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This article is part of our 2023 year-end campaign series, featuring reflections from prominent authors on why First Things matters. To make your year-end campaign gift now, visit

Someone once asked me how I started reading First Things. With more than a little embarrassment, I found I could not remember a specific event or date. The memory is more general—I recall being introduced to this fine magazine over 25 years ago by friends who were smart, serious, and strong in their faith. It took one reading of Fr. Neuhaus's “Public Square” and “While We’re At It” to become hooked for life. 

Twenty-five years ago, who would have believed we would be fighting the battles we are today? Males are allowed to compete in athletic events as long as they call themselves female. University leaders cannot bring themselves to condemn calls for the genocide of Jews. And a president of the United States who self-identifies as Catholic proudly and loudly advocates for policies that strike against the moral teachings of the Church. 

First Things provides the intellectual rigor to push back against this growing tide of insanity. Through blogs, podcasts, seminars, intellectual retreats, talks, and of course the monthly magazine, we are better prepared to think about the challenges facing believers in a secular and material society. I still find myself nodding in vigorous assent as I read R. R. Reno’s monthly takes in “The Public Square”—the same column that Fr. Neuhaus used to write all those years ago. I owe both of them my gratitude for their courage, wit, and willingness to publish a magazine that advocates for a vision of a better world. 

And beyond the intellectual firepower, First Things promotes a sense of community among like-minded individuals from multiple faith backgrounds. My First Things journey began not as an academic exercise or intellectual pursuit, but as something shared with friends. I suspect you, too, feel a sense of kinship with other FT supporters who believe religion has a necessary place in our society. 

The world will continue to push back against voices like First Things with cancel culture, Big Tech censorship, media bias, and orders to sit down, shut up, and conform—ironically all in the name of “rights” and “freedom.”  It is our call to be as generous as possible so that First Things can stand with us as we fight for our families and our communities. 

Please join me in supporting the mission of First Things with a gift to the year-end campaign. Together let us ensure this beacon remains shining bright for both our generation and those yet to come.

Matt Cesarz is a longtime reader of First Things and member of the Editor’s Circle.

Image by Dori licensed via Creative Commons. Image cropped. 

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