My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: "O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!"

22 October 2006

Why I'm Neither a Conservative Nor a Liberal

Rod Dreher is a popular writer in the conservative arena. As an expansion of a 2002 essay, he recently wrote Crunchy Cons: 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). I quoted that at length because it's fun to say. Go ahead, read it out loud.

Dreher seems to be the well-spoken spokesmen for conservatives who like organic carrots and apple computers and Choco sandals, those who fit the bill politically but not culturally. He seems to have struck a cord.

Eric Miller, associate professor of history at Geneva College, reviewed Dreher's book in a recent issue of Books & Culture. Miller likes the book, but doesn't think Dreher's vision is good enough. Which brings up this quote from Miller, which resonated with me and said better what I was trying to say a couple days ago ("Why I'm not a Conservative").

America would be a better place if Dreher's crunchy conservatism won out, I'm sure. But it's not good enough, and maybe not even that good for very long, in our expiring times. For both "liberalism" and "conservatism" are traditions with a shelf-life. They are time-sensitive, and their time is out. It's not that nothing of worth remains within them - quite the contrary, as Dreher's book attests. But the modern era that called these political traditions into being - and that they, indeed, helped create - has defeated them. At this late date, being "conservative" is an inadequate ideal for humans to aspire to - as is being "liberal." What our moment requires instead is a politics more deeply human, more truly radical, something both old and new, a moral vision that might teach us anew what any healthy family, church, neighborhood, or nation already knows: how to conserve and liberate at once.

Wow. That's it in a nutshell. In this country, in this cultural and social age, living and thinking like a Biblical Christian is the most radical, most necessary thing to do. Who better than the church to provide the infinite, eternal moral vision for the nations? Who better than Christ to lead this nation? For the sake of the kingdom, then, let's throw off the conservative label, let's tell the Republicans and Democrats that the church isn't something to be bought or pandered to. Let's tell the world that Christ is King and acting according to that reality (from individuals all the way up to nations) is the best thing. Really, the best.


P.s. - this doesn't mean that I don't like Republicans. Please vote for my friend, Jack Rhoda!

P.s.s. - Rod Dreher has recently switched from the Roman Catholic Church to an Eastern Orthodox church. Apparently, it's created a little stir. Anyhoo, you can read this interesting, and somewhat long, story here.


Micah & Emily said...

I shall not take offense at dissing on both Macs and Chaco sandals. However, and sorry for deading a beat horse here, Leity's book shoots straight just on this point. I think you should do a book review of Against Christianity.

Jared said...

Thanks for not taking offense. It was supposed to be a nice comment; I don't *dislike* macs and chocos. I just haven't been enlightened fully yet.

I promise to read PL's book ASAP. Doing a book review could be harmful to my health, though.

Anonymous said...

Jared, really liked that post. It's something I've been considering for a while. Never been a fan of how republicans seem to snap the reins of the "religious right" every election year.

A book that's going on my list.

keith said...

Dr. Miller was one of my favorite professors! The church is the answer - or has the answer in Christ - living out His love. Here in Hazleton instead of the culture wars, we speak of the "worship wars"...