Rod Dreher has posted that his wife has filed for divorce, and he has accepted. I can speak no more about the topic, follow the link to his post which has more details.
I've long said that Rod is a couple hits and a few misses to me. Like many Orthodox, he doesn't hold back the chance to hash and trash the Catholic Church. He also epitomizes my rule that at any given moment, modern leftwing activism can count on 1/3 of conservatives to join in with the cause.
Nonetheless I value his book The Benedict Option, because I think Rod caught what many are denying - that the Christian Faith, in the dead West at least, is about to enter an era we've never experienced. From the dawn of Western Civilization, Christianity was the big kid in the class. Now we're not. We're a shrinking minority in a secular pagan society. And this new paganism enjoys a growing number of believers who are aligning with it in order to dodge the implications of resisting the new diveristy.
Rod calling out what so many, including conservatives, deny is valuable beyond compare. Rod also is a tireless fighter against our culture of death, debauchery, and assaults on the youngest of these merely to slake our self-righteousness and hedonistic culture.
All of these things, however, do not a person make. I know nothing of Rod personally. I've interacted with him in the comments section a couple times. That makes me as useless of a source for understanding Rod as you can get. Much less understanding him, his wife and family, and everything that has happened.
In fact, true to most cases, despite the thousands of people Rod meets, most know little more about him than I do. This is the stuff best left to Rod and his wife, his family, and the few inside their circle of confidants.
Prayers for him, and his wife. Prayers especially for his children. Divorce is a wrecking ball in the life of a child, no matter what the age. I know few whose parents divorced, no matter what the age, who weren't scarred.
Rod didn't allow comments to load for this post, fearing some might jump on board and use his suffering for their chance to score a few zingers. Given my experience on the Internet, I have a hard time believing he's wrong.
Nonetheless, I also feel many would have liked to post encouragement and prayers for him. In lieu of posting it there I'll post those prayers here. I pray for him and his wife, and especially his children, that the Lord can reconcile and they can seek some path, however dim, to find their ways back to each other.
First of all, I'm very sorry to hear this, and I will certainly keep his family in my prayers.ReplyDelete
I'd agree with a good portion of what you say about him -- or at least his public persona, which is of course not his innermost being. Dreher seems to bat around 300 -- an impressive average, but he still strikes out more than he gets on base. I'm not sure if it is how he really values himself or if it is just a need to sell books to make a living, but he certainly comes across as someone who thinks the only hope for civilization -- nay, for the Church Herself! -- is for lots of people to buy his books and agree with the gospel he preaches therein. Yes, that is probably what alienated me from him several years ago. Also, as you hint, he is quick to reassure readers that he is not one of those crazy people who think that L, G, and B are somehow doing something REALLY wrong -- at most he seems to think they are just doing something equivalent to eating meat on a Friday, certainly nothing that would make them bad influences on kids. ("Oh for pity’s sake, really? Nobody is conflating homosexuality with pedophilia. Nobody thinks Douglas Murray, Andrew Sullivan, or Camille Paglia are a danger to children." He posted that 2 days ago.) He wants us to know he's not a BAD right-winger like Anita Bryant. I value his advice accordingly.
There is another consideration that is usually avoided: Dreher is a schismatic. I would not say the same thing of Kirill, who was born into the Russian Orthodox Church and who remains in it, regardless of his other faults. Dreher was a convert to the Catholic Church and made certain vows that no convert is likely to take lightly, then he broke those vows and went into schism. Should a Catholic be taking spiritual advice from a schismatic? Would you look to David Bawden, aka "Pope Michael", for advice?
Oh, and "that the Christian Faith, in the dead West at least, is about to enter an era we've never experienced"? I wonder if Mexican Catholics would agree -- but I also wonder if you consider Mexico to be a part of the West, since it is noticeably different from suburban Ohio.
That was more negative than it should have been in this context. He is, in a literal sense, an exasperating sibling, but he is a sibling, and he and his family are going through terrible suffering right now. I say "right now", because the pain will be greatest for the next year or so, but the injury will persist even after the pain is dulled.Delete
When I was a child, divorce was still shocking, and many -- probably most -- of the local Protestant congregations would reject a second marriage after divorce. Having said that, it was slipping even then; one of my aunts divorced and later married a divorced man. Marriage was first made impermanent, then optional, and the decay of marriage is a plague that affects every one of us in one way or another as we see friends, relatives, and lay leaders within the Church -- people who seemed to be strong enough to resist the temptations of our decadent society -- fall prey to this infestation. If we had a healthy culture of marriage, transgenderism would be as rare as cannibalism.
Suicide runs in families. So does divorce, the suicide of marriage. Let's make sure to pray extra hard for his children and all the children of divorce.
"Still, if what I learned from the anti-Communist dissidents I wrote about in Live Not By Lies means anything, it is that sometimes the Lord asks us to suffer for His sake." -- https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/resurrection-in-jerusalem-dreher-divorce-healing-holy-sepulcher/Delete
Even his divorce is used as an excuse to promote his books.
Maybe that's the problem.
Even his divorce is used as an excuse to promote his books.Delete
Dunno. Sounds like he and his wife have been dissatisfied with life since he decamped from Philadelphia to his hometown and thence to Baton Rouge. I ordinarily wouldn't suggest a change of scene to anyone....
