Orthodoxy and the American Awakening

By: Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse

Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse

Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse

How did Americans respond to the attack on September 11? They did not take to the streets. They did not march in demonstrations. Instead, they went to church.

Churches opened their doors expecting that a few believers might come to pray. Instead, millions turned up. A weekday service in our Greek Orthodox parishes might draw a handful of worshippers. On September 11 many Orthodox parishes were nearly full.

Orthodox Americans do what many Americans do in times of trouble. They go to church. This habit developed from ideas that shaped America’s beginnings. The Founding Fathers knew that freedom depends on individual virtue. Freedom is preserved only if Americans remained a moral people.

Morality is derived from religious faith. Church is the place where faith is nurtured and taught. Americans know that freedom depends on faith so they return to church whenever freedom is threatened.

When the nation faces a crisis, Americans respond by embracing religious faith more deeply. The crisis can be caused by threats from the outside or problems on the inside. These crises were met with movements of renewal called Great Awakenings that swept through the nation throughout its history. The movements were religious in nature and successful in healing many of the problems within, particularly when those problems required a moral solution.

The Second Great Awakening of the early and middle nineteenth century for example, emerged when America was in a period of steep moral decline. Following the Revolutionary War, the chaos of battle including the pain of separation and death, wartime inflation, the taxing effort of building a new nation among other problems, tired the nation. Greed, sensuality and family breakdown increased. Alcohol abuse became rampant with predictable social results. People quit going to church. Thomas Paine declared that Christianity was dead.

But out of this exhaustion and breakdown arose renewal. Stellar progress was made. One effort included the Temperance Movement. It worked. Within a generation alcohol consumption in America fell by two-thirds. Families became more stable. Alcohol related disease decreased.

Other efforts included the establishing of settlement houses for the homeless and aid to the massive influx of immigrants during the first great wave of European immigration. Women especially took an interest in those who found themselves financially or morally bankrupt. By 1913 more than 500 urban rescue homes were organized and run by women of faith including Protestant, Catholics, and Jews, from urban slums to small mining villages.

The greatest good to emerge during the Great Awakening was the Abolition Movement. Opposition to slavery emerged out of the Christian churches. It began in England in Wesleyan Methodism and quickly gained hold in America among people of religious faith. The freeing of the Black slave, although laborious and painful, began as the work of men and women moved by Christian conviction.

Some religious thinkers say that today we are on the verge of another Great Awakening. One sign is the shift in public recognition that many of America’s current ills and challenges are moral in nature.

For example, the moral dimension of problems like addictions, STD’s, AIDS, abortion, family breakdown, is self-evident. More people recognize that healing these maladies will require a moral reorientation that needs to reach into most corners of the culture.

In the meantime, America faces other challenges such as the direction that scientific research should take as it probes the frontiers of life and death, or the abject failure of past policies to relieve poverty and homelessness in any lasting way are also at their foundation moral issues. Clearly we are at a crossroad.

When the nation acknowledges its helplessness in the face of these problems, renewal and restoration can begin. In some areas this is already happening.

When the time of renewal arrives, Orthodox Christianity will be offered an unprecedented opportunity to give this nation the ancient faith. We need to be ready for it.

The Orthodox faith has been in America for well over two hundred years but it had no appreciable presence except for the last hundred years or so. The first immigrants brought the faith to this new land not as missionaries but as people seeking a better life. Through a deep and abiding faith in God and hard work, they established their families, neighborhoods, and parishes.

Today that immigrant faith offers the nation a depth and stability difficult to find elsewhere. Countless Americans are searching for the Orthodox faith without realizing that the Orthodox Church is where they can find it. Specifically, the Orthodox believers must prepare to teach the Gospel of Christ as it is comprehended and articulated in the Tradition. People are being prepared to hear it.

This obligation falls on the shoulders of the Orthodox because the weakness of much of the Christian establishment in America. American Christianity is fractured. Many American churches are confused about faith in God.

Some of these churches have a noble history of leading the moral life of the nation in years past. In recent decades however, they have lost confidence and direction and often are indistinguishable from the culture they one time informed. Some have abdicated leadership altogether.

One reason for their decline is that the historical dynamics that shaped this nation are similar to those that shaped those churches – particularly the Protestant confessions. The rise of modern society and the rise of Protestant Christianity happened simultaneously.

