Tradition, Choice

Rod Dreher examines how his “Crunchy Con” neo-traditionalism may in fact be just another consumer choice in this modern world. Dreher shares two critiques of his sensibility, one from a theologian and another from Maggie Gallagher, both of whom are unconvinced that buying into a tradition that is not your own is a solution to the problems of modernity.

There is some merit to the critiques, and, in a sense, I agree with them. Dreher wonders what other solution there might be, and for that question I offer this bit of advice from Fr. Jape:

This is nothing less than the key to the pursuit of Christian holiness, which is the whole of the Christian adventure: live in love with the frailty and limits of one?s existence, suffering the places, customs, rites, joys, and sorrows of the people who are in close relation to you by family, friendship, and community?all in service of the truth, goodness, and beauty that is best experienced directly. The discipline of place teaches that it is more than enough to care skillfully and lovingly for one?s own little circle, and this is the model for the good life, not the limitless jurisdiction of the ego, granted by a doctrine of choice, that is ever seeking its own fulfillment, pleasure, and satiation. The Puritan heritage of America has long chafed against this discipline as it necessarily limits one to a small field of action in a world with seemingly little hope for eschatological fulfillment. Thus have American Evangelicals historically pined after their great mission of ?giftedness? and ?calling,? forsaking that foolishness of the Gospel of our Lord which has ever lain at their doorstep, in need of nurturing care.

One need not be a part of a tradition to follow this advice. In fact, I think we are moving toward a time when our culture will be rootless, as a generation of children who came of age in the flight to the suburbs raise their own children. It can simply to be enough to settle somewhere, care for one’s family and that place, and pass that life on to one’s children.