Briefly Noted

From the December 2016 Print Edition

Exodusby thomas joseph white, o.p.brazos, 336 pages, $32.99 In days past, to study Scripture was to study the tradition of its reception. The sacred text was read with the Fathers of the Church, accompanied by commentaries and catenae, with frequent glosses explaining the meaning of difficult . . . . Continue Reading »

Francis’s Argentine Letter and the Proper Response

From First Thoughts

The real problem with the Argentine norms is their deviation from this larger and more fundamental principle: that grace truly sanctifies and liberates, and that baptized Christians are always free to fulfill the moral law, even when they fail to do so. Jesus Christ holds us to this standard in the Gospel. It is presumptuous of Francis—however benign his intentions—to decide that his version of “mercy” trumps that given by God himself. Continue Reading »

A Response to Fr. James Martin on the Orlando Massacre

From First Thoughts

On Tuesday, Fr. James Martin, the Jesuit journalist and editor-at-large of America, posted a video on Facebook about the recent massacre in Orlando. In his video, Fr. Martin expresses his dismay over the responses of the American Catholic bishops, not because the bishops failed to express sorrow, outrage, and solidarity with those suffering, but because they did not direct their condolences explicitly to the LGBT community. Continue Reading »

Uncertain Dissonance

From First Thoughts

On Thursday, First Things will be hosting a musical performance and art talk, “Microtonality and the Fragmented Face.” Fragmentation, the breakdown of the unities and coherences that make the world intelligible, is one of the great themes of contemporary life. Our understanding of the world is . . . . Continue Reading »

The Future of American Catholicism

From First Thoughts

Every practicing Catholic in America is stuck between two worlds. On one hand, he inhabits a broadly secular culture, one indifferent to claims about the transcendent, in which the currency of human exchange is always some mix of money, pleasure, and power. His participation in that culture is nearly constant—it surrounds him in mass media, on the internet, in patterns of speech, in social expectations, and in the aims and operations of his government. The modern Catholic in America is swimming in secularity. Continue Reading »

Our Mighty Rearguard

From First Thoughts

In his dissent to the Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Windsor, Justice Antonin Scalia took a moment to describe how the majority ruling, which struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, characterizes those who would dispute it: In the majority’s judgment, any resistance to its . . . . Continue Reading »

Forgetting Social Justice

From First Thoughts

Last week at First Things we were very happy to host Michael Novak and Paul Adams as they discussed their new book on social justice. One of the themes Novak and Adams touched on in their presentations was how poorly Americans today seem to understand the concept of social justice. On both left and . . . . Continue Reading »

A Quiet Ideological Initiation

From First Thoughts

In mid-summer 2007 a package arrived in the mail containing the reading assignment for Yale’s freshman orientation week. The assigned book, by Beverly Daniel Tatum, had quite a title: “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” And Other Conversations About Race. Tatum was . . . . Continue Reading »