R.R. Reno is editor of First Things.

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The Right Tax to Support Education

From First Thoughts

The Obama administration dropped its call for taxes on 529 college savings plans. These are tax-preferred savings vehicles that allow families to put away money to pay for Junior’s college expenses when the time comes. The outcry against this proposal was not surprising, and it makes no sense to undermine the program. Continue Reading »

De Blasio’s Anti-Police Populism

From Web Exclusives

New York City Police Officer Wenjian Liu was buried on Sunday. He was killed before Christmas, along with Officer Rafael Ramos, by Ismaaiyl Brinsley, a mentally-ill black man who wanted to exact retribution for the death of Eric Garner, also black, who suffocated as the result of a police chokehold during his arrest. At the funeral for both, a number of police officers turned their back when Mayor Bill De Blasio spoke. Continue Reading »

A New Concordat?

From the January 2015 Print Edition

Vox temporis, vox Dei: The voice of the times is the voice of God. On issue after issue we’re told the Future has spoken. History has issued its irrevocable decrees, and woe unto him who does not heed them. This atmosphere of inevitability was on my mind as I read Dietrich von Hildebrand’s Nazi-era memoirs. They have recently been translated by John Henry Crosby and John F. Crosby, and they serve as the centerpiece of a collection of his anti-Nazi writings, My Battle Against Hitler: Faith, Truth, and Defiance in the Shadow of the Third Reich, just out from Image. One is impressed by Hildebrand’s prescient recognition of Nazism’s threat to civilization. He often refers to it as “the Antichrist.” But more important, at least for me, these remembrances of Germany’s dark decades are filled with lament over the many instances of Catholicism’s capitulation, even collaboration. There were heroic exceptions, yes, as well as countless individuals who lived in quiet opposition. But the official Church too often went along. Facing the very different challenges posed by the sexual revolution, we can learn from this sad episode in the Church’s history. Hildebrand converted to Catholicism in 1914, and after the war he took a teaching appointment at the University of Munich. It was during the postwar period of political unrest, assassinations, and paramilitary conflict that ­Hitler launched his movement in Munich and participated in the failed 1923 Beer Hall Putsch. Hildebrand saw in Hitler a profoundly anti-Christian spirit. This was not because of the nationalism and anti-Semitism Hitler promoted. Hildebrand vigorously opposed both, but sadly these attitudes were widespread. Rather, it was Nazism’s belief in power and its promise that the knotted difficulties facing Germany could be simply cut—and cut with a sharp, ruthless blow. This mentality was capable of justifying anything. As Hitler rose to power in the early 1930s, Hildebrand rang the alarm bell again and again. Active in Catholic intellectual circles, he gave papers denouncing “the poison of collectivism.” He tried to rally colleagues and to put spine into church leaders, but without much success. Continue Reading »

While We’re At It

From the January 2015 Print Edition

  • Are most American Christians heretics? A recent online survey of three thousand Americans conducted by LifeWay Research indicates we’re certainly confused. More than two-thirds of Americans believe there is one true God in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But ask them if the Holy Spirit is a force rather than a person and 64 percent will say “yes.” So God is three persons—except when he’s two plus a “force.”

  • And then there’s the Pelagianism. More than half of Americans agree that salvation is in Christ alone. Yet 71 percent agree that a person needs to contribute some effort to his salvation. Sixty-four percent say we need to take the first step to be at peace with God. So it seems Christ alone saves—except for the part we contribute. Along the same lines, an overwhelming majority allows that we sin but nevertheless believes most people are by nature good.
  • Continue Reading »

    Campaign Report

    From First Thoughts

    Dear Reader,One week ago, First Things began a ten-day campaign to help us reach our end of year goal of raising $400,000 from our magazine and online readers. I’m happy to report that we have raised $285,190.04 thus far! That means we have just $114,809.96 left to raise to meet our $400,000 . . . . Continue Reading »

    We’re in the Way

    From First Thoughts

    On Monday, First Things took its end of year campaign online for a ten-day push to complete our goal of raising $400,000 from our readers by the end of the year. Will you help us reach this goal by making a gift today?

    Where Faith Has a Voice

    From First Thoughts

    Dear Reader,Thank you for being a reader of First Things. I’m grateful to have you as part of our conspiracy of truth.You’ll be hearing from us more frequently over the next ten days as we continue our year-end donation campaign. Our goal is to raise $400,000 by the end of the year. With . . . . Continue Reading »

    Beyond Cuba and Castro

    From Web Exclusives

    Thawing relations with Cuba was the right thing to do. We’re a long, long way from the early 1960s when Cuba was a Soviet satellite and the prospect of nuclear missiles ninety miles from Miami posed a direct threat to our national security. We’re also a long way from the 1970s when Cuba was trying to export revolution to Angola and elsewhere. Fidel Castro is dying. His Marxist dream has been dying for more than twenty years. There’s nothing about Cuba in 2014 that poses a risk to American interests. Continue Reading »

    University of St. Thomas and NARAL

    From First Thoughts

    Yesterday I drew attention to the unfortunate fact that the Biology Department at the University of St. Thomas was directing its students toward pro-abortion activism. Okay, that was a bit too strong. I should have written “listed.” The Biology Department’s website listed NARAL and Planned Parenthood as volunteer opportunities. Continue Reading »