What is Salvo?

I have been updating the ABOUT page on the Salvo website with bios for senior editors and other key members of the Salvo team. After taking a closer look at that page, I decided it was also a good time to update what could be called our mission statement:

Debunking the cultural myths that have undercut human dignity, all but destroyed the notions of virtue and morality, and slowly eroded our appetite for transcendence. Recovering the one worldview that actually works.

It’s catchy, but I also think it’s pretty much just teaser text at best. It doesn’t really give you anything concrete to go on. Being the graphic designer and web guy for Salvo since the beginning, I thought the magazine needed something a little more clear. But not being a professional ad copy writer (unless you count fake ads), I also needed some help coming up with something that would work.

I decided to ask frequent Salvo writer and contributing editor Terrell Clemmons for any suggestions she had for Salvo‘s mission statement. She reminded me of an editorial that Jim Kushiner wrote for issue 11 titled “Why We Fight” that, for her, summed up Salvo perfectly. While this article was originally intended to be an introduction to that specific issue (Winter ’09), I too think that the piece holds up as, well, a sort of salvo for Salvo.

While the magazine seems to make a lot of people scratch their head, I’ve always thought that the mission of the magazine was pretty obvious to anyone who browsed the website for even just a minute or two–a counter-cultural voice that seeks to point out that ideas have consequences, and that there are REASONS to, say, value chastity, or to question aspects of the Darwinian narrative, or to reject abortion. The current issue of Salvo deals with many of these things outright.

I encourage anyone who is curious about Salvo to read Why We Fight. And for further reading, check out Jim’s short introduction to issue 16: Got Whole Milk?.

Why We Fight

Critics of Salvo often complain about our quasi-military language. “Why not adopt a more irenic tone?” they say. My reply is that we use these terms, albeit figuratively, to describe our engagement in the realm of ideas against an aggressor. Now, some people don’t fancy a fair fight. We do.

Salvo seeks to defend truths that have shaped the civilization that can best, if imperfectly, ensure freedom for man to flourish as he was meant to. Those last two words, “meant to,” are crucial. For we believe man has a given nature and purpose. In keeping with the Declaration of Independence, for example, we hold certain truths to be self-evident, because they are “in the nature of things” and not subjective “values.” These include certain inalienable rights that come from the Creator, not from the state.

continue reading . . .

And if you want to subscribe, you can do so HERE.

On Listening: Intern 2 Tries to Communicate with the Guy Who Knows He’s Right (Even if He’s Wrong)

(This week, Intern 2, who is overly shy of face-to-face disagreement, springboards from current events to wax long on the subject of persuasion.)

We have a pink elephant here on the Salvo Blog whose presence we have yet to point out.

It’s called the Affordable Care Act, or whichever nickname you’d prefer to give it.

I am far from a legal, or economic, or medical expert. You do not want me to analyze the bill itself, its implications, or the details or outcomes of last week’s ruling by the Supreme Court. There are experts who have already provided that analysis, or at least such an analysis as is possible at this early stage.

Many, many analyses have been made and opinions been stated.

Obviously, they have not all arrived at the same conclusions. Chances are, right now you’re dealing with someone whose conclusions are not the same as yours.

So this is Harrison, your colleague of whatever philosophical persuasion who is one-hundred percent sure he’s come down on the right side of the issue, and isn’t afraid to tell you about it.

It could be that Harrison’s convinced that the health care decision represents a key triumph for the social virtue of the United States. He knows a few cases personally who have had trouble paying for medical care under the current system, or he’s had trouble himself (and comments that he simply won’t pay the bills he can’t afford—he says that eventually, they’ll stop coming). He knows, and he’ll tell you, that there’s no way the eventual enactment of the ACA as law could possibly be problematic, and if you suggest otherwise, he’ll assume you must necessarily be looking at the issue from a perspective of privilege. In other words, you’re a lost cause.

And how do you, or more accurately, we, answer Harrison effectively?

To start with, we have to listen to him.

It could also be that Harrison’s convinced that the health care decision represents the cataclysmic end of the American Experiment. He sees the infringements on personal liberties that the ACA contains within itself and could open the door to in the future. He knows, and he’ll tell you, that this has placed us on the brink of an inevitable disastrous threat to our autonomy of conscience, and if you see reason for hope in the details of the Supreme Court’s decision or the relative unpopularity of the Act’s most objectionable sections, he’ll assume your reason has been already been decayed by the regressive force of a Progressive culture. In other words, you’re a lost cause.

