Dallas Morning News (and former National Review) journalist Rod Dreher has written a book with one of the longest titles in years: 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) (Crown Forum, 2006). Stan Guthrie, senior associate editor, interviewed Dreher about the religious nature of this new conservative movement.

What are crunchy conservatives?

A crunchy conservative—as in crunchy granola—is just the 21st-century version of a traditionalist conservative. In the postwar period, there were two basic streams of conservatism: the libertarians, who were more interested in economic and individual liberty, and the traditionalists, who were more focused on virtue and the good society. They decided that the threat from liberalism as well as Soviet Communism was so great that they should put aside their differences. It is natural that the tension between these two strains of American conservatism would start to reemerge.

In the book you also explore differences between Republicans and Democrats.

Using hyperbole, I say the Democrats are the party of lust and the Republicans are the party of greed. Both are deadly sins, but in a lot of conservative pulpits you hear denunciations of lust, but you don't often hear denunciations of greed.

What role does religious faith play in crunchy conservatism?

It's absolutely at the center. If you're going to stand against the materialism of the age, the only thing that gives you firm ground to stand on and the passion to fight it is faith in God. We live in a culture where ...

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May 2006

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