Salvo’s Place Along Our Cultural Chasm
In the fall of 2006, Salvo magazine presented its premier issue, Salvo #1. This is Salvo #50. Since day one, we've been dedicated to "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."
Not all myths are created equal. Some, like the myth of Atlantis, even if you believed it, wouldn't affect your daily life. Other myths, if they tell you untruths about everyday matters and you believe them, may affect your life and the lives of many others. If, for example, you believe in the Aryan myth of racial supremacy and you happen to be the leader of an ambitious, militarized country, there could well be consequences.
Some myths are so all-encompassing they are called "worldviews." Because of their effects on the way we live in society, differing worldviews can be deeply divisive.
In 2006, our first Opening Salvo was a letter from our editorial director, Richard Moselle, who wrote about the "deep cultural chasm" dividing our nation:
The division itself can be attributed to a pair of competing worldviews. On the one hand, you have the Judeo-Christian tradition and its belief in absolute truth, this idea that the universe has purpose and a destiny, that it's governed by order and logic, and that it is humans—creatures specially blessed with the capacity to discern and choose—who bear the burden of locating this purpose and letting it dictate the manner in which they live their lives.
Opposed to this perspective is that of the naturalist, the conviction that the material world, which emerged on its own by chance and without reason, represents the only reality in existence—one that's driven entirely by the struggle to survive and is subject to no real order apart from that struggle. According to this worldview, truth is relative, and the only absolute, though even that is culturally constructed and so not in any way binding, is the decided "evil" of imposing your version of truth on someone else.
Salvo's editors and writers believe in the Judeo-Christian tradition; those on the other side of our cultural divide believe that this tradition is a myth. We hold that our tradition reveals moral truths that dictate how we ought to live; those on the other side believe we make up our own moral values.
The moral relativists believe our Judeo-Christian moral teachings are oppressive, hateful, and dangerous. We believe that the other side has its own myths and that many of them are dangerous.
The myth that humanity is merely the product of a contest for survival that rewards the "fittest" of organisms gave rise to theories of racial superiority, eugenics, and ideologies of "might makes right."
The myths that there are no innate differences between men and women and that "gender" is merely a social construct have given rise to same-sex "marriage," transgenderism, and harmful "reassignment" surgery.
The myth that confining sexual activity to marriage is repressive and harmful while unrestrained sexual expression is liberating and healthy has led to the mainstreaming of teen sexual promiscuity and the proliferation of pornography.
The myth of personal autonomy is now used to justify the killing of one's own child in the womb.
While divisiveness is not desirable in any society, there is no middle ground between opposing abortion and approving it. Or between viewing marriage as the only proper place for sexual intercourse and seeing it as just one option among many for pursuing sexual fulfillment. Or between the Judeo-Christian teaching that man is created in the image of God and atheistic Darwinism's view of man as the result of blind, purposeless forces.
As long as destructive cultural myths remain, there will be a need for Salvo to continue debunking them, for the sake of human dignity and truth.James M. Kushiner
is the executive editor of Salvo and Touchstone magazines.This article originally appeared in Salvo, Issue #50, Fall 2019 Copyright © 2020 Salvo | www.salvomag.com https://salvomag.com/article/salvo50/divisive-myths