I have to say I cannot imagine what his niece reported to him about the dispositions of the rest of her family that have left him bleeding all over the floor all these years. (I believe that's the 'Louisiana family' to which he's referring, not his parents).
Rod is provacative and at one time there was a blog "Contra Crunchy" devoted to critiquing him. I think there was a successor to that blog run by some of the same people, but I've forgotten what it was called. One point they would return to: "He's always been an emotions-based writer". His account of himself is drenched in his feelz (punctuated with his bouts of anxiety). This is very disconcerting.
To clarify, I doubt his self-promotion in his blog has had any direct impact on his marriage, but the strain of narcissism that is hard to ignore might. Also, like far too many men, he might have hit the wrong work/family balance. That is pointless speculation, but he should not mix a discussion of such important personal matters with shameless self-promotion. It's unseemly.Delete
It is particularly disturbing that he seems to attribute the divorce to God. "What did God ask for? An Orthodox priest (not my parish priest) who had known us both for a long time told me that only a miracle could save this marriage, and maybe we should consider divorce. I didn’t want to face that. But more than anything, I wanted to do the will of God." Contrast that with Matthew 19:8 (RSVCE): "He said to them, 'For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.'" Divorce is not martyrdom. Marriage is martyrdom.
Dreher has real talent. He keeps up with the news, which most of us have neither the time nor the patience for, and he has some good insights. The problem is that the really seems to think he is the last, best hope of Christendom.
Let me contrast him with Chesterton. Chesterton said a great many important things, even a great many provocative things, but although he often takes his subjects very seriously, he somehow never seems to take himself seriously. This is as it should be, especially for a man. "The duchess quarrels with another duchess in order to crush her, to produce a result; the coster does not argue with another coster in order to convince him, but in order to enjoy at once the sound of his own voice, the clearness of his own opinions and the sense of masculine society." Chesterton is nearer to the coster (basically a fruit peddler); Dreher is nearer to the duchess.
At least he's not as far gone as Mark Shea. That's partly what makes Dreher so frustrating; he really is worth reading ... sometimes. But his defensiveness, noteworthy in banning people who are not sycophants, has put him a few steps down the same road Shea has trodden.
I'm generally disinclined to use quasi-clinical terms like 'narcissist'. Rod has a thin hide, IMO, but he's a 2 out of 10 on the aggressive victimhood meter, IMO. So many plain awful people in the world. Rod's merely abrasive.Delete
What does get you is a self-centered and self-absorbed quality to his interests and expression. Seen here in spades. His commentary on church scandals back in the day generally had a certain vibe - a rage at the bishops for embarrassing and humiliating Rod (as well as unreasonable reactions to particular incidents).
Rod during the years I commented on his site had no appreciation of participants you might describe as 'conventional starboard' and at the end there were only two of us left tangling with his leftoid and palaeotrash yammerers. It was, I believe, an other-directed pose by an other-directed man. We're not the clique he's trying to get into. He offered a bogus excuse that I violated his terms of discussion when what I'd done was stick a stiletto into one of his pets, a man who signed himself 'Siarlys Jenkins'. One disagreeable thing about him is that he has a history as a sanctimonious prat.
His move to the Templeton Foundation was to something adjacent to, but significantly different from what he's been doing for 20 years at that point. By some accounts, he blew it by engaging in pseudonymous blogging contrary to company policy. So he lands at The American Conservative, a publication with 1/10 th the circulation of the one he'd resigned from 10 years earlier.
At least he's not as far gone as Mark Shea.
I haven't seen any deterioration in the quality of his writing. Rod's always been Rod.
We no longer use the term "schismatic" for our sister Orthodox Churches. If you can read souls then you can judge Rod's motives for entering Orthodoxy. God and God alone will judge his motivations, his journey, his sincerity. While union with Rome is the hallmark of Catholicism, how that "hallmark" has "developed" is questionable both by Holy Scripture and Sacred Tradion.Delete
His daughter's about 15. I think one son is late adolescent and the other post-adolescent.ReplyDelete
I haven't read him in some time. (He banned me from his comment boxes and offered some humbug excuse). He can be quite raw on various subjects. He's intimated in the past that he was having trouble with family members and trouble with neighbors, as well as having bouts of what sounded like psychosomatic illness. Don't think he ever admitted to being held together with psychotropics, but there was a suggestion of it. He gave you the impression that various parties (e.g. his mother) were being patient with him. It's been remarked by others that his travel schedule seemed odd for a married man with children. It's all a pity.
"He banned me from his comment boxes and offered some humbug excuse." Same. Truth be told, I think that worked out well enough, since I don't think it is healthy to read much of him. There is something leprous about the Internet, and it makes us unclean to touch it.Delete
I can’t read that much of Rod, however I do consider him to be a good watchdog.ReplyDelete
Maybe if Catholics, including myself, did an honest assessment of where things are in the Church he and others would not have left. There is something in Catholicism which prevents us from seriously questioning the actions of Bishops, Clergy in general.
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.ReplyDelete
Oops, sorry. Please delete this comment. We are supposed to be kind here. I wish the family well.Delete
Sts. Timothy and Maura, pray to God for Rod and his wifeDelete