Soul of France

From First Thoughts

In the first pages of We Have Been Friends Together, Raïssa ­Maritain recounts one of her earliest memories. She is five, and her parents have rented a room in their house to a woman who holds classes for young children. She remembers watching this strange woman from afar with hushed reverence: “I heard the multiplication table being repeated . . . and I was overwhelmed with the feeling that here was instruction and knowledge and a truth to be known; and my heart almost burst with the desire to know.” . . . . Continue Reading »

What Do You Love?

From First Thoughts

My weight is my love. Wherever I am carried, my love is carrying me.­–Augustine, Confessions What do you want? This is the fundamental question of Christian discipleship. Christ asks two future disciples quite pointedly in the Gospel of John, and asks it indirectly in a number of places: “Will . . . . Continue Reading »

The Icon Painter

From First Thoughts

What is the role of the icon painter? We can only begin to answer this question by turning to the fact of the Incarnation—“And the word was made flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Christ is the “icon of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15). It is because the second person of the Trinity . . . . Continue Reading »

For Those Curious Young Minds

From First Thoughts

Some of my fellow staff members here at First Things have written reflections on what sets First Things apart for them, and why our magazine is worthy of support—see Matthew Schmitz’s, Alexi Sargeant’s, and Carl Trueman’s here. They’ve covered a lot of ground. I will add this: There is a . . . . Continue Reading »

Who Were the Inklings?

From First Thoughts

The name they chose for their group was, J. R. R. Tolkien self-effacingly recalls, “a pleasantly ingenious pun . . . suggesting people with vague or half-formed intimations and ideas plus those who dabble in ink.” The description conjures a picture of “donnish dreaminess,” a rag-tag band of tweed-clad writers who met for a pint from time to time. Continue Reading »

Notre Dame's Core Curriculum Review

From Web Exclusives

Much has already been written on the University of Notre Dame’s current core curriculum review—and on its toying with the idea of dropping the two undergraduate theology requirements. The question has been addressed from a number of angles: Margaret Blume, a doctoral student in theology at ND, . . . . Continue Reading »

Lots of Options

From First Thoughts

There’s been a lot of talk in recent months about which “Option” the Church in this country should take in the face of an encroaching and unflinching “new world liberalism” and the accompanying disintegration of the long-trusted “built better argument.” In his column last month, C. C. Pecknold considered the “Benedict Option” but ultimately opted for the “Dominican Option” because it was less of a “withdrawal” and more of a dynamic “engagement with the world.” Dale Coulter then criticized Pecknold’s argument—and rightly—for being, first, a little narrow-minded in its construal of the Benedictine charism as “withdrawal” but then, more broadly, for being a little narrow-minded in its attempt to hold up one paradigmatic charism. “The beauty of Christianity,” he writes, “has been that cultural engagement emerges from the variety of charisms that the Spirit bestows. There will always be a Benedictine option and a Dominican option.” Amen to that. But I’d like to take this a little further. Continue Reading »