Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Dr. Pat vs. Veggie Tales

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.

Discussions - 13 Comments

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 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.

It's always a pleasure to have Dr. Pat join us on this channel. Now we have two kinds of extremism (which, in defense of liberty or maybe even virtue, is not vice). Lindsey from Cato says we've left the realm of necessity and entered the realm of freedom, and so our lives or more constituted by self-fulfilling choice than ever. And Dr. Pat says the pro-choice position is always wrong. It kind of goes without saying that both our friends are exaggerating for emphasis, a life with too much choice or too little would be hell. Nonetheless, the difference between our cultural critics is pretty large. For myself, I willing to admit that SUVs are ridiculous. I don't think they should be outlawed, necessarily, but they should be mocked. But I'm sticking with my pro-choice positon on doughnuts, in moderation of course. And I have more sympathy than Pat for the evangelical family livng in the big mass-produced house in the suburbs relatively unconcerned about the fate of the planet and enjoying with his his own the fruits of capitalist abundance. And that's because I admire that guy a lot more than the bourgeois bbohemian sophisticate Lindsey embraces (and who is the heart of the DEMOCRATIC PARTY right now), even if the latter recycles, save whales and rain forests, and goes to Al Gore movies. It goes without saying that no one's mortgage should not be out of line with his or her income. Even bourgeoning postmaterialism (Lindsey notes) presupposes the success of materialism, and even Crunchy Cons are lifestyle choosers. Sad to say (and I really am sad about this), now that Carey McWilliams has left us nobody much belongs to Deneen's consistent ethic of life party, although it embodies all the right Catholic instincts.

I think I'll leave it to Drs. Pat and Peter to determine whether we should put SUV-driving, McMansion-living suburbanites on display in the town square (and maybe throw organic lettuce at them). But surely Lawler goes where no man should when he suggests that "southern superiority doesn’t include food." Oh, pray tell, why would any rational creature make that claim? Is there any other American region that can match the shrimp and grits of Charleston, the pulled pork BBQ of North Carolina, Georgia's peach cobbler, Memphis' baby back ribs, the catfish-and-hushpuppies of MS, or the world in itself of New Orleans cuisine? If given the choice between the culinary delights of a proper Southern meal and one luxuriating in the tastes of, say, Ohio, what would Prof. Lawler choose?

I say, mock the McMansions as well, especially the size of the heating bill that's on its way. And, while we're at it, mock the bourgeois bohemian sophisticates, though they do a pretty good job of it all by themselves.

It's a lonely party we're having here, but the bourbon is good, the jokes are lubricious, and it's a hell of a lot of fun.

I'll agree with Michael on the food he extols, though I suspect that he wouldn't embrace the boiled-to-death veggies (including slimy okra) that are a staple down here in the still-ubiquitous meat-and-threes.

As for suburban evangelicals (among whom I live), I note, first, that there are lots of Catholics here too and, second, that there's a lively discussion of urbs vs. suburbs going on at the Catholic Mirror of Justice. One of the contributions comes from Rob Vischer, whose brother, ironically enough, is the founder of the Veggie Tales empire.

I am pro-choice on Southern food. And I willingly concede that Savannah, New Orleans, Charleston, and Memphis--probably in that order--are lands of culinary excellence. But that's not most of the South, where fine dining is mostly meat and three (the horrors of which just are indescrible to those who have not experienced it) and barbeque that's not so good. A lot of the wasteland has to do with residual prohibition--the dry counties etc. Peach cobbler is overrated, and Georgia--even Atlanta--is very short on tasty dishes it can its own. The discussion on the Mirror of Justice seems rather labored; I doubt that Catholic social teaching has much to say about living in the suburbs. And most people just don't have the luxury of choosing the costly new urbanism option. I don't hesitate to add that a lot of the revitalized urban neighborhoods are lands of grotesquely extended adolescence--for example, mid-town Atlanta. Yes, they're all too much like European cities today. It goes without saying, Dr. Pat, that I hate McMansions, not because there so cheaply built but because they're unnecessarily large. How good could it be to raise kids in huge houses where it so easily for them to hide out from any adult supervision? But let's face it, large families just aren't going to move back to the row houses etc. The fine book LOST CITY is about a lost city.

