Read Crunchy Cons: How Birkenstocked Burkeans, gun-loving organic gardeners, evangelical free-range farmers, hip homeschooling mamas, right-wing nature ... America (or at least the Republican Party) by Rod Dreher Online


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Title : Crunchy Cons: How Birkenstocked Burkeans, gun-loving organic gardeners, evangelical free-range farmers, hip homeschooling mamas, right-wing nature ... America (or at least the Republican Party)
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ISBN : 9781400050642
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Number of Pages : 272 Pages
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Crunchy Cons: How Birkenstocked Burkeans, gun-loving organic gardeners, evangelical free-range farmers, hip homeschooling mamas, right-wing nature ... America (or at least the Republican Party) Reviews

  • Simon Stegall
    2018-10-31 11:41

    Well, I did it. I finally read Crunchy Cons. I'd been delaying this for a while, not because I don't appreciate Dreher's work (I am a faithful follower of his blog) but because I felt that I knew the book already. Among the people I run with, Crunchy Cons has approached the level of semi-holy writ. I resisted my friends' urgings to read it because I thought I had absorbed the entire book by sheer osmosis.But I am very glad that I read it. Dreher manages to cut through the nonsense of politics and ideology commonly associated with the word "conservative" and gets back to the Kirk n' Burke roots of the word, which, to quote Dreher quoting Kirk, is about conserving the "Permanent Things". As Dreher points out repeatedly, most of our institutions in modern America are not committed to conserving anything of permanence; our schools, economics, and political parties are infatuated with lust, greed, and progress-at-all-costs. The institutions that do preserve the permanent things - our churches, families, and local economies - are rotting under the weight of liberal individualism. With clarity and common sense, Dreher calls conservatives to remember what is worth conserving, and pursue that with fervor. Thus he advocates green eating, media-free homes, homeschooling, and sanctified religion. These are great reminders, especially considering recent political events.As young people approaching this book a half-generation after it was written, people like me (millennials) have perhaps a unique perspective on the efficacy of the ideas Dreher propagates (ideas much older than his book), because we can observe them in the lives of older people. In fact, my parents are one of the "Crunchy Con" couples that Rod interviews in this book (find them in the "Religion" chapter), a fact that I am both proud of, and find slightly hilarious. I'm proud because I have seen the wisdom of preserving our ancient institutions played out in my own childhood and upbringing, and recognize the huge difference it has made in forming me and my siblings into people far removed from the frenzied liberal insanity of today. It's an honor to see that codified in Rod's book. I find it hilarious because there is nothing funnier than seeing people you know so well and have spent your life with idealized in a book, because all people are so far from ideal. But that's what being a crunchy con is all about: preserving the permanent things in the choices of everyday life. "In this sense, to conserve is to create anew." Crunchiness won't look glamorous in your life, or mine, but it will be good, and perhaps preserve us when the horns blow.

  • Gigi
    2018-11-04 10:04

    It took me awhile to get through this book. The writing style is a little dry and the same points are made over and over....I agreed with the points but it became very tiring.I also felt there was a lot of generalizing being done and I didn't agree with it. I agreed with his main points, however, there was little flexibility. For example there is a chapter on homeschooling and even though I firmly believe in homeschooling I don't think it is the end all educational choice.Having said that I would catagorize myself as a crunchy con. Family is central. Big government and big business both need to be controlled by limiting their power and stopping corruption. That we need to encourage intelligent consumerism and stop the throw away society we have; we need to recognize our stewardship over the earth. I did find many of the people he interviewed to be interesting and I have a new list of books to read about early conservatism in the US. I found his ideas thought provoking and it helped clarified for me some of my motives for living how we live. Who would of guessed that I am a "fringe" conservative?

  • Darby
    2018-11-06 13:40

    there was one thing i loved about this book and two problems with it. i loved that dreher calls conservatives to recover the meaning of the word "conserve," especially as it pertains to the environment, independent locally-owned business, and abandoned urban spaces. he makes a persuasive case that these causes, currently associated with liberalism, have a historically-grounded and logical place in conservative thought. great. more of that. the first problem is that dreher contradicts his calls for conservatives to return to the cities by waxing misty-eyed about those crunchy cons who remove to the country to raise their organic veg and homeschool their offspring in a purer place. what are we supposed to do, rod? buy the craftsman bungalow or the rural acreage? (he goes on for an entire chapter on the virtues of the craftsman bungalow. and i agree, they're great, but a whole chapter?)and that brings me to problem two. i was raised by proto-crunchy-cons who moved us out of the city in 1985 to homeschool in the country, eat food from the local co-op and generally be unstained by the world. we ate venison, had carob instead of chocolate, and pulled our own onions out of the ground. it had its good parts. but on the whole, it was an isolated, insular existence. access to a variety of cultural experiences and diverse people was severely limited, or impossible without long drives. it may sound idyllic in _crunchy cons_ but it was lonely. my parents worked hard to keep us from being the stereotypical, unsocialized homeschoolers, but we knew many families during that time who really suffered as a result of their decision to isolate in this way. i can tell some crazy stories. my point is, rod wrongly idealizes (idolizes?) this way of life. it's fraught with pitfalls just as unsettling as those faced by families in other contexts. just ask me about the allens. or the newtons. i mean there's my two cents. and i think his blog is much worse than the book, especially lately. i want to know what's new in eastern orthodoxy, but all the end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it posts of late leave me cold. so now you all should read it and push back. what am i missing?

