Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

The Pulitzer granted to Stephen Greenblatt’s The Swerve caused me to revisit R.R. Reno’s prescient First Things review , which suggests the book offers “a justifying mythology for America’s ruling elite.”

The Swerve [blusters] again and again about the beauty-loathing, eros-denying evils of Christianity . . .   sighing in the usual postmodern way about pleasure and desire.  But on one point Greenblatt is true to On the Nature of Things , and this is the therapy of disenchantment. “Human insignificance—the fact that it is not all about us and our fate—is, Lucretius insisted, good news.” Indeed it is good news for Harvard professors, and for anyone else in positions of power. As materialism disenchants, the principles and norms and standards by which we can hold the powerful accountable melt away.

On my way to Harvard square with my djembe and didgeridoo.  Who’s with me?

Dear Reader,

We launched the First Things 2023 Year-End Campaign to keep articles like the one you just read free of charge to everyone.

Measured in dollars and cents, this doesn't make sense. But consider who is able to read First Things: pastors and priests, college students and professors, young professionals and families. Last year, we had more than three million unique readers on

Informing and inspiring these people is why First Things doesn't only think in terms of dollars and cents. And it's why we urgently need your year-end support.

Will you give today?

Make My Gift

Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.



Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles