Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Anyone play the banjo?

Here's a little bit of humorous verse collaboratively written by Kathleen and myself. Naturally it is to be sung—with a slight lisp—to the tune of the Beverly Hillbilles theme song, which is also known as "The Ballad of Jed Clampett".

The Ballad of Rod Dreher

Come listen to a story 'bout a man named Rod
A poor crunchy blogger, used to write about God
Then one day when his sister bought the farm
His bigwig agent didn't have to twist his arm.

Money, that is. Greenbacks, college edumacations...

Well the first thing you know ol' Rod's a millionaire,
The kinfolk said "Ray's a-movin' back here!"
Said Ray, "Loweeziana is the place I ought to be!"
So they loaded up the truck and moved a-southerly.

His hometown's a buzzin'...
"Money, you say?
Don't we all get some?"

Well now it's time to read about Ray-rod and all his kin.
And heap big thanks to Davey Brooks for getting him an in.
Did ya hear there's fancy dancers in this here locality?
A mighty fine example of Southern hospitality.

Here's a dollar, honey.
Set a spell...
...keep your leg on.

Y'all buy the book now, y'hear?


  1. This kind of reminds me of Jonathan Last's account in the Weekly Standard of Barack Obama's literary adventures in the early 90s. A sharp-eyed NYC agent and publisher noted a single piece in the Gray Lady about Barry (at Harvard Law) and said, "ah, there HAS to be a book in this!" Obama played the neat trick of selling the book idea for a second advance (basically a nominal make-work position) to the University of Chicago.

    The funny thing was, the NYC publisher was told it would be a book about race relations. Chicago thought it was going to be about voting rights law.

    But Obama turned out to be a bit lazy, and an undisciplined writer, and missed his deadline. Plus, unknown to them, he had decided that it was going to be about a different subject...himself.

    My prediction: this new book, when it comes out (don't hold your breath for next spring), will be primarily all about someone whose name starts with "R"...and it won't be "Ruthie".

    -The Man From K Street

  2. EXACTLY! The question isn't whether or not Rod could write a full length book on the topic of his sister. He has the skill to do so easily. The question is what will be the content and how will he make that content sell as to warrant a large advance. It will probably end up being a book about his ideas with a photo section in the middle.

  3. So I'm not the only cynical soul who noted the smell of opportunism in Ray's latest adventure. Shame on us.


  4. He's doing a book on his sister?

  5. I confess, I feel no more shame than usual.

  6. It will be shamelessly exploitative, hopelessly maudlin, and emotionally manipulative -- IOW, TV-special material. Kind of like The Christmas Shoes.

    Oh, there'll be lots of Southern Gothic grotesquerie thrown in. Rod's the next Flannery o'Connor, don't you know.

  7. Diane: Rod's the next Flannery o'Connor, don't you know.

    It's too soon to say if he will compare favorably with O'Connor with respect to grotesquery. Someone might plausibly argue that O'Connor's grotesquery had some redeeming point behind it. In Dreher's case, parading the grotesque ends up looking more like an attempt to be a showoff or to win applause from people who relish grossness for its own sake.

    In any case, I will bet dollars to donuts that the upcoming opus will be overlong—like some rivers in Southern California, which can be "a mile wide and an inch deep." I especially noticed this in his earlier work on Cruncy Conservatism, the redundancy of the same shallow ideas getting repeated over and over.

    What puzzles me is why The American Conservative enlisted him as a blogger. What weighty conservative principles does he espouse that he can't be talked out of with minimal effort? I haven't been able to tell so far, and I have been looking for some time.

    But his blogging is occasionally entertaining. An interesting idea pops up now and then, only to disappear like a vapor rising from a warm lake on a chilly day.

    I wish I could land a book deal and retire early. I have tried with no success so far, and I think my unfinished grave-robbery detective story is pretty grotesque.

  8. Oengus, you are a choice gem. I love your writing and would foot the bill for your book if I had the dough.

    Diane, Flannery O'Connor's stories were about people exhibiting grotesque behavior. IOW, Dreher would be the perfect subject in once of her stories. Think of the dumb oaf getting a tattoo of Christ on his back to try to curry failure with his religious wife. Or the pretentious redneck grandfather ridiculing his grandson as because he'd never seen a black person.

    If the stripper was in an O'Connor story she would merely be a foil for someone obsessed with her, i.e., You Know Who. Like the college dude fantasizing about dating a black woman to piss off his prejudiced mom. Of course there is a story about a girl with a prosthetic leg in one of her stories, but she's not a stripper. Rather she is her own pimp, so to speak....

    Yes--I've read all Miss O'Connor's stories, some more than once, and I feel like Dreher has most likely misunderstood all those which he has read if he compares what he does to her moralistic fiction. After all, he mused that his main takeaway from Babette's Feast is that good people eat gourmet food, or something like that. If you think they somehow O'Connor's descriptions only apply to the south then you've not lived in a rural area of the north. Nor anywhere on this earth with your eyes open for grotesque human behavior.

  9. Oengus, if you glance through the comments to Dreher's pieces at "The American Conservative" (hard work tho that is), you'll see that the definition of "conservative" is pretty loose over there. "Weighty conservative principles" are optional, at best.

  10. Sorry, but Borod has abandoned any pretense of being either conservative or religious (or of book writing, for that matter). Instead he has folded all as meta-pretenses back into his trusty Borod taunt-the-reader schtick.

    He's a conservative and religious book author in the same way Phil Hendrie is, the most recent example being the getta-loada-me-protesting-too-much over the HHS contraception ruling against Catholics, a teaching he has already taunted readers about not believing.

    But how now to top Borod-as-Flannery O'Connor? Of couse: by luridly pointing out that feeding little children semen from a teaspoon is "not just a Catholic thing".

