Crunchy Christians

Crunchy Christians June 28, 2015

I am a fortunate man to be married to a woman with whom I am highly compatible. We share the same Christian values, and by that I do not merely mean that we are both Christians but also the way we interpret our faith on a variety of issues is very similar. Our child rearing philosophies nearly match. We have a great deal of agreement on our financial goals. I do not agree with her on every political issue, but there is probably nobody that I politically agree with all the time (That is what it means to be a political independent). I wish every couple can be as well-matched as we are.

However, there is one area where we do have disagreement. It is not a major area, but when we have disagreements it is usually connected to this issue. That issue concerns, for lack of a better term, how granola we are going to live. You see my wife believes in organic products. She does not like products with GMOs. I, on the other hand, do not want to spend money on those sorts of things. I believe that it is a waste of time to locate these products, and I do not want to spend the extra money on them. She is not anti-vaccination, which would be a line I would draw. Overall we have learned to compromise on what sort of items we will purchase.

Needless to say, these tendencies developed before we married. She had concerns about organics and GMOs before we married while I generally purchased what I thought was the best deal. Consequently, I have learned more about people who have much more of a granola mindset than I. I have shopped more at the natural store and read a few articles about GMOs and organics to learn how people rationalize spending their money on this stuff. It is not surprising that a lot of businesses make a generous amount of money catering to people with a granola lifestyle. But because of her faith, I have discovered a subset of those businesses that I did not know existed before marrying. Those are businesses that cater to Christians living a granola lifestyle. I simply did not consider that many Christians would have the same granola values as my wife.

For example, when my wife became pregnant, she sought out a doula. But in keeping with her values, she wanted a Christian doula. To my surprise, there are quite a few of them out there. Those doulas also know other Christian professionals such as children’s dentist and chiropractor that she could direct us to that had a granola approach to their practice. So they had a definite granola perspective but with a distinctively Christian touch. Christian music and posters in their office set an unmistakable religious tone. As I sat in those offices I just wondered about how strong the niche market that be for these professionals to sustain themselves. It meant that my wife was not an anomaly but there were plenty of Christians who wanted the sort of services she sought. In the spirit of Dreher’s book “Crunchy Cons,” I will name these individuals Crunchy Christians.

As I became curious about this phenomenon, I decided to see if anyone else had thought about crunchy Christians. I found a couple of websites that used the term. One was a blog that went by the name of Crunchy Christian Mama and another website featured a discussion about Christians living out this naturalist lifestyle. Yep. I was right. My wife is not alone in this. The number of crunchy Christians is not overwhelming, but there is a presence of them in our society.

Let me be clear that from what I have gathered about them so far, this is not a very active political movement. Crunchy Christians seem distinctive from Christians working for environmental concerns (although of course I suspect that some of them do work for such causes). My very limited exploration of this phenomenon suggests that these individuals are more concerned about living out a healthy lifestyle. I suspect that most of them vote Republican and have traditional conservative moral values. So I would not mistake them for progressive Christians. My best guess is that they are conservative Christians who choose to live a granola lifestyle. Unlike the progressive Christians I discussed a couple of posts ago, these individuals are more likely to see conservative Christians as their ingroup rather than an outgroup.

One aspect I like about Crunchy Christians is that they challenge some of our religious assumptions. Some of those assumptions concern the hyper traditional lifestyle of Christians. Crunchy Christians show that one does not have to be an adherent of a naturalist religion or progressive subculture to be concerned about GMOs or to seek out essential oils. There are a variety of ways in which Christians live out their faith. We should not make assumptions about individuals due to either their lifestyle or religious affiliation.

What I would find interesting is how Crunchy Christians interpret scripture differently from other conservative Christians on issues that pertain to their lifestyle. I would like to know if they saw these lifestyle changes as sacred or mere personal choices. How do they prioritize their lifestyle choices in light of other aspects of their faith? Do they feel like outsiders among other Christians? How much does their social network include people with their own particular faith and lifestyle choices? I do not think that there are fantastic world changing implications to the answers of such questions. I just find them kind of fascinating to think about.

As a Christian I do not believe in reincarnation. But if I did, I could see myself conducting in-depth studies of a variety of different groups in my next life. I find it fascinating to see how people interpret their beliefs about reality and how they live those beliefs out. Among the groups I would study in that reincarnated life are crunchy Christians. As a group at the intersections of conservative Christianity and a naturalistic lifestyle, it would be interesting to see how they construct their social reality. Of course I already have insight into this intersection with my wife. All it will cost me is more expensive organic non-GMO food.

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