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Rod Dreher is back. Let joy be unconfined, &c.

So says Rod Dreher, after a year of blog sabbatical. Your mileage may vary.

As the late, great Justin Wilson [1]would say, “How y’all are?” Things have been pretty good by me this past year, all things considered. A short explanation for where I’ve been is in order. Basically, the online magazine I was hired to blog for and to help edit shut down after a short run. I was unable to blog elsewhere, under the rules of the John Templeton Foundation, where I worked until just recently. The Templeton Foundation is a truly remarkable place, and I loved the people and the ideas I got to work with there. But in the end, I’m a writer, and I wanted to return to what makes me happy and gives meaning to my life. Plus, our country is in crisis, and it’s getting worse. I want to participate in the debate and discussion in the public square, especially because the things that I believe in and care about the most are under increased threat. Mine was an amicable parting from JTF, and I can say in all seriousness that my year and a half there changed me for the better. It broadened my mind and made me think of things that had not occurred to me before.

Driving home from work one day, I listened to a news story on the radio, and it occurred to me that after a year of living in Philadelphia, I had had maybe two political conversations, period. I think it’s so easy for pundits and others who live in a bubble where conversation is driven by news and current events to forget that many, probably most, Americans don’t live their lives according to the daily news cycle. I know, I know, this is obvious, but it’s so obvious many of us commentators don’t notice it. Leaving the New York-Washington bubble for Dallas showed me how cut off the people who run our country and media are from the lives of most Americans. Leaving the newspaper bubble for a job that specifically ruled out writing about politics and current affairs compelled me to see the world in a different way — in a way that I think is more like the way most Americans see it, to be honest.

Don’t get me wrong — there’s nothing wrong with thinking and writing about politics. I wouldn’t be working for a magazine called The American Conservative if I thought there were. What I’ve learned is that politics has far too great a place in the minds of many of us who labor in these particular vineyards. What concerns me most, as a conservative and as, well, a person, is the meaning of life, and how people find purpose, order, and happiness. It has seemed to me for some time — and readers of my book “Crunchy Cons” (now out in Kindle [2]and Nook [3]forms, if you like) and my old Crunchy Con blog know this — that American conservative thought and activism is far too caught up in politics. We need a less ideological, more holistic and philosophical conservatism — and I think TAC is poised to be the flagship journal for this kind of reform conservatism. When the mag asked me to consider coming aboard, I was honored and pleased to have the opportunity. But thanks to my time at JTF, I will be writing even more about ideas that emerge from the world of science — ideas and research that have a lot to do with faith, family, and other things that traditional conservatives care about, or should care about.

One of the editorial tasks I’ve set for myself at TAC is to seek out more pieces about culture for the magazine. And I mean “culture” in a broad sense, including religion, art, architecture, food, morals, places, ideas — basically, the meaningful aspects of life that aren’t entailed by the usual areas of focus of opinion magazines, namely politics, economics, law, and foreign policy. I had come to believe before my year-long sabbatical that culture is more important than politics, as my old readers will remember, but this time away has convinced me of that even more.

One more thing: so many of you were incredibly kind to me and my family back when my old blog was up, offering to pray for my sister Ruthie, who was diagnosed in the beginning of 2010 with lung cancer. I am pleased to be able to tell you that she has beaten the odds, and is still with us. She is so overwhelmingly grateful for your prayers (as are we all), and she still needs them, as she has been unable to keep weight on lately.

There’s lots more to say about so many things. So let’s get to it. Thanks for reading, welcome back, and let’s get to it.  Oh, a last thing about our comments policy. Old readers from my Beliefnet blog will recall that I run a pretty tight ship on the comments policy. I welcome dissent, even vigorous dissent, but it has to be civil. I don’t tolerate abuse toward myself or anybody else. I don’t have the patience for it, and I strongly believe I owe it to my readers to offer them a comments section that is a pleasure to read and to participate in. My comboxes are troll-free zones, and I don’t apologize for it. Because I’m the Mean Daddy, that’s why. You have to wait for me to approve the comment before it appears. I’m going to watch the site diligently to get your stuff up as fast as I can, but sometimes there will be a significant delay. Sorry about that, but it’s what we gotta do.