    That's sure to beat an explicit account of some gluttonous, unconstrained slob of an aesthete packing his colon with meat until he passes out.

    That's what Lent is for, children, it tells us when the competitive eating season is over. Damn you, Kobayashi, but next year will find you chasing Borod's meaty sharts while weeping bitter tears of defeat.

    So, what can we look forward to this season on the Borod Taunts His Readers Show?

    Week 1: Secrets of Episcopal Dwarves and their Dachshunds.

    Week 2: Simple, Local Foods: A Jar of Mayonnaise and a Spoon.

    Week 3: Catholics, Can't Live as One, Can't Make a Living Without Them.

    Week 4: Is Hugo Chavez Really Circumcized? The Implications for Latin American Sociology.

    Week 5: [Encore Beliefnet archive] 3 Girls and a Cup.

    Week 6: iPad: the Homeschooler's Equalizer

    Week 7: Taste Buds Never Need Viagra and Never Complain, "There, Not There. No, There. Oh, Just Finish."

    Week 8: What, There Are Catholics With More Than Three Kids? Third World Demographics and the Rise of That Yellow, Rubbery Fake Cheese Stuff.

    Week 9: [Encore Beliefnet archive] Why All Your Women Are Sluts But Mine Are Angels.

    Week 10: Pythons: Eve's Evil Serpent or Foodie Inspiration?

    Week 11: [Open pending annual network shopping and new contract negotiations.]

    New Anon

  11. I'm sorry. What was I thinking insulting Phil Hendrie in that way?

    I meant Borod is a conservative and religious book author in the same way Ruby Rhod is a conservative and religious book author.

    New Anon

  12. New Anon's stuff is sort of amusing, and would probably be moreso to me if I wasn't to lazy to read more than the first third or so. But I disagree with the notion that he is consciously trying to irritate us plebs. It's more accurate to say that he's just a big wannabe as Jonathan always reminds us.

  13. Anomymous has shown in a compelling way that Rod Dreher's writing makes excellent feedstock for creating funny satire. One could almost create a blog dedicated to just that purpose alone.

    In fact, for a moment there, I wondered if Anomymous might in fact be Rod Dreher in disguise having a little fun mocking himself.

    Unfortunately, I don't think I would have the stamina and imagination required to run such a blog and to churn out that much satire, but other people might. What would the blog's title be? Any suggestions?

    How about "Crunchy Crumbs?"

  14. Here's the original bit of satire that pulled me into this discussion.

    And here's a brief review of my engagement in this discussion which is going on 6 years at this point.

    I had originally heard someone at my church self-describe as a "crunchy" back circa ‘05. This person believed in every conspiracy theory I'd ever heard of and they railed against mainstream conservatives and people who didn't realize how horrible Bush was. I hadn't heard of crunchy conservatism before then, but when the book came out and the nuts came out of the woodwork to defend it I wanted to just show how inchoate the whole project was, and how it was a "gateway drug" to self-righteousness, elitism and seriously misplaced priorities in the moral and political spheres.

    In ‘06 you could say that I officially became a "contra-crunchy". At that time I was forcibly reminded of a Catholic convert I knew way back around '95 who struggled a lot with his faith. He was very conservative and cynical about the US Bishops like many of us are. After he had just come back from a trip to France he told me how great it was over there and how "you don't even have to be a Catholic to have a great life in Paris" or something like that. Then he talked a bunch of grass-is-greener malarkey about food, wine and architecture and the superiority of their culture. It was all very honeymoon-like and immature, like a rich guy who leaves his wife for a young gold-digging hottie and has no clue why everyone is laughing and shaking their heads. I thought if you want to knock down strawmen, go ahead, but don't insult us by pretending they are line-backers.

    I didn't understand one bit of this Europhile mentality in the 90s and I still don't. I suppose that I always figured that while Ananias and Sapphira might have become Catholics for the material aspects—as if pagans and Jews can't make good wine—I wasn't pissing off 200 or so people including my parents just to achieve some kind of worldly wisdom and prestige.

    Then Dreher, the architect of crunchiness, proved what I'd suspected by formally and loudly leaving the Catholic Church. (Well, loudly after trying to sneak out and failing.) His reasoning seemed to be that the true Christian religion was all about viewing the world itself "sacramentally" and as long as you did that, you had the Secret Knowledge, not like Joe Sixpack who had been raised Catholic and whose relatives built the churches that the Drehers of the world sit around and critique.

    One of the ways in which you practice this sacramentality when applied to your sexual relationship is to use NFP rather than artificial contraception. Please correct me if I'm wrong on this last point. He took a lot of flack for talking about that in his book.

    But if Dreher has indeed ditched this belief as it seems, we see that once again whim has triumphed over being true to the nature of things. Hillaire Belloc stated that the Catholic perspective on the Protestant Reformation was that it stemmed more from a "progressive denial" of the teachings of the church than some kind of rediscovery of a simpler form of Christianity. It seems to me also that the Catholic view of Crunchy Conservatism could be seen to have an analogous progression of denial. First you deny that the Catholic Church is the one true, but concede they have a lot of truth because you agree on key issues. Later you start dropping those issues, or you figure out ways to circumvent them. You discover that this is really easy now because you encounter very little resistance in the considerably smaller world you've chosen to inhabit.

  15. All that makes me wonder whether if in the writing of this new book Dreher will try to tie some of the topics back to his first book. If so I can only imagine how annoyed and embarrassed he'll be when he opens that one up and reads what a seemingly different Rod Dreher wrote at the time. Of course I suppose he can blame his discomfort on the Catholic Church, perhaps rightly.

  16. After he had just come back from a trip to France he told me how great it was over there . . .

    You're not the only one feeling pain over this. This guy calls that attitude "Paltrowism". (**Language warning**).