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R.R. Reno is editor of First Things.

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The Tears of Abraham

From Web Exclusives

In his meditation on the sources of human community, “ Death and Politics ,” Jody Bottum makes a case for the foundational importance of death, mourning, and the grave. The dark universality of grief, he argues, glues us together. “We create true communities,” Bottum writes, . . . . Continue Reading »

Books That Matter

From Web Exclusives

Books are like minerals, buried and waiting to be found. They lie in dusty corners of used books shops or in the virtual nooks and crannies of online megastores or in remote library stacks¯or in unread piles at home. Not all are precious. In fact, most are more like coal than gold: useful in a . . . . Continue Reading »

The Right-Wing Conspiracy

From First Thoughts

I’ve often wondered about the strangely verbose and self-important irrelevance of contemporary universities. Think about it. In 1968 the universities were at the center of political and social ferment. Students were in the streets. Professors such as C. Wright Mills, Norman O. Brown, and . . . . Continue Reading »

From the Provinces

From Web Exclusives

Poor Omaha. I’ve been noticing my adopted hometown cropping up more and more frequently as shorthand. Fargo is “out there” (or, more accurately, “up there”) as a place of unimaginable isolation. Buffalo represents postindustrial irrelevance made all the more poignant by the . . . . Continue Reading »

Pope cancels university speech

From First Thoughts

In recent days students and faculty activists has kicked up a lot of dust at the venerable Sapienzia University in Rome which was founded in 1303 by Pope Boniface VIII. Benedict had been invited to give an address to the university. The protestors, well, protested. Stated reason: accusations that . . . . Continue Reading »

More on Harvard

From First Thoughts

A careful reader wrote to complain. My recent web essay on General Education at Harvard cited the following from the Final Report: “The aim of liberal education is to unsettle presumptions, to defamiliarize the familiar, to reveal what is going on beneath and behind appearances, to disorient . . . . Continue Reading »

Harvard's Postmodern Curriculum

From Web Exclusives

A few years ago, the academic mandarins in Cambridge embarked on a round of curricular revision. This does not surprise. The no-there-there Core developed in the 1960s was never coherent. It endorsed the suspect “teaching ways of thinking” approach to education that basically divided up . . . . Continue Reading »


From First Thoughts

Well, the Clinton express seems to have suffered a delay in Iowa. Barack Obama is an interesting political phenomenon. His inter-racial identity makes him a symbolic blank screen onto which Americans can project their perennial post-cultural fantasies. The early Republic was filled with claims that . . . . Continue Reading »

Nietzsche's Deeper Truth

From the January 2008 Print Edition

At the outset of On the Genealogy of Morals, Friedrich Nietzsche reports that his polemical book of pseudo-history, pseudo-anthropology, and pseudo-psychology is an exercise in knowing ourselves. We cannot simply investigate morality and Christianity, as if these were topics we could entertain with . . . . Continue Reading »