Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher

Welcome to the new Rod Dreher blog

Good morning, and welcome to the successor to my Crunchy Con blog, of blessed memory. I’ve started this new blog because I’ve taken a new job as director of publications at the John Templeton Foundation.  JTF is a philanthropy that devotes its giving to research and projects in four basic areas: science, religion, the free market, and morals (e.g., character education). JTF is non-sectarian and non-partisan, so it makes sense for me to shift blogging gears away from political and culture-war topics. Besides, I’ve gradually become more interested in culture, broadly defined, than in politics, and in the ways culture turns up in politics, so this change represents a natural development for me personally. Regular readers will find that many of the topics I blogged about on Crunchy Con will show up here, and I will certainly be opinionated. But you won’t find me arguing in the customary partisan way; the style I’ll be developing here — and I do beg your patience as I work toward blogging in a somewhat different voice — aspires to be more inquisitive, exploring contours of the big questions in these four subject areas, and their interaction. 

If, for example, same-sex marriage comes up, I won’t be advocating for or against it, as you would have seen on the other blog, but rather I’ll be exploring some new finding in the science of human sexuality, and the challenges it may pose to religious belief. I don’t anticipate blogging at all about radical Islam — a regular theme on the old blog — but if I do blog about Islam at all, it will be more in a spirit of exploration and inquiry about how the Islamic religion approaches science (say), or ways Islamic teachings are shaping, and being shaped by, economic practices in the modern world.

The discussion I hope to inspire in the comment threads will be more philosophical than polemical. To be sure, they will be critical, in the sense of examining ideas and issues with a critical mindset, but more academic in tone and content. I do hope you who have strong opinions will express them, but I also expect that you will be as civil as you were on the old blog, because I have found time and time again that we can have a much more fruitful, and interesting, exchange when we aren’t screaming at each other.

Please bookmark this new URL on your browser. In the days to come, I’ll be building up a new blogroll. The blogs and websites I’ll list do not imply that I agree with all (or any) of their content, only that I find them useful and interesting with regard to the kinds of things I’ll be talking about here. Also, I wish to make it perfectly clear that any opinions I express on this blog are mine and mine alone, and do not express the views of the John Templeton Foundation, or any of my colleagues there.

So, let’s begin. When I get my new e-mail address at JTF, I’ll post it here so I can receive private comments from you. Please know that the JTF team and I will be spending the next few months creating a new online magazine of ideas and debate around science, religion, the market and morals; we intend to launch it sometime around the middle of 2010. If you like what you read here, let me and others know; if you don’t, let me know so I can work to improve it. Onward. 

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posted January 4, 2010 at 6:34 am

I’m looking forward to the tone and subject matter of the new blog! Happy New Year!

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posted January 4, 2010 at 6:41 am

Congrats on the new job and the new blog! I’m been a longtime fan of your writing — since your Sun-Sentinel days– and I’m looking forward to reading what you have to say here.

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Russell Arben Fox

posted January 4, 2010 at 7:46 am

Congratulations on the move, Rod, and best of luck with the new venture. I do hope that the change won’t mean that some of your regular concerns and insights into localism, populism, and local/popular culture won’t disappear; I always enjoyed reading and learning from those threads. But I guess I’ll see. I’ll definitely be reading, in any case.
And hey–put me on your blogroll! For old time’s sake, if for no other reason.

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harvey lacey

posted January 4, 2010 at 8:08 am

Congrats on the new blog and I hope you find in Philly a lot of what you learned to love about Dallas.
I just wished you weren’t on I have fios and unbelievable up and down speed. And I still have to wait for to download, unforgivable, and I’m an atheist who forgives everyone for everything.
Again, good luck

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posted January 4, 2010 at 9:54 am

I’m on board, Rod… looking forward to seeing how it goes.

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posted January 4, 2010 at 10:03 am

I’m looking forward to non-partisan. :)

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posted January 4, 2010 at 10:48 am

I’m looking forward to the new blog posts! All the strife and animosity on the other blog was really starting to get to me.
One hope: That you don’t stop blogging about all your foodie thrills or Julie’s efforts towards urban homesteading! Those are particular Crunchy Con topics that aren’t partisan, and I’d hate to see them disappear.
All the best,
(AKA FoodRenegade)

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Japhy Ryder

posted January 4, 2010 at 12:16 pm

Best of luck!
I would second Russell’s comment about keeping the localism posts.

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Rawlins Gilliland

posted January 4, 2010 at 12:24 pm

As Ruth told someone in the Bible….I assume her husband…’Where thou goeth, I shall go’. So consider my fidelity to your writing and thinking Biblical. And never lose sight of the faithful friends, whose nearness becomes no less real despite geography’s intrusive reality checks. God Bless you, Julie, Nora, Mathew and Lucas and Roscoe in 2010 and always.