  • Elizabeth
    2018-10-17 09:43

    This book helps to identify and name a new group emerging from the Republican Party (mostly). Moral conservatives who care about the environment, religion, beauty, family and marriage, alternative schooling, organic foods, and are against big business AND big government. (They are not pure Libertarians either since they believe in the option of having strong local and possibly State government.) The book gets a little repetitive near the end but is refreshing in general. At its heart it's for truth seekers more than Republicans. People whose values inform their politics and not the other way around.My only problem with the perspective presented in the book is that the author holds us several tenets of conservatism (see Burke's "Roots of American Order") that I think are off. He makes several statements revealing an assumption that men are born evil or depraved. I prefer the Founding perspective that men are born good (or at least neutral) and are corruptible or perfectible through personal choice with the help of transcendent institutions like the family and honest religious institutions. I also disagree with his harsh view on immigration. We need laws that work and protect us, but also compassion for others seeking freedom. Again, the Founders generally had a pro-immigration stance. Nonetheless, great book and wonderful that someone is giving a name to this growing group of principled voters.

  • Cameron Bernard
    2018-11-12 08:57

    As a reader of other crunchy con literature, I think this is a great introduction to the conservative-conservative way of thinking. I appreciate what Rod has done here. It is a book I feel more than comfortable handing off to friends as a way of further articulating the starting points to my own cultural thinking.

  • Laura
    2018-11-15 13:43

    This was an important book for me. I've always felt that I was neither a Republican nor a Democrat - uneasy with the social policies of the Democrats and the economic policies of the Republicans. And, thanks to this book, I've figured it out - I'm pretty much a "crunchy con". Nik and I both marveled at how Dreher quoted so many of the authors we have been reading and enjoying - Wendell Berry, Neil Postman, Eric Brende (of "Better Off"), Matthew Scully ("Dominion..."), etc. Some quotes that I resonated with:"My ideal of Home: a place of grace, joy, fellowship, and belonging that was also old, simple, comfortable, and charming to its foundations.""Because our view of marriage is the traditional 'till death do us part' one, we don't believe we are free to define our marriage to meet our own desires. Rather, we conform our desires to the spiritual reality of the vows we made.""Even if the evidence were inconclusive [about global warming:], given the catastrophic results of a global temperature rise...would compel the prudent conservative to act as if the worst was likely. The price of being wrong is incalculable..."He talks about how we have to frame the environmental problem as also an economic, national security, public health, and family values problem. Some of his main points (at the end of the book) for how we can live more conservatively - and note, this does not mean to live more like a good Republican:1. Toss out the television - "How can we ever hope to think on the Permanent Things if we fill our minds with nothing but ephemerality?"2. "Divest ourselves of stuff we don't need, and begin to train ourselves and our families to live simply. Remember William Morris's dictum: "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."3. Consider some form of homeschooling.4. "Choose the goods we consume mindful of whence they come." He specifically mentions food, particularly meat and vegetables. He also talks quite a bit about being deliberate in choosing how to incorporate technology into our lives - not just blindly accepting every new advance in technology as the greater good. As an aside, he also advocates abolishing both the death penalty and abortion. I haven't read many other people who would advocate for both. I've never understood how someone could be for one and against the other - as the Democrats and Republicans are. All in all, a great, thought-provoking book. You should read it.

  • Karen
    2018-10-19 10:45

    Dreher details how he and his family practice left-leaning life choices for right-leaning reasons. He divides his musings into meditations on food, home, education, the environment and religion. I applaud Dreher's effort to bridge the gap between left and right; however, I found his stance and tone a bit too self-righteous. He stands firm that he and his wife are making the absolute best choices that anyone can make. If you eat, live, educate or worship in any other manner, you are an inferior creature. Nevertheless, I am poised to make some changes in how I live based on his suggestions. An insightful book--even if aggravating at times.

