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Beyond the Culture Wars

Julie Goldberg, a crunchy liberal, self-described “pro-choice feminist,” and advocate of breastfeeding and attachment parenting, talks about discovering that she and pro-life Catholics who share her countercultural interests have a lot in common:

Digging a little deeper over time, we discovered that while we all preferred whatever we considered “natural,” for her, “natural” meant “godly,” closer to the world as God intended it to be. The beliefs are different, but the practices are identical. Imagine two cars; one with a bumper sticker that says: “Breastmilk: Nature’s Perfect Baby Food;” the other with one that says “Breastmilk: God’s Perfect Baby Food.” Are they really so different? Can the owners of those two cars peacefully coexist in a playgroup?

I think they can, and that this little island of countercultural parenting reveals something worth knowing about the culture wars. Many thoughtful, intelligent people with all kinds of spiritual leanings and belief systems, all kinds of opinions about federalism and tax policy and the Constitution,  look at our popular culture, our political culture, our food, our lifestyles, the way we use and waste our resources of time, money, and attention, and conclude that something is seriously awry. They want to turn off the noise of what is out there and tune into the music of relationship, of family, of community. They think it might be wiser to create than to consume all the time, to do more with less, to eschew the temptation to entertain ourselves and our kids to death. Whether they start out motivated by environmentalism, religion, Burkeanism, socialism, logic, or just a longing for closeness and connection, many arrive at the same conclusion.

You don’t have to be a cultural conservative to despise the coarseness of popular culture. You don’t have to be an intellectual elitist to be nauseated by the stupidity of what passes for public discourse. You don’t have to be a liberal to worry about the corrosive effect of consumerism on children and everyone else. You don’t have to be a feminist to fear that girls’ self-worth is threatened by the pornification of women’s images in the media. You don’t have to be a Christian to suspect that the whole country, if not all of civilization, is going to hell.

Read the whole thing. Thanks, Julie, for reminding me of all this.

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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