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

How to Avoid Death Panels

It shows the level of suspicion people have for government and the health care system that many of us distrust paying doctors to engage in end-of-life discussions. Indeed, during the run-up to the passage of Obamacare, Sarah Palin labeled a never-passed provision to pay doctors for such conversations, “death panels.” That political sound bite struck such a powerful chord that it quickly entered the lexicon. Continue Reading »

Scotland on the Eve of the Referendum

On September 18, over four million Scottish residents will have the opportunity to answer the question, “Should Scotland be an Independent Country?” If the majority vote yes, this will initiate a process leading to independence

The Princess Bride Syndrome

Like many Americans, I have changed my mind on gay marriage—though my change of mind has gone the opposite way of most. My support for gay marriage was early and enthusiastic. In high school I wrote a research paper titled “Gay Marriage as a Constitutional and Human Right.” I was earnest and impassioned, motivated by a desire to see justice done and unsure of how or why anyone could disagree. Continue Reading »

Romney the Political Placebo

Ramesh Ponnuru and Reihan Salam, two of the right’s smartest and most intellectually honest intellectuals disagree over whether Mitt Romney should run for president in 2016. Ponnuru has the better case, but, in reading both men, it becomes clear the degree to which Romney was not the reason for the GOP defeat(s) in 2012. Continue Reading »

The Covenant of Marriage

My son Stephen and I spent an unusual, albeit unusually moving, Independence Day: We attended the golden wedding anniversary celebration of my friends Piotr and Teresa Malecki, which began with a Mass of thanksgiving in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel of Cracow’s Wawel Cathedral—the place where Piotr and Teresa had exchanged vows on July 4, 1964, kneeling before their old kayaking and hiking friend, the archbishop of Cracow (who, as Pope St. John Paul II, was canonized some two months before the Maleckis’ jubilee.) Continue Reading »

Personal Plato

When scientists like Laurence Krauss and Neil deGrasse Tyson call philosophers to answer for their crimes today, the lovers of wisdom aren’t accused of anything as exciting as corrupting the youth.

Welcome Back, Ted

This Thursday, for the first time since he argued before the Supreme Court in 2013 for a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, Theodore Olson will be back in the Federalist Society limelight. The former Solicitor General of the United States under President George W. Bush—for whom he successfully argued Bush v. Gore—will be talking not gay marriage but class actions and the BP oil spill settlement. A few years ago, that would have amounted to business as usual. Olson, a gifted communicator, would regularly serve as a Federalist Society speaker, even acting as their reviewer in chief after the Supreme Court wrapped up its session each June. However, when he rather publicly began calling for the court creation of “equal protection” rights utterly unfathomable to our nation’s founders, those duties generally ceased. Continue Reading »

Prison, Purgatory, and Heaven

Several years of prison ministry have convinced me that there are substantial parallels between what we think about incarceration and how we understand salvation. After all, Christians believe that we are imprisoned by sin and that, rather than trying to escape our condition, we need to undergo a personal transformation before we can enter into the full presence of God. True, sin is universal in a way that jail is not. Nonetheless, crimes against the civil order and rebellion against God overlap in interesting and complicated ways, which makes prisoners among the most conspicuous, though certainly not the most hopeless, examples of humanity’s fallen state. Continue Reading »



Filter Web Exclusive Articles