Salvo Issue 23 Plus Other Good Stuff

The latest issue of Salvo has gone to press! Take a look at the table of contents to find out more. The articles and fake ads will be up online in about a week or so, so stay tuned.

Below you will find some articles of interest from around the web:
The Neuro Transformers
Culture & the Malleability of the Human Brain

“For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason,” wrote Robert Jastrow in God and the Astronomers, “the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”

Jastrow’s words come to mind whenever I hear about professional scientists being obliged to abandon, or at least to seriously modify, their Darwinian assumptions. From cutting-edge work in genetics to the latest discoveries in astrophysics, the evidence is increasingly pointing to one fact: Darwin was wrong.

This has been impressed upon me recently, as I have been studying the way culture affects the human brain. Contemporary neuroscientists have been making some fascinating discoveries about the way our cultural preoccupations and artifacts alter the physiological structure of our brains, and, once again, Darwinian orthodoxy is being compelled to yield to new findings. read the rest.
Unlocking the Science of Habits
How to Hack the Habit Loop & Become the Man You Want to Be

For better or for worse, our habits shape us. A good habit is a strong ally in our journey to becoming the men we want to be, while a bad habit acts like a millstone around our necks. (Want to know why? Read this Manvotional.) To achieve our goals, whatever they may be, it’s necessary to defeat our bad habits and encourage the good ones. But how do you go about doing that? We’ve written about making and breaking habits before, but honestly, most of what I suggested  was based off of anecdotal evidence of what’s worked in my life. Sure, those tips can work, but since then I’ve continued my search for more efficient, science-based ways to improve my habits.

Fortunately for me, a book was published earlier this year that highlights the latest research by psychologists and neuroscientists on the science of habit formation. It’s called The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, and it’s among the top five books I’ve read in 2012. In The Power of Habit, Duhigg explains how habits work in our brain. More importantly, he reveals the process by which a habit becomes a habit. By being aware of what he calls the “Habit Loop” we can take control of the habits in our lives. read more.
How to Save Your Marriage

Young people are good at dating. Some are good at hooking up. Some have even mastered the skills required to conduct a relationship.

Yet, many young people do not have the skills required to sustain a good marriage.

Laura Doyle is addressing women, and we will maintain her rhetorical posture. She sums up the problem:

Unfortunately most women didn’t have good relationship role-models. We are largely the product of single parents, broken homes or marriages that we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemy — the equivalent of learning oral care from parents with false teeth.

Surely, Doyle is correct.

But, let’s not overlook the role that the culture plays.

As a culture we are much more interested in marital dysfunction than we are in marital success. The former is dramatic; the latter is boring. read more.

Getting Rid of God Isn’t So Easy

Quote of the day:

FIRST-PERSON: Can science rule out God?

. . .

“Most scientists … suspect that the search for ultimate explanations eventually terminates in some final theory of the world, along with the phrase ‘and that’s just how it is.'” When Christians look at the unanswerable questions of creation, refer to the Creator God, and say, “That’s just how it is,” scientists scoff. When scientists look at the unanswerable questions of creation, refer to a theory that cannot answer those same questions, and say, “That’s just how it is,” that is great science. The fact is that scientists know that some questions, such as the origin of matter, energy or the laws of physics cannot be answered by science and must succumb to the old parents’ final answer, “Because we say so!” That also means that some scientists, like Carroll, are willing to abandon true science and its methods in order to deny God and to avoid the fact that science cannot answer ultimate questions.

. . .

Stoic-Christian Honor Code

I highly recommend this article from The Art of Manliness website:

Manly Honor: Part III — The Victorian Era and the Development of the Stoic-Christian Code of Honor

Now brace yourself – today’s post is a doozy. The topic of honor in the Victorian period is the most complex part of a complex evolution, as it involves a myriad of influences and factors. The workload on this one, and the remaining historical installments, necessitated my enlisting of Kate’s historical research and writing chops, and together we pored through over 1500 pages of research, and took dozens of pages of notes. After two weeks of banging our heads on our desk, throwing things, several near mental breakdowns, and one all-nighter, we have completed this article. All of which is to say, while I pledge my honor that we have done our very best to make everything as accurate as possible, if there are any errors in our historical facts or terminology, we welcome your very kind and gentle corrections in the comments. Also welcome are any encouraging comments. Twil be like manna for the soul.

