Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Last night, thanks to an invitation from my friend Tom Spence of Spence Publishing, my wife and I (and a few other couples) got to hang out for a couple of hours with National Review's Rod Dreher and his wife Julie. Rod talked about his book-in-progress on so-called "crunchy conservatives." (See his previous articles on the same here and here.) I'm not too sure I like the term itself, as it seems to imply a group of people defining themselves by an odd intermixture of politics and dietary preferences, but it seems to have stuck (judging from extensive discussions among bloggers so far). And I suppose that it's better for a term to be memorable, to stick in one's mind, even if it's not the most technically descriptive term one could think of. In any event, it was quite an intellectually stimulating evening. Rod talked for 10 or 15 minutes, and then we all spent the next hour or so in discussion and debate.

On a more personal note, what I realized after hearing Rod talk is that I come from the ultimate "crunchy" conservative family. When I was growing up, my parent subscribed to the Mother Earth News. My mom sometimes bought 50-pound sacks of wheat, ground it into whole wheat flour, and made bread -- in comparison to which all store-bought bread, no matter how expensive, tastes like a kitchen sponge. We used to get milk from a old woman out in the country who had a few cows. (It all probably had something to do with the fact that my mom grew up on a small Arkansas farm, where drinking milk straight from the cow and making your own bread was just part of life.)

We went for a few years without a television, and my parents were always suspicious of popular culture (instead they lined practically every wall of every room with bookshelves). And my parents homeschooled starting in 1980, long before homeschooling became the popular phenomenon it is today. What Rod is getting at is that there are people who in some ways live like left-wing hippies on some sort of anti-establishment kick, but who are deeply conservative, religious people. I suppose that's why I find the idea fascinating, and look forward to the book's publication.


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