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Death, Our Enemy

A man named Jim died at work today. I watched it happen. I came out and there he was supine on the tarmac as though enjoying a particularly fine patch of sky. A security guard knelt beside him, pumping his dying chest. Jim’s body rocked slowly like an unmoored ship, rippling with each compression in plain sight of us all. I felt embarrassed for him. . . . Continue Reading »

2013 in Review

As 2013 draws to a close I’d like to look back at the past year for First Things magazine. We published some winners, to be sure, but also some losers. And so, with Lot’s wife as a warning against dwelling on the past, here are some observations. . . . Continue Reading »

Punk Rock Catholicism

“In many and various ways,” the Letter to the Hebrews tells us, does God reveal Himself. I was reminded of this again recently while reading the Gospels. It’s thrilling to think about what it would have been like to hear His words freshly delivered while sitting amongst thousands in the rocky countryside of Judea or pressed against a perspiring mob in a synagogue. There would have been moments of awe and wonder at Jesus’s description of the coming Kingdom, joy and comfort in His renderings of the Beatitudes or the Good Shepherd and His flock. But at other times, there were reactions much more visceral in nature—those of shock and bewilderment. . . . Continue Reading »

A Catholic Case Against Marriage

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), marriage is a sacrament, and “the grace of the sacrament thus perfects the human love of the spouses, strengthens their indissoluble unity, and sanctifies them on the way to eternal life” (CCC 1661). Also, the Catechism claims that “marriage helps to overcome self-absorption, egoism, pursuit of one’s own pleasure, and to open oneself to the other, to mutual aid and to self-giving” (CCC 1609). Well, any honest and objective observer will have to admit that these words do not reflect reality. Therefore, for the sake of the Church’s integrity and for the health of society, it is possible for a Catholic to argue against marriage. . . . Continue Reading »

First Buds of the Church

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are over now, but the melodies linger on—not only for those who observe the full twelve days of Christmastide, but also for others for whom the season has been mostly about lots of good food, good cheer, and the feel-good sentimentality of “God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world.” . . . Continue Reading »

Lynne Hybels, Evangelicals, and Israel

There is a small but growing movement among evangelicals against unique friendship for Israel, embodied by the recent “Impact Holy Land” conference hosted by Evangelicals for Social Action in Philadelphia. Among the prominent U.S. and Palestinian church voices who spoke was Lynne Hybels, co-founder with her pastor husband Bill of the Chicago area Willow Creek Church, which itself spawned a widely replicated model for especially non-denominational congregations… . Continue Reading »

Apple Graveyard

Jon Berkeley’s illustration for a January 2010 Economist cover depicts Steve Jobs as a modern Moses with a saintly halo. One of his trademark black turtlenecks peeks through his biblical robe, as Jobs displays an iPad instead of the twin stone tablets of Exodus. Joan Schneider, a publicist, told Harvard Business Review in 2010 that Jobs was like a specter, which “appears when there’s something big going on and then fades back from view. It almost gives you goosebumps when you see him.” … Continue Reading »

The Personhood Pincer

The Nonhuman Rights Project made headlines recently by filing three lawsuits seeking to have chimpanzees declared legal persons entitled to “bodily liberty,” and hence, writs of habeas corpus to end their forced captivity… . Continue Reading »

Seinfeld’s Comedy of Custom

A frenzied George, who has promised to pick up Jerry from the airport, is anxiously checking the arrivals board at JFK. He asks a well-dressed businessman next to him for the time, in response to which the man mutters something about a clock over in the corner. Despite sporting a bold gold watch, which he waves in George’s face while pointing him towards the wall clock, the man refuses to check his wrist and tell George the time. The man eventually leaves angrily as George yells after him, “You know we’re living in a society!” . . . Continue Reading »



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