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Christian Urbanism

From the December 2023 Print Edition

Cities have figured prominently in the Christian imagination: City of God, City of Jerusalem, the Heavenly City. The single English word “city” has varied referents that easily blur our vision. But the image has lodged itself firmly into our religious politics. The “secular city” (a phrase . . . . Continue Reading »

A Terrible Grace

From the November 2023 Print Edition

Music is a divine balm in the midst of the world’s sorrows. Music is also a sorrow in search of a balm. It offers a sui generis grace, one that we may wish to approach carefully. Most of us understand the two sides of music’s power intuitively. Balm in the midst of sorrow is what we love. . . . . Continue Reading »

Voice of the Voiceless

From the October 2023 Print Edition

We all seem to be desperately searching for roots. From the fussy private pastime of, to the loud public toppling of statues and debunking of old pedigrees of valor, we thirst for a history that will justify our passions. Frantic as this archaeology of desire’s genesis may be, it . . . . Continue Reading »

Canon of the Word

From the Aug/Sept 2023 Print Edition

One of the books that most influenced my moral and personal imagination was a small novel, Une vie de boy (“Houseboy,” 1956), by Ferdinand Oyono. An early novel by a great Cameroonian writer, diplomat, and civil leader, it made a minor splash on the French literary scene when it first . . . . Continue Reading »

Stay Outside

From the June/July 2023 Print Edition

When I first moved to Toronto, I used to pass a certain office building on my way to work. The windows, main door, and wall facing the street were plastered with signs telling visitors that this space was scent-free, smoke-free, violence-free, a place where harassment and disrespect were “not . . . . Continue Reading »

Knowing Animals, Knowing God

From the May 2023 Print Edition

Should we care about extinction? We hear all kinds of numbers about this. At the top end, some claim that well over 10,000 species of life, animal and vegetable, are disappearing every year. This is exponentially higher than the “natural” (that is, not human-influenced) rate of species . . . . Continue Reading »

Unmasking the Young

From the April 2023 Print Edition

One of the priests I most admire grew up on a farm on the Canadian plains. The virtues of farm life transfer well to the parish: discipline, hard work, showing up, getting things done on time, maintaining relationships, helping people work together. And, not least, a kind of straightforward openness . . . . Continue Reading »

Practice Without Purpose

From the March 2023 Print Edition

Not long ago, while in London, I passed by two street singers. A young man and woman, red-faced and with a smiling ­seriousness, were performing a version of the sixteenth-century song, “John, Come Kiss Me Now.” The small spectacle was wonderful: ­gentle, lilting, innocent, and mischievous all . . . . Continue Reading »

Unseen Worlds

From the February 2023 Print Edition

I am among the foremost skeptics of science’s pretensions. But I count myself among the first to express amazement and thanks for revelations that scientific work has provided—not so much discovering “new” worlds as uncovering hidden worlds. Consider the amazing event of January 14, . . . . Continue Reading »

An Honest Magazine

From Web Exclusives

Rigorous analysis, the value of persons, humility, correction, and—oh yes—the truth of God: First Things has been sticking to this for years, through both the light rumbles and seismic shakings of our times.  Continue Reading »