On the surface, both groups long for a kind of romantic authenticity and risk turning their way of life into a new trend in shopping, precisely the thing the crunchies profess to abhor. And yet the crunchies depart in striking ways from the bobos, nowhere more dramatically than on the topic of religion. For the bobos, religion must be measured by its contribution to the expansion of the self; thus, bobos engage in the (at best paradoxical) task of erecting a “house of obligation on a foundation of choice.”
Not all readers will be moved to imitate the sort of choices made by the crunchies, but one at least can admire the sacrifices made and especially the sense of missionary devotion to the family; for example, giving up a lucrative position in business to run a local farm or sacrificing a second income to homeschool kids. They also demand a great deal of time and imaginative energy. It is not surprising that these choices either result from, or lead to, profound changes in self-understanding. One interviewee after another speaks of realizing a “calling.” Far more than the bobos, the crunchies and their children will be prepared, to the extent that anyone can be prepared, for tragedy.
I think there’s something to this, but I wonder to what extent the choice that precedes the calling also continues to condition it. There remains a distance between someone like Dreher, an "American ’church shopper’ who’s made a stop with the Catholics and now thinking about switching over to the more incense-ridden Orthodox" , and, say, Nicholas Wolterstorff, who has written (and spoken) very movingly and profoundly about his "induction into the tradition" and would, I think, qualify as a crunchy lib with not a bobone in his body.
Hibbs offers another sharp observation:
Do the crunchies want to save America or the Republican Party or, having acknowledged the short-term irreversibility of civilized decay, do they plan to “retreat behind defensible borders”? Of course, Dreher and most of his crunchies are somewhere between these two options, just as the contemporary Republican Party is between social conservatism and libertarianism. To the extent that the crunchies aspire to opt out of the wider culture, they are vulnerable to the free-rider objection: that of creating little enclaves that are nonetheless dependent on the society that they have abandoned for services and protections. As I say, this is clearly not Dreher’s ideal, but it is a difficulty the crunchies should face squarely.
I wonder how Dreher will answer this question; Hibbs says there’s room for another book. Dreher, thus far, has just noted and quoted the second paragraph of the review, before it gets interesting.