Monday, February 17, 2014

Hey-ey, I, oh, oh I'm still alive...

I'm still alive, just on a new project and up to my neck. Props to Keith and all y'all for keeping stuff going on EQE.

Thought this was an insightful comment from an admitted liberal anonymous commenter (LibAnon) regarding why Rod Dreher rubs him/her the wrong way. The comment continues in the following section here. I'll remark on several excerpts, then I have to bolt.

....I was bullied pretty mercilessly for a while as a kid - in a Catholic school. But I've largely moved on with life. Sure, I despise bullies and authoritarians in general, but I tend to function decently well.

Rod doesn't. Rod's a perpetually aggrieved teenager in a pushing-50-something's body. Rod keeps an enemies' list far longer than Nixon's and nurses his grudges like precious children. The world has failed Rod, and Rod is going to make the world pay. It's all about Rod.

Most people who are bullied do move on with life. That's why I wonder if the new emphasis on bullying isn't caused somewhat by a fixation on it. It might be even more important to get over bullying episodes in the long run than "standing up" to the bully. I always imagine the kids who bullied me in school as working as lackeys in quick oil change garages and as farmhands in the middle of Bum-fudge-egypt. And I'm sure I'm right.

Think about the trajectory of his life since he's been online (which, thanks to his ridiculous personal oversharing, one can get a good sense of). He went to Dallas to do editorial work, but the newspaper industry started to go belly-up. This is the age of his Crunchy Con blog on Beliefnet. Irritating to some, I found it fascinating. Sure, he was a little touchy, but seemed somewhat well-adjusted.

Then he goes to Philadelphia to edit the Templeton Foundation's new online magazine. He immediately runs into trouble because, shockingly, the Templeton people don't seem to appreciate a stream of posts about loose women rather than, you know, WHAT THEY WERE ALL ABOUT. Also, the OCA Orthodox churches (Religion Number 3, for those keeping score) don't fit Rod's standards. So, he passive-aggressively manages to get himself fired from his supposed dream job editing a magazine about the mysteries of the universe because he can't stop being snarky online (this time over some church dispute).

I think the man's peak was the Templeton Foundation gig. The guy had arrived and he didn't realize it. His pessimism got the better of him and all he could see were the things which were wrong with it.

You notice less and less about Rod's blissful family life (which he wrote a lot about in Dallas, which makes its absence all the more noticeable). The good Mrs. Dreher barely appears at all anymore.

Everyone keeps failing Rod. His idol, Wendell Berry, fails him earlier this year, and he turns upon him with a fury that makes me think Rod was looking for an excuse to unburden himself of that old man (who is far more influential than Rod will ever be). He goes the Mel Gibson route and founds the Church of Rod (affiliated with ROCOR, but pretty much Rod's personal kingdom) because the Orthodox churches in Baton Rouge aren't pure enough for him - Religion Number 4. His triumphant return to the town of his birth does not seem to be regarded so triumphantly by those he left behind - they're not lining up to kiss his posterior the way he imagines they should. He gets testier and testier, to the point that commenters on his own blog start posting their concern for Rod's emotional state.

I pointed out at the time that Wendell Berry's attack on Christian morality should not have surprised anyone. But I think Liberal Anonymous is correct to point out that Dreher's response to Berry's betrayal has has a "you-have-failed-me" tinge to it.

As we always like to say, read the whole thing. I don't necessarily agree with the characterization 100%; I think everyone tends to feel more like they've been failed by public figures than admitting their folly in trusting them to be their spokespeople. That's why our friend, Tom, is always quoting the Bible with "Put not your trust in Princes." Plus pointing fingers gets easier the more you do it. But it does seem like Dreher may be "failed" more often than most due to the remarkably bad judgment with regard to those with whom he throws in his lot, e.g., Abp. Gandalf, Met. Jonah, Wendell Berry and Wick Allison and his crazy crew at The American Conservative, which LibAnon rightly terms a "sinking ship".

One more insightful observation I will point out that LibAnon makes is the blogging less and less about "blissful family life". It does seem like this feature has fallen off as of late. But this is not necessarily due to a decline in bliss. Maybe the man is just wising up about the dangers of oversharing.


  1. If RD is holding back on his "oversharing", then I will gladly take it as a very tiny but hopeful sign that maybe, just maybe, he might be growing up from being a "a perpetually aggrieved teenager."