And how do we answer Harrison effectively?

To start with, we have to listen to him.

Harrison is a fellow human with a heart and a brain, with a mind and a soul. He has a story. He has some form of reason for believing what he has come to believe. As humans, we are given the capacity to understand and empathize with other humans. It fulfills a basic principle for us to work toward understanding and empathizing with Harrison.

Of course, as is the case with fulfilling other basic principles, this is easier said than done. It would be extremely challenging for me personally if Harrison told me that, as a woman, it behooved me not to post my thoughts and opinions in a public forum. I’m working on it. Harrison is like me a creature of God.

Also, knowing how someone got to where they got to is the first and most vital step in honestly and compassionately helping them get somewhere else.

So we listen to Harrison. We learn about him, and, in turn, Harrison will be more likely to listen and learn about us.

I have a story about my own Harrison, who happened to be female. I was relating a story to Girl Harrison about an acquaintance who, right on the verge of finishing a professional degree, had accepted a job in her field and was planning to marry her fiancé the following year. I happened to run into the acquaintance very shortly, possibly immediately, after she discovered she was pregnant (she was visibly shaken when I spoke with her. It ought to go without saying that the fiancé was the father.)

“She was really stressed,” I told Girl Harrison, “Because now she was planning the wedding for, like, the next month, and then they were moving out of state. So everything would have to happen at once.”

“So?” Girl Harrison said. “Just get an abortion.”

I hadn’t expected that response at all. The option in this instance hadn’t occurred to me. It hadn’t occurred to the acquaintance.

“But they already had everything together,” I said. “It was just going to be rough for a few months.”

“I’d just get an abortion,” Girl Harrison said.

I’ve since come to regret how quickly I changed the subject.

I didn’t have the courage to listen to Girl Harrison, as would be necessary to engage in a discussion with her. I knew her well enough to understand where some of her other points of view might have come from. But this assertion I left at the surface. I didn’t think I had the emotional energy or intellectual capacity to grapple with Girl Harrison on the subject of abortion, so I left it alone.

I didn’t get the chance to respond as I would have liked, as might have been effective. I didn’t get to say, “But it was the first child, by the man she was planning to have her children with. The unique and only first child. The DNA codes were all there. It was worth a few rough months.”

I think Girl Harrison would have listened to that answer. But if I was afraid to listen to her beyond her first declaration, why would I expect she would listen to me?

From now on, let’s listen. Let’s listen first. Then we can take a deep breath and give an answer that responds to what we listened to. We might be surprised. We might discover new dimensions of an issue that we hadn’t been aware were there. Harrison might prove to be as right as he thinks, or he might be only .001% sure he’s right at all. And while our own assurances may be altered through their questioning, the true assurances will be strengthened by it.

It is worthwhile to listen to Harrison, and worthwhile to answer him as well.

So thank you for listening to me.

Your answers are welcome.

Sincerely Yours,

Intern 2

Of Thee I Sing

Today July 2nd , in 1776, the Second Continental Congress voted unanimously to claim independence and break from Great Britain. New York was the only colony to have abstained its vote.

The resolution for independence from Great Britain had originally been presented to the Second Continental Congress on June 7th after it had convened in Philadelphia. But as several colonies (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and South Carolina) remained reticent to break with England, the vote was put off until July.

Salvo readers, you should all watch the HBO miniseries John Adams ( directed by Tom Hooper) in order to witness the ensuing drama, which stars Paul Giamatti as John Adams and Laura Linney as Abigail Adams. As demonstrated in the miniseries, Congress designated a specific committee to draft a declaration of independence when the vote was delayed; John Adams was among the members of the draft committee, but the group also included Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Robert R. Livingston of New York and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia. The primary author of this draft was Thomas Jefferson; the declaration was presented to Congress at the end of June.

John Adams predicted that July 2nd would be celebrated as the most memorable day in the history of America. But, this week we will celebrate our nation’s origins on Wednesday the 4th of July, the day Congress approved Jefferson’s edited Declaration of Independence.

Happy Independence Day Salvo readers!

On Picking Motes, and McHaley and Lysander and Friends: Intern 2 Effectively Writes a Thesis Statement

(This is Intern 2, the same introduced on the Bradbury posts. She is a public-schooled liturgical Christian who’s occupied her past few years getting degrees related to literature. Today, having gotten her long walk down a memory lane of fiction out of her system, she sets out the oncoming course for her Salvo blog stint.)

