L’Envoi, Baby, and Amen
Rod Dreher departs, trailing justifications
When I think of how sincerely I endeavored to create a beautiful idyll by relocating my then-intact family to my hometown of Gascap, Alabama, and how things actually turned out, I am put in mind of the poet Howard Sprague from “Mayberry R.F.D.”:
I think I know how Adam felt
When paradise he left behind
For I, too, tossed an Eden away
That many others would like to find
O golden town of Mayberry
Your every vista I recall
I cherish every sight and sound
Especially since I’ve lost them all…
I know just how Howard felt — that he had betrayed all his old friends by going on that snooty TV show, most cruelly of all Goober. But there are key differences. For one thing, unlike Howard I have never faltered in my defense of the values of Gascap and rural America to its critics, even when rubbing elbows with the elite in the dozens of world capitals where I spend most of my time, including Budapest — how lovely it sounds when you pronounce the “s” like “sh”! — for which I leave tonight to live the life of a divine wanderer and poet of pro-family policy, and also advisor to Viktor Orbán (such an honor!).
And for another, Howard’s friends and family all rallied around and understood him in the end because of the strong philia and storge and agape shared by these manly sons of Mayberry. I received a far different reception; but then life so seldom measures up to the lively Arts.
The intense, throbbing, tormenting afflictio of my forced separation from these people is every bit as intense, throbbing, and tormenting as the agon I described when I first reported my divorce from my wife which is not the result of adultery or anything that resembles adultery and especially not anything gay. These tortures have been so unrelenting that I could barely enjoy my sacramental meats on my last visit to the Penisola Appenninica.
They are also I believe the cause of several strange dreams I have had recently – for instance, one about my friend with the wife who was possessed by the devil, in which we were joined by Virgil from the Divina Commedia, with whom we had an intense discussion of Drag Queen Story Hour. This reminds me of something I recently wrote about Dante…
[Approximately 800 words later]
Can you understand now why I felt sure that I had squared the circle, and could gift what I had learned in my intellectual and gustatory investigations to the people who had raised me, and that they in turn could impart their rustic wisdom to my wife and children, who sorely needed it, as their years in the corrupting cities had made them less receptive than I would have liked to the folkways and racial slurs with which I had grown up?
But there arose conflicts, conflicts and resentments, of which I may not speak lest I betray confidences at which I may only hint, for fear of identifiably contextualizing and contextually identifying circumstances to which I may only allude, and that allusively. I can only say that, while I freely admit there is much blame that may reasonably redound to me, there is also much blame I may not only evade but also reasonably redirect to others, in the classic manner of Rubber and Glue — oh, if only I could tell you the whole story! But all of us have sworn, and enforceably under state law, to secrecy.
This reminds me of a time I had brought my estranged sister’s children to the City of Lights, and something Lutiebelle, the one whose intellectual precocity reminds me of my own at her age, said to me about me…
[Approximately 1,200 words later]
So when my father told me that he was sorry that he had raised me the way he did, I understood what he meant and forgave him, and this made his death a joyful thing to me — and I don’t want you to misunderstand me when I say that, as many people in Gascap and even members of my own family did, when I sang “I Got Joy Down In My Heart” over his death throes; my joy was only in his salvation. They never understood, and their incomprehension was a warning that the idyll I had hoped to create in Gascap was not to be — just as, come to think of it, the sullen silences, slammed doors, and broken crockery I had previous attributed to demonic intervention may also have been warnings (though I certainly wouldn’t rule the Devil out). Here’s something else I wrote…
[Approximately 2,000 words later]
And so I am left to act out these stations of the cross, not knowing whither this Calvary will take me — and by the way, it’s funny, not to say prophetic, that I should say that; note the similarity to “Calvary” we find in the word “Calvados,” which is the name of the heavenly liquor I am drinking right now, produced in Normandy, which region, by coincidence — or should I say, divine symmetry! — I will be visiting during my tour of monasteries and Michelin-starred restaurants shortly after my arrival in Hungary. Can’t fight the devil on an empty stomach! But at the same time I will be suffering, and I ask for your prayers, and that you join me and my Substack as we together embark on this spiritual journey. Viszlát, balekok!