. . .

And you may also want to check out this article from a few issues ago by Cameron Wybrow on the Stoics and Design.

Opening (and Then Quickly Closing) Minds

Here’s an op-ed piece from the NYT by Greg Lukianoff, the president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, is the author of “Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate.”

Feigning Free Speech on Campus

DESPITE high youth voter turnout in 2008 — 48.5 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds cast ballots that year — levels are expected to return to usual lows this year, and with that the usual hand-wringing about disengagement and apathy among young voters.

Colleges and universities are supposed to be bastions of unbridled inquiry and expression, but they probably do as much to repress free speech as any other institution in young people’s lives. In doing so, they discourage civic engagement at a time when debates over deficits and taxes should make young people pay more attention, not less.

Since the 1980s, in part because of “political correctness” concerns about racially insensitive speech and sexual harassment, and in part because of the dramatic expansion in the ranks of nonfaculty campus administrators, colleges have enacted stringent speech codes. These codes are sometimes well intended but, outside of the ivory tower, would violate the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech. From protests and rallies to displays of posters and flags, students have been severely constrained in their ability to demonstrate their beliefs. The speech codes are at times intended to enforce civility, but they often backfire, suppressing free expression instead of allowing for open debate of controversial issues.

read the rest

And in a related story, Rowan Atkinson recently came out against hate speech provisions of the Public Order Act.(!)

Mr. Bean star calls for repeal of British hate speech law (w/video)

LONDON, October 26, 2012, ( – Rowan Atkinson, one of Britain’s most popular film and television comedy stars, has told the government that the hate speech provisions of the Public Order Act must be repealed to uphold the country’s ancient traditions of freedom of speech.

He said he wanted to counter “the Outrage Industry: self-appointed arbiters of the public good, encouraging media-stoked outrage, to which the police feel under terrible pressure to react.”

A “new intolerance” is being fed by Section 5, the “insult” wording of the Act, he said. “A new and intense desire to gag uncomfortable voices of dissent.”

“‘I’m not intolerant,’ say many softly-spoken, highly educated liberal-minded people,” Atkinson said. “‘I’m only intolerant of intolerance.’ And people tend to nod sagely and say, ‘Oh yes, wise words, wise words.’ And yet if you think about this supposedly inarguable statement for longer than five seconds you realize that all it is advocating is the replacement of one kind of intolerance with another.”

The law, he said, is “indicative of a culture that has taken hold of the program of successive governments that with the reasonable and well-intentioned ambition to contain obnoxious elements in society, has created a society of an extraordinarily authoritarian and controlling nature.”

read the rest . . .

A Plug for Robin Phillips’s New Book. Check it out!

Salvo writer, Robin Phillips, has released a book about some of the good guys and bad guys of history.

Titled Saints and Scoundrels and available through, the book promises to be rewarding for Salvo readers who enjoy reading Phillips’ articles in our magazine.

The book presents complete stories of twenty heroes and villains from the birth of Christ to the fall of the USSR. At the end of each chapter are discussion questions relating the chapter’s themes to larger issues and a personal challenge applying the lessons from these lives to the reader and current society.

Author and public speaker Dr. George Grant has called Saints and Scoundrels, “not only an important book but a delightful one.”

Reviewer Matthew Sims has commented, “His writing was approachable for the average reader and engaging …Everything is covered from a Christian world-view and will help nurture discernment in the young and up-and-coming reader in your family.”

In an interview with Robin Phillips for the program Trinity Talk, Pastor Uri Brito commented, “The book is not just biographical you actually deal with the implication of their lives and how their lives testify to a particular worldview whether good or bad.”

Mr Phillips covers the following men and women in the book:

  • Herod the Great
    (bad guy)
  • Saint Perpetua (good woman)
  • Saint Irenaeus
    (good guy)
  • Saint Columbanus (good guy)
  • Alfred the Great (good guy)
  • King John
    (bad guy)
  • William the Silent (good guy)
  • Richard Baxter (good guy)
  • J.S. Bach
    (good guy)
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau (bad guy)
  • Edmund Burke (good guy)
  • William Wilberforce (good guy)
  • Thomas Chalmers (good guy)
  • Joseph Smith (bad guy)
  • George MacDonald (good guy)
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer (good guy)
  • Dorothy Sayers (good guy)
  • Jim Elliot (good guy)
  • Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (good guy)

In discussing each of these good guys and bad guys, Phillips draws lessons that can be applied not only to our personal lives, but which also offer a vision for a godly society.

