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Battered Gargoyle Conservatism

This blog shows you how to stare into the abyss without spilling your drink (Louis Cuthbert/Shutterstock)

It often happens that when I got out into the real world to give a speech, some devout reader of this blog will come up to me and ask, “Is Uncle Chuckie for real?” And I respond with the truth: He’s not only real, he’s hyperreal.

Rod Dreher and Uncle Chuckie

Personally, I question whether or not Uncle Chuckie has proper theology and geometry (if Ignatius Reilly and Aleister Crowley had a gayby, he would be a lot like Chuckie), but there can be no doubt that he is a beloved curmudgeon who is a stalwart presence on this blog written and administered by a conservative Christian eclecticist who has a soft spot for eccentrics. I am the kind of conservative who stands on the rooftops to shout out what Russell Kirk said here:

“I did not love cold harmony and perfect regularity of organization; what I sought was variety, mystery, tradition, the venerable, the awful. I despised sophisters and calculators; I was groping for faith, honor, and prescriptive loyalties. I would have given any number of neo-classical pediments for one poor battered gargoyle.”

If I ever win the Powerball lottery, I will sink part of my fortune into opening a pub called The Battered Gargoyle. I make that promise to you here and now.

I will also sink a greater part of my fortune into funding The American Conservative, the magazine that has been my home for the past eight years. I will do so out of gratitude, but also because I really and truly believe in the mission of this magazine. TAC is and always has been a shoestring operation that depends on the generosity of donors. When Pat Buchanan and Co. founded the magazine in 2002, to be a conservative voice against the Iraq War, they were going against almost everybody in the conservative movement — and certainly against the donor class.

History has shown that they were right.

This doesn’t mean TAC will always be right on every issue, of course, but what it shows is that this magazine exists as a voice on the Right questioning the mainstream GOP consensus, and providing a home for writers who speak their minds. I started here at TAC in the summer of 2011 with no readers, and just last month completed my first full year of having over one million unique visitors to this blog each month. In that entire time, I have not once been told by TAC’s leadership what I can and cannot write — this, even though there have been times when my words made trouble for them. As a writer, you cannot imagine how much this means. As a reader, well, I bet you can. It’s why so many of you keep coming back. You will not get a party line here at TAC.

I’m not sure how many readers of this blog ever venture past it to read widely on the site. If you haven’t done so, you’re really missing out. I write about the things I care about most: the intersection of politics, religion, and culture, as well as a portmanteau of oddities: travel, food, woo-woo supernatural phenomenon, A Confederacy of Dunces, the South, politically correct wackadoodlery, and so forth. But you can read so many interesting and challenging things about foreign policy, economics, urbanism, pure politics, and the like on the magazine’s main web page.

TAC is not just a smart magazine to read; it’s also an incubator of ideas. We are playing a greater role in defining the next conservatism. David Brooks said that my book The Benedict Option was “the most important religious book of the decade” — and the ideas in it were refined over the years on this blog. I think the one thing I’m most proud of is the role TAC played in helping to make J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy a national bestseller three years ago, and in encouraging reformist voices like his in the GOP. Vance is going to be the keynote speaker at TAC’s big fundraising gala in May. I’m more than eager to hear his vision for a robust Main Street conservatism in the Trump (and post-Trump) era. Please come if you can!

Doing all of these things costs money. I remember when Rich Lowry invited me to come in for a job interview at National Review back in the autumn of 2001. I imagined that its offices would be oak-paneled and smelling faintly of sherry, as befitted a William F. Buckley operation. Ha! It was like visiting the offices of a shambling public interest law firm! That was my first introduction to the real world of publishing small magazines of ideas. Believe me when I tell you that every penny you donate to TAC goes into the magazine itself. There’s more overhead under the belly of a cottonmouth stretched out in the mud than at TAC. I’m joking, but just barely. Ours is a lean, lean operation. You can be confident that anything you give to TAC goes straight to the production.

(I keep waiting for us to do a fundraising cruise. Maybe at one Walker Percy Weekend, we can take a bateau full of donors and an ice chest full of Abita up Bayou Sara to the low-water bridge and back).

Anyway, I know how much this blog and this magazine means to a lot of you, because you tell me with your words, and with your showing up every day to read and to comment. Won’t you please show us a little love with your tax-deductible donation (TAC is a 501c3 organization)? Until I get rich enough to open the Battered Gargoyle pub, this is the best I can do to offer y’all a place to talk and laugh and to stare into the abyss without spilling your drink. The writing and the conversation is free, but bless y’all’s hearts, we really could use a love offering. Donate today.

Now, as my love offering to you, I give you Charles “Uncle Chuckie” Cosimano and his helmet. You’re welcome:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRnwFneWFHQ&w=525&h=300]

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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