In more recent times, the foundational beliefs and values that shaped this nation faced increasing skepticism and were even attacked in places. Many of these churches applied the same skepticism to the foundational tenets of their faith and met with the same paralyzing results. Even those churches that counter the skepticism with energetic critiques are not able to offer the depth and stability of faith that the nation sorely needs.

The Orthodox in America face the same perplexing questions, the same trials, and have the same responsibilities as every other American. However, Orthodoxy can avoid the internal skepticism and paralysis that afflicts other Christian churches because it draws from a tradition that predates the rise of modern society.

 When the yearning for things that are good and right and true finds its voice is when the new Great Awakening will be upon us. It already may be here. If the Orthodox believer remains faithful to the Gospel as he received it and if he loves God and neighbor as the commandment dictates, he offers America a deep and stable faith that can lead the nation towards clarity and healing.

Rev. Johannes L. Jacobse is president of the American Orthodox Institute.

Podcast: Orthodox Advocate For “Human Exceptionalism”

Wesley J. Smith

Wesley J. Smith

The centrality of human life in the created world is under attack on all fronts. At the very heart of the debate is whether humans have intrinsic value greater than animals, minerals and lifeless matter. Orthodox convert, lawyer, writer and “human exceptionalism” advocate Wesley J. Smith is at the vortex of this debate, and discusses the current issues that will determine whether our culture views human life as unique in the years ahead.

Listen here:

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Read Second Hand Smoke, Wesley J. Smith’s blog.

Podcast: The Culture War and Orthodox Christianity

Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse

Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse

Fr. Hans Jacobse, editor of Orthodoxy Today and President of The American Orthodox Institute speaks with host Kevin Allen about whether Eastern Orthodox Christians need to engage in the moral and social war that is being waged in our culture. They will also talk about whether “Religious Right” leaning ex-Evangelical converts are taking over the Orthodox churches in America! Buckle your seat belts!

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The Orthodox Church of Tomorrow

By: Fr. John A. Peck

Fr. John Peck

Fr. John Peck

There is an interesting phenomenon occurring in Orthodox Christianity in America today, and reflected powerfully in our seminaries. Seminaries are loaded almost exclusively with converts, reverts (cradle Orthodox who left the faith, and were re-converted to it again), and the sons and grandsons of clergy.

I believe we are looking at the future of the American Orthodox Church — today.

The notion that traditionally Orthodox ethnic groups (the group of ‘our people’ we hear so much about from our primates and hierarchs) are going to populate the ranks of the clergy, and therefore, the Church in the future is, frankly, a pipe dream. Orthodoxy, despite the failings of its leadership, has actually lived up to its own press. The truth of the Orthodox faith, as presented on paper, is actually being believed – by those who have no familial or historical connection with the Orthodox. These poor deluded souls (of which I count myself) actually believe what they are reading about the Orthodox faith, and expect the Church to act like, well, the Church. They refuse to accept the Church as a club of any kind, or closed circle kaffeeklatsch. No old world embassies will be tolerated for much longer – they will go the way of the dodo. No one will have to work against them; they will simply die from atrophy and neglect. The passing away of the Orthodox Church as ethnic club is already taking place. It will come to fruition in a short 10 years, 15 years in larger parishes.

This is a well known problem. Statistical studies taken a mere seven years ago predicted that within 10 years the Orthodox Church in the United States would for all practical purposes, no longer be viable. If nothing was done within five years (that’s two years ago) the decline would be irreversible. Demographics determine destiny, as they say. As you may have imagined, not only was "nothing done," such reports were surreptitiously filed away, while the calls for a solution from clergy and laity alike only increased. Larger jurisdictions will, of course, have a little more time, but not a different result.

What we are looking at, of course, is of the highest concern to the hierarchy. They know, in their heart of hearts, that they cannot reverse this trend. Yet they fight a rearguard action, hoping against hope to forestall the historically inevitable movement toward an American Orthodox Church.

Statistical studies taken a mere seven years ago predicted that within 10 years the Orthodox Church in the United States would for all practical purposes, no longer be viable.

