Episode 5: Rod Dreher
by Emily Esfahani Smith
On this new edition of the Acculturated podcast, Ben Domenech and Abby Schachter chat with the author Rod Dreher about his beautiful and moving new book, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life. While many in our culture seem to be driven by ambition, chasing after career success and self-centered goals at the expense of all else, Dreher has discovered a different formula for the good life: going home.
Here is David Brooks on Rod:
Rod Dreher grew up in St. Francisville, La., a town of about 1,700 people 30 minutes northwest of Baton Rouge. He left for college and then lived in Washington, New York, Miami, Dallas and Philadelphia, working as a writer for various magazines, a newspaper and a foundation.
His younger sister, Ruthie, went to L.S.U., returned to St. Francisville as a middle-school teacher and married an Iraq war veteran who worked as a fireman. On Feb. 22, 2010, Ruthie, who was 40 then, was diagnosed with a virulent form of cancer. She told her brother that she was afraid that her three young girls would be angry with God for taking her from them: “We can’t have anger,” she told him. “Make sure nobody is angry at the doctors, either. They couldn’t have caught it earlier.”
After Ruthie passed away in 2011, Rod chose, with his wife, to move back home to St. Francisville, where they “decided to accept the limitations of small-town life in exchange for the privilege of being part of a community,” as Brooks writes.In this podcast, Ben, Abby, and Rod discuss the importance of community and small towns in our success-oriented, digitally-powered culture that seems increasingly hostile to both.Subscribe to the Acculturated Podcast here.