Friday, May 1, 2015

Bookworm reviews a review from George P. Wood of Springfield, MO

Reviews of reviews are all the rage these days, and all the cool kidz are doing it. So it is satisfying to read a review of a review of Rod Dreher's new book which is itself a massive review of Dante's famous work, The Divine Comedy which, I should say, I highly recommend reading for those with immortal souls.

Reviews, reviews, out the wazoos....

(OK, here's the review, without further ado.)

George P. Wood of Springfield, MO reviewed Rod's book on Amazon and explains to everybody what the problem was. George is a pretty impressive guy with some impressive degrees and obviously knows a lot about a lot of things.

[Link to review from George P. Wood of Springfield, MO]

"The problem was that Dreher had left Starhill for a reason: The inability of his family—especially his father, but even Ruthie herself—to understand any way that wasn’t their way."

See, that's the problem with folks around here, and George P. Wood of Springfield, MO knows it. Just close minded people. It wasn't Rod. George P. Wood of Springfield, MO just explained to the world why it wasn't.

And so when Rod came back, believe it or not folks were still that way. Unable to understand any way that wasn't their way, especially Rod's way. And that flaw in them made Rod physically sick.

Folks just can't get any lower or meaner than that, making other people physically sick by being unable to understand any way that isn’t their way.

“Well,” his rheumatologist told him,“you have a choice. Leave Louisiana, or resign yourself to destroying your health."

"Dreher felt that wasn’t a choice. There must be a way to stay put and find inner peace."

And sure enough there was. Write another book about how folks around here make other people physically sick by being unable to understand any way that isn’t their way. You heard it from George P. Wood of Springfield, MO himself, and so did the rest of the world.

I admit that on many occasions in the past I've been enraged by Rod Dreher. But this fellow Bookworm provides a great example of why I'm no longer angered by him. Everyone save a few weirdos is onto him at this point. He has sunk so low that he has had to invent academic sock puppets to encourage him and to beg him to write books and so forth. His publisher is basically an opportunistic soft-core peddler who made sure there was T&A on his book cover. He has blamed his poor health on people not liking him. He has clung bitterly to this Bunker Option thing even though it has proven to be nothing more than raving. He deplores our plastic disposable hedonistic society and then commits selfie-abuse amid piles of restaurant food.

No one I care about is giving this guy any respect anymore, and that's the way it should be. I just loaded that ridiculous pic into How Old -- here's the result:

When robots think you look like a 49-year-old woman it's time to pull a makeover or put the camera away. Or both, dude.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Rod Dreher, Culture Warrior - against his family

As I mentioned in my Ace post, sometimes it behooves conservatives to look in the mirror and realize the phone call from the killer is actually coming from inside the house.

As Dreher blogs whatever alternative gets him the most culture war blog hits on any given day - MiraculĂ©! In the wake of the pushback he's received from David French, Glenn Reynolds and others, today's entree du jour now offers fighting back - now "here’s what the Benedict Option is not":

1) a counsel to run for the hills and to build a fortress where the outside world cannot get in; or

2) advice to quit fighting entirely, and to abandon the battlefield


For all that, I do not blame ordinary people, people who are not as privileged as Robby George, Ryan Anderson, and I, for not wanting to rush out and volunteer to die on every hill,

let's review what our extra-ordinary, privileged warrior knight has used his place of privilege to attempt to publish for millions of ordinary culture warriors to read and take fighting heart from. Feel free to look up the links yourself; I'm not Dreher's publicist.

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)

Okay, so maybe this whole culture war thing started some time after way back nine years ago in 2006 when granola-chomping Crunchy Cons was published. But as soon as it did, Rod strapped on culture war fighting sword and buckler and waded in full-tilt, right? With

The Little Way of Ruthie Leming

about his sister's death and how, returning to their home town, he was forced to confront their very different views of life and their very different ways of regarding each other. Our host Pauli reviewed the book here. His home town residents, those most familiar with him, continue to review Rod himself here.

Okay, so he took some up front R & R home before battle. But, then, immediately onward and into the fray, right? With

How Dante Can Save Your Life: The Life-Changing Wisdom of History's Greatest Poem

Oh, dear, maybe not yet.

It seems moving home and encountering how his family and friends really feel about him once again threw our culture warrior into a "dark wood" of depression, which in turn caused a debilitating flareup of what he claims to be a persistent mononucleosis infection.

Fortunately, his wife, completely exasperated at his interminable sleeping, finally forced him to seek a professional psychotherapist for his mental and subsequent physical problems. During that process he also discovered Dante.

From the post I quoted from at the outset, it seems he's on leave from the culture war once again today to promote that book and its issues as well as the general welfare of TAC, where he works.