The laity has already moved on. Americans, generally, don’t fall for very much strong arm intimidation or brow beating, don’t go for bullying by insecure leaders, and certainly don’t see the value of taking on and promoting someone else’s ethnic culture. They care about the Gospel, and the Gospel does not require Slavonic or Koine Greek, or even English for that matter. The Gospel requires context, which is why it cannot be transmitted in any language unknown to the listener.

When we look at our seminaries, we are looking at the Church of Tomorrow, the Church twenty years from now. Indeed, this is the Church we are building today.

Twenty years from now, I anticipate we will see the following:

  • Vastly diminished parishes, both in size and number. There will be a few exceptions, (and they will be exceptional!) but for the most part, most current Orthodox parishioners will age and die, and have no one to replace them. Why? Because as they have taught the context of their culture, instead teaching the context of their faith. Some parishes will simply be merged with others. Many will close outright. A few will change how they do ministry, with a new vision of parochial ecclesiology. These newer parishes will be lighthouses of genuine Orthodox piety and experience. Some parishes, I believe, will actually be formed specifically, in the old fashion, by purchasing land, building a chapel or Temple in the midst of it, and parishioners building or buying homes around it. The Church will be the center of their lives, and many will come from far and wide to experience their way of life.
  • Publicly renowned Orthodox media and apologetic ministries. These ministries are the ones providing a living and powerful apologetic for the Orthodox faith in our culture (that is, our 21st Century life in the United States), and actually providing the Gospel in its proper context – engaged in society and the public arena. These will succeed in visibility and public awareness more than all the speeches before the U.N. and odd newspaper stories about Orthodox Easter or Folk Dance Festivals could ever do. In other words, the Orthodox Christian faith will become that most dangerous of all things – relevant to the lives of Americans, and known to all Americans as a genuinely American Christian entity.
  • More (and younger) bishops. If our current slate of bishops has been mostly a disappointment, reducing their number will only tighten this closed circle, making the hierarchy less and less accessible, and more and more immune to things like, oh, the needs and concerns of their flock. The process of selection for the episcopacy will contain a far more thorough investigation, and men with active homosexual tendencies, psychological problems, insecurities, or addictions will simply not make the cut. We aren’t far from open persecution of Christians by secularists in this country, and we need bishops who know the score. With better bishops, no one will be able to ‘buy’ a priest out of a parish with a gift of cash. Conversely, parish councils will no longer be able to bully priests into staying out of their affairs, and will be required to get out of the restaurant/festival business and get into the soul saving business.
  • A very different demographic of clergy. Our priests will be composed of converts, reverts, and the sons and grandsons of venerable, long-suffering clergy. These men all know the score. They won’t tolerate nonsense like homosexual clergy (especially bishops), women’s ordination, or financial corruption. They will not tolerate the Church being regularly and unapologetically dishonored by her own clergy. Twenty years from now, these convert and revert priests will be sending life-long Orthodox men, a new cradle generation, en masse to our seminaries. They will be white, black, Asian, Polynesian, Hispanic, and everything in between. Fewer will be Russian, Greek, or any other traditionally Orthodox background.
  • Orthodox Biblical Studies. Orthodox Biblical scholarship will flourish, and will actually advance Biblical Studies, rather than tag along for the latest trends, staying a minimum safe distance back in case the latest theory tanks unexpectedly. Septuagint studies are already on the rise and Orthodox scholars will usurp the lead in this arena, establishing a powerful and lasting influence in Biblical Studies for decades to come. Orthodox higher education — specifically in Biblical Studies in the Orthodox tradition — will finally have a place at the doctoral level in the Western hemisphere, and it will become a thriving academic entity. The whole Church will feed on the gleanings of this new scholarship and Scriptural knowledge, preaching, and Biblical morality will invigorate the Church for generations.
  • A much higher moral standard from all clergy. The next twenty years will see a revival of practical ethics. Instead of trailing military or business ethics, the Church will, once again, require the highest standard of ethical and professional behavior from her clergy — and they will respond! The clergy will not tolerate lying, cheating, or stealing and hold to account those who practice these vices. They will vigorously defend the honor of Christ’s priesthood, and Christ’s Church. I dare say, even the clergy will finally respect their own priesthood.
  • Vocations will explode. As a result of the elevated ethical standard publicly expected from the clergy, candidates in far greater numbers will flock to the priesthood. There will be very full classes, distance education, self-study and continuing education going on in every location. Education at a basal level will disappear, except in introductory parish classes. Clergy will powerfully articulate Orthodoxy to the faithful and to the culture around them. Personal opinion will no longer be the standard for clergy when articulating Orthodox ethics and morality. Our seminaries must become beacons for this teaching, and give up "training culture" once and for all. We will finally begin to penetrate our society, rather than go along for the ride like a tick on a dog’s back.
  • Philanthropy will flow like the floodgates of heaven. Finally, the many Orthodox Christian philanthropists who annually give millions of dollars to secular institutions will finally find their own Church completely transparent, completely accountable, and worthy of their faith-building support. Let’s face it, there is more than enough money in Orthodoxy right now to build hospitals, clinics, schools, colleges, universities, and a new Hagia Sophia right here in the United States. The reason this is not being done is because these philanthropists are intelligent men and women who do not trust the hierarchy to do the right thing with their millions. This will change in short order once it is shown that transparency doesn’t destroy the Church, but strengthens it immeasurably. Frankly, I don’t anticipate every jurisdiction to do this in the next twenty years, but those that are practicing transparency will emerge as the leaders in every arena of Church existence.