  • Rita Book
    2018-11-10 09:47

    I am a kindred spirit, for sure. The first four and a half chapters went quickly even though Mr. Dreher repeats himself, but I thought I would never finish the last hundred pages. I made it! I chuckled, more than once, at his categorized uncategoricals and his "to do" list for the non-conformists he seeks to build. An important book about a remarkable, rewarding and necessary way of life. Thank you, Mr. Dreher!

  • Moira
    2018-10-20 12:09

    So, unlike many of the other reviewers, I'm not a crunchy con. I'm what Mr. Dreher would call a liberal. But, I'd wager I'm not exactly a liberal either (perhaps I'm a chewy liberal?). Still, my objective in reading this book was to find common ground and I did find it. In fact, much as it might kill him to think so, Mr. Dreher's crunchy cons have much in common with the infamous "99%." Strictly speaking, they are the 99% too.Sure, there were things he said in this book that made me cringe or probably went on a bit too long (Yes, arts and crafts bungalows are cozy and homey. Cozy homes make for a nice homelife. Got it. I, too, am fond of architecture and aesthetics. And, I'm not fond of McMansions. Yet, I'm not sure that makes all McMansions less good as homes. What about "home is where the heart is"?) Still, altogether it made me happy to see the similarities I hope existed and I like seeing someone who has many political views opposed to mine be able to see how he was close-minded on some issues (strictly in the name of conformity and party thinking) admit it and call himself out on it. And, not only did he call himself, he called out members of his own party. We're all guilty of this--anytime we adhere to "group-think." But, I wish I could see more members of the party I end up allying with most often do this too. What was particularly interesting to me was to see what some "conservatives" are trying to conserve as opposed to others and the difference between "pre-Reagan conservatives" and "post-Reagan conservatives." If you're not partying with the GOPartiers, you might not know this distinction and why it's important; I didn't. All in all, I was happily surprised to find that we American humans do have a lot in common--no matter our "party affiliation." I still do believe and hope that there's a chance we can speak to each other and work together and look past our labels and the areas we are artificially and distractingly put in opposition. Yet, if we realize how much we are alike and how many of us actually have the same goals, how much more could we accomplish _for the people_?

  • Stephen Hicks
    2018-11-15 11:03

    I have been deeply engaged with Dreher's thoughts and writings (mostly his articles) for some time now, but this is the first time I have read his personal manifesto for living sensibly. I must say, it was a glorious reminder of the roots of some of my most beloved and cherished desires and philosophies. It did come at a vital time for me personally, as I have strayed from my beliefs about conservatism since moving to a new city, but this book brought me back with a much needed forcefulness. Dreher is clear and concise about his decisions and the decisions of other to live a countercultural lifestyle. While not necessarily presenting any cookie-cutter idealisms, he shows a line of thought that leads the reader to see the reasonableness of making the necessary sacrifices to both live within one's means and to live out a deep religious convictions that tend to tie traditional conservatives together. Do not be swayed by the political rhetoric that surrounds the term conservative. Allow Dreher to speak of what conservatism used to be. I welcomed his reminders to me about what The Good Life according to a loving, gracious, yet demanding, God could look like. I plan on using this as a foundation for the ways I will think about my future both as a husband and as an eventual father. Highly recommended to everyone looking for something outside binary politics and mainstream society.

  • Amy
    2018-11-07 16:02

    I would give this book five stars for the content, because I thought it was brilliant. The author seemed to put 99% of my beliefs as a "Crunchy Conservative" into words. I found myself nodding along and dog-earing page after page. But I absolutely loathed how he set up the chapters. They were all one big run-on paragraph. Yes, he did technically separate things out into paragraphs, and it was easy to read. BUT. The chapters were looooooooong, most of them 30+ pages, with no breaks, headings, etc. to let you know we were switching gears. It made it very hard to remember the people he was talking about, and very hard for me to put down (in a bad way). I am the kind of person who likes to take breaks with books, to find a stopping point within a long chapter so I don't stay up until 2 am reading, but I couldn't do that with this book. Not because it was just *that* compelling (parts of it were, but that's not what I mean here), but I literally couldn't find a good place to stop, and it really, really frustrated and annoyed me. Thus, one star deducted. But overall a great book!

  • Mike
    2018-11-16 07:52

    I sympathize with many of Dreher's critiques of movement conservatism, even though they are overwrought at times and are generalizations that he really hasn't taken the necessary time to prove. That latter problem is why I rated this book two stars. Dreher has a maddening tendency to caricature his opponents, give statements rather than arguments, make sweeping generalizations that break down with the slightest questioning, and leave the reader with conflicting ideas because of his ability for imprecision. When he encounters American political thought, he butchers it beyond recognition (see the chapter on religion). The Founders were not, contrary to Dreher, crazed Enlightenment thinkers who sowed the seeds of our own destruction in their political principles. The Declaration of Independence was also a political document that stressed rights over duties because the English were violating rights--the whole core of the argument for American independence. Dreher's unmanly contempt for politics and his seeming lack of introspection about the principles on which his country is based not a good look for someone who talks endlessly about the superiority of the kind of education promoted by crunchy cons. A Constitution 101 class at a place like Hillsdale College in Michigan would do Dreher wonders.

