The Hermit Family

"[Rod] Dreher says many good things in this chapter ["Education and the Home," from Crunchy Cons: The New Conservative Counterculture and Its Return to Roots].

"Just a couple comments or cautions. Crunchy-con-ism needs to take care that it does not shrink below village size. Anchorite families are not the need of the hour. Family is important, but it is not all important. If I could add a qualification to Russell Kirk's statement above ["the family is the institution most necessary to conserve"], it would include the necessity of preserving the Church above all. Families are a part of this, and that is the point. We don't need hermit families. We need to take care that our children grow up in community, and this needs to be broader than the family. It also needs to be centered in Word and sacrament. If the kids are homeschooled, there are ways to arrange for this, but it takes work. I would urge Dreher and those with him to consider forming schools -- not status quo schools, but schools that are responsive to involved parents. Covenant schools are not a recent development of modernity -- they go back at least to the Jewish exile in Babylon. And I think they are at least as consistent with the crunchy-con ethos as disciplined homeschooling is."

Douglas Wilson


  1. Steve,
    Have you read the book or is this a Wilsonian recommendation?

    I agree with his point and the good caution that families are not the all-important aspect. In conjunction with that, Wilson frequently uses the "egg" illustration wherin families represent eggs and the church an ommlette. "One cannot make a good ommlette with rotten eggs." So, I believe it is important to work on developing excellent eggs, but in the context of making a world class ommlette!

    Press On

  2. Did anyone else notice Doug's uncharacteristic leap in logic? I agree with everything he says right up to, "It also needs to be centered in Word and sacrament." But his train of thought leaves the rails immediately after this. He says, "If the kids are homeschooled, there are ways to arrange for this, but it takes work." Huh?

    How exactly is it difficult for homechool families to be part of a covenantal church community? Is there some special problem that homeschoolers have with joining a church that is magically ameliorated by joining a school?

    His comment about homeschoolers makes no sense. The institutional Church has nothing to do with a family's schooling choice (apart from declaring the necessity of an explicitly Christian education).

  3. I think he is saying that homeschoolers need to be more pro-active about forging student relationships with other church members. It is easier to "coast" and be a hermit family as homeschoolers, than it is for those involved in a good school, where edifying student relationships with peers are "given" to you.