Marvin Olasky

Senior Fellow, Center for Science and Culture

Marvin Olasky is a Senior Fellow of Discovery Institute and its Center for Science and Culture. He edited WORLD magazine from 1992 to 2021 and was a professor, provost, chairholder, and dean at The University of Texas at Austin, The King’s College, Patrick Henry College, and the World Journalism Institute from 1983 to 2021. He is the author of 28 books including The Tragedy of American Compassion, Fighting for Liberty and Virtue, Abortion Rites, Reforming Journalism, and Lament for a Father.

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Dr. Olasky earned an A.B. from Yale University in 1971 and a Ph.D. in American Culture from the University of Michigan in 1976. He was a Boston Globe correspondent and a Du Pont Company coordinator, and has written 5,000 articles for publications including World, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and Fortune.

Dr. Olasky is a Presbyterian Church in America elder and has chaired the boards of City School of Austin and the Austin Crisis Pregnancy Center. He has spoken on six continents and his writings have been translated into Chinese, Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese, and Russian. He has been to 79 major league and spring training ballparks, all 254 Texas counties, and all three Delaware counties.

Marvin has been married for 45 years and has four sons, four daughters-in-law, and five grandchildren. He has been a foster parent, a PTA president, a cross-country bicycle rider, an informal advisor to George W. Bush, and a Little League assistant coach.


Remaking the World, Past and Present

Andrew Wilson’s Remaking the World: How 1776 Created the Post-Christian West (Crossway, 2023) has probably left dozens of historians groaning, Why didn’t I think of that? Wilson could have written one more bloviating account of how the WEIRD revolution — Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic — affected the world during the past 250 years. Instead, he concentrated on the one year that brought forth our Declaration of Independence, Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason draft, Edward Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and many other seminal texts. Wilson combines on-point research and clear writing. Patrick Weil’s The Madman in the White House (Harvard, 2023) is two interesting books in one. The “madman” is

The Four Phases of Recovery at Forge Center

Last year I wrote about how formerly-homeless residents of the Orange County Rescue Mission in California could progress through an 18-month program in four phases that give them the readiness to live on their own. Through hard experience the Forge Center in Joplin, Missouri has also come up with four phases, with completion possible in 16 months.

Drugs and Homelessness

Last week we gave our third annual set of Zenger Prizes to ten journalists for articles or podcasts that emphasize good street-level reporting and a willingness to see that all human beings have value. One of the winners we announced is Sam Quinones, for an article he wrote in The Atlantic updating his acute analysis of America's drug crisis.

Bond, Austin Bond

I don’t think he’s unrealistic in hoping to communicate his new understanding to people unlikely to show up at church

Pivot Points

Adventures on the Road to Christian Contentment, A Memoir
Whenever we pivot in life, freedom from fear requires either a colossal ego or a colossal God. Ego leads us to grab what is not ours. The path to contentment starts with faith in God. In this sequel to Lament for a Father, Marvin Olasky first describes his journey from Judaism to atheism to Marxism to Christ and then his adventures in evangelical, conservative, compassionate, and journalistic circles. Pivot Points is available for order now. Use coupon code MARVIN for 40% off Pivot Points. The coupon code will be active from March 13 through March 31, 2024.  Endorsements A fascinating look at some of the most significant events of the past fifty years. Marvin shaped a generation of writers and editors as they faithfully sought to tell the stories of

Five Fine History Books

The best biography I’ve read the past year is Elizabeth Varon’s Longstreet: The Confederate General Who Defied the South (Simon & Schuster, 2023). Robert E. Lee saw northern victory resulting from a brutal turning of soldiers into cannon fodder, and did not admit that slavery was wrong. But James Longstreet, Lee’s right hand after Stonewall Jackson died, joined the Republican Party after the war and courageously wrote, “The only true solution for Southern troubles is for the people to accept cordially and in good faith all the results of the war, including the reconstruction measures, the acts of Congress, negro suffrage, etc.” For Longstreet, acceptance meant treating freed slaves as human beings, not chattel. He urged southern whites to “extend charity if they expect

Black History Month Books

Frederick Douglass after his escape from slavery wrote three terrific autobiographies, including My Bondage and My Freedom (1855), which since 2010 has been reprinted at least eight times by various publishers. Far less known is the escape from Georgia to Boston of enslaved Ellen and William Craft in 1848: She could pass for white and disguised herself as a wealthy disabled man traveling with “his” slave. Ilyon Woo brings the story to life in Master Slave Husband Wife (Simon and Schuster, 2023). Douglass was the paramount Black leader from the 1850s through the 1880s, as Martin Luther King Jr. was in the 1950s and 1960s. Jonathan Eig’s King: A Life (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2023) tells well the story of “the complicated King, the flawed King, the human King, the radical

Wedding Day in Eden

People become homeless for a variety of reasons, but the common denominator tends to be a lack of family support.

Hard Choices in Eden

I’m full of admiration for Nate and Kelbi Schlueter, who with a tiny staff manage Eden Village’s population — 25 complicated individuals, all of whom have had hard lives.

Not the Brady Bunch

But I relearned the importance of not making snap judgments. Victor Osburn, who is 55 and lives in 14E, said “I’m schizophrenic” and proceeded to warn me about the dangers surrounding Eden Village

What You Are Looking For is In the Library

In this newsletter I mostly review nonfiction, but on a wintry night many people want to snuggle up with a novel. Here are four suggestions, starting with Michiko Aoyama’s What You Are Looking For is In the Library (Alison Watts translation, Doubleday, 2023). It’s a charming tale from Japan of people searching for change and getting the nudge they need from a wise librarian. On the way they learn about interconnections. Derek Miller’s The Curse of Pietro Houdini (Simon and Schuster, 2024) is a beautifully-crafted novel with twists, turns, witty dialogue, a witless donkey, and well-sketched characters with broken legs and hearts. The two main characters—a 14-year-old orphan and a distant relative of Mussolini—struggle to stay alive in World War II Italy and smuggle out from a