Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

Poet of Summer’s End

Ray Bradbury, who died on June fifth at the age of ninety-one, will be remembered as a writer of science fiction or, as he preferred, fantasy. That’s not surprising. As the obituaries have emphasized, he imagined ATMs, the Bluetooth, and artificial intelligence decades ago. For me, though, science fiction isn’t the center of Bradbury’s imagination or his appeal. The most magical place in his fiction isn’t Mars. It’s Green Town, Illinois, a fictional stand-in for his birthplace, Waukegan, Illinois… . Continue Reading »

The Legion’s Scandal of Stalled Reform

Cardinal Velasio de Paolis was named papal delegate to the Legionaries of Christ early in July 2010 to shepherd the congregation through a “process of profound re-evaluation” as mandated in a communiqué from the Holy See to the Legionaries on May 1st of that same year. His appointment followed upon a close scrutiny of all Legionary houses of formation and apostolate”a “canonical visitation””conducted by a team of bishops appointed by the Pope… . Continue Reading »

Launching the Fortnight for Freedom

I’ve known Greg Erlandson as a friend for many years. So I was glad to accept his invitation to join you tonight. And I’m very glad to speak on the theme of religious liberty because events in our country have made it an urgent concern. I can sum up my remarks tonight in five simple points. First, religious freedom is a cornerstone of the American experience. This is so obvious that once upon a time, nobody needed to say it. But times have changed… . Continue Reading »

Fortnight for Freedom: Why Now?

On June 21, the night before the Catholic Church traditionally remembers the martyrdom of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More at the hands of King Henry VIII, American Catholics will begin a unique two-week vigil of prayer, sacrifice, and public witness for the cause of religious liberty. The “Fortnight for Freedom” was called by my brothers in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and it will conclude with the ringing of bells in churches all across the country on July 4, the memorial of our country’s independence… . Continue Reading »

Entertainment Bibles

I must have been living under a rock. Here it is late June, The Voice appeared a whole month ago, and it wasn’t until last week that I heard anything about it. It is a new Bible, of course, from Thomas Nelson Publishing and the Ecclesia Bible Society, the latter an outgrowth of Ecclesia Church, Houston, an “emergent” congregation. There was an earlier 2010 release of The Voice New Testament, but I slept through that as well… . Continue Reading »

“Forward” Into a Sterile Future

Stumping in Iowa on May 24, President Obama declared, “We don’t need another political fight about ending a woman’s right to choose, or getting rid of Planned Parenthood, or taking away affordable birth control. We don’t need that. I want women to control their own health choices, just like I want my daughters to have the same economic opportunities as my sons. We’re not turning back the clock. We’re not going back there.” … Continue Reading »

Fortnight for Freedom-U.S. Catholics and Religious Liberty: The Origins

Several months ago, I came across a two-volume history of the Church in the United States I’d never read before: Theodore Maynard’s The Story of American Catholicism, first published in 1941. Maynard was not a professional historian and his telling of the American Catholic story has a bit more of the apologetic edginess of early-20th century Catholicism than a 21st-century audience might find congenial… . Continue Reading »

The Meaning of “the Pursuit of Happiness”

The right to “the pursuit of happiness” affirmed in the Declaration of Independence is taken these days to affirm a right to chase after whatever makes one subjectively happy. Further, the Declaration doesn’t guarantee the right to happiness, the thought usually goes, but only the right to pursue what makes you happy. But this reading of the Declaration’s “pursuit of happiness” is wrong on both scores… . Continue Reading »

Jews, Catholics, and Our Bonds of Unity

The entry of Christ into history is the greatest blessing the world has ever known, but the beauty of that event is never matched by the practice of Christians. Perhaps nowhere is this more painfully apparent than in Christian conduct toward Jews. The Passion narratives were long abused as part of a polemic against “the Jews,” who were blamed, collectively and of course wrongly, for the death of Christ. The “deicide” myth, as it became known, led to the equally destructive idea that Jews would be forced to wander the earth forever, because they had not accepted Christ… . Continue Reading »

Faith and our Fathers

Some years back, Stephen Gabriel’s A Father’s Covenant, a book aimed at young fathers, came out. The book consists of a series of aphorisms and promises for fathers to meditate on to help them grow in their relationships with their children, their wives, and God. These promises range from the solemn to the funny, and one made me laugh out loud: “I will play Chutes and Ladders with enthusiasm!” It reminded me of my childhood; it was a game my father used to play with my sisters and me all the time. But there is real wisdom in that promise… . Continue Reading »



Filter Web Exclusive Articles