First Things’ January issue has been sent out to subscribers, and is now available online. It is, if we might say so, brimming with intellectual variety.
The issue opens with James Nuechterlein’s “Public Square” column, in which he analyzes the roots of discomfort with patriotism, and how those who value religious orthodoxy can be patriots without being idolaters. Then Gabriel Said Reynold’s essay, “Evangelizing Islam,” examines the religious roulette surrounding the question of conversion away from Islam. Also of international flavor is Susie Poppick’s “The Last of the Saffron Monks,” chronicling the lives of exiled Burmese Buhddist monks as they seek refuge and enlightenment in America.
Moving on to the essays, first up is Elbridge A. Colby, who offers a nuanced and carefully pragmatic view of the Catholic teaching on nuclear deterrence, in “Keeping the Peace.” David Novak then offers First Things readers a treat in a historical review of New York’s legendary Lubavitcher Rebbe and his messianic following. In “The Ruins of Discontinuity,” this month’s first free article, Reinhard Hütter explores the future of Catholic theology, which, he argues, “can be maintained only if we explicitly conceive of it as an ecclesial intellectual practice of the Church, arising from the Church’s nature and mission.“ Bridging today’s troublesome gap between scientists and philosophers, University of St. Andrews philosopher John Haldane critiques Stephen Hawking in “Philosophy Lives,” the issue’s final essay, arguing that philosophy is far from being dead and is, in fact, reinvigorated by the (unwitting) philosophic claims made by prominent scientists. Haldane’s essay is also available for free, online.
The issue also includes reviews of Roger Scruton’s newest title The Uses of Pessimism (reviewed by R.R. Reno), the Brazos Theological Commentary on 1 Samuel (reviewed by Gary A. Anderson), as well as Yoel Finkelman’s take on The 188th Crybaby Brigade, a narrative about life in the Israeli army. Also in our pages is Gilbert Meilander’s review of Cosmos, Life, and Liturgy in a Greek Orthodox Village and Mary Rose Somarriba’s review of Sarah Dubow’s new book, Ourselves Unborn: A History of the Fetus in Modern America.
To round things out, there are incisive Letters to the Editor, an architecture column (on Le Corbusier’s Church of Staint-Pierre de Firminy), First Things’ “Sunday Best” feature, poetry, and the roadmap of religion and culture news and irony in this month’s “While We’re At It” section.