Rod Dreher's Reader Mailbag feature is a fun object of contemplation. Sometimes I have no doubt the items are authentic, even when they're most fantastical -- as when he gave the floor to some guy in rural Pennsylvania who told readers his town was a BenOp paradise, with lots of churches and plenty of good manly work that you don't need a sissy degree to do -- "the biggest problem those factories face is not competition from Mexico or China, it’s a shortage of workers" -- and encouraged Christians of a certain persuasion ("we are CATHOLIC. The community demands it") to move there and, one is forced to conclude, join him in nightly mass self-flagellation frenzies to prepare for the day when The Leader calls on them to go to Philly and kill the unbelievers.
But there are some Dreher correspondents who I can't be sure are real -- like the "old friend" who called and said she and her son had been terrorized by potty-mouthed "obviously transgendered" men at a showing of Captain America: Civil War in Texas, of all places:
“Rod, I have gay and lesbian friends. I have a bi friend,” she said. “None of them behave like that. I’ve never seen anything like it. They were egging each other on. And the sense of rage coming off those people — it was evil. And here’s the thing: this was not in Austin, this was not in Deep Ellum [hipster Dallas neighborhood], this was in the far north suburbs.
“This was not at the fringes. It’s in a town that’s home to three of the biggest churches in Texas!”Was this person kidding? Was her story actually made up by Dreher, channeled by him while he was dressed like and talking in the voice of Norman Bates' mother? It's a tantalizing mystery.
But this Liberal Who's Had Enough, and whose alleged correspondence fills this current Dreher post, is something else. She says she's a "secular/agnostic Californian" whose "ex-Catholic mom loathes organized religion to this day," and describes herself as surrounded by "secular liberals"--
Almost everyone at my corporate law firm was a secular liberal. My California neighbors and friends are secular liberals, as are my fellow government lawyers. My mother, siblings, and their spouses are all secular liberals.If this incantation suggests the groundwork for a conversion narrative to you, congratulations! As once we had the liberals who since 9/11 were outraged at Chappaquiddick, so now we have one who is saved by the grace of MAGA, her emotional pussy grabbed by The Leader:
But November 8 and its aftermath revealed to me that I am just so tired of these people. I can’t be like them, and I don’t want my kids turning into them.Since that fateful day she has become sick of her liberal friends, family, and colleagues, of their "name-calling and virtue-signaling," of their "trendiness," of their "acceptance of vulgarity and sarcastic irreverence," -- indeed, of everything Rod Dreher excoriates from his pulpit every week. And now the metamorphosis:
That leads me to . . . drum roll . . . the Christian Right. It is no small feat, switching tribes. It feels stressful and weird to abandon your tribe for the Detested Other Side.
Since November 8, my husband and I have been taking the kids to church. (He is politically conservative with a religious bent, so no argument there.) I have come this close to buying a giant poster of the American flag for the living room. I may do it still.We've all had that friend who was really into something -- maybe punk rock, maybe Sufism, maybe Morris dancing -- and then, one day, suddenly hated all those things and went the opposite way; like if they used to be into Bukowski, now they were obsessively reading Chesterton and C.S. Lewis, and had grown a shitty little beard and started smoking a Meerschaum.
That's my offhand psychological explanation. It's also possible that Dreher just made her up. Or it's a Dummy Trap: Someone else made it up and sent it in, knowing Dreher would read it and, his hands shaking, his eyes brimming with grateful tears, fall to his knees and cry to whatever God he's up to now Thank you [Your Name Here] for leading the lamb out of the liberal darkness! I shall repost it on my blog to glorify thy [Your Name Here]! What do you think?