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Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

The Years, Like The Oysters, Came By The Dozen

A farewell to TAC after twelve years of proper theology and geometry, Uncle Chuckie, and scrapping with sundry dunces and their Rich Inner Lives™
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So, this is goodbye to TAC and TAC readers. I have had almost twelve years here, writing this blog. I cannot count the number of posts I've done. I can tell you that I've never taken a vacation from the blog, because I've taken my laptop everywhere I've gone, and blogged while on holiday. "How do you write so much?" people like to ask. The answer: because it's what I do. It really is as simple as that. I don't know how to do anything else.

When I started this blog in the summer of 2011, I had a sister, a father, a marriage, a dog, a sense of home, and a clear idea of what the rest of my life was going to look like. Over the past twelve years, I lost my sister, my father, my marriage, my dog, a sense of home, and any illusions I had about my future. Life comes at you fast. After my sister's death from cancer that September, my wife and I moved home to Louisiana to live close to family and put the kinds of things I believed in into practice. I wrote a big book about it all. It became a New York Times bestseller. Everything in it was true, and is true. But not, as I discovered, the whole truth. I've lost almost everything, and now live in a foreign country with my older son. I'll say this for Hungary: it's good to be in a place where people close to me are happy to have me. It's been a while since that was the case.

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It's been a hard twelve years. But the less said about that, the better. God knows I've said enough already here.

Lots of good things happened over that time. I wrote three New York Times bestsellers, and established myself as a popular writer of books. I traveled a lot, and made good friends all around the world. I wrote important things on this blog, and I wrote stupid things (Primitive Root Wiener, anybody?). Interestingly to me, this blog is in part responsible for bringing more than a few people to Orthodox Christianity. I have never proselytized here, and have made a point not to, but you who wrote to tell me you had been chrismated, and to thank me for the role I played in their conversion, have all said that simply writing about what God did for me through Orthodoxy was enough. That has been deeply gratifying to me -- and instructive, too, because all the years I was a public Catholic, defending Catholicism in my writing and encouraging people in private to become Catholic, not a single person ever told me that my Catholic witness led them to Catholicism. This doesn't say anything about Catholicism or Orthodoxy, but it does say something about me, and maybe about effective witnessing today.

I wrote a thing that indirectly helped launch the political career of U.S. Senator J.D. Vance -- a good man who I fully hope and expect will be US president one day. I published hundreds of your Views From Your Table, and got to meet lots of you in my travels (including the VFYT maestro, James C., who is now a good friend). I helped start the Walker Percy Weekend, and met Franklin Evans, Jon Frazier, and other blog regulars who came in for the party. I introduced conservative Christians (including myself) to the great, all-American eccentric Charles W. Cosimano:

Behold, Uncle Chuckie and me, circa 2013, before my beard turned white:

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I've been thinking this week about what it means to be a writer. I don't actually think much about writing. I just do it. But this week, I thought about how one of the most depressing times of my life was the year and a half in Philadelphia when I was not allowed to write publicly by my employer, for a reason that made no sense to me. I was like a runner with shackled legs. The thing is, I could have written during that time. Nobody was telling me I couldn't put words to paper just because I couldn't publish them online. I found, though, that I needed an audience. I really needed to be read by others. That surprised me. I don't like public speaking or public appearances, because I'm anxious in those moments. If I could write under a pseudonym, I would. But I need an audience, and I'm not really sure why. That's all to say that I've needed you all over these years. You have given me so much, even if you never commented. You gave me so much in a time when so much was being taken away. For most of the last decade, one answer to, "How do you write so much?" was "Because it allows me to escape the fact that my life is falling apart."

Better to be a blogger than a drunk or a drug addict, I think. I could be wrong. Depending on who you ask, I certainly am.