Hope

This all may seem unlikely today, but it is coming.

How do I know this? For one thing, the last holdouts of corruption, Byzantine intrigue and phyletism (a fancy theological term for ethnic preference) are clinging desperately to a vision of the Church that is, quite frankly, dying fast. Oh, they are doing everything to shore up their power and influence, and busy serving their own needs, but their vision is dying. And where there is no vision, the people perish (Proverbs 29:18).

As frightening and disconcerting as it may seem to our leaders, they will learn that emerging from a cocoon, even a Byzantine cocoon, is not a bad thing. Orthodoxy is about to take flight on new beautiful wings. These are the birth pangs of a new era for Orthodoxy. God is giving us a time of freedom and light.

This new Orthodox Church will have a different face, will be ready for contemporary challenges, and will have begun to penetrate American society at every stage and on every level. This Church is the one that will be ready for the challenges of open persecution, fighting for the soul of every American, regardless of their genetic affiliation. This Church will be the one our grandchildren and great grandchildren will grow up in, looking back on the late 20th-early 21st century as a time of sentimental darkness from which burst forth the light of the Gospel. Let it begin.

Fr. John A. Peck is pastor of Prescott Orthodox Church in Prescott, Ariz.

Published: September 16, 2008

Interview with Bobby Maddex, Editor of "Salvo" magazine

By Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse

Salvo Magazine

Salvo Magazine

"Salvo" describes itself as a magazine committed to "deconstructing the damaging cultural myths that have undercut human dignity, all but destroyed the notions of virtue and morality, and slowly eroded the appetite for transcendence." Editor Bobby Maddex says "Salvo" aims for the type of reader that is "open-minded enough to follow the evidence wherever it leads, and invariably, it leads to Christ and his teachings." Maddex spoke recently with Rev. Johannes L. Jacobse, president of the American Orthodox Institute.

AOI: Welcome, Bobby. Good to have you especially as we inaugurate our interview series on Orthodox leaders who make a difference.

Maddex: Thank you. Good to be here.

AOI: The magazine has a youthful vibe. Describe the typical Salvo reader.

Maddex: Our typical reader is between the ages of 21 and 40, college educated, and at least somewhat religious. I would venture to say that our subscription base is split pretty evenly between Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant Christians, though we also have a number of secular subscribers due to the fact that we are not an overtly religious publication.

Bobby Maddex, Editor of Salvo

Bobby Maddex, Editor of Salvo

We believe that changes of mind will result in changes of heart further on down the road. In other words, we attempt to cultivate clear thinking about some of the more controversial cultural topics of the day in order to pave the way for the evangelical efforts of others. In terms of our Christian readers, this means that we are trying to prevent them from acceding to the false ideologies and cultural myths circulating throughout society, while we offer our secular readers perspectives on topics that they are not getting from the mainstream media.

Our "vibe," as you call it, was selected to counter the lies emanating from some of the hipper, youth-oriented, and hugely popular newsstand magazines-such as Rolling Stone and Wired. We were tired of the monopoly that these publications had on slick, edgy, and highly ironic content, especially since the worldviews that inhere in such content are so nihilistic, materialistic, and immoral. We are trying to fight fire with fire, using the rhetorical and design tactics of our competition, but in the service of Truth and right living rather than narcissism and a do-what-feels-good behavioral ethic.