  • Charles
    2018-10-18 11:46

    This book is a classic that I finally got around to reading. Maybe it’s strange to say a book less than ten years old is a classic, but Dreher is the foremost exponent today of what might be called “alternative conservatism,” and he would call the “Benedictine Option,” but what most people would call “traditional conservatism,” which has considerable overlap with certain viewpoints on life commonly attributed to liberals, or more accurately to hippies and similar “alternative lifestyles.” He nicknames it “Crunchy Cons,” a term which has passed into the general modern conservative lexicon. Dreher is in essence popularizing and making into a broad program, rather than a pure philosophy, the thinking of a long line of 20th-century conservative thinkers. He acknowledges this, of course. Dreher’s thought has much in common with Russell Kirk, of course, whom he repeatedly cites, as well as less known thinkers such as Robert Nisbet, particularly in his The Quest For Community. In essence, Dreher issues a call, cutting across party lines (despite the subtitle of the book, more on which below), for a return to a community-oriented conservatism. His primary target is consumerism and the consumption-based life in general; within that he focuses in separate chapters on, among other things, food (less factory farming; more respect for the process and its community implications); homes (less exurban living; more urban living, or New Urbanist at least); and education (home school preferred). He also focuses on the environment (don’t view it through a consumption lens) and religion (strongly suggested, though not essential). Dreher’s primary vehicle for this is specific examples of individuals and families taking a countercultural approach to each of these matters. Crunchy Cons was published in 2006; the Kindle edition contains an afterword in which Dreher pessimistically notes, in essence, that the Republican party is never going to be the party of Crunchy Cons, despite his 2006 belief that might be a way forward for the party. Dreher thereafter came to “doubt it’s worth saving in its current form,” and therefore nowadays focuses more and more (as you can read in his current blog at The American Conservative magazine) on the “Benedict Option”—a quasi-separation from society, creating new communities to carry culture through coming troubles. In fact, in the afterword he even adds to the general manifesto points in the core book a “Benedictine-inspired Rule adapted for modern countercultural living.” Much more could be said about this short book, but it’s worth reading, for the thoughts in the afterword alone, in fact. (It also contains strong autobiographical elements, tied to the points in the book, which some readers will find interesting, and others distracting.) Dreher is one of the few original thinkers anywhere on the political spectrum today, and while I’m sure some of his own thought has changed since this book, it’s both thought-provoking and a good place to start thinking about the modern political philosophy of conservatism, taken beyond the facile kneejerk reactions (spending good! Military action good! Terrorism bad!) that tend to characterize present-day conservative thought.

  • Kristen
    2018-11-05 16:08

    I was excited about reading Crunchy Cons by Rod Dreher because we’re crunchy and ideologically conservative, and the subtitle intrigued me. We got on the list at our local public library and waited it out. From the preface, the book caught and kept my attention. Dreher is a gifted and personal writer who is easy to read. Because crunchy cons are my kind of people, I often wanted to cheer as I read along.Many of the ideological emphases of the book are ones we value in our family. We care about more than just the bottom line when we shop and are willing to pay more for products we “believe in” such as locally grown and organic foods, things that are well crafted, beauty and not just utilitarian function, etc. The process is important to us and not just the end result. I enjoyed reading the book because the many anecdotes reminded me that there are others out there who care about the things that we do, which can be hard to find the suburban South.However, when I finished the book I was disappointed with it on several levels. First, it wasn’t very persuasive and it relied on ad hominem attacks and emotionalism to make points. If I didn’t already agree with Dreher, I probably would not have been swayed by him. Some of the chapters were weaker than others, for example, the chapter on home was mostly about buying a smaller, older house. Even though our first house was small, 70 year old bungalow and we are looking to buy that sort of home again when we can, it may not be the most crunchy thing to do for every family. Older homes aren’t as energy efficient, for example. Some aren’t laid out well for entertaining and building community with others. Also, the chapter on homeschooling wasn’t very grounded in reality and I think it might have been better tackled if he had emphasized that crunchy con families realize that education isn’t neutral and emphasized the many crunchy choices out there (alternative schools, coops, Christian schools, etc) along with homeschooling.I think what disappointed me the most about the book is that Dreher didn’t fulfill the subtitle which reads: “How Birkenstocked 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.)” How are we saving America? I’d like to know that, myself. I’ve seen that the paperback version that will be released in the fall has a new subtitle, according to Amazon, and I’d suspect it’s for that reason. If you are looking for anecdotal, warm writing about those in the Republican Party who “act lefty,” Crunchy Cons delivers. But I think I was expecting just a little bit more.

