reality, and a pretty good road map to a rich, responsible, fulfilling, charitable, and above all joyful life.” (13)

This is probably the most important, and least heeded, sentence in the book. Dreher’s work is all about asking the right questions -- questions about the sacramental nature of life. For instance – a few years back, a Christian environmental group encouraged Christians to ask the question “What would Jesus Drive”. They were immediately lampooned and ridiculed in conservative circles (and among Conservative Christians I might add). However it is a perfectly reasonable question (though I’d rather phrase it “What would Jesus Have you drive?”). Critics may assume that the person asking the question has a pre-determined answer – a little 4 cylander tinfoil piece of trash. And they may be right. However that doesn’t absolve us from the responsibility of asking the question of ourselves.

Consider this – if Jesus is the sovereign over all our lives. If we truly believe our theology when we call Jesus Lord. If we truly believe that we’ve been crucified with Christ then in fact we must ask the question of everything – what would Jesus have me drive; where would Jesus have me live; what would Jesus have me do with my life. We are not our own and we must spend time wrestling with such issues (caveat – not to the point of paralysis – some issues can wait. We can after all only wrestle with so much in a given day, the rest we simply offer up to the Lord in prayer and trust in His guidance through the Spirit).

Just because we don’t like the answers that some people arrive at, it doesn’t absolve us from asking the questions – the big questions of “how are my daily actions and my big decisions congruent with the values I profess”

Dreher tells us that asking the big questions is what Crunchy Cons is all about. If you don’t grasp that, this will be a very frustrating and indeed annoying book (the criticisms of smugness and cheap prose are not without merit – this is something of a breezy book -- see the much more balanced and fair critique from Michael Dougherty or Maxwell Goss)

So what is a crunchy con – someone who recognizes the sacramental nature of life – “Being good is not something you do because it works; being good is something you do because it’s the right thing to do, even if it costs you. 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.” (14)

And there’s the rub – we are not defined by our political ideology – we are ultimately defined by our relationship with Christ. If our politics are organically connected to our faith, so too must our lifestyle choices be so connected.

More fodder for thought next week.

Soli Deo Gloria