AOI: Clearly, you draw from the received moral tradition, particularly when you challenge the secular trends. We don’t see enough of this responsibly done. Why take this approach?

Maddex: Here’s the thing-and it’s something that both our Christian and secular readers are coming to recognize: The Christian worldview, objectively speaking, leads to the healthiest, most satisfying, and most rewarding way of life. Even if one never buys into the underlying theology of Christianity, he will still find that the moral precepts that result from it are entirely practical and psychologically beneficial. Countless scientific studies have show this to be true, and we at Salvo surmise that the reason this is so is because Christianity represents total truth about all of reality. Our readers are young adults who are open-minded enough to follow the evidence wherever it leads, and invariably, it leads to Christ and his teachings.

The problem today is that some Christians, in an effort to engage the culture (which St. Paul definitely encourages us to do), have instead allowed the culture to engage them. Longstanding moral principles-and in some cases, orthodox (small "o") Christian theology-are being abandoned in the name of attracting converts, especially in the areas of sexuality and bioethics. But what such Christians are really doing is depleting the fullness of the faith, which includes bold moral lines that simply should not be crossed. The fear, I think, especially in American culture, is that by calling attention to such lines, we will offend the sensibilities of the secular world. But the cross has already done that; it is an offense in and of itself.

Some Christians, in an effort to engage the culture (which St. Paul definitely encourages us to do), have instead allowed the culture to engage them.

Christianity is antithetical to the culture. Our devotion to it makes us offensive from the get-go. In other words, you know something is wrong when your values no longer offend; it most likely means that you are becoming a part of-and not merely engaging-secular society. And as I said earlier, we have a moral obligation to help keep others from caving in to the culture’s value system, because it will likewise prevent them from making choices that have the propensity to deteriorate their mental, physical, and spiritual health.

AOI: What kind of response are you getting from readers?

Maddex: Most of the responses have been very encouraging. Sure, there are a few who have objected to the in-your-face style of Salvo, as well as to our unyielding opposition to such things as abortion and homosexuality. The charge is that we are not following Christ’s example of love and acceptance when we reject such lifestyle decisions out of hand-that these issues are fraught with complexities that demand a softer touch. But how loving is it, really, to allow sinful behaviors to become culturally destigmatized? We’re talking human souls here; to not call a spade a spade is to make sin a more attractive and enticing option that could obstruct one’s path to salvation. Besides, the Christ of the bible is no hippie-dippy love child. He turned the tables in the temple, responded to some of the disciples’ dumber questions with irony and sarcasm, and suffered death for his commitment to Truth. Yes, I definitely believe that we are called to love the sinner, but sometimes the most loving thing to do for a person is to slap him in the face. I know it has helped me on countless occasions.

Salvo attempts to cultivate clear thinking about some of the more controversial cultural topics of the day in order to pave the way for the evangelical efforts of others.

But again, most of what we hear is that Salvo has helped readers change and improve their lives. Those who are Christian typically tell us that, before reading the magazine, they didn’t know why they held the beliefs that they did. I mean, they knew that they were following the teachings of scripture and church tradition, but they didn’t know that these beliefs had a practical dimension as well-that their beliefs were rooted in logic and common sense, as well as the bible and the church fathers. Secular readers, on the other hand, usually say that Salvo has provided them with food for thought on topics that they had never before considered. For example, I can recall one reader who told us that he came to terms with his pornography addiction as the result of an article we ran on the subject in Salvo 2. Such responses keep me energized and focused.

AOI: What do you think are the most pressing issues facing the culture?

Maddex: I would have to say those issues that revolve around human dignity. You know, even the very notion of human dignity has fallen under attack in recent years. Scientists such as Patricia Churchland, Ruth Macklin, and Steven Pinker have argued that it is a useless concept in light of evolutionary findings. According to them, humans have no more value or worth than any other creature on earth. Spain has granted personhood to apes under the same logic, and the Swiss now have laws that protect the "dignity" of plants. We are no longer viewed as having a privileged place in the world; nor are we treating human beings as if they were made in the image of God.

This loss of human dignity is what fuels our culture of death.