  • Sharon
    2018-10-16 15:59

    The author and I do not hold the same view on everything. Yet, I can, and do deeply appreciate his perspective. He is the only author I've read who writes about architecture in a way that makes me want to worship God. :-) It was refreshing to read something written by a conservative who does not walk in lock step with the status quo. I think everyone can get something out of this book. Since I never feel my writing does justice to the labor of an author, I'm going to go ahead with my usual custom of sharing a couple of quotes from the book. ".....the virtues, customs, and habits of the heart by which we have been living when disaster strikes will largely determine whether we will swim to safety or sink while waiting for help that might never come." Because I'm someone who puts a lot of stock in developing virtue and healthy "habits of heart" this quote resonated with me. "..the American way of life is too often rich in everything but meaning and purpose. When you get tired of living to shop, have sex, and be entertained-and more to the point, when you realize you don't want your kids character to be formed by a culture in which those pursuits are priorities-you'll want something better for yourself and your family. ...This book has been filled with the thoughts and stories of American conservatives who aren't sitting around waiting for the Next Big Idea to renew our culture..."Yes it is. I hope you will read it. It is well worth your time.

  • Doug Trouten
    2018-10-21 11:03

    Faith and politics is often an awkward mixture. Well-meaning people, inspired by their faith, get involved in politics for reasons of principle but find power instead -- and sometimes the power feels so good that compromises are made in order to keep it. The result is a political divide within the faith community where neither side seems to be what Jesus had in mind when he told us to give to Caesar the things that belong to Caesar. Rod Dreher offers a fresh approach. He notes that on the left, anything that interferes with sexual expression is considered oppressive, while on the right anything that interferes with personal material gain is seen as wrong. Christians, he suggests, should not be wholeheartedly buying into either the "party of lust" or the "party of greed." Instead, he outlines an approach to an authentic life that integrates faith with a number of decisions, from where we live to what we eat.You're not going to agree with everything he suggests -- and that's not the point. But by the time you're done with the book you'll have through through what it really means to live an authentic Christian life in 21st century America.

  • Ann
    2018-10-16 09:47

    This was very thought provoking for the first half...and I even started a discussion thread on it, because I really wanted to be able to talk to someone about it. But by the second half of the book, I felt like the author had already made all his major points, and he was getting repetitive. Also--for a book that was supposed to be about people who defy labels and stereotypes, I thought it spent an awful lot of time defining and categorizing "crunchy cons" and making that a new label. Example: I was irritated that the author felt it necessary to draw a distinction between "environmentalist" (bad, tree-hugging lefty) and "conservationist" (good, earth-respecting crunchy con). So many times I felt like this book was trying to rationalize "leftist" behavior by saying that it isn't really "left"--it is "crunchy conservative"--and therefore it is good. (But as I said in my discussion thread, I guess this reveals that I've got my own labeling biases, too.)But it did make me think a lot, and I did enjoy that. I would probably give it 3.5 stars if that were an option.

  • Mike
    2018-11-01 12:06

    I like any work that makes me think. I particularly am drawn to any work that offers a contrarian view to what is considered to be the orthodoxy of the day. So, it should be no surprise that I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend Crunchy Cons. As someone who considers himself of the crunchy con variety, I was particularly drawn to Mr. Dreher's views regarding protecting the environment, support for homeschooling, and preserving our history and traditions and instutions such as the family. I perhaps parted ways was that I felt he was quite rough on suburbia and on its housing styles and calling new urbanism...a concept I find overdone ...but his appreciation for older homes is well founded. Finally, as a Kansan I appreciated his reference to our great SC Justice Caleb Stegall! In the end, whether you agree with his takes on every matter, his points are well worth considering and the read was an enjoyable one.

  • Audra
    2018-11-10 12:42

    I really resonated with this book. I agree with Rod Dreher wholeheartedly - but especially when he points out that to BE conservative, we must BE CONSERVATIVE. That is, we cannot continue to allow the excesses of big business to destroy the American people, we cannot continue to allow excesses in general to destry the environment, and we cannot continue to allow excesses to destroy US. There is a POINT in having a belief system - and belief in consumerism doesn't do the same thing for us that belief in Jesus does. Big farms don't give us the quality of food that mall, organic ones do. Big box stores don't give us the personal care and attentiveness, or the neighborhood presence, that the small, homegrown ones do. Where did conservatives go wrong? How did we become the Worshippers of the Almighty Dollar, to the detriment of Everything Else? Rod Dreher addresses this question beautifully - and also provides a beautiful answer. Enjoy.