Below are some notable quotes from Saints and Scoundrels.

On Building Christendom

What is just as important as defeating or converting God’s enemies is the positive work of building up the culture of Christendom. For every Berlin wall that crashes to the ground, there are dozens of churches to be raised up, schools to be created, homes to be established. For each Roman coliseum that decays into ruins, there remain hundreds of libraries to be built, hymns to be composed, families to be nurtured in the faith. Here again, God does not work ex nihilo but calls men and women to be agents in His kingdom-building work.” Saints and Scoundrels, pages 13-14

On Goodness, Truth and Beauty

“…the greatest defense against evil is to enjoy the good…the strongest bulwark against unbelief is our capacity to love what is beautiful…the surest support against the lies of the devil is to be attracted to what is true.” Saints and Scoundrels, page 14

On Growing in Wisdom

“The Christian life is both practical and intellectual, and that we separate these two facets at our peril. The Christian life should be practical, since the effectiveness of our witness for Christ depends on the gospel flowing out of our fingertips, being constantly applied to the material of our daily lives. But in order for a Christian to serve Jesus in practical ways, he must also grow in wisdom and understanding.” Saints and Scoundrels, page 85

On Christnedom

The life of the nation, no less than the life of the individual, needs to be regulated by Christ’s lordship. The Bible is not simply a devotional manual for our private lives, but a template for bringing all of culture into subjection to Christ… “Christendom” is not simply a collection of Christians living together in society, but it comprises the institutions, literature, manners, works of arts, educational values—in short, the entire fabric of culture—which emanate from Christian civilization. A moment of time is all it takes for a person to turn from unbelief to faith in Christ, but it takes hundreds of years tobuild Christendom out of a previously pagan society.” Saints and Scoundrels, page 87-88

On Culture

Geniuses do not arise out of a vacuum. They are the product of years—often centuries—of collective input from dozens of individuals. Most of these individuals will probably be unaware of the heritage they are contributing to, yet their collective efforts help to foster and sustain a culture in which greatness can thrive.” Saints and Scoundrels, page 142

On Self-Regulation

Those who have never learned to be responsible and self-regulating have difficulty conceiving solutions to life’s problems apart from the extremes of complete antinomianism, on the one hand, or complete totalitarianism on the other.” Saints and Scoundrels, page 169

On the Weapons of our Warfare

We remember Wilberforce for what he achieved. Yet the most valuable lesson from his life comes not from what he accomplished, but how he accomplished it. Unlike in America, where abolitionists were willing to use violent force to achieve their ends, in England abolition remained a peaceful movement. This was no accident, for Wilberforce steadfastly refused to pursue revolutionary means for achieving his goals. This is because he recognized that the slave trade was not itself the root problem but merely a symptom of a society that had rejected God’s laws. It followed, he believed, that spiritual rather than revolutionary means were necessary in the fight for justice.” Saints and Scoundrels, page 193

On Faithfulness

God calls us to be faithful in the jobs He has given us, but He does not guarantee the consequences of doing right. Faithfulness, not success, is what truly matters in the Lord’s economy.” Saints and Scoundrels page 194

On Changing the World

Thomas Chalmers teaches us the importance of having bold and outrageous vision. He once remarked, “Regardless of how large, your vision is too small.” Chalmers lived by these words, always seeking ways to expand his vision. His vision was so large that it went beyond the confines of his own country and was international in its scope. He was concerned, not just with Scotland, but with Christendom. But although Chalmers’ vision for God’s kingdom was a vision for the whole world, it always started with the needs that lay closest to home. Unlike Rousseau, who neglected the needs of those closest to him in order to save the world, Chalmers’ love for mankind always manifested itself in his love for the person next door. The key to changing the world was to change the neighborhood.” Saints and Scoundrels, page 206

