In my two years working at First Things, it has come to my attention that many readers and friends of this magazine hold an imprecise notion of our resources, both human and financial. A question here, a look of surprise there, in conversation or correspondence: It seems people often imagine that First Things is staffed with editors and contributors at a level comparable to that of the New Yorker or the Atlantic.
I am flattered by this misperception, because it arises from the (very correct) perception that we are competing in quality with those esteemed publications. In doing so, we are punching above our weight. First Things has no stable of staff writers, nor are we underwritten by billionaire benefactors and ad revenue from Fortune 500 corporations. We are a handful of editors and support staff subsisting on Folger’s and Top Ramen in the most expensive borough of the most expensive city in America, beating the bushes every month to bring you some of the best writing in this country and abroad: John Waters on U2 and the Irish abortion referendum; Charles Camosy on Alfie Evans; Dana Gioia on the poetry of Elizabeth Jennings; Matthew Rose on the alt-right; and Bishop Robert Barron on the Nones; to name just a few so far in 2018.
I exaggerate about our nutrition—but not about our budget, our manpower, or our dedication to publishing the best that is being thought and said on the subjects of religion and public life. We bring you theology (Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish); literature, music, and art history; social criticism; and political commentary of the really necessary kind—the big picture of populism, polarization, and what it all portends. In short, First Things is the most intelligent and responsive journal of religion and culture going today.
We do it for you. Here’s what you can do for us: Contribute to our spring fundraising drive. We may not have a Jeff Bezos, but we have legions of readers who share our values and want to see us keep punching above our weight. If you are one of them, punch the donate button.
Julia Yost is senior editor of First Things.