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Appalachian Prof

posted January 4, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Congratulations. I would like to add something to Harvey Lacey’s comment. Sometimes I need to look at your blog on my Ipod Touch. The Belief Net cluttering junk that is so annoying on a full screen makes reading on a mobile device almost impossible. If you try to scroll down by touching the screen, you inevitably touch a link to some dumb ad and presto, change-o, you’re reading about a weight-loss pill, or some other product being pushed by Belief Net’s (sometimes tawdry) sponsors.
Would it possible for Belief Net to develop a version of their site that caters to small-screen readers?
And I’m looking at the captcha below and I can’t tell whether a particular figure is an “o” or a “c”. Good luck to me as I post.

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Appalachian Prof

posted January 4, 2010 at 12:50 pm

Rawlins: Ruth was talking to her mother-in-law, Naomi.

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Sharon Asty

posted January 4, 2010 at 1:03 pm

Mazel tov, Rod – this is a wonderful new thing!

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posted January 4, 2010 at 1:12 pm

I congratulate you, too, on this new blog, and am looking forward to the new focus and tone. I think you have what it takes to make this a very fruitful, interesting, and engaging endeavor. Best of luck to you.
But I have to agree with Harvey and Appalachian Prof about Beliefnet. It is an unforgivably clunky, cluttered, annoying, intrusive, dysfunctional, just ludicrously badly designed site. It feels almost malicious in its awful design. And the sometimes tawdry sponsors that Appalachian Prof refers to make it an even more unsavory neighborhood. There’s no other site among those I frequent that is this bad. I’ve said it before: this is getting to be an embarrassing place for a respectable blog to hang out.

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posted January 4, 2010 at 1:20 pm

Good luck on your new venture. I will read with interest. It’s going to be hard for you to stamp down your feelings sometimes, but if that’s what they are paying you for, more power to you. (You may need another outlet somewhere, private, perhaps anonymous. I advocate for the company of a good friend over a cold beer.)

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posted January 4, 2010 at 1:20 pm

Congratulations, Happy New Year, and keep up the good work! I’m defintely along for the ride.

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Gerard Nadal

posted January 4, 2010 at 1:27 pm

Congratulations on the new job and the new blog. I think it’s going to be a great experience for you. You could stay at JTF for a hundred years and never worry about stagnation. JTF scored big!!! God Bless.

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Gerard Nadal

posted January 4, 2010 at 1:28 pm

Congratulations on the new job and the new blog. I think it’s going to be a great experience for you. You could stay at JTF for a hundred years and never worry about stagnation. JTF scored big!!! God Bless.

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Gerard Nadal

posted January 4, 2010 at 1:30 pm

Damned CAPTCHA!! Well, there’s at least the comfort that not everything’s changed.

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David Gibson

posted January 4, 2010 at 3:08 pm

Bravo, Rod! Good luck, and by the way, I never found you “partisan.” I think “ideological” would be more like it and I use that term as a compliment–and hope it’s taken that way. Ideas are important, more important than parties.
Cheers. David

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posted January 4, 2010 at 3:21 pm

Congratulations, and best of luck both with the new job and the new blogging format.

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posted January 4, 2010 at 3:50 pm

I also look forward to sticking around, and will probably enjoy the tonic of a non-political space.
That said, let us not so casually set aside the old blog. It was great. It how a lot of us got to know you, and your thoughts. It was an excellent space for people who would otherwise not exchange ideas to do so.
Crunchy Con, then, will be missed. Just remember (as if you need reminding): Non-partisan does not HAVE to be cover for therapeutic moral deism. It just seems that way…

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posted January 4, 2010 at 6:19 pm

Appalachian Prof,
I’m not sure if there are any good rss readers for the ipod touch but I have a full text rss feed ( Each article has a link to a rss feed of the comments. Really handy for keeping up with those hyper active threads.

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posted January 4, 2010 at 6:58 pm

Welcome to Philadelphia. I hope you’ll visit St. Stephen, the OCA Cathedral in the Northeast section of the city. And many years from a reader who has lurked but not posted!

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posted January 4, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Glad you’re still around. Best wishes.