95 Comments (Open | Close)

95 Comments To "Rod Dreher is back. Let joy be unconfined, &c."

#1 Comment By Jim DiPeso On September 7, 2011 @ 12:04 am

Rod,

This is the best news I’ve read all day. Wonderful to have you back on the circuit!

#2 Comment By Harris On September 7, 2011 @ 1:26 am

I heard the news on FrumForum and rushed over. Oh, your return makes this conservative Democrat very, very happy.

#3 Comment By Turmarion On September 7, 2011 @ 2:00 am

Great to see you back! Will be dropping by again!

#4 Comment By Joel On September 7, 2011 @ 2:41 am

A very happy day for us readers — looking forward to this a lot.

#5 Comment By The Sicilian Woman On September 7, 2011 @ 3:18 am

Welcome back, Rod! I’ve been wondering how you and your family, especially Ruthie (yay for Ruthie!), were doing, and just how long you were going to stand being away from writing.

#6 Comment By SAF On September 7, 2011 @ 9:31 am

SusanF and EvanF from the old blog days are very happy for you, Rod. It’s great to see Roland, Hector, and Charles Cosimano here too; when Franklin shows up, the party can begin!

#7 Comment By Areti On September 7, 2011 @ 12:32 pm

Welcome back, Rod! You were missed!!!! Looking forward to following your new blog. God bless you and your family.

#8 Comment By Lenny Nichols On September 7, 2011 @ 1:27 pm

Welcome back, Rod. We’ve missed you.

Lord Byron said:
On with the dance! let joy be unconfined!
No sleep till morn, when Youth and Pleasure meet
To chase the glowing hours with flying feet!

But I think I prefer what Groucho Marx said in “A Night At The Opera:”

“Let joy be unconfined. Let there be dancing in the streets, drinking in the saloons and necking in the parlor.”

L.

#9 Pingback By Excelsior! Rod Dreher Is Now My Co-Worker (Sorta). | FrontBurner On September 7, 2011 @ 2:25 pm

[…] the Templeton Foundation to take up with an magazine called The American Conservative. Rod explains here why he’s pumped to have the new job. Anyway, what Bob didn’t mention is that The […]

#10 Comment By ScurvyOaks On September 7, 2011 @ 3:05 pm

Welcome back, Rod! I’m very happy to hear the report on your sister.

And I’m still going to send you that bottle of wine to thank you for introducing me to Roger Scruton. Scruton’s “England: An Elegy” is really delightful.

#11 Comment By itsmike On September 7, 2011 @ 3:47 pm

So good to have your voice back, Rod!

#12 Comment By KT On September 7, 2011 @ 4:23 pm

So glad you’re back. I’ve missed your writing. I hope you still throw in a food post now and then.

Also glad to hear the news of your sister. Will continue to keep her and her family in my prayers.

#13 Comment By Stephanie On September 7, 2011 @ 4:26 pm

So glad you are back!

#14 Comment By Coley Gahagan On September 7, 2011 @ 4:36 pm

Rod, two things: 1. Will you return to the south? Or as we say in our family, do you remember your roots? and, 2. Will you grace the NPR airwaves again with your insightful commentary. I’ll not soon forget the regret that you described in walking to your vehicle, parked at the Dallas Morning News, after listening to Pres. Bush describe his rationale on the Iraqi surge. I’m interested in not just reading your blogs, but also radio dialogue from a reasonable conservative. There seem to be so few around any more. Best wishes.

#15 Comment By Stefanie On September 7, 2011 @ 5:27 pm

Glad to see you blogging again, and congratulations on your new job. I’m looking forward to reading your column, especially if you will be blogging on cultural issues.

And that is fantastic news about Ruthie, too.

