Ministry of Controversy

Gardening is Nonpartisan.
And Hellooooo, Crunchy Cons!

Crunchy

I admit it – I’m totally engrossed in this election, evidenced by my obsessive checking of a few choice political blogs.  (I don’t check hourly, and that’s all I’m saying).  But here’s the thing:  I just don’t want to read political bickering on garden blogs.  The gardening world is a respite from all that, a respite I count on.   So I’ll write about environmental issues, including the occasional rant about Monsanto or Briggs & Stratton, but I stifle any partisan political commentary here in the gardening world.  There are gardeners of every possible stripe and I sure don’t want to stir up some crazy political argument.

And now come the Crunchy Cons to remind us that caring about the environment, healthy food, frugal living and local agriculture are essentially conservative values.  The carrier of the messasge is a guy named Rod Dreher, the conservative Catholic author of 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). 

Interviewed for a recent edition of NPR’s "Speaking of Faith," Dreher related mentioning to his editor at the National Review that he was picking up his family’s CSA [community-supported agriculture] box that afternoon, to which she replied, "Ugh, that’s so lefty."  His response was "What’s so left about vegetables?" – and the decision to write the book.

Dreher’s point really came home to me when he described his conservative Dallas neighbors helping each other build chicken coops, learn how to garden and live in community.  Democrats might pause for a moment to let that image of people who vote Republican sink in. 

We’re suddenly (or finally?) hearing from evangelical leaders who are also environmental activists.

And there’s this: Dreher is also a regular blogger at BeliefNet.com, where I notice that one of the main headings is "Holistic Living," where you’ll find topics like Environment, Whole Home and Holistic Community, all stuff we probably agree on. 

Now can we just sing that proverbial round of "Kumbayah"?    

Here’s the "Speaking of Faith" episode that includes Dreher’s interview, the second in a series exploring politics and faith.  And in this episode the lefty evangelical Amy Sullivan is interviewed.  "Lefty evangelical"?  Ooh, I just love it when conventional wisdom is knocked off its self-assured ass.

Posted by on October 14, 2008 at 5:14 am, in the category Ministry of Controversy.
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14 responses to “Gardening is Nonpartisan.
And Hellooooo, Crunchy Cons!”

  1. Jay says:

    Thanks for the support Susan!

    I am a something like these CrunchyCons you speak of myself! A long time conservative and passionate nature lover. I have a really neat permaculture landscape and I grow significant portions of my own food. Thats what brought me into gardening, but once I got there I’ve slowly grown more interested in hummingbirds and butterfly gardening. From there it was a short distance into straight visual gardening! I recycle and compost – the works really.

    I just like what I would call “sustainable economic and social policy”, and I feel like my party (R – “A baby in every pot!”) is more realistic. Sustainability is not just for environment and energy!

    I really hurts me when people demonize me, especially my gardening friends and blog authors. Maybe I -am- wrong sometimes (ahem, rarely), but certainly I don’t eat babies or anything else I’ve been accused of!

    So anyway respect for the other perspective is all I ask :) And also for some humility. Respect and humility. Well, make that respect, humility and infinite power. As long as we’re dreaming :)

    I didn’t write to say all that. hehe! I wrote to tell you the link points to an out of stock item. But there is an in-stock version right at the bottom of the page in the “also interested in…” section.

    Great blog guys, keep up the good work!

  2. trey says:

    This is the main reason we don’t do politics at the nursery. Even though we are passionate about our beliefs, we feel the garden center is a respite from the constant barrage of negativity coming out of the political process.

    The people from both sides of the political equation that are extreme seem to be the ones that get the press. The larger majority of people find the name calling and finger pointing to be counter productive. With the internet anyone can post anything and the media latches onto the extremes because it sells.

    There is a great opportunity for people from both sides to come together at this time in our history. What’s more important, the reason you turned down the heat, turned of some lights, and drove less, or the fact that you did it? You might have done it because you feel it will help the environment, or you might have done it to save money. Either way the results are the same, reduced energy use.

    I have always thought that a certain amount of frugality and conservation of resources where an American trait, not the sole property of one or another political party.

  3. rainymountain says:

    Frugality and conservation of resources are not a uniquely ‘American’ trait.
    Let’s keep politics off this blog, up here in Canada the US election has been a major part of the news for months and frankly, I am tired of it.

  4. I would love to see churches replace their expensive-to-maintain high-wattage lawns with community gardens and good habitat for bird, butterflies, and God’s other creatures. The butterfly gardens will attract pollinators for the vegetable plots and members of the church can work together to feed themselves and donate a large portion to local food banks. This is not a left or right issue because we all need to be better stewards of our precious lands. The Bible tells us so.

  5. Rick says:

    Thanks Susan. There’s enough politics in groups like Master Gardeners. Let this site be a refuge from partisan politics.

  6. I garden for PEACE OF MIND. It’s my sanctuary away from all that’s going on in the world outside my garden. Cameron

  7. commonweeder says:

    A great post Susan, and wonderful comments. It is interesting to me the way the word ‘conservative’ has changed meaning. I agree with Trey that frugality and conservation are – or used to be thought – American values. I am prompted to remember that any label is not all inclusive, and that in the end labels can blind us to our very individual beliefs.

  8. Lisa Albert says:

    Great post and great comments and I couldn’t agree more. No virtue belongs to one party only. No sin, either, for that matter. We’re so complex and unique, how on earth could we fit in one little box or another?

    rainymountain, I’m tired of the knock-down, drag-out political battling so I can only imagine how tiresome it must be to listen to it when you live in another country. (And yet we hear nothing of your election happening now.)

  9. Lisa Albert says:

    Oh, I forgot to add that the book’s title cracks me up!! I mean, seriously, could he have come up with a longer title?

  10. rainymountain says:

    I’ve just come back from voting in the Canadian Federal election so thanks Lisa for recognising that we have one too.

  11. susan harris says:

    Great comments, y’all. Right off the bat, Jay’s comments made my day. It took me back to my own brush with left-wing bigotry when I landed at ultra-left Oberlin College in 1967, a time of intense political and cultural animosity, with a Southern accent and a Junior League wardrobe. I later heard from friends that they assumed I was some ignorant racist who’d only been admitted to the school as part of a regional affirmative action program. I quickly learned to enunciate clearly, dress like I didn’t care, and work hard enough to get better grades than they did.

  12. TC says:

    “I just don’t want to read political bickering on garden blogs. The gardening world is a respite from all that, a respite I count on.”

    Was this just sarcasm? I’m confused because you proceeded to bicker about politics and faith.

  13. susan harris says:

    TC, really? Any particular passage? Other readers correctly interpreted my post as a call for the end of such bickering and not sarcastic at all.

  14. mlu says:

    Crazy, huh?

    Staying inside the echo chamber where never a disturbing word enters may seem unpolitical, but it isn’t.

    The only unity that will survive, I think, will be among the community of seekers of truth–a group who have no allegiance to party. The progress of truth is away from diversity and toward unity.

    These values seem good and true: avoiding waste, caring for places and people, striving for self-sufficiency, being generous, not minding others’ business, praising whatever is wholesome, controlling one’s tongue, loving freedom and justice, creating beauty, passing it along to others. . .

    Loving to takes one’s rest under one’s own vine and fig tree. . .

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