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Lord Karth

posted January 4, 2010 at 8:43 pm

Congratulations on the new job and the new blog, Mr. Dreher. I look forward to seeing what you and everyone else has to say. I must confess to being far less knowledgeable about matters of philosophy and religion than about politics and economics, so I may not post as much (or as voluminously) as I did before.
But I will certainly be reading as much as I did before, and certainly learning a bit more.
I echo your other readers on the localism postings. Exploring a new city, even one with rougher edges like Philadelphia, can provide new and interesting insights, especially when you find something you like better (!) than its counterpart in Dallas or Louisiana. (Philly cheese steaks don’t have a high reputation for nothing !)
You should like Philadelphia. Lots to see and do and peek around at. Your kids will like it, too. The Zoo is worth seeing, and Sesame Place is worth going to even if your kids are beyond the age of Big Bird and Elmo. And you haven’t lived until you’ve made Mr. Balboa’s Run up the steps of the Art Museum ! (I’ve family in the area, and I’ve visited the city perhaps a dozen times, so I fancy that I do know something of whence I speak on this matter.) Who knows—next time I visit my uncle and aunt in New Town, perhaps I’ll make a side trip and offer to buy you lunch !
May your new blog’s beginning be an auspicious one.
Your most humb. srvt.,
Lord Karth

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posted January 4, 2010 at 9:02 pm

Looking forward to the new tone–I would be happy to see the focus shift to the four Templeton areas (“science, religion, the free market, and morals”) and away from ripped-from-the-headlines culture warring. The old blog had great topics but always struck me as far more Con than Crunchy, and the Templeton areas are great guidelines for a more academic, less polemical discussion.

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Heritage Hills

posted January 4, 2010 at 10:21 pm

Is the JTF anything like the Discovery Institute in Seattle?

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posted January 4, 2010 at 10:52 pm

I’m still in shock over your departure but so very happy for you and yours over this latest chapter in the adventures of your life. I don’t post often, but I read always.

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Jim H

posted January 4, 2010 at 11:39 pm

I’m certainly going to make the switch and will also look forward to the discussions to come. Glad to see so many of your faithful readers are following. Good luck, hope you all are not freezing too badly during this cold spell.

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sally rogers

posted January 5, 2010 at 2:05 am

Congrats Rod. I spent a fair amount of time at a Catholic Worker house in Philadelphia back in the 1980’s. Hope that neighborhood has improved. If not, I recommend giving it a miss. It was pretty crazy back in the day.
As to the Belief Net site – I agree that it really is a mess. Don’t the Templeton folks have the interwebs??
This place takes SO long to load with all the junk. And as to this being a new blog — I just clicked on my old crunchy con link and it came right here. If you hadn’t mentioned the name change and new focus, I never would have noticed.

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Your Name

posted January 5, 2010 at 10:13 am

Congratulations on the new position. I think this is a great direction for you to take the blog in — I was excited to see the review about Goldstein’s new book, since I’m a fan of her earlier “The Mind-Body Problem”, and I look forward to seeing the new magazine.
In response to Heritage Hills’ question (Is JTF anything like the Discovery Institute?) I’d say that they have a general similarity, being foundations that sponsor conferences, scholars, research, etc. However, even apart from having different political perspectives (the Discovery Institute being conservative and the JFT centrist-to-liberal) DI is much more involved in advocacy and is a direct participant in the culture wars, as with their close involvement with the Dover PA intelligent-design court case, while JTF has a more general interest in raising the profile of public conversation about science and religion. But perhaps I have a keener sense of DI’s activism because I’m an opponent; others may have better information about JTF’s advocacy.

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Bill H

posted January 5, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Welcome to the new digs!

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posted January 5, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Congrats and let’s keep in touch. Post your new email when you get it or shoot me a line. Hated to see you leave Bid D.
Your fellow Giftee.

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R Hampton

posted January 5, 2010 at 6:20 pm

Happy New Year to you and your family, and good wishes with the new blog.

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Chuck Bloom

posted January 6, 2010 at 11:18 am

Look what’s happened … you’ve left Dallas and now it’s colder than Hades. Cause and effect? I think perhaps so.
Good luck; we miss you already.

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Your Name

posted January 19, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Mr. Dreher,
I followed your articles closely in The DMN, and sorry to see you leave. One thing of interest was your conversion to Orthodoxy. I have been invovled in a local Church north of Dallas as an inquirer. In fact I think Father Dimitri will be visiting there this Sunday. My understanding of Orthodoxy has been more difficult than some such as yourself coming from Roman Catholicism. Being raised Protestant some of the practices are naturally quite foreign, although the divide is not as great as one might assume at first glance. I guess my question is; How is your journey going? Thanks. rv

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Bobby Coxe

posted May 12, 2011 at 9:33 am

Congratulations on your new position. By the way, are you related to Ray and Dorothy H. Dreher of West Feliciana Parish? The reason I ask this is that your name ROD is the initials of Ray. Anyway, good luck with your new career.

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Marsha Pace

posted April 27, 2012 at 7:18 pm

In 2003, you were kind enough to mail me a copy of an article you wrote about my cousin Roy Dale Graves, he was killed when he was 9 years old. My mother was dying of cancer and had asked for a copy. What a blessing to receive it. I cannot locate the last page. Is it possible for you to mail or email me another copy. Thank you so very much. A grateful daughter, Marsha Pace

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