But hope endures! Only yesterday our brave knight promised us

I am writing the book proposal this week. Things are moving very fast. People need to wake up. You can have St. Benedict, or you can have Dr. Berman. If you don’t choose, do not doubt for a second but that the choice will be made for you.

That was, of course, a full 24 hours ago, ages before today's call to arms quoted at the top of this post.Tomorrow, who knows? Maybe sprinkles!

The problem in producing the long talked about emperorographic next volume in question, of course, is that from the beginning his shapeshifting Benedict Option has depended entirely on what can only be described as "crowd-sourced principle": Rod can't finally decide what the Benedict Option principle actually is until he hears from what enough people who want to pay for him writing a book about something actually want it to be about.

Maybe, just maybe, although the next book will now inevitably reflect the eclectic composition of granola itself, it will actually have our knight waging culture war on our behalf on a battlefield larger than the urban chicken coop, his bed, or his therapist's couch and will engage foes more formidable than the family and neighbors who know him best.

Rod Dreher, Culture Warrior
In the meantime, dealing with the culture war on our own, without the helpful intelligence guidance of a Curveball, might actually be an asset, not a liability.

UPDATE (as they say): In contrast to Curveball and his "strategic withdrawal", above, here's what true culture warriors look like:

"We will not obey.".

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Some questions as the Supreme Court hears arguments on gay marriage this morning

What is the State - and here I'm including state governments as well as the federal government - actually doing by claiming any dominion over any sort of marriage, and what right does it have to make any such sort of claim? Is it actually addressing what marriage is or is not, or is it only really addressing marriage to the extent that marriage occupies a place as a gateway to a number of political rights and financial benefits? In other words, should the State actually be addressing the rights and benefits that attach to marriage directly rather than using marriage as a convenient catch-all means of doing so and thus, in doing so, leave the kernel "marriage" at the center of these various rights and responsibilities alone entirely?

For just one example of this, could the State forbid medical institutions from granting or forbidding visitation rights based on marital status, thus addressing visitation rights while stepping over and leaving marriage untouched as a point of action entirely? It certainly does so on race already: medical visitation can't be granted or forbidden on the basis of race, and the State doesn't enumerate which races are valid visitors and which are not. It simply commands hands off race as a deciding factor.

Can the State establish a definition of marriage - any definition - without running afoul of the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment? How, or how not? For example, to establish a Catholic (or Methodist or Muslim) definition of marriage as a law of the land, federal or state, would seem to be a clear violation of the EC. But if so, what are we really left with talking about if the State claims a right to establish a secular, non-religious alternative: how can the State even realistically describe the boundaries of that definition without implicitly invoking a prior, religious definition? Or, again, is it the case that, rather than dealing with any sort of marriage, the State is instead merely expediently seizing upon a collective placeholder for a radiating series of rights and benefits it should more properly be compelled to address individually and directly?

In other words, ever since the pluralistic secular constitutional republic American State necessarily let go of a religious definition of marriage it has really only been gliding in free fall, holding on to a now-empty husk of the past. Constitutionally, it cannot return to any religious standard, but, at least logically, it seems to me, it can ultimately be forced to release its grip even on the husk it's still grasping by forcing it to define exactly what the remnant it's asserting a claim to is. Anything it attempts, it seems to me, can immediately be argued as constitutionally discriminatory from one standpoint or another.

This seems to be the ultimate terminal logic of marriage within a secular constitutional republic to me as groups other than heterosexual couples rise to claim benefits radiating from it: if any one standard for State-sanctioned marriage proves to be unconstitutional, then all - that is, State-sanctioned marriage itself - must ultimately prove to be unconstitutional, thus jettisoning the kernel junction "marriage" itself from the grip of the State entirely and back into its myriad private niches. Rights and benefits previously coupled to marriage must necessarily and subsequently be de-coupled: medical visitation, adoption, financial benefits, etc., etc, and addressed individually, separately, and discretely on their individual, separate, and discrete constitutional and legal merits.

Could some practical collective State property-inheritance-child harboring license subsequently re-evolve? It almost certainly would, but when it does it would (if conservatives insisted upon it) no longer have any connection with now entirely private marriage.

Thus, for conservatives and Christians, life will probably change, but not at all necessarily in the ways envisioned, and almost certainly not in the ways exploitative doomsaying parasites would want it to.

The implications of this to me are that, should conservatives assert themselves on these matters, and contra the completely bizarre cult of personal weakness and submission Rod Dreher is desperately attempting to inculcate in and cultivate among others solely in order to promote his book sales, the whole gay marriage issue might very well prove to be that turning point at which the modern pluralistic constitutional republic American State, at least, was ultimately forced to abandon any direct claims upon marriage entirely.