This loss of human dignity is what fuels our culture of death. At the same time that the lives of an increasing number of non-human organisms are being protected, laws that protect human life are on the decline. Abortion has become a common component of our culture, the death-tourism trade (in which people travel to foreign countries in order to undergo assisted suicide) is on the rise, and scientific procedures such as cloning, embryonic stem-cell research, and in vitro fertilization are part of a booming business that takes life to make life. Regardless of whether you believe that the Genesis story is actual history or mere metaphor, its point-that we are special to God-remains. God took on the flesh of man so that man might be saved. To reject human dignity is thus to reject God’s salvific plan.

AOI: Coming up with new material for a quarterly means you have to stay up on cultural trends and the latest ideas. What are some of your favorite online and print influences? Television and film?

Maddex: Just in terms of overall style and structure, Wired magazine has influenced me tremendously. It’s so well done-so appealing and fascinating and easy to read. Everything from the paper quality to the images to the names of the departments is incredibly well-conceived and well-suited to the magazine’s mission and content. Of course, the naturalistic worldview of Wired leaves much to be desired, but as far as the magazine genre goes, I think it most perfectly utilizes the form.

I’m also a big fan of The New Atlantis, a science and technology journal that is always extremely insightful and well-written, particularly those articles composed by Senior Editor Christine Rosen. I learn a ton every time I pick it up.

In terms of online resources, you can’t beat LifeSiteNews.com. I believe it’s run by Canadian Catholics, but it is global in content and includes links to any news story even marginally related to the family. I also love MercatorNet, the Australian equivalent of Salvo, which is hip, witty, and excellently edited, and the website for Stand To Reason, Greg Koukl’s Christian apologetics organization.

And then there’s the journalist Dinesh D’Souza, who just recently joined our editorial advisory board. In a lot of ways, he functions as a sort of patron saint of Salvo, providing razor-sharp insights into American culture. His two most recent books, The Enemy at Home and What’s So Great About Christianity, perfectly model what Salvo is trying to do, as does Nancy Pearcey’s book Total Truth.

For entertainment reviews and news, I go directly to Barbara Nicolosi, the Hollywood screenwriter and executive director of Act One, Inc. Her blogsite, Church of the Masses, contains some of the most erudite and morally solid assessments of film and television available. And I also love Ben Stein and Evan Coyne Maloney. These guys made two of the most thought-provoking documentaries of the past year. Stein’s film, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, exposes the manner in which the scientific community blackballs anyone who dares question even a mere aspect of evolutionary theory, and Maloney’s film, Indoctrinate U, examines the socially liberal bias on American college campuses.

AOI: Your Christian background is Orthodox but Salvo has an appeal that reaches far beyond Orthodox walls. How do you see the other Christian communions contributing to Salvo?

Maddex: I think my list of influences definitely speaks to this question. There’s a culture war going on right now between naturalists and supernaturalists-between those who believe that the material universe is all that there is and those who believe that there is a transcendent reality to which we are subject. If the naturalists win, then our culture will finally and fully become nihilistic, permeated with moral relativism and a complete lack of meaning. All Christians, regardless of denomination, must be involved in this particular battle. It’s one in which we all have a vested interest, and-thankfully-one in which many Christians have already put aside their differences to fight side by side.

I completely understand that there are huge theological issues separating each of the three great traditions of Christendom-Catholics, Protestants, and the Orthodox-and having converted to Orthodoxy, I definitely took a side here as well. But the culture war is a battle that we can all fight together without compromising on any of our differences. The worst thing we could do is refuse to work together on matters upon which we all agree because of those issues upon which we don’t. That’s the surest path to defeat. Fortunately, Salvo has been blessed with individuals who understand what’s at stake and have formed provisional alliances as a result.

AOI: Your subheading for the journal is "Science, Sex, and Society." Why did you pick these three themes?

Maddex: Well, that pretty much covers everything that we mean by the word "culture," right? Under the category of "sex," for example, Salvo looks at such things as in vitro fertilization, alternative sexualities, gender theory, contraception, and pornography. In science, we are looking at the theory of Intelligent Design, Darwinism, the origins of life, and bioethics. And under society, we are looking at the influence of the media and the academy, at consumerism and family makeup, at art, music, film, literature, and anything else that might impact the worldview of young adults. There is not an aspect of culture that Salvo does not address, and we felt that the tagline "science, sex, and society" encompasses them all.