Anyway, thank you. Thank you for your readership, for your comments (except the haters -- nuts to you, ya freaks!), for your donations to TAC, and for your prayers (the number of you who have written over the years to tell me that you're interceding for me has been startling, and a blessing). I particularly want to express my gratitude to you who interacted with me on this blog on the posts that ultimately became The Little Way Of Ruthie Leming, How Dante Can Save Your Life, The Benedict Option, and Live Not By Lies. I also want to thank my TAC editors Dan McCarthy, Bob Merry, Johnny Burtka, and Emile Doak, and for all the staffers who have made it possible for me to have the best job a writer could hope for. I want to thank Howard and Roberta Ahmanson for their generous financial support of me at TAC for my run here.

I want to thank my (soon to be ex-) wife and our children for putting up with me over the years. It is hard to have a husband and a father who is a writer, especially one as obsessive about writing as I am. I probably owe them an apology more than an expression of gratitude. At least I can say I provided well for my family. That's not nothing. And I want to thank the folks at the Danube Institute, and in its orbit here in Budapest, for helping me find a place to wash ashore after shipwreck.

Lord, this is starting to sound like an Oscar speech. Sorry. I have never been good at concision and brevity on this blog. I think I'll be contributing to TAC some in the future, and there are some other things cooking. My book on re-enchantment should be out sometime next year. And every weekday, I write about culture, politics, culture war, religion, and all manner of thing, at Rod Dreher's Diary, my subscriber-only Substack, which -- say it all together now -- costs only five dollars per month, or fifty dollars per year. Plus, you can comment to your heart's content there.

And with that, Ignatius Reilly, my spiritual master, and I kiss you goodbye. All you Mongoloids were the Primitive Root Wiener in my Lucky Dog, and I love you very much.

Comments

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Giuseppe Scalas
Giuseppe Scalas
That's very serendipitous. My younger daughter is a really talented and creative writer, and I hope she will be able to become a professional writer one day.
This morning, on my way to work, I was listening to a radio comedy show going on since about 30 years. Every day, the comedians started afresh and they never sound bored or are boring. How is that possible, I thought? As for writers like you, Rod, and for painters and all other form of a creative people, they are moved by a deep need to communicate.
If it were just for money, or even fame or glory, we would never be entertained, challenged, moved, delighted, angered, questioned, lured, exalted, saddened by art in all its forms.
schedule 1 year ago
Bogdán Emil
Bogdán Emil
Thank you for being an inspiration, consistently daring and incisive. Thank you for bravely admitting need. Need for what? Conversation? Connection? Love?

You must continue standing firm for what you believe in, against the prevailing winds if necessary, making people uncomfortable, because you have a knack for embracing them at the same time. That Christian universalism always shines through, it is deeply set into your heart. Excelsior! Per aspera ad astra.
schedule 1 year ago
    Fran Macadam
    Fran Macadam
    That's the WWII motto of the RCAF my father served in.
    schedule 1 year ago
      Bogdán Emil
      Bogdán Emil
      Peace be on the memory of the greatest generation. My grandfather served with honor in the Hungarian army. We were on the wrong side, sure, but in the end, we were also "liberated" by the Russians, and that was plenty payment for our sins. In my grandmother's village and other places in the Transylvanian countryside, in Szeklerland, we had the occasional stray German soldier left behind somehow, seeking a hiding place and shelter among the Hungarian villagers as the Russians rolled in, looting and raping. The one I know about specifically was eventually smuggled back to West Germany, and his family was forever grateful to those benevolent helpers who had to stay on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain and endure the yoke of communism in Romania, secretly helping them in return, sending money and gifts from Germany, for decades.
      schedule 1 year ago
Peter Kurilecz
Peter Kurilecz
well i've been following you from website to website since i first encountered you on National Review online. Got to know you even better when you joined the Dallas Morning News where you introduce the great unwashed masses to being able to comment online to the EdBlog as it became known. Then you skedaddled on to Philadelphia and the Templeton Foundation where for some reason your blogging was silenced only to resurface at TAC. we finally met F2F in St. Francisville as I was migrating back to Texas from Virginia. We had a wonderful. now this camp follower has subscribed to your substack and look forward to more of your wonderful musings even if some of them are TL:DR (not really I have to print them out).
While in Budapest take them time to head out to the fabulous Cistercian Abbey of Zirc
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JON FRAZIER
JON FRAZIER
I'll be on Substack for you of course, but let me thank you again here for that piece you did on me and my empoyment troubles in 2018. It brought me well-wishing from a bunch of people when I most needed encouragement like that-- and it gained me a long-distance friend whom I treasure as one of the best, most Christian people I have ever met.
Also, through Walker Percy Weekend I got to know (ok, somewhat) St. Francisville and no, I couldn't live there being an alien Yankee who hates the heat and humidity down on the bayou, but it has a place in my heart like several other little slices of America which have not quite succumbed to the suburbanization of everything.
schedule 1 year ago
Fran Macadam
Fran Macadam
I recall being threatened with being canceled for critiquing Franklin Evans' unfair demands of Christians to apologize for being against his witchcraft. So I've clearly never been someone Rod would ever consider a friend, despite following him well back to CC days. Now I'm elderly, and having stretched to be able to afford TAC to be able to comment, I guess I'll be confined to making comments to the fine writers current and coming on board at TAC for a period. Perhaps Rod's success elsewhere will free up financial support for new voices here as well.
schedule 1 year ago
    Bogdán Emil
    Bogdán Emil
    Stop feeling sorry for yourself, making these unrealistic personalized exaggerations that you yourself can't possibly take seriously. I've been banned from everywhere, multiple times, including from right here. In order to have a friend, you have to BE a friend.