Even short of this, though, to what extent does whatever the State claim with respect to any version of what it chooses to recognize as marriage bind or even implicate conservatives? I can see one consequence: even threading the needle between accommodation laws (can't discriminate against gays as gays) and compelled speech (conservatives can't be compelled to celebrate SSM), the percentage of conservatives involved in wedding commerce might decline, primarily voluntarily at the hands of conservative vendors themselves. Beyond that, though, what actual compulsions could the State possibly level against conservatives? I've already argued extensively that the idiosyncratic personal and moral cowardice of Rod Dreher should be recognized as the worst touchstone possible for engagement in the public square. For just one example, the State can no more compel conservatives to call gay marriage marriage than it can compel pro-life advocates to call unborn babies fetuses. And whether conservatives refer to gay marriages as marriages remains entirely up to them. The only question becomes the courage of one's convictions. Rod Dreher is God's loud and public gift to us all of an example of what having none looks like.

In short, when I try to look at this whole thing closer up a whole host of crevices seem to open up to me through which conservatives can pursue action immediately serving our interests, at least so long as we don't allow ourselves to be seduced by self-appointed gurus of doom.

I'm sure other questions would come to me, but that's enough from me. Maybe some of you have some others of your own.

BTW, the SCOTUSblog coverage of this morning's arguments can be followed here.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Saucy pug's tail Ace of AOSHQ finds itself wagged by Rod Dreher's Big Narcissistic Bunker Option dog

Is It Time to Formally Separate America Into Two Or More Sovereign Countries?

Really? That time already? I thought it was only about time to knock off from work.


No, that's clearly crazy talk, you drooling imbecile, either from someone so deep in self-loathing and despair that the neurons will no longer fire or someone cynically desperate for those blog hits the cute cat and dog pictures aren't generating anymore.

Here are a couple of questions, genius.

How will the nation be divided in two? Rock, paper, scissors? Size of National Guard armories? You'll pull the different states out of a hat personally?

On the anniversary of the Armenian genocide, how will the transfers of loyalists between the two final new sub-Americas be made? Peacefully? As hostages to be bartered for further internecine concessions? Multiple Trails of Tears marketed as CrossFit for the whole family?

Look in the mirror, Ace, you astonishingly stupid remnant of a man. The problems the right has may be more home grown than we care to admit.

These sorts of deformations you're spitting up - no, sorry, you're not that original; the sorts of deformations Rod Dreher is spitting up and you're merely derivatively licking off his chest - are the retroviruses of conservative thinking.

Crap like this will really drive the undecideds to the ballot box, won't it: "Hurry, Martha, oh, we so want to be sure and get a good state!"

Or maybe this is just a case of conservative problems handily converted into some sort of utterly unserious BuzzFeed fizzy pop rocks blog filler to keep the kids entertained until their parents get home, like those adorable kitty and doggy pictures.

Rod Dreher explains why your faith should be as fragile and hollow as his

Let's review historically: first, cradle Methodist, college agnostic Dreher first becomes a Catholic because, from his own account, as a country mouse from Starhill, LA in Paris for the first time he was wowed by the architecture of Chartres Cathedral. One can only wonder what he might have become had he encountered a Parisian sex show first instead.

Then, having embraced Catholicism as the one true faith, all it took for him to renounce it formally and completely were the sinful and criminal acts of some human priests in its employ. Easy come, easy go.

Now we have the prime time pop cultural spectacle of Bruce Jenner talking to Diane Sawyer over Kleenex about his delusions of becoming a woman.

Naturally, Dreher is as fascinated as any 19th Century country boy at his first hoochie-coochie tent show, albeit a country boy who ultimately quotes Nietzsche to frame his reaction. Commenter Matthias offers Dreher a paper bag to breathe into:

Sure, the media like to dramatize things, but this article makes the same mistake; it is sensationalist and completely ignores available data. The handful of surgical sex changes every year will certainly not “cause this society to careen off the cliff”; on the contrary, statistically speaking it is completely insignificant. And as far as regret goes, this study finds a “regret rate” of about 2%. I guess this margin of error is acceptable (not to the individual, but on the whole).

Dreher rips the bag away:

[NFR: You completely miss the point. There is no question but that the number of transpeople among us will always be small. My point is that what we as a society have to do to go from seeing those people as suffering human beings who bear the image of Christ, however distorted by our common humanity, to celebrating them as avatars of courage and so forth, requires giving up so much philosophical ground that it amounts to removing the guardrails, especially given what technology is empowering us to do. -- RD]

Speak for yourself, Neville Chamberlain of philosophical ground.

