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R.R. Reno is editor of First Things.

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Irony and Its limits

From First Thoughts

I recently came across a nice turn of phrase by Jules Renard, a wry French memoir writer from the end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth: “Irony does not dry up the grass. It just burns off the weeds.” Yes, I think that’s quite right, but only if the irony . . . . Continue Reading »

Was Balthasar a Heretic?

From Web Exclusives

Readers will no doubt remember the recent heated exchange in the pages of First Things . Alyssa Lyra Pitstick summarized her analysis of Balthasar’s provocative and dramatic (and by her reading unorthodox) vision of the depths of the paschal mystery. Balthasar scholar Edward Oakes, S.J., rose . . . . Continue Reading »

The Car Wreck

From Web Exclusives

This semester I’m teaching a really fun course: Foundations of the Christian Intellectual Tradition. Last week we began a two-week-long segment on Greek tragedy.“What makes a tragedy tragic?” I asked. I have a group of really sharp freshman, and they opined about this or that movie, . . . . Continue Reading »

The End of the Road

From the October 2008 Print Edition

The road dominates the American imagination, from the Oregon Trail to Route 66. That strange, in-between time of escape, freedom, and adventure: On the road, you leave behind all the ordinary routines and demands. Still, I was surprised when my daughter was assigned On the Road in her high-school . . . . Continue Reading »

The Wall Street Crisis

From Web Exclusives

After more than a year of nasty gurgling and stomach churning over sub-prime mortgages, the financial markets have recently shown themselves to be very, very sick. Normally sober folks with no investment in the media shock-a-day culture of endless hype have expressed frank worries. The current Wall . . . . Continue Reading »

Me and YouTube

From Web Exclusives

I’m not a heavy user of the Web. But sometimes I get a few odd words of an old song or fragments of a melody stuck in my head. I fire up the computer, go to YouTube, type this or that into the search field, and presto, I’m listening to a recording of a half-forgotten song that until only . . . . Continue Reading »

Putting Politics in its Place

From Web Exclusives

I’m very thankful that I don’t have a television. We’re heading into the final months of the presidential election, and maybe I’ll be spared the demoralizing experience of so much stupidity conveyed with such seriousness. You know the routine. The news anchor asks, “Jim, did . . . . Continue Reading »

Death and the Postmodern Style

From Web Exclusives

Every once in a while I come across a perfect book¯not perfect in the sense of flawless or deep or indispensable, but perfect in the sense of being richly representative of an era or ethos or sensibility. Erich Fromm’s Escape from Freedom is perfect in this way. Uncomplicated, accessible, . . . . Continue Reading »

The Tattoo Fashion

From Web Exclusives

As the hot days of summer draw to a close, I find myself possessed of a full inventory of images. I certainly knew about the recent fashion of tattooing. But in the summer season of exposed skin, I found myself surprised by how widespread it has become.A morning under an umbrella on the patio of the . . . . Continue Reading »