    In various other places, I have laid out my suggestions, or scenarios, as to how RD could over time become a modestly decent writer. I'll list them briefly here:

    (1) drop the pretensions, (2) do the grunt work of research, (3) keep yourself out of the picture, (4) write a short book on some general topic of possible interest to readers.

    Over time, doing this might get him established as a modestly successful writer with decent income.

    Another possible scenario would be to drop out of sight completely and actually pursue the BO somewhere (such as up in Eagle River, Alaska, mentioned elsewhere). Then maybe after about 10 or 15 years of personal growth where he's been rubbing shoulders with real, live, and very imperfect, human beings, he could write some short book about the community and how they live, while saying very little about himself.

    But I am not betting any of this will happen. Too bad. Pardon my sunny optimism which always inclines me to think that the potential is there somehow.

  2. Oengus, he's got some work to do on your list. Exhibit A. Doesn't much look like a place to do the "grunt work of research". And as a bonus, Dreher treats us to a topic of no interest to any well-balanced reader (his birthday, and the dog that didn't bite), along with his literally putting himself into the picture.

    P.S. The comments are pathetic. For example.

  3. I think this guy LibAnon pretty much nails the enfant terrible Peter Pan that Dreher has defiantly decided to age into, and both his (Dreher's) "Happy Place" and LibAnon's really astute allusion to The Mosquito Coast merge perfectly with Dreher's own reference to them, namely his Benedict Option.

    When he left the Dallas paper for no economically rational reason (his dept was under no threat) to go to Templeton, you could still see the illusion of a mature adult making his way up the career ladder. But having been gifted with the position at Templeton, it was almost as if a teenager had finally gotten his license to drive responsibly among other adults and then immediately became terrified at the prospect, most particularly of having to leave the freewheeling bumper cars of his own self-centered, low integrity blogging behind.

    I say low integrity because one of if not the hallmark of Dreher's blogging has always been its reflex intellectual dishonesty, no matter what his topic. No matter what his topic, he will invariably fudge or outright lie about some aspect of it, even while linking back to material which clearly contradicts what he's saying about it. This is so common that I'm not sure its not a deliberate part of his schtick as Oengus calls it: Dreher says "black is white" and his gaggle of starf*ckers lines up to point out "Oooo, Ooooo, no, look, you're mistaken!" - and now you have a shake 'n bake Dreher "conversation". And how important the starf*cker feels to have caught the Great Man out! Now that he's got blood in his nostrils, he'll be back for more, and he'll bring his friends.

    But after the Templeton dive, and passive-aggressive really is a great way to describe Dreher running the car into a tree on his first outing so that his license would be revoked and he could return - Wheee!! - to his no-rules/no-responsibility bumper cars; after the Templeton dive, and now particularly after these back to back weird manias, first the public revenge on his sister, now the endless, maniacal gushing about Dante, is it possible at all to see any adult organization (not a vanity project like Allison's TAC; Allison's still running the jailbird Barrett Brown as his effete white boy King-in-the-Birmingham-jail, for Pete's sake) hiring Dreher in any position of responsibility over others? I can't see it.

    So it's to hell with civilization, and finally off for good to the Mosqito Coast-Benedict Option Happy Place and forever upriver to whatever makes Dreher's psyche therapeutically go Zooommm!!! today, in a land where he alone gets to choose which natives populate the landscape and which ones are banned from the Happy Place, with a winsome suckup to Ta-Nehisi Coates, or Ross Douthat, or Megan McArdle along the way in the desparate hope that someone will Brooks him again.

    Mistah Dreher—he done.

    A blog link for the Old Guy


  4. I would like to make one important amendment to the last comment. That important amendment is in parentheses:

    " of if not the hallmark of (Mark Shea's) blogging has always been its reflex intellectual dishonesty, no matter what his topic. No matter what his topic, he will invariably fudge or outright lie about some aspect of it, even while linking back to material which clearly contradicts what he's saying about it."

    Why do I mention this? Because Shea and Dreher are (or, at the very least, were) friends, thus proving the old saying, "When you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas."

  5. BTW, if Vladimir Putin really is his proxy, then Putin will fail Dreher, as well. It's just that the FSB (descendant of the KGB) won't bother looking for him.

  6. You forgot about the New York years.