#16 Comment By Frederica Mathewes-Green On September 7, 2011 @ 5:47 pm

So, so happy for you. Have a great time!

#17 Comment By Bill H On September 7, 2011 @ 5:48 pm

Yay! Welcome back to the Interwebs!

Great to hear about your sister too.

#18 Comment By Ossicle On September 7, 2011 @ 7:31 pm

Glad to see you back, Rod. Sounds like the past 18 months (for reasons both mentioned and unmentioned here) have been quite the little adventure. I’m one of your sometimes antagonistic commenters over on your old CC blog, in a completely schizophrenic situation because I agree with and applaud about half of what you write but get Commissioner Drefus (Herbert Lom)-level maddened and crazed by the other half. I expect that to continue! Good luck, in any case.

#19 Comment By elizabeth On September 7, 2011 @ 7:47 pm

Oh man, and just after I registered at RealClearReligion to engage you there!

Anyway, pal, welcome back.

#20 Comment By Viserys On September 7, 2011 @ 8:40 pm

Welcome back from a very frequent reader (though very infrequent commenter). I’m an incorrigibly wicked liberal, but have missed your voice very much.

#21 Comment By Caroline Nina in DC On September 7, 2011 @ 9:10 pm

Yay! This is like the moment in the Blue Brothers where one of them–which one?–says “We’re getting the band back together!”

I, for one, could not have IMAGINED an election year without this blog and its community. Many years!

#22 Comment By thomas tucker On September 7, 2011 @ 9:34 pm

Hi Rod! Welcome back-I’ve missed you and can’t wait to read the new things you have to write about. I think TAC will be a great fit for you. I am very impressed with their writing and their conservative (not Republican) principles.
And how wonderful to hear that Ruthie is still doing well- that is fantastic. Please tell her that a lot of folks have wondered how she is doing and wish her well.
TT

#23 Comment By Rob G On September 7, 2011 @ 10:41 pm

Good to have you back, Rod!

#24 Comment By Roger On September 8, 2011 @ 12:19 am

I was a very antagonistic occasional commenter on your old blog who disagreed with maybe 66% or 75% of what you said…but I really did miss those arguments when the Templeton thing failed (at least from the blogging POV).

And I can’t express how happy I am that your sister has made it through and pray that she will make a full recovery.

#25 Comment By Dustin On September 8, 2011 @ 12:29 am

Welcome back. You, Daniel Larison, and Daniel McCarthy will make a grand roster.

#26 Comment By Heather On September 8, 2011 @ 12:01 pm

Thrilled to see you blogging again – and especially that you’ll be able to write so broadly, engaging culture as much or more than politics.

#27 Comment By Brad in KY On September 8, 2011 @ 11:09 am

Has it only been a year. It seems much longer than that. It is great to have you back, and I am glad your sister is doing good.

#28 Pingback By Blogging News: Alan Jacobs Has Moved On, and Rod Dreher and TROL Are Back! | The Republic of Letters On September 8, 2011 @ 11:35 am

[…] continue to blog at his old site. And, happily, Rod Dreher is back from his contractually-imposed blogging hiatus. Having him as a blogger is a major coo for the American Conservative, a site I would […]

#29 Comment By Mike On September 8, 2011 @ 2:20 pm

so glad to see you’re back. hope you can comment on food still. i’m in Switzerland for a year teaching and food/dining makes strong impressions.

#30 Comment By Randall Helms On September 8, 2011 @ 6:20 pm

Great to see you’re back – I was a devoted reader of your old Beliefnet blog (although wasn’t much of a commenter), so it’s nice to have your take on the world/things/stuff/bits again!

#31 Comment By Abigail On September 8, 2011 @ 6:28 pm

So glad you’ll be blogging again! Looking forward to your take on things!