  • Josette
    2018-11-07 14:05

    What a pleasant surprise to find this book (thanks book fellow book club member Trudy!) I found myself nodding my head in agreement to so much of it. The sentiments Rod Dreher expresses are the same feelings I've had for a long time. To know that there are many other conservatives out there who don't necessarily agree w/ the Republican party's policies, do think there's more to life than the acquisition of stuff, do think we may not be taking our faith seriously enough and do enjoy a glass of good wine or craft beer was so refreshing. On top of that, Dreher is pretty darn funny! Highly recommended for anyone, but especially my comrades who tend to think of themselves as "liberal conservatives."

  • Philip E.
    2018-10-25 10:40

    Everybody wants to have a happy life. Dreher encourages a return to the things that have been shown to be part of such a life, "the Permanent Things" (a borrowed phrase). He has lived his subject and interviewed both liberal and conservative counter-cultural citizens across the country. The result was, for me, the sense that if I had to write a book of advice about living well, this would be pretty close to what I'd write.This is not directly political, in spite of the cover art and subtitle.

  • Moses Operandi
    2018-10-31 11:55

    Dreher's book is quite interesting. It is from a Christian, conservative viewpoint, and yet it decries the Republican mainstream. It advocates a return to leadership in our leaders, instead of politicism. No doubt it has been long-sought-out. This book is one of the primary cornerstones of my worldview, and if anyone wants to shake up theirs, I recommend this book.

  • Tanya
    2018-10-30 13:59

    It is a book about conservatives who "stand outside the conservative mainstream"... Three cheers for anyone who chooses to maintain their values while stepping outside of mainstream culture... Thanks Liz for loving this enough to get me to pick it up!!!

  • Kristi
    2018-10-24 08:08

    LOVED this. It described exactly where I'm coming from on things! I didn't even know there was a word to describe it!