First, as someone whose tabloid writing was not only forged in the fiery caverns of the New York Post but which has carried its stylistic imprimatur into everything you've touched since, let's not be disingenuous here.

Matthias is right, and anyone who has read you for any time knows you're only sorry you're sensationalistically behind on the story because you were tied up slurping oysters with Mollie. The only people I've seen remotely "celebrating" as opposed to gawking over the Jenner story have been his family tweeting - as if they could publicly do anything else.

Second, the only one promoting the notion of giving up philosophical ground is you. Most everyone else is responding along a range from pity to disgust. Is there a Bruce Jenner book gleaming in your eye in line behind the yet un-pitched Benedict Option book in line behind the yet unsold Dante book?

And guess what else technology empowers us to do. Beat a child to death with a cast iron skillet. Bugger scruffy little dogs named Roscoe when the wife and kids are off visiting Mam and Paw. Shoot up your local movie theater.That technology genie escaped its bottle when Eve started peddling apples and Cain found a suitable rock.

Maybe the problem isn't so much some aging former athlete turned celebrity reality star getting his lonely freak on by hitting himself up with estrogen as it is with your own congenitally fragile and fluid philosophical ground and its imminent potential to send you careening off your own personal and social guardrails.

That hardly argues for anyone else joining you in your fragilely principled state of mind.

If nothing more than your family being mean to you can send you into a narcoleptic depressive "dark wood", I'd tell old Roscoe to quit showing his belly and maybe head under the bed tout de suite. As for other social conservatives, surely there's a better prophet than Rod Dreher to be found.

Maybe even some 2,000-year-old Jew.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The medium is the message and both are Rod Dreher

I think the final returns are in and are indisputable: Rod Dreher is nothing but the self-promotional product Rod Dreher. There is simply no other there there. If you believe there is and believe you have found something, please, please, prove me wrong.

In a cynical blog commercial badly produced as a heartwarming coming home post, The Comforts of Home, we are first greeted with a picture of what went into Rod's belly last night and will emerge elsewhere today. Not a picture of his family, although, contrary to what he claims, Rod posts pictures of his wife and children all the time when it serves his ends.

No, not his family. Instead, the telos of his very being and existence, what he eats, a thesophagany inseparable, at least for Dreher, from God Himself:

Not tonight; I wanted to drive in silence, and to pray, and to think. I recollected all the good times I’ve had these past 10 days, visiting old friends and making new ones, talking about a book that God used to rescue me, and that I am certain can rescue others who open themselves to it. I thought about all the good meals I’d had, including three Boston dinners in a row featuring raw oysters, and a lunch too, not to mention the delicious Sichuan banquet in Houston.

If Dante can't save you, folks, just try Dreher's ever-ready alternative to God, oysters. But you probably can't afford that many oysters, so just sit on the couch and eat that half gallon of Ben & Jerry's instead.

As he reminisces about the last 10 days, rhetorically rubbing his jaw and gazing up into the unfocused nowhere while the background of the rhetorical camera shot dissolves into the flashback scene and a harp ripples on the sound track, we get, not one, but two book excerpt teases masquerading as contemplative appreciations of himself, one for the Ruthie book and one for the Dante book, together with this clever segue suggesting that, to fully appreciate the Dante book, you probably should really buy and read the Ruthie book first:

She gave me this life. It wasn’t the life I thought I was going to have here. It wasn’t the life I wanted, nor the life I thought I deserved. But it is the life I needed. From How Dante Can Save Your Life:

This is what the contemplation of the comforts of home really means, food past, food present and an integral pitch for the entire Dreher catalog. No word if there is a two-for-one discount.

And it ends, finally, with William F. Buckley himself  tacitly smiling down from Heaven in approval as the credits roll over a D- paragraph from freshman Creative Writing 101

I came into the kitchen, set my bags down, and the kids squealed and ran to embrace Daddy. Roscoe rolled over and showed me his belly. I gave everybody their gifts, then ate my chicken pot pie. Nothing makes me happier than being at home with my family. Tomorrow I’ll be with my other family, in church, at the Divine Liturgy. William F. Buckley was once asked what was his favorite journey. He said one word: “Home.” I know what he meant.

There is simply nothing in this entire post that doesn't ring of a bad brainstorming session from Mad Men, dedicated to nothing beyond Dreher's porcine theology and book selling. The medium is the message and both are Rod Dreher.

Won't you make Rod's life complete and buy everything he writes so he can get even closer to God through his sacraments of thesophagany?

I'd hate to think poor Mollie Hemingway sat there and, from the look on her face, thought of England all night as Rod's date for nothing.