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Primal scream #381,047: Root hatred

November 17, 2009

Rushdoony blindsided me; I had not seen this coming. Scarcely twenty pages into his book, The Foundations of Social Order, he cudgeled me. I stand convicted: guilty, and even ready to change. Rushdoony identified not a seed, but a healthy sapling, of my rebellion that I had hidden even from myself (though it is entirely likely that others saw right through it more readily than I did). I hate roots. I am absolutely terrified of them. Wherever I am, I identify myself as “not from around here.”

Growing up in northeastern New York State, I was fairly obsessed with Zorro, and thought of myself as Spanish. I mused that my real parents were Spanish, brought to Schenectady by pirates. When we moved to California, I was from New York. When I moved to Arizona, I was from California. When I moved to Texas, I knew I would be returning to Arizona within six months. I lived in Texas for six years before moving to Montana. When I lived in Montana, I was from Texas. And when I moved to Washington, where I still live, and have lived longer than I have lived anywhere else, I cinched down my identity. I am a Montanan. But it would be nice if we moved to France.

Regard what Rushdoony says:

Everything associated with roots and certainty is today despised by the self-styled new elite. Marriage, morality, family, law, order, certainty, and above all, Christianity, are hated with a passion. Man’s freedom is to avoid all certainty except himself; the quest for certainty is seen as the quest for death. Life for these men means uncertainty and rootlessness….

The hatred of roots and of certainty is basic to revolutionary activity. The revolutionist destroys things of value precisely because they have a value apart from him. Only what he decrees can stand. The revolutionist destroys roots, values, and laws because they speak of certainty, and he is at war with certainty. This is the basis of revolutionary destruction. It seems senseless to those who fail to realize that destruction is basic to revolutionary faith. (pp. 18-19)

Okay, by God’s merciful providence , this is not entirely me, but most of it has been me, and some still is. But when I read Rushdoony’s words, I had a strong need to hold a heavy object. I needed some type of kinesthetic cue of permanence. I made some strong tea in my cast-iron teapot. I hauled a steel table into my study from the den. I even wanted a truly settled setting, and went to the buffet drawer for a tablecloth, but remembered I had given those away, because we prefer to eat with loins girt, blood on the lintel, and the angel of death approaching. Tablecloths simply imply too much rootedness. They also become grungy when my Cat gets up on the table.

Whenever we begin a remodeling or redecorating project in our home, it sparks an energized discussion and research process focused on where to go next. We figure whatever we are doing to the house will only make it more saleable. My husband and I both moved around a lot as kids. I find it incredible and even a little weird that my sister has lived in the same place and had the same phone number for thirty years, but it makes it easier not to lose track of her. If someone I had not seen in thirty years wanted to find me, they might need a skip-trace.

I cannot help the intra-continental shuttling that extracted me from my early roots, but I am glad that it did, because I am a Westerner. And Westerners typically do not grow roots. That is what cowboy songs are about. However, there comes a point where willful rootlessness is rebellion. I cringe to think I would rebel against the blessings of being where I am, for instance, in a church, with the tremendous privilege of aging with a likeminded cohort and watching their children grow up. But I do rebel against this, because it is a huge responsibility to keep loving these people, to share their sorrows and disappointments, to keep my temper when they are noxious, and to keep in check my ever-ready impulse to be noxious.

Faith gives me the ability to repent, and providence sets up plenty of things for me to repent, most especially, perhaps, in the environment of faith. Other areas of my life are cordoned from rebellion. If I rebel against my medication regime, I will die. If I rebel against my dietary regime, I will become ill and require more medication. If I rebel against my marriage and the template of creation, I will be miserable. But this does little to subdue my rebellious desire to be making the decrees about these things. And that is because I have weak roots, weakened by my rebellious hacking.

I am grateful that Rushdoony got me thinking about my deficiencies in the area of rootedness, because I had just written in our year-end letter that our own roots had sunk deeper in our own soil. And I meant it. The thought just needs a little more burnishing: a lifetime of it, really.

  1. November 17, 2009 4:17 pm

    Lauren, a primal scream never made so much sense to me.

  2. November 17, 2009 5:20 pm

    PS. :-) I just realised, that my comment re: this making sense might seem to reflect otherwise than I had meant it to: it was a *self* reflection.

  3. November 17, 2009 5:25 pm

    Hey, I was just gonna log on and wish you a happy anniversary! Love to you both and 104 more…

    PS, you know I never explain where my numbers come from. :-)

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