  • M.K.
    2018-11-09 10:10

    Goodreads deleted all my collected quotes from the book I had typed into a review. Boo.Redo..."Because crunchy cons, as conservatives, do not believe in the perfectibility or essential goodness of human nature, we keep squarely in front of us the truth that absent the restraints of religion, community, law, or custom, the commercial man will tend to respect no boundaries in the pursuit of personal gain" (31)."'Edmund Burke realized that society is more than the sum of the individuals that make it up...It has a kind of fabric, a kind of texture to it. There are bonds and relationships that develop that make the total greater than the sum of its parts. But if you live in a society in which technology is constantly advancing and changing the rules of the game, the there's no possibility for genuine social stability.'"The undeniable fact is that free-market, technology-driven capitalism, for all its benefits, tends to pull families and communities apart by empowering individuals and encouraging--even mandating--individualism" (41)."Does anybody really believe we can grow our way out of our problems? Is another tax cut, gimmicky educational scheme, or entitlement reform...going to save marriages, restore children to their parents, heal the land, renew the commonweal? Come on."Restoration of a sane economy, one that respects human dignity, has to grow organically, from individual human beings freely choosing to reform, not having it forced on them. Schumacher suggested that each of us should think of ways we've let our luxuries become our necessities, and then simplify our lives" (51)."The second of Kirk's famed Six Canons of Conservative Thought is "Affection for the proliferating variety and mystery of traditional life, as distinguished from the narrowing uniformity and equalitarianism and utilitarian aims of most radical systems.' The traditional conservative will want to take a stand for the mom-and-pop cheesemaker over the pasteurized processed cheese food disgorged by the factory and sold cheaply" (64)."Distrust of big government is in the DNA of contemporary conservatives, and to see how state and federal regulatory bureaucracies put the hurt on small farmers, all to the advantage of big business, should be enough to send grassroots right-wingers to the barricades" (64)."It seems to me is, again, the role of a sacramental vision in household life. The mundane daily rituals of the housewife and stay-at-home mom actually symbolize and mediate deep spiritual truths about the home and its place in human experience. When I was a child, my own father told me on a number of occasions how much it meant to him as a little boy to get off the school bus and...count on Mama being there with a piece of pie for him. It was a little thing, but it meant the world to him, and conveyed to a child growing up in the Depression, whose father was usually on the road trying to make money to support his family, that he was loved, that he would be provided for, that there was a shelter for him from the storm" (133)."But the thing that worries me the most is the progressive eroticization of young people...Kids today marinate in a sexually aggressive popular culture that teaches them that life is supposed to be an erotic free-for-all. A sixth-grade teacher friend who is close to my age told me that as the mother of a daughter who will soon be in her class, it shakes her up to think about how much those twelve-year-olds know about sex--and how much pressure the boys put on girls to service them" (142)."A wholesale commitment to a homeschooling curriculum centered around the values of our religious tradition is the best training my wife and I can give our boys to help them be free men, not target markets."Wrote Schumacher, 'For it takes a good deal of courage to say "no" to the fashions and fascinations of the age and to question the presupposition of a civilization which appears to be destined to conquer the whole world; the requisite strength can be derived only from deep convictions.' And those deep countercultural convictions can best be acquired through home education" (150).Quoting John Adams on the limitations of America's framework: "We have no government armed with the power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other" (180)."The midcentury conservative theorists who advanced a more family-oriented, communitarian politics...have been given little or no voice in the contemporary Republican party.'Their natural home is in the church, and to the extent that the church speaks the language of Republican politics, it loses that older, deeper, truly conservative political philosophy, which advocates rootedness, continuity over time, order, and fidelity to a higher good,' he [Caleb Stegall] said. 'And that higher good is expressed religiously in the transcendent, and in our lives in terms of our connection to family, community, and the land" (192)."We prefer to buy our vegetables from local farmers, if possible, for much the same reason. It helps build a web of mutual care and obligation in our economic relations, teaching us that we are humans, not machines, training us to cherish the places we're from and the people who live there, helping us learn, in Edmund Burke's phrase, 'to love the little platoon we belong to in society'" (231)."We should also labor to reclaim leisure--leisure in the philosophical sense, which is time consecrated to pursuits that nurture the soul and build culture. The rarest thing in the world today is time to rest, and silence in which to contemplate, and to enjoy our lives together. Of all people, conservatives should understand that life is tragic, that suffering is inescapable, and that the only lasting meaning available to any of us is in sharing our suffering and our joys with each other in the beloved community" (232)."A crunchy-con agenda might look like this:*Abolish or greatly restrict abortion and the death penalty.*Ban cloning, strictly limit human genetic research, and closely regulate the biotech industry.*Pass laws making it easier to homeschool, create alternative schools, or otherwise opt out of public education.*Make commonsense environmental protection a legislative priority.*Reform the agricultural, health, and commercial regulations to permit and encourage the flourishing of small farms and producers of local foodstuffs, and in turn repopulate rural America.*Shape zoning restrictions to favor the preservation of old buildings of historic value, require new development to conform to high aesthetic standards, and provide more public spaces for human interaction.*Adopt an attitude toward business laws that favors small businesses over large corporations.*Strengthen legal prohibitions against pornography, and appoint judges who believe in the rights of communities to set their own standards.*Use government, within limits, to look after the poor and the weak without creating a culture of dependency.*Reform the tax code to offer extra support to married couples who choose to have larger families.*Orient government toward encouraging an expansion of the role of civil-society institutions--religious, fraternal, and service organizations--particularly at the local level.*Discourage 'one-size-fits-all' national standards in education and other areas. Devolve control from Washington to states and localities.*Impose an energy policy designed to sharply reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and to develop alternatives sources of energy" (233-4).And one final quote from Schumacher's Small is Beautiful:"The type of realism which behaves as if the good, the true, and teh beautiful were too vague and subjective to be adopted as the highest aims of social or individual life, or were the automatic spin-off of the successful pursuit of wealth and power, has been aptly called 'crackpot-realism.' Everywhere people ask: 'What can I actually do?' The answer is as simple as it is disconcerting: we can, each of us, work to put our own inner house in order. The guidance we need for this work cannot be found in science or technology, the value of which utterly depends on the ends they serve; but it can still be found in the traditional wisdom of mankind" (246-7).

  • Andrew Westphal
    2018-11-06 13:54

    TL:DR - I agree that the "cult of efficiency" should be opposed in modern politics. Dreher gives some examples of hardcore commitment by families to the "crunchy con" lifestyle, but fails to propose action steps for the broad-based GOP establishment to become more crunchy. His last chapter focuses on the Benedictine option for withdrawing from society to crunchy, self-sustaining enclaves, and I guess his latest book "The Benedict Option" is Crunchy Cons 2.0 (post-populist edition).I liked the core message of the book, which highlighted the importance of traditional, *conservation*-is-conservative perspectives. Dreher especially criticized the establishment Republicans who supported the free market and business interests over the needs of families and traditional lifestyles -- the so-called GOP "cult of efficiency." It's also interesting that despite the publication date in 2006 (during the GHW Bush era), some of his sources were already raising concerns about a major split in patriotism vs nationalism (aka traditional vs Trump) within the GOP. Unfortunately, Dreher also needed to take a firm stance against liberal politics in order to preserve the standing of this "crunchy con" movement within the right wing. That stance caused the allocation of far too many words to the evils of Democratic politics, including his perspectives on "anti-family" issues including pro-choice, biotechnology, and sexual liberation.Overall, my concern about his stance on crunchy life is that it focuses mostly on two types of very special people: (1a) those who literally "return to the land" by becoming farmers or (1b) those who buy the organic, free-range products produced on those farms, and (2) those who can selectively move into certain neighborhoods or cities for the benefit of cheap, durable old houses (ie those in hollowed-out neighborhoods of the former urban middle class). That second group is special because to realistically raise children in that setting, they must be homeschooled (or private school, with which Dreher takes other issues). Finally, it's often said that having children is fairly bad for the environment (planet can't sustain more people, etc), but with his ideal 8-12 person Catholic families, that type of environmentalist perspective is thrown right out the window. He would prefer to preserve the Christian majority in Europe through growing birth rates, rather than having a more ecologically sustainable society that also happens to include a larger proportion of Muslims.In the end, these folks are solid examples of the best-case option, but Dreher fails to provide workable solutions for the typical Republican who might be drawn into the crunchy lifestyle. For example, he never talked about household recycling or composting, volunteering to clean up local parks / green spaces, effective local voting ideas to preserve historic & well-built homes, or any number of other day-to-day solutions. These crunchy cons will never "save America or the Republican Party" unless they build a more broad perspective for integrating the crunchy lifestyle into the lives of typical GOP voters.