What many Christians lack these days is the ability to think critically about highly persuasive messages and ways of being that have the potential to negatively impact their lives.

AOI: Where is Salvo heading?

Maddex: That’s a really good question. I’ve never thought of Salvo as merely a magazine; rather, I’ve always viewed it as a movement-as the beginning of a mass resistance to dominant cultural myths that is not dependent on any one medium. I would love to see us grow and thrive to the point where we host film screenings, discussion groups, and media-literacy conferences-where we organize protests, create home-school curricula, and bring speakers to college campuses. I want Salvo to become a multi-media assault on all of the destructive lies emanating from Hollywood, the academy, legacy news outlets, and the Darwinist science community.

In the meantime, we’ll keep pumping out magazines. We just went to print with an issue on what Dr. Allan Carlson calls "the natural family," and our next issue tackles the New Atheists. Beyond that, I would love to do an issue on "environmentalism versus stewardship," or one on "psychology as religion," though we will most likely stop doing thematic issues after Salvo 7. The problem has been that each reader has his own pet topics that he wants to read about, and when an issue focuses on a single topic, we lose the interest of readers who are geared toward something else. Thus, beginning with Salvo 8, we will probably fill each quarterly issue with a full range of articles that fall within our mission. We’ll still have a cover story, obviously, but the rest of the magazine will concentrate on other things. I think it’s a smart move that will make Salvo more appealing to a wider group of readers. I’m excited about it.

AOI: You mention that Salvo seeks the "systematic deconstruction of false ideologies, philosophies, and worldviews." What do you mean by this? Why is it important?

Maddex: What many Christians lack these days is the ability to think critically about highly persuasive messages and ways of being that have the potential to negatively impact their lives. To some degree, Salvo is trying to teach our readers to think-to provide examples of clear thinking about the pressing issues of the day in an intellectual, though very readable, format.

Let me give you an example. Slated for Salvo 7 is an article by Dr. Karen Swallow Prior, an English professor at Liberty University, that counters the accusations of such New Atheists as Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Sam Harris. In it, she describes a private meeting that she had with two students who had begun to question their Christian faith. The reason? For the first time in their lives, they had been confronted-via the bestselling books of these New Atheist authors-with serious (in their minds at least) arguments against the existence of God. What Prior goes on to point out is that these students simply weren’t trained by their Christian parents, churches, and schools to understand that such arguments exist. They were thus unaware that there is likewise a whole host of solid counter-arguments that sufficiently answer the New Atheist claims. As a result, these kids were severing their relationship with Christ.

Salvo was created to prevent this sort of thing from happening. We are trying to reach young adults before their worldviews have solidified-while they are still searching for answers to the significant questions of life. It is so important that they have access to all of the information before settling into their habits of mind. Again, we are talking about the salvation of souls here, and a false assumption formed early in life is all that it might take to send someone careening into an eternity of meaninglessness and despair.

AOI: Where can we find Salvo?

Maddex: The magazine is becoming available at an increasing number of Barnes & Noble booksellers. We have a list of the stores that currently carry Salvo at http://salvomag.typepad.com/blog/2008/06/salvo-5-on-news.html.

But you can also, of course, order a subscription to our magazine on our website at http://www.salvomag.com/new/subservices.php. We also sell back issues here, and there is a ton of free content as well, including a daily blog, daily news items, podcasts, a suggested reading list, and Ism Central, our guide to every ideology under the sun. Please feel free to drop by.

Bobby Maddex graduated from Wheaton College in 1994 with a degree in Political Science. After spending five years as senior editor of "Gadfly," a national arts and culture publication out of Charlottesville, Virginia, and serving a one-year stint as the marketing director of "Touchstone" magazine in Chicago, he earned a Masters Degree in British Literature from DePaul University in 2002. Bobby is now the editor of "Salvo," a magazine committed to deconstructing the damaging cultural myths that have undercut human dignity, all but destroyed the notions of virtue and morality, and slowly eroded the appetite for transcendence.

The American Orthodox Insitute

Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse

Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse


Learn about this new and important resource designed to address social and moral concerns in our society from an Orthodox perspective. We talk with Fr. Hans Jacobse about the newly established American Orthodox Institute.

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