We all, every one of us, have planks in our eyes. Big planks. Noticeable planks. Our own planks. (See reference here if you’ve made it onto this site without recognizing it. Yes, I’m mixing translations with the words I’m using. Call it a compromise). We know that.

And we know that our attention and effort should go toward removing those planks before we go picking motes from the eyes of others. This means in many cases that we never get to pick motes.

Obviously, if I spent this blog series pointing out the planks in your eyes, it would amount to no more than blind mote picking, which would be, besides hypocritical, unreadable. Moreover, no one wants to watch me dig the planks out of my own eyes and proceed to smack myself with them (we can be reasonably sure that’s not why God gave us the capacity to make the Internet). For the purpose of this blog, it’s enough to acknowledge that all those planks are there.

So I’m going to try not to talk about planks and motes. I’m going to try to focus on the eyes they’re lodged in.

In other words: we are all sinners capable of bad choices. This includes those of us reading this blog, and those of us who don’t know this blog exists or would refuse to come here if they did (or do know and do refuse). To belabor the quality of sin and the badness of the choices would be an exercise in redundancy. To explore why people make the choices they make, what effect it’s had on their lives and relationships and selves, and what might lead them in a different direction is, I think, much more productive.

And that all this is most effectively explored with a degree of empathy goes (almost) without saying. If we can reach sympathy, that would be even better.

During my time on the blog, to discuss a range of issues that may be of interest to Salvo readers, I plan to introduce several semi-hypothetical friends. These possibly include but are not limited to; Barnabas and Bernadette, the very nice* young couple who are cohabitating; Seth, the very nice young man struggling with his attraction to other young men; Clothilde, the very nice young woman who may or may not be actually attracted to any of the many people she’s spent a night with; Lysander, who may be attracted to one very nice young woman but isn’t sure how to act on his attraction; Tertius, the now-atheist whose conversion story seems to leave little room for further discussion; Yevfemiya, the sweet homeschooler from my own youth group; McHaley, the sweet homeschooler from someone else’s youth group; Harrison, your colleague of whatever philosophical persuasion who one-hundred percent sure he’s come down on the right side, and isn’t afraid to tell you about it; and when relevant the various brothers and sisters of each.

There may also be times when I feel like waxing lyrical on the value of say, libraries or canoing or vocations or abstinence or genre fiction or the occasional sugar buzz. Maybe, though rarely as I’m hardly an expert, I’ll venture into theological territory—though as that gets into the whole point of anything we do anyway, it might not be necessary to expound here.

But in any case, stay tuned. And speak up. Keep the conversation going, or the monologue will easily devolve into mote-picking.

And you know, planks, eyes, blindness, etc.

I remain through every post,

Sincerely yours,

Intern 2

*Please allow me to employ a weightier connotation of “nice” than that disparaged by many conservative thinkers. Please, here, let it mean “kind,” “well-intentioned,” and “possessed of a working conscience.”

Working Nine to Five

There has been quite a stir over at the Atlantic this week over Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All”; ( the article has over 97,000 likes on facebook and about 1,900 comments on the discussion board). The article discusses Slaughter’s experience attempting to balance a high-powered working career with her her equally-challenging role as a mother; she also addresses her conversations with young women who aim to create a sort of work/family balance for their futures.

Check out Slaughter’s article, but also read Lori Gottlieb’s response ( also on the Atlantic); after comparing Slaughter’s overall assumptions to those of a spoiled child, Gottlieb makes some interesting conclusions:

The real problem here isn’t about women and their options. The real problem is that technology has made it possible to work 24/7, so that the boundary between work and our personal lives has disappeared. Our cubicles are in our pockets, at the dinner table, next to our beds and even next to our children’s beds as we’re tucking them in. In many households, one income isn’t enough, and both men and women have to work long hours — longer hours than ever before — to make ends meet. The women Slaughter cites as being efficient – who wake up at 4 am each day, who punch in 1:11 or 2:22 on the microwave rather than waste the millisecond to punch in 1:00 or 2:00, who put their babies in front of the computer while they type rather than savor that tiny infant in their lap – made me want to cry. How terribly sad those lives are. But to make this about women misses the point. The problem here is that many people work too much — not just women, and not just parents.

Give me your thought Salvo readers. How have the ideas of career and work changed over the years? Has technology really given us the upper hand or have we lost something in the modernizing process?