Missiles are flying and drones are attacking in Eastern Ukraine. Suicides are up. Fertility rates are down. I don’t trust the media to provide accurate reporting. Our political culture is full of rancor and fury. And it’s not just secular politics. I look upon various initiatives emanating from Rome with grave misgivings.
I could go on. We could all go on. We all feel ill at ease. It’s easy to become dispirited. Which is why I find myself harkening to St. Paul’s counsel: “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.”
These words come from the final chapter of his letter to the Ephesians. They open a marvelous passage that portrays proper Christian militancy in times of conflict and duress. “Put on the whole armor of God,” Paul urges us. We are to “gird our loins with truth,” and “put on the breastplate of righteousness.” Our feet need to be shod “with the equipment of the gospel of peace,” and our souls guarded by “the shield of faith.” Let us crown our heads with “the helmet of salvation,” as we grasp “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
To persevere, we need God’s strength. And I hope that in one way or another First Things provisions readers—not just with astute cultural analysis and smart intellectual insight, but with spiritual encouragement as well. That’s why I read Liel Leibovitz, Ephraim Radner, Patricia Snow, Carl Trueman, Hans Boersma, and Peter Leithart. They take their bearings from God’s revelation.
When it comes to politics, I’m sure they're not always right. My own judgments are sometimes wobbly and unsound. When it comes to the practical affairs of this world, affairs in which we all have responsibilities, God provides no guarantees. But if we’re nourished by his Word, we’ll have some hope of not getting things altogether wrong. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps. 119:105). We may stumble, but at least we’ll be moving in the right direction.
And we’ll be moving together. I’ve been at the helm of First Things for a dozen years. We’re a conservative publication, to be sure, and that commitment has political implications. But not all our readers agree about policies and candidates. When it comes to theology, there are wide chasms separating us, as our Protestant writers often remind me—to say nothing of our Jewish contributors. And yet, in a secular world that asks us to navigate by our own lights, we know that we are united: God is our guide.
Over the last two months, our unity has manifested itself in an outpouring of support. We set an ambitious fundraising goal for our spring campaign: $500,000. As the summer heat arrives in New York City (it’s a scorcher today), I can report that we exceeded our goal, raising $615,000.
I want to thank everyone who contributed. I want to thank our many writers and my fine editorial staff. And let’s not forget you, our readers, who make up a crucial community animated by a love of truth and devotion to God. Together, we can face the principalities and powers that govern the present darkness, not just with strength and courage, but also with the joy and brightness of heart that comes with the knowledge that we are children of the living God.
R. R. Reno is editor of First Things.
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