R.R. Reno is editor of First Things.

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An August Aphorism

From First Thoughts

I’ve been trying my hand at aphorisms.  It seems like a pencil twirling, stare out the window, August thing to do.  Here’s one. A rich irony: diversity is the slogan used by progressives to avoid talking to people they disagree with. . . . . Continue Reading »

Reading In August

From Web Exclusives

I love the long languid days of late summer. The lawns roasted light brown, the much longed for arrival of local tomatoes (may the good Lord deliver us from the commercially produced monstrosities), sweet corn, baseball on the radio, vacations, sighs of regret that Labor Day is close at hand”yes, there is something about August that lends itself to indulgent repose. And reading… . Continue Reading »

Our Muslim Allies

From Web Exclusives

In the book of Exodus, Moses confronts Pharaoh, giving a sign of God’s power by turning his staff into a serpent. Pharaoh is nonplussed, and he gathers his magicians to prepare a counter assault. They turn their staffs into serpents as well, but the serpent that comes from the rod of Moses swallows them all (Exod. 7:8-13). In the Qu’ran, the encounter unfolds in the same way (Sura 7:103-127, with a much shorter version in Sura 79:15-25). What is fascinating however, is the ending… . Continue Reading »

Beers at the White House

From First Thoughts

Good for President Obama. In the aftermath of his foolish, off the cuff remarks about the arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the President took some advice from police sergeant James Crowley and invited the duo to the White House for beers and a chat. Gates is still clinging to a false reading of . . . . Continue Reading »

Henry Louis Gates Owes an Apology

From First Thoughts

Well, it seems that the tender sensibilities of a famous Harvard professor were offended. He and his driver put their shoulders to his front door. A neighbor called the police. The officer responded and adopted the usual officious and superior manner of policemen. As a man who knows only deference . . . . Continue Reading »

Gays, Non-Discrimination, and the USCCB

From First Thoughts

You gotta love the political lobbying arm of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Their 2009 legislative round-up provides an insight into the priorities of Catholic officialdom. One item is particularly interesting. The report sums up Barney Frank’s bill, H.R. 3685, The . . . . Continue Reading »

Defending Truth

From Web Exclusives

Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. (1877“1964), was the twentieth-century Catholic theologian whose outlook and intellectual projects epitomized the confident intransigence of the pre-Vatican II Church. Professor of theology at the Angelicum in Rome for many decades, Garrigou-Lagrange taught Aristotle and St. Thomas to many generations of seminarians. As a consultant to the Holy Office, he played an important role in the intellectual politics of mid-century Catholicism. His reputation was clear: hardnosed about truth and in favor of the use of church authority in its defense.

In recent decades, Garrigou and the Catholic sensibility he embodied has been out of style, very out of style. Richard McCormick, Roger Haight, Elizabeth Johnson, Monica Hellwig, Charles Curran, Gregory Baum, David Tracy, and other post-Vatican II theologians emerged as the standard bearers for what they hoped would be a new church, a new spirit, and a new age. They wanted to be flexible and pluralistic when it came to truth, and they were suspicious when it came to authority, especially church authority.

Time has passed. The young progressives have aged and grayed… . Continue Reading »

Further Thoughts on Localism

From First Thoughts

I’m glad Jody drew attention to Caleb Stegall’s intervention. Stegall is surely right that love is the “existential engine” of localism . Indeed, by my reckoning, love is the existential engine of any thick and substantial cultural identity. Yes, of course love is jealous. The . . . . Continue Reading »

Localism and Anti-Semitism

From First Thoughts

Yes, Jody rightly draws attention to the role of anti-Semitism in the sort of modern conservatism that sees history, tradition, and place as anchors of sanity. By my reading, however, that role is complicated and full of ironies. One irony comes from the Stalinist era. “Rootless . . . . Continue Reading »