On Liberty

Liberty is not a natural right of man (as Rousseau had claimed), but the product of tradition, family, and faith. It is passed on in much the same way as property is transmitted, from one generation to another, namely, through inheritance. To support this notion of liberty as an inheritance, Burke pointed to the great freedoms of the British tradition, showing that they had accumulated over a period stretching back to the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Rights, and the entire network of common law freedoms which the hereditary succession of the monarchy helped to preserve. The legacy of these liberties would not long abide a generation that was willing to cast off the heritage of their ancestors. Because of this, whenever Burke wished to reform, it was in order to conserve.” Saints and Scoundrels, page 181

On False Prophets

false prophets always speak what the people around them want to hear. Though false prophets usually like to think of themselves as modern-day Jeremiahs, going against the grain of popular opinion in order to proclaim God’s truth, their messages are usually carefully constructed to mesh with the biases already popular within the wider community.” Saints and Scoundrels, page 255

On Christian Parenting

The task of Christian parents is not merely to pass on the truth to their children, but also to show the next generation that the truth is lovely. Many Christian young people have willingly walked away from a faith they once believed to be true because they were enticed by the illusory attractiveness of idols. But few will abandon a faith they believe to be both true and beautiful.” Saints and Scoundrels, page 227

On Bonhoeffer’s Gratefulness

Even in the midst of the agonizing circumstances of a Nazi prison, Bonhoeffer never ceased to overflow with gratitude to God. Facing the daily possibility of death, he regarded each day as a precious gift from the Lord, to be received with thankfulness and joy. One English officer imprisoned with him later commented: “Bonhoeffer always seemed to me to spread an atmosphere of happiness and joy over the least incident and profound gratitude for the mere fact that he was alive.” Thankfulness did not come easy to Bonhoeffer. He had much to be troubled over. His worst torment was the separation from his beloved fiancee, Maria, and the uncertainty of not knowing whether she was safe. During these sufferings, Bonhoeffer’s approach was not merely to refrain from complaining. Nor was it to be joyful in spite of the hardship. Rather, he teaches us that we can be grateful not just in suffering but for the suffering itself. Bonhoeffer believed that difficult circumstances, no less than pleasant ones, come from the hand of God.” Saints and Scoundrels, page 264

On Bringing Communism to the Inner Man

Communism, as such, never worked. Even during the heyday of the Soviet Union, the outcomes that Marx predicted never materialized. Yet even as the visible symbols of Marxism came crashing down at the close of the twentieth century, there was another, more subtle, version of Marxism coming to fruition. The apparent downfall of communism merely masked the imminent victory of a new variant, one that was less visible yet more subversive, less observable yet more insidious.”

“Gramsci realized, that the proletariat revolution could never succeed until the integrity of the culture that was blocking it had been compromised. Before the political hegemony of communism could emerge, the ideological hegemony of Christianity would first have to be dismantled. Workers must begin to see themselves as being separated from the ruling classes not through economics but through ideology. Marxist categories must first be internalized by the masses before they could be externalized by the socialist political parties. This could happen only to the degree that such categories came to permeate every level of society, becoming part of the very air people breathed. Once the new values formed the unchallenged assumptions—the collective “common sense”—of society, the aims of the revolution could be brought to bear. When that happened, a revolution would not be necessary, for the people would willingly embrace the communist solution.” Saints and Scoundrels, pages 270 & 274

On The Cultural Revolution of Herbert Marcuse

Instead of seeking to give the working classes control over the means of production, Marcuse sought to give groups aligned with the Left control over the intellectual infrastructures of the West. One of the ways he approached the goal was through redefining the notion of tolerance. Marcuse considered that the traditional way of conceiving tolerance—permitting another person’s viewpoint regardless of how one personally felt—to be “repressive tolerance.” What was needed instead was what he termed “liberating tolerance.” Significantly, liberating tolerance involved “intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left. Movements from the Left included various groups that Marcuse encouraged to self-identify as oppressed, including homosexuals,women, blacks, and immigrants. Only groups such as these could be considered legitimate objects of tolerance.” Saints and Scoundrels, pages 284-285

