Saturday, April 05, 2008

REDUCTIO AD DREHER. Rod Dreher wrote two days ago that he just wants to be nice to his fellow-creatures. Perhaps he was then temporarily mellowed out by some organic, artisanal weed. Since then he has been shaking his fist at everything that moves. I should have known he'd eventually turn his wrath on that pregnant guy:
In the consumerist utopia that we've built and are building, the individual's desires are God. Nothing is more important in this world than what Thomas Beatie wants. Thomas Beatie creates his own reality, heedless of the things that are. And we bless this tyrannization of nature as liberation.
In comments he clarifies:
I'm not saying that we don't have the right to change anything in the natural world. Were that the case, we'd all still be living in the jungle. But as the pope indicated, it has to be developed according to its intrinsic nature. It is not wrong (in my view) to eat animals for sustenance. It is wrong, though, to pervert their nature by raising them in conditions that do not allow them to live in some basic sense by their nature.

If you don't believe there is an intrinsic nature in the created order, then there's nothing wrong with what Beatie is doing. But nor is there anything wrong with what factory farmers are doing, or the scientists busily creating new forms of life by mixing animal and human DNA.
Godless humanists will see the problem with his thinking: factory farming affects other living creatures in a real way, physically and against their wills. Thomas Beattie only affects Dreher's idea of how everyone else should think and behave. Even if you are tempted to cut him some slack when he complains that swears on the TV are making our children into savages, you may have trouble understanding why a guy having a baby drives him nuts.

We might speculate: maybe Dreher is worried that someday society will make him squeeze out a young'un himself. Or that he might one day encounter a male mom at a PTA meeting and be socially obliged to treat him civilly, and isn't sure he has the stones to rebuff him as the Little Colonel did Silas Lynch.

But really, no one need be harmed, not even Dreher, for him to react this way. To that extent, this particular rant is revelatory. Usually, when he talks about "culture," he has at least the thin excuse that other people might be harmed -- by poor education, by poverty, by STDs -- because of whatever malfeasance he describes. Here it's all about the God Dreher worships and whose prescriptions he insists upon: "As goes the culture, so, in time, goes the civilization," says Dreher, "betrayed by pride and rebellion."

For Dreher it's really all about obedience. He'll try and reason with you sometimes that it's for your own good, but when he's on a jeremianic roll he will let you know it's because God said it, he believes it, and that settles it.

Of course, this leaves a lot of column inches to fill. Relieved of the necessity (or perhaps the advantage) of spending paragraphs explaining how this may affect you here on this temporal plane, he'll instead populate the space with jabber about "the things that are." If you don't get it, don't worry, he isn't talking to you. He's talking to the folks who will not be cast into everlasting darkness at the Final Trump, when he and they and their pal Jesus no longer have to make up reasons for you to believe them.

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