I'm laughing my head off at this conversation. It's been a HELLUVA good week financially in the "McMansion" 'burbs! It's been in the upper 90s for a week and the heating bill is still high because of the swimming pool! My large Catholic family flew off to the Midwest today to begin an extended (wife's side) family vacation. I join them (via SUV) this weekend. The two older kids living on the coasts are flying in (from D.C. and LA) on Sunday.
What to do? Love God and eat as many fresh fruits and vegetables as possible. Run or bike or swim or walk 5x/week. Support and vote for the better candidate (it's usually easy to discern who that is). And when passing through the local guidance on the barbeque. Drink in moderation....often. Keep alive the {increasingly rare} eros that Dr. Peter is so fond of praising. Krispy Kreme closed in Albuquerque because of corporate expansion hubris (kudos to Dr. "Doom" Pat's pessimism) and undercapitalized local franchisees. We muddle on with lesser substitutes, lower in sugar and transfats....not nearly as satisfying.

Hey Gary - sounds lovely! I had a good week financially too - following Cheney's financial strategy, I've been betting against the dollar, which I'm sure you know has been plunging. That VP, he's one smart cookie! At this rate, we won't be able to afford Chinese plastic stuff, not to mention gas (same thing, actually), and that can't be all bad. And, I've gotten some exercise splitting wood, an activity that heats you twice. Off to cool off at the community pool now with the kids, a short walk from here. Ciao!

I just don't know what to say. I'm just flabbergasted. Southern BBQ not that good? Peach cobbler overrated? Oy, oy, oy. How to trust Dr. Pete's judgment ever again?

Southern barbeque varies a lot from place to place. The best is in KY and NC, but it is often is pretty bad. I'm not impressed when the best restaurant in town is all about barbeque. I have no idea what kind of week I had financially, I did get a free cup of coffee from a former Berry employee at the local Starbucks this afternoon. That's three bucks in my pocket right there. The national embrace of Krispy Kreme (which has come to an end} may cause me to reevaluate my opinion on southern food. KKs originated in Chattanooga, and we never though they were all that special unless they were hot off the doughnut assembly line. Gary, someone might say that loving God AND eating frutis and vegetables, exercising and all that might be a way of hedging your bets in a typically American way. Glad to have you back and keep your comments too, Paul.

Peter....No hedging of my bets.....It just makes me feel FACT. If that constitutes "Seaton's Wager", then I guess I'll own it.
The Starbucks (surely a caramel machiato venti?) was worth $4 bucks in your professorial jeans....after-tax. So *maybe* $3 bucks pre-tax....if you're eligible for the earned income tax credit. ~$6+ pre-tax if you're a capitalist boob like me. Sounds like about $7 pre-tax to Deneen. I'll end by agreeing that KK donuts are ONLY to be eaten "hot off the assembly line." Folks in GA eat 'em any other way? What did Flannery O'Connor say about Southern food?

Flannery O'Connor was completely realistic about the shortcomings of southern food. She hardly ever makes it sound appealing. One more distinction when it comes to southern food: It's often pretty good in southern homes. It's southern restaurants that really stink, and southerners dine out as much as anyone. The best restaurant in many a small southern town is the Mexican one, especially if it manages to get a liquor license. That doesn't mean that any Mexican would think much of it. But Chinese restaurants in the same towns can be terrible. There's also the legendary southern "covered dish" supper, mainly at church. Usually you have to look hard to find something that's not hard to eat. A very strange southern delicacy: the cheese straw. Another: chicken fried steak, which has more or less the same white gravy as biscuits and gravy. Can be eaten if you don't look at it. And I don't know who started the rumor that okra is edible, same with grits. One thing most southern restaurants excel at: Biscuits at breakfast--without gravy or sausage. Southern food, though, is better than either English food or Irish food, especially the latter as served in the more traditional Irish-American home. Next we need some to tell the truth about Midwestern food, especially in the Walleye and egg noodle regions.

Just one comment: There was that Veggie Tale episode where the giant idol the bad guys try to get Daniel (along with Rack, Shack, and Benny) to worship is a huge, chocolate bunny rabbit . . .

Here are the health-friendly song lyrics to that episode's theme song . . . So, I mean, not all of Veggie Tales is like (or, at least, it wasn't back when my brother was 9 or so, when these kinds of episodes were airing).

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