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R.R. Reno is editor of First Things.

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When Higher Education Isn’t

From Web Exclusives

Law professors are the last intellectuals. While most academics grind away in their disciplines, the folks in the law schools seem to have the confidence and freedom to think and write about things far removed from the technical world of law. Stephen Carter at Yale writes novels. Alan Dershowitz at . . . . Continue Reading »

The Bible Inside and Out

From the April 2008 Print Edition

James L. Kugel has long been something of an outside insider”or maybe an inside outsider. In the world of modern biblical study, he rose to rarified heights, becoming Starr Professor of Hebrew at Harvard (a position he recently left to live and teach in Jerusalem). But he never really worked . . . . Continue Reading »

How Religion Became a Wedge Issue

From Web Exclusives

People often say that religion has become more important in politics. In a way unimaginable in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, these days politicians, pundits, and pollsters give explicit attention to religion. In his famous speech nearly fifty years ago, John F. Kennedy tried to reassure his . . . . Continue Reading »

The Offense of Piety

From Web Exclusives

The intemperate, even violent tone in recent criticisms of faith is quite striking. Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens: They seem an agitated crew, quick to caricature, quick to denounce, quick to slash away at what they take to be the delusions and conceits of faith. And the phenomenon is not strictly . . . . Continue Reading »

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 »