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What is Essential in Life


First Things presents our 2020–2021 reading group to discuss works by Josef Pieper that focus on the themes of leisure, contemplation, festivity, and happiness. In a profound synthesis of these concepts, developed in several works, Pieper argues that the ultimate meaning of human life lies in contemplative activity, which finds its highest expression in festivity. Pieper describes the necessary prerequisites for such activity: an understanding of the world as created and an inner quiet that allows one to see reality and be “in tune with the world.”


Faith, Hope, Love

First Things and Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts are pleased to invite our readers to a virtual intellectual retreat on Josef Pieper's Faith, Hope, Love.

COVID and Religious Life

A conversation featuring R. R. Reno,  Rabbi Mark Gottlieb, and Carl R. Trueman.

First Things Reading Group


First Things is launching a reading group to discuss classical readings that focus on the proper relationship between church and state. The readings include leading American statements about church and state, arguments from the ancient world, biblical material, and theological analysis from the Catholic and Protestant traditions. We will see how the understanding of the relationship varies with different understandings of the divine and of the purpose of the political community, as well as changing historical conditions.

2019 Erasmus Lecture

Now in its 32nd year, the Erasmus Lecture brings world-renowned speakers to New York—including Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, Gilbert Meilaender, and Rabbi Jonathan Sacks—to address an audience of over five hundred people each year. The lecture also appears in the pages of First Things and on