This is an exciting time.
Some find it daunting, and understandably so. Political (and cultural) polarization destabilizes our society. Twitter mobs engage in cyber-lynchings. Political rhetoric is shamefully crude and aggressive. Many wring their hands and urge a return to the old consensus.
At First Things we think differently. For two generations our society has undertaken a program of cultural deregulation. Even today, as tens of thousands die of drug overdoses, political leaders in many states champion the legalization of marijuana. As #MeToo and other movements indicate our society’s sexual culture is profoundly dysfunctional, no public leader lifts a finger to limit pornography. Professors at fancy law schools think nothing of casting religious believers as latter-day manifestations of the KKK.
That's the old consensus at work. Which is why First Things is not remotely interested in returning to it. We are determined to host a serious conversation about how to renew the moral foundations of our society. That means having the courage to challenge the old establishment views. And it means accepting responsibility for the positions we take. First Things wants to contribute to a new consensus, not just bury the old one.
It's no coincidence that at this time we are discovering how dysfunctional our church institutions have become. The post-1960s culture infected our faith communities. Some stood strong and resisted, but many compromised or looked the other way. Here, too, First Things speaks strongly and clearly for a vigorous, courageous orthodoxy—and always has.
Polarization indicates a collapsing consensus. Today, strong pro-life legislation has been passed in some states. In others, extreme pro-abortion legislation has been passed. The activists sense, rightly, that Roe v. Wade's incoherent reasoning is losing its grip on our public culture. Thank God. We want to fight for a new consensus that respects the sanctity of life.
The same can be said of other spheres, where we see tattered economic solidarity, a broken male-female dance, and theological compromises. Here, too, the eroding establishment consensus provides us with opportunities to fight for something more humane, more dignified, more faithful.
I'd like to ask you to join in this fight. You are a reader. Please become a supporter. And if you already donate, please consider an increase.
R. R. Reno is editor of First Things.