#32 Comment By Anna On September 8, 2011 @ 7:34 pm

Rod, so glad to see you are blogging again! Also glad to read of your desire to solicit pieces on the arts and culture (and religion). There’s been some really good collaborative projects developing on this front where some great writers are lurking. I’d definitely recommend checking out Christ and Pop Culture, ThinkChristian, and Transpositions for a start, though of course you may already be aware of these! 🙂

#33 Comment By Anne B On September 9, 2011 @ 2:58 am

Oh good…silent no more! Welcome back, Rod.

#34 Comment By jane On September 9, 2011 @ 12:44 pm

O goody, you are back!
I’m so happy to hear Ruthie has beaten the odds. Praise be to God!
We look forward to thoughtful commentaries, from an Orthodox Christian perspective no less. 🙂

#35 Comment By Kevin Hughes On September 9, 2011 @ 7:33 pm

Rod, so glad to see you back doing what, it’s clear, you do so well.

#36 Comment By Steve Roberts On September 9, 2011 @ 8:22 pm

Welcome back, Rod! I was a regular reader at both the CC and Belief Net blogs (but not a frequent poster) and am very happy to see that you have returned to blogging. As an original subscriber to TAC I think that you’ve found a comfortable home. Broad, wide-ranging, intelligent conservatism is, alas a small and carefully tended fire. Good to have you return to the effort to stoke the embers!

Marvelous news about your sister, and may God continue to bless her!

#37 Comment By Nancy Varelas On September 10, 2011 @ 12:28 am

OK, it’s 9/9/11, and I just heard this news, but I have been checking in weekly, entering Rod Dreher 2011 in Google, waiting for the phoenix to rise again. And finally, I get the news I’ve been hoping for! YYEESSS!!

Some years ago, I discovered this, well, peculiar blog, that covered everything from Orthodoxy to water witching and I was well and truly hooked. I’m prayed for your sister. I completed my own journey to the Orthodox church last year. I got interested in issues I’d never have been exposed to but for your passionate thoughts…

I couldn’t believe you could just disappear like that.

All’s right with the world for the time being, Rod’s back.

Don’t hold back, is all I ask.

#38 Comment By dhoff On September 10, 2011 @ 1:08 pm

Yay!

#39 Comment By Lord Karth On September 10, 2011 @ 1:46 pm

Mr. Dreher:

It is good to hear that Ruthie is well; this is proof that the Lord does hear the prayers (mine) of a sinner ! May she continue to win her battle against that which preys upon her.

To quote a certain immortal character played by one John deLancie, “It’s wonderful to see you again….how about a big HUG !?”

I rejoice that you are back blogging again, and in such a suitable place as AmCon. I have missed talking with (and occasionally arguing with) you on the state of our culture and our politics. It will be good to hear your thoughts on not only the issues of the day, but on life as well.

Welcome back, mon capitain. Long may you stay and be welcome at AmCon, in your new blog, and among your new (and old) friends.

Your servant,

Lord Karth

#40 Pingback By Rob Dreher is Now Blogging at The American Conservative | Conservative Heritage Times On September 12, 2011 @ 3:38 pm

[…] This is an interesting development. […]

#41 Comment By Lynn On September 13, 2011 @ 12:27 pm

Glad to see you back, Rod. We don’t agree on many things in politics, but I love your commentary on culture. There are too few voices like yours in the blogosphere.

#42 Comment By Richard Johnson On September 15, 2011 @ 4:16 pm

Thank you for the update on your sister. That is truly wonderful news, and we will continue to keep her in our thoughts and prayers.

Good luck with your new job and blog.

#43 Comment By Joanna On September 30, 2011 @ 5:07 pm

Good to see you back. Glad I caught this early, I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.

#44 Comment By Pat in Michigan On October 3, 2011 @ 7:32 am

Welcome Back Rod.

#45 Comment By MGSPinVB On October 14, 2011 @ 3:53 pm

I just stumbled on your blog, and I am SO glad to see you back! I was a longtime reader of your Beliefnet blog, and I’ve sorely missed your viewpoint and analysis. Now for a few hours of catching up!