    God, everybody around here is so damned NEEDY.
    schedule 1 year ago
      Fran Macadam
      Fran Macadam
      I forgot to mention that Rod rejected my posts about Dr. John Money's horrendous child sex reassignments and his supervision of child sex acts, at Johns Hopkins, because he deemed it at that time as an impossible and lurid calumny against a respected institution. Now we all know it is true and that Money is the father and mother of the child sex reassignment and trans juggernaut mutilating our children. I guess it was like being for the Iraq war before being against it.
      I don't think you were banned for telling the truth by Rod, but for perhaps over the top tirades!
      schedule 1 year ago
        Bogdán Emil
        Bogdán Emil
        I gave him very good reasons. Having no problem deleting unrepentant trolls, I do like them as mere people, however, as long as they make an effort.
        schedule 1 year ago
      Fran Macadam
      Fran Macadam
      Including our no longer working here boy!
      schedule 1 year ago
Bernie
Bernie
I look forward to participating in your new Substack, Rod. I’ve read its comments and the commenters are a good group. I can’t thank you enough for all the wise, spiritual, and in-depth insights you’ve shared. Never lose your deep commitment to God, and the truth, as best you can discern it. I cannot imagine, given your talent, that another blog or journalistic endeavor will not recruit you very soon. God be with you!
schedule 1 year ago
    Fran Macadam
    Fran Macadam
    Rod's stances in our current cancel crazy Woke public environment make the places where he can be employed almost nonexistent. He said he would be unemployable as a working journalist at any major or even minor news operation. Hence, the hope to follow the emerging possibility of substack independence being viable.
    schedule 1 year ago
      Fran Macadam
      Fran Macadam
      And like many other fine dissidents, he finds it more congenial to do it as an exile from America.
      schedule 1 year ago
rksyrus
rksyrus
"Better to be a blogger than a drunk or a drug addict"

These are the species of insights we shall sorely miss; a drunk once puked in my car and a drug addict stole a couch right from our lobby! No blogger has done any such thing, word of honour.

All the best!
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    Fran Macadam
    Fran Macadam
    How would you know? LOL
    schedule 1 year ago
Breck Henderson
Breck Henderson
I'm going to miss your posts, Rod. I didn't discover your blog until I read "Live Not by Lies" -- maybe 5 years ago. Yeah, you write too long, but that's okay. I used to comment as GoNuclear -- I'm a strange blend of journalist, writer and nuclear engineer -- and I sometimes disagreed with you, hopefully without being disrespectful. Good luck to you on what ever comes next.
schedule 1 year ago