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First Things is pleased to invite our readers to Downtown Phoenix from March 25-26 for a memorable weekend of seminars and lectures on Freedom. Participants will have the opportunity to explore texts alongside scholars from Wyoming Catholic College and First Things writers and editors, discussing ideas and questions about freedom in small-group seminar sessions.

There are no grades, exams, or academic prerequisites for participation. If you enjoy reading First Things or discussing the ideas found in its pages, this event is for you. Discussions will take place in small seminar sections with faculty from Wyoming Catholic College. Participants will explore substantial texts and questions of great significance in an environment animated by a spirit of friendship and common purpose.

This is a rare opportunity to get together with like-minded individuals to talk about big, timeless ideas and how they inform our understanding of the issues that occupy our culture today.


Cost: $600 per participant 

The fee covers seminar tuition, assigned text materials, and meals, including two cocktail reception and dinner lectures with First Things' editorial staff and faculty from Wyoming Catholic College. There are a limited number of scholarships available for teachers at Christian Classical schools, graduate students, and clergy; please contact us for details.

Companion tickets are available at $100 per ticket for participant companions who would like to attend the evening receptions and dinner lectures but not the day seminars. Please email Brian at to learn more. 

Please note: The registration fee does not included travel to and from Phoenix and Hotel accommodations. We recommend the Hyatt Regency Phoenix or any other hotel in the downtown Phoenix area. 

Retreat Cancellation Policy: For a full refund of tuition fees, please cancel with at least three weeks advance notice from the event’s date. We reserve the right to substitute speakers, change venues, cancel seminars, or cancel part of or the entire event, due to circumstances beyond our control. In such cases, our liability is limited to a prompt refund of the registration fee, on a pro-rata basis, for the affected days. 


The First Things Intellectual Retreat will be held from Friday evening, March 25th to Saturday evening, March 26, 2021

Friday, March 25 

Location: Hyatt Regency Phoenix - 122 North 2nd Street , Phoenix, AZ 85004 

6:00 pm                              Cocktail Reception  

 7:00 pm                             Dinner & Lecture 

Saturday, March 26

Location: The Department - 1 North 1st  Street , Phoenix, AZ 85004

9:00 am – 10:15 am             1st Seminar: Divine and Human Freedom 

 10:45 am – 12 pm               2nd Seminar: Freedom and the Fall

12 pm Lunch (not provided)

2 pm – 3:15 pm                    3rd Seminar: American Freedom and Equality 

 3:45 pm – 5 pm                  4th Seminar: A Sabbath Freedom

6:00 pm                               Cocktail Reception  

 7:00 pm                              Dinner & Panel Discussion


Reading materials will be emailed to participants, with a bound copy to follow by mail. The readings will include excerpts from the following texts:

Session One: Divine and Human Freedom

  • Pericles’ Funeral Oration (In Strassler’s The Landmark Thucydides. New York: Touchstone, Simon & Schuster, 1998, 2.35-2.46)
  • St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, ch. 4—13

Session Two: Freedom and the Fall

  • John Milton’s Paradise Lost, Book 3, lines 1-265, and Book 9

Session Three: American Freedom and Equality

  • Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, editor, Harvey Mansfield, trans. Delba Wintrop, Volume I, Part I, Chapter 2, pp. 27-44 and Volume II, Part II, chapters 1-5, p. 479-492
  • James Wilson, “Of Man as a Member of Society, Lectures on Law” Chapter 15, document 48, pp. 2402-241, and 556

Session Four: A Sabbath Freedom

  • Josef Pieper, “Work, Spare Time, and Leisure” in Only the Lover Sings. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1990, 15-27
  • Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath. Prologue-Part I
  • Exodus 20:8-11, 31: 12-17, Leviticus 25, Numbers 15:32-36

All participants will attend all seminars through the course of the day.

Photo by DPPed via Creative Commons. Image cropped.