On the Medieval Vision

When medieval man looked up into the sky and contemplated the heavens, he was greeted not with a deep vacuity, but with a delightful dance; not a mechanical unwinding like clockwork, but a magnificent, unfolding play. It was a cosmos that C. S. Lewis described as “tingling with anthropomorphic life, dancing, ceremonial, a festival not a machine.” Saints and Scoundrels, page 291

On 20th Century Gnosticism

By the twentieth century, this separation of matter and spirit not only permeated universities like Oxford and Cambridge but had affected the outlook of much of the British church. In the Church of England, it began to be seen as a badge of intellectual sophistication for clergy to water down, and sometimes even reject completely, the supernatural aspects of the Christian faith. The Anglican laity were hardly any better, having imbibed a sentimentalized, moralistic faith that had become unhinged from any spiritual reference point. Even those Englishmen committed to espousing a biblical faith often colluded with the modernist separation of the physical from the spiritual. This false separation resulted in the British church imbibing a Gnostic-like spirituality which failed to see how the world of ordinary things—work, matter, creativity, culture, to say nothing of the universe itself—was spiritually infused and dynamic….The false separation of the physical and the spiritual had led to an unofficial theology which stressed that the fundamental Christian hope is immortality rather than physical resurrection. This notion was reinforced by the Platonic bent of post-Victorian evangelicalism, in which the word “resurrection” began to be used simply as an approximation for the soul’s immortality. It even became fashionable for Anglican bishops to spiritualize away Christ’s own resurrection.” Saints and Scoundrels, page 299

On Critical Thinking

In our era, young children are continually being pressured to engage in self-expression before they are shown how to think coherently, and they are pressured to engage in reasoning before they are given the facts with which to reason. The result is not intellectual freedom but enslavement, for someone that is never taught how to think is by default trained to be a bondservant to the latest fad or fashion.” Saints and Scoundrels, page 302

On Dorothy Sayers’ Integralism

She was particularly gifted at showing how things that people viewed as separate and distinct were in fact two sides of the same coin. The false antithesis between faith and fact, work and glory, spirit and matter, religion and reason, dogma and drama, the sacred and the secular, the head and the heart, and many other false dualisms came crashing down under the hammer of her incisive logic. By emphasizing that redemption involves the whole personality, she showed that there is no part of creation untouched by the magic of the Incarnation. There is no aspect of life separate from the demands of Christ’s lordship.” Saints and Scoundrels, page 304

On Solzhenitsyn’s View of Democracy

Given the crucial role that repentance played in his thought, Solzhenitsyn cautioned us not to put too much confidence in political solutions, including the solution of democracy. Democratic institutions, he warned, cannot act as a hedge against the latent corruption of the human heart any more than communism could. This is because democracy is just as capable of being corrupted, and Solzhenitsyn pointed to the triumph of mediocrity “under the guise of democratic restraints” as an example.”Saints and Scoundrels, page 334

For more information about Saints and Scoundrels, visit Robin’s Blog.

D’Souza Responds, Resigns from The King’s College

In response to the World magazine story, Dinesh D’Souza has issued a statement:

A recent article in World magazine gives the false impression that I, a married man, had an affair with a woman Denise Odie Joseph at a Christian conference in Spartanburg, S.C. The article alleges that I shared a hotel room with her and introduced her as my fiancé. Finally it states that I filed for divorce only on the day I was confronted about my conduct by intrepid reporter Warren Smith.

Here are the facts:

1. My wife Dixie and I have been separated for two years. Dixie approached me and demanded this before I came to King’s College to become its president in late August 2010. I informed the chairman of the college at the time. I also informed the reporter who wrote the World article, Warren Smith, but he deliberately left it out of his piece, even though it is entirely relevant to the context.

The rest of the statement is here.

The King’s College has accepted D’Souza’s resignation:

The Board of Trustees of The King’s College has accepted the resignation of its president, Dinesh D’Souza, effective immediately. D’Souza was appointed president of the College in 2010.

Board Chairman Andy Mills stated, “After careful consultation with the Board and with Dinesh, we have accepted his resignation to allow him to attend to his personal and family needs. We thank him for his service and significant contribution to the College over the last two years.”

And this right when his movie is coming out. He was interviewed for Salvo a while back on matters of faith and atheism.