Nativity Scenes

From First Thoughts

Nativity scenes set the tone of Christmas. There are placid olive-wood ones, arranged in hushed stillness amid pine sprigs and juniper. There are bejeweled rainbow ones, frozen on hills of cotton batting and glinting merrily in the candlelight. There are illuminated plastic figures, the size of . . . . Continue Reading »

Scripture and Tradition

From First Thoughts

What you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (2 Tim. 2:2) The Congregation for the Clergy has a new online resource, Biblia Clerus , excellent for clergy, catechists, and anyone seeking to read the Word of God in light of the . . . . Continue Reading »

Poetry of John of the Cross

From First Thoughts

For now we see through a glass, darkly . . . St. John of the Cross, whose feast was yesterday, would be the first to agree. But sometimes the Carmelite mystic’s poetry gives me the impression that he saw, as St. Paul put it, face to face . There are, for example, these two letrillos, superbly . . . . Continue Reading »

Christmas vs. Ramadan: 372–376

From First Thoughts

Glad Tidings? Last week the House of Representatives voted, 372 to 9, to recognize the “importance of Christmas and the Christian faith,” acknowledging Christianity as “one of the great religions of the world.” See the full resolution and roll call here . But don’t . . . . Continue Reading »

Spindly Minds

From First Thoughts

While archiving First Things’ past issues the other day, I came across these lines. Had Edna St. Vincent Millay lived to see the twenty-first century, the information-deluge would have taken on a whole new dimension! Upon this age, that never speaks its mind, This furtive age, this age . . . . Continue Reading »

A Decidedly Unsappy Bella

From Web Exclusives

Chick flicks are the caramel-lattés of romantic comedy¯sweet and frothy, without much nutritional value. Chick flicks reheat the Cinderella story and serve it up with topping for a cozy evening: Boy meets girl, complications ensue, love saves the day¯and in the end, the stepsisters . . . . Continue Reading »

Life, the University, and Everything

From Web Exclusives

There are questions so big they’re almost laughable. What is the meaning of life? for instance. We’ve been grappling with that one ever since Adam and Eve saw the first exit sign. Our modern technology promises many blessings, but a GPS of life-direction is not among them. In diligent . . . . Continue Reading »

First Things Issues (So to Speak)

From Web Exclusives

A longtime subscriber has more than a decade of past issues of First Things ¯but lacks the shelf space to hold them. Ideally, he’d like to donate them to a library and only asks to be reimbursed for postage. If you know of a place that could put these issues to good use, email us at . . . . Continue Reading »

God and Imaginary Numbers

From Web Exclusives

Impossible, irrational, delusionary, absurd, untrustworthy, fictitious, imaginary: You can’t read much about religion today without encountering these adjectives, each intended to leave religious belief with a tired, messy, belittled sort of look.You see it most with those who claim to be . . . . Continue Reading »