  • Hannah
    2018-10-28 12:48

    Let me preface this by saying that I am not a political conservative. But I am, at least according to Dreher’s definition, a religious conservative and that’s really who this book is for. (i.e., Catholics, Orthodox Christians, some denominational Protestants, Orthodox Jews, and maybe some Muslims too but he doesn’t comment too much on that).I was first drawn to this book after hearing all the hubbub about Dreher’s latest, The Benedict Option. I’ve heard it paints a rather grim picture, and I haven’t read yet out of fear that it will give me more anxiety than it’s worth. Published in 2006, Crunchy Cons appears to be a BenOp-lite. It speaks to the many religious conservatives today who feel the need to quietly rebel from the dominant, materialistic culture. In a country in which conservatism has come to mean “promote the free market above all else,” there’s a growing trend among religious conservatives, welling out of their religious convictions, to embrace organic agriculture, to homeschool, to defend the environment, to eschew materialism. I found this book to be a fascinating look into the lives of many so-called “crunchy cons,” and an investigation of why they choose to live the way they do. The crunchy con lifestyle can be boiled down to intentionality, choosing to live a life in line with your religious convictions even if it is inconvenient or unpopular.A few things held me back from giving this book five stars. Dreher asserts at a couple of points in the book that anyone who says they could not afford to live the crunchy con lifestyle is deluding themselves, that almost anyone can do this if they just make a few sacrifices. That’s just objectively false. Sustainably raised food costs more than McDonald’s, and though he advises you “buy in bulk,” many people in this country aren’t in a position to fork over $300 at once for a year’s supply of beans. I was astounded at his denial of the privilege necessary to live this lifestyle. There were a couple other minor issues- assuming that all religious conservatives are also political conservatives with too many “wink wink, nudge nudge” jabs at liberals, and an odd hostility toward the hierarchy of the Catholic Church for not being traditional enough. But overall, a well-written, interesting read.

  • Andy Fletcher
    2018-10-21 15:04

    I was given this book to read by a good friend. He explained simply that the principles and philosophy found in this book were something he thought I would like.I ended up writing a detailed review on this book that I sent back to my friend. Written over a decade ago, I think much of what Dreher writes has come to fruition after the 2008 and 2012 elections with the upsurge of Libertarianism. Many of us have been frustrated with the extremes of the Republican and Democrat party. How do you practice conservatism without raping the planet? How do you practice conscientious conserving of the family with the extereme liberalism forced down our throats in culture and education? This book will cause conservatives to rethink their position when it comes to Education, Housing, Economics and Religion. What does it mean to be conservative?I found myself identifying with much of what he wrote about, but then again, I have the benefit of more than a decade of growth and life since the writer penned this book. Still, I recommend it.

  • Ben
    2018-11-06 10:56

    I read this and then "The Benedict Option" back to back and they blended together well. I appreciate his effort to break up the rigid dogma of right and left in American politics and how really gets down to the values and philosophy of what makes people tick. As a conservative myself he helped me give some issues a second look. Deeper than that though, Crunchy Cons is also a profound commentary on how individualistic and fragmented our society is on both sides of the political fence as well as suggestions for how to combat it. While it is seemingly about politics, it's really more about spirituality, and trying to live well and happily in a corrupt and selfish society. A good read and a good complement to "The Benedict Option".

  • Arwen
    2018-10-22 15:45

    Even though the guy who wrote the book is full of himself and it's very redundant it's still a good book. It sums up a lot of the things I believe are wrong with the conservative party today, and it really pushes for some of the things my husband and I believe in. One quick example is eating healthier by shopping at CO-OP's. I love our co-op, but I'm not the typical liberal (and/or hippie) member. I highly recommend this book.