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July 26, 2005


David Deavel

As much as I admit that many great Christians, especially of the twentieth-century, used techniques and had a style similar to their non-Christian peers, I find this kind of approach to be pretty irritating. Ah yes! Christians can be hip, excuse me, avante-garde. What is cool about them is not their style, but their fidelity to Christ.

This reminds me of the liberal attempts at portraying Thomas Aquinas as a "dissenter."

I suppose I'd have to read the book to see if it gets any better. Have you read it, Amy?


Among those subersive orthodox Christians mentioned are
- Walker Percy
- Dorothy Day
- Jacques Ellul
- Søren Kierkegaard
- Jack Kerouac
- Marshall McLuhan
- Ivan Illich
- Andy Warhol. Inchausti
- Pasternak
- Wendell Berry
- Thomas Merton
- E.F. Schumacher
- Dostoyevsky
- Chesterton
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Solzhenitsyn

No doubt Cardinal Mahony would make the cut!

The author, a Professor of English at Cal Poly SLO, is quite a Merton fan.

Rod Dreher

Well, I've actually read the book, and I found it quite good. It is not the kind of cliched book David Deavel anticipates. Rather, it makes some terrific points about how their Christianity led these thinkers toward a rather radical critique of mainstream society. I read the book while researching my own "Crunchy Cons" book because I cover some of the same turf (though not, let me be clear, with the same kind of high-toned intellectualism of Robert Inchausti) in my book.

What I found while researching my book is that the kind of people who identified as "crunchy conservatives" were almost always conservative/traditionalist religious believers (Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant and Orthodox Jewish) whose faith led them to dissent from the prevailing consumerist-materialist morality, not only on sexual matters but also on economic ones.

This description of the Inchausti book is precisely correct (emphasis mine):

These were orthodox Christian thinkers and artists who were not theologians and made important and somewhat revolutionary contributions to various secular disciplines. They're interesting people because they're both subversive of the existing modern order, but they are not subversive of the church or subversive of the faith.

Got that? The world usually lionizes men and women who turn their rebellion against the Church. Inchausti instead writes about rebels who stayed faithful to their religious tradition, and from that stance turned their faith against the world to make it a more humane and civilized place.

I'm sure that "Subversive Orthodoxy" will appeal to lots of people who read this blog. I can't wait to read it again. One note: I refer to the "high-toned intellectualism" of the author, but I don't want you to read too much into that. The prose is highly accessible to the educated lay reader. It's just that he writes about ideas at a relatively sophisticated level, while my book is pretty straightforward opinion journalism.


One name that seems out of place on that list is Warhol's. Yes, I know Andy attended Mass. However, the Factory and the later Studio 59 scene he presided over were as decadent and pagan as Tiberius' pad on Capri.

Warhol may have had "Catholic sensibilities." So does Martin Scorcese - that still doesn't excuse "The Last Temptation of Christ." Warhol's basic outlook on life strikes me as nihilistic, not Catholic.

I rented out "I Shot Andy Warhol" a while back and found it as depressing - and powerful- a commentary on the dark side of '60's "liberation" as anything else I've ever seen or read.


I get the sense Jack Kerouac was no paragon of orthodoxy either, at least in his adult years. Didn't Warhol leave a big chunk of his estate to some nunnery or other?


Heh, Zhou's list, with just a few deletions is my true Hall of Fame. I am going to buy this book immediately.
All that list needs is Lewis and Tolkien, and I'm set!


I don't know, there's something wearying about this custom of marketing an unexpected adjective in front of a collective noun.

Are you a Poker Catholic or a Canasta Catholic? Does the 21st Century belong to Pinstripe Christians or Houndstooth Christians? Where does the Pope come down in the ongoing debate between Flour Orthodoxy and Corn Orthodoxy?

Nothing against any particular instance of this, but sometimes our ability to create patterns out of information outstrips its value.

Der Tommissar

These were orthodox Christian thinkers and artists who were not theologians and made important and somewhat revolutionary contributions to various secular disciplines.

As a Protestant Reverend, didn't Martin Luther King Jr. study theology and get some sort of degree in it?


Der Tomissar, I think you're right that MLK earned a degree--an advanced degree, I believe--in theology. However, I don't think King would have considered himself a "theologian"--just a preacher, and an inspiring one at that.

It is one of the lesser told tales of the civil rights movement that many Jews and Christians who took part, who put their lives on the line, did so for religious reasons. The entire premise, after all, of the civil rights movement was to turn the other cheek, to meet violence with non-violent resistance.


Der and Whitcomb,

As Theodore Passas pointed out in his book Plagiarism and the Culture War, MLK's "advanced degree" was a sham. As a result, the ubiquitous "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." is profoundly ironic.

Here is an interesting article about the paragon of the Beatific Generation:


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