Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Dr. Peter Eats His Veggies

In response to my complaints about a Veggie Tales song, Peter Lawler writes:

Deneen worries that children are being infected with the propaganda that guzzling gas and eating junk food are the heart of an authentically Christian way of life. But one of the commenters offer the plausible theory that the veggie tune is ironic about the limitations of the ordinary evangelical’s worldview. I’m pretty much pro-choice when it comes to Fritos and Dunkin’ Donuts, while acknowledging that southern superiority doesn’t include food. Gas guzzlers and trans-fat scarfers are surely not excluded from heaven, although some of them might get there a little more quickly than they might have. And, of course, I would never go to an evangelical church for the music or the poetry. Still, the best of the evangelicals have it on almost all of us when it comes to family life.


And I responded:

Dr. Peter seems to want to have it both ways here: if the song is ironic, then we are supposed to take away a lesson that there's something wrong with thoughtlessly driving SUVs and stuffing your kids with Dunkin Donuts, Fritos and Rocky Road ice cream. I don't know squat about Veggie Tales (clearly), and if it's ironic - as some of the commentators suggested - then I'll acknowledge the good intention, and I'm all for "driving" that lesson home (no pun intended). However, if my kids are any indication, the irony was lost on them. Hence my continued annoyance at the song.

However, Dr. Peter also indicates that he's pro-choice about junk food and, I guess, SUVs. As usual, the indiscriminate pro-choice position is wrong. Either way, it's bad for our kids.

At the risk of calling down damnation (literally), I want to object to his last point about the superiority of Evangelical families. It seems to me that Evangelicals and conservative Christians of many stripes, not to mention Republicans in general, have been far too accomodating of an economy that produces and sustains the poisonous and toxic culture to which they rightly object, and which gave rise to the need for alternatives like Veggie Tales. There's a peculiar dynamic at work: support "pro-choice" free markets and then complain about the outcome, resulting in a siege mentality in which we withdraw our children from the toxicity even as we ignore the way that we are complicit in the creation and sustenance of the poisonous atmosphere (literal and figurative). Conservativism rightly understood ought to seek to conserve a certain culture in which future generations will thrive, and to the extent that they are complicit in the destruction of of such a culture, they do as much damage to "conservation" as the pro-choice liberals and libertarians they decry. Taking good care of one's family, among other things, means bequething to them a planet that their parents haven't trashed and a national economy that can sustain itself, free of the debts we are prepared to saddle upon them. It's time that Christians and conservatives of all sorts cease to give themselves a "by" on this complicity, and rightly assume the full dimension of what being a conservative, qua good conservator, would require.

My recommendation: take two encyclicals (start with Rerum Novarum) and call Chesterton in the morning.

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