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

2020 is finally ending. It seems like a decade ago that we were chugging along in the early weeks of the second decade of the twenty-first century. Then COVID hit, BLM marches took over cities, political hysteria swept the nation, an election was held under dubious circumstances, and then more political food fights ensued. Wow!

Two things give me confidence. First, I trust the American people. In my experience, the problems we face trickle down from the top end of society. I traveled across the Midwest in July. I wanted to see for myself the condition of the country. In Huntington, West Virginia, I fell into conversation with a hotel clerk, a woman about fifty years old. I asked her what she thought of the protests and the rancor building in the presidential campaigns. She smiled, and said, “We’ll get through this.”

To my mind, the problems in our country rest in those who run things. They’re ill-informed, ill-tempered, and insular. But the people being governed are better than those doing the governing, which is why the woman in Huntington was right. We’ll get through this.

The second source of my confidence is far more important. I have confidence in God’s sovereignty. Jesus is Lord, not Donald Trump or Joe Biden. The woke revolutionaries can do great harm, but history is not in their hands. We rightly resist what we believe is false and harmful. First Things will not lay down the arms of argument. But we can be happy warriors, because we know that our Lord already reigns. Paradoxically, in a purely secular society, politics becomes sacred.

Perhaps the secularization of our universities helps explain the tremors in public life. If one does not believe in God as Lord of history, then everything is up to us. This tempts us to fight with an almost religious desperation. Every election becomes a Final Judgment. Our preferred candidates take on religious roles as prophets and saviors. 

A purely secular outlook can also tempt us to give up the fight. Without confidence in God’s providential care, we can despair of ever setting things aright. So we retreat into our private concerns, neglect the common good, and just try to gain enough wealth and status to insulate ourselves from the uncertainties of life.

First Things has a crucial role to play. We insist that God is Lord of history. This desacralizes politics—an urgent necessity. And it combats the hopelessness that often causes us to shrink from our civic duty, which at this particular juncture calls for the pluck to stand up to defend the sanctity of life, the dignity of marriage, the integrity of Western civilization, and the indispensable role of religion in public life. 

I and the staff at First Things pledge to do everything we can to serve our mission. We’re here for you every day with fresh, vigorous, and faithful analysis. Please pledge to support us in the endeavor. Large or small, every donation makes a difference.

R. R. Reno is editor of First Things.

First Things depends on its subscribers and supporters. Join the conversation and make a contribution today.

Click here to make a donation.

Click here to subscribe to First Things.

Dear Reader,

Your charitable support for First Things is urgently needed before July 1.

First Things is a proudly reader-supported enterprise. The gifts of readers like you— often of $50, $100, or $250—make articles like the one you just read possible.

This Spring Campaign—one of our two annual reader giving drives—comes at a pivotal season for America and the church. With your support, many more people will turn to First Things for thoughtful religious perspectives on pressing issues of politics, culture, and public life.

All thanks to you. Will you answer the call?

Make My Gift
More on: Religion, Public Life

Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.



Filter Web Exclusive Articles

Related Articles