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

In 1990, my husband and I were married by Richard John Neuhaus. Also in 1990, he founded a little journal called . . . First Things. How often, these days, we think of him, and all the marvelous evenings of laughter and debate in his townhouse on East 19th Street or our Upper West Side apartment. Later, he would become godfather to our daughter, and we always sort of hoped he would one day escort her to Rome, where they would hang out at the Vatican. How much we all miss him. Whether at sober meetings or raucous dinner parties fueled by scotch and cigars, he was always the most fascinating of conversationalists (though one never wanted to be on the receiving end of his scathing wit or devastating commentary). We can only imagine what he would have made of these dark, dreadful times.

Alas, we do not have Richard now, but we do have his extraordinary legacy. Early on, he encouraged me to write for First Things, and sometimes even suggested topics. Over the years, my father, husband, daughter, and son-in-law have all appeared in its pages. It has played a profound role in all our lives, and, while I’m hardly impartial, I do think my father Robert Jenson’s 1993 essay, “How the World Lost Its Story,” may be one of the best articles the magazine has ever published. (Richard agreed.) But there have been so many necessary and exciting voices in the past thirty-four years. 

Three decades ago, I submitted a piece called “Getting Real.” Richard liked it, but wanted a second opinion. He gave it to the brilliant and formidable Midge Decter, whose withering response has haunted me ever since: “I’m done with the woman question.” Richard published it anyway, and many years later, with apologies to Midge, First Things continues to grapple with “the woman question.” Adam’s rib notwithstanding, it remains a first thing, and recent superb essays by Mary Harrington and Louise Perry, among others, have been especially influential.

Indeed, this magazine continues to grapple with all first things. In a world overwhelmed by too much “content,” most of it unworthy, this publication consistently strives for wisdom, beauty, and truth. The prose is reliably good, and the ideas never less than deeply thoughtful. Whether you are Catholic, Jewish, searching, or (sorry, Richard) still Anglican, First Things is indispensable. 

Moreover, under the strong leadership of Rusty Reno, First Things is more than a journal. With its lectures, podcasts, concerts, poetry readings, and retreats, it has become a community, bringing like-minded folks together in person. Nothing could be more important in this era of isolation and loneliness. Please join me, and my entire family, in ensuring a bright future for the wonderful world of First Things.

Kari Jenson Gold most recent piece for First Things was “Why the Left Won't Condemn the October 7 Rapes ”. 

Image by Levan Ramishvili, licensed via Creative Commons. Image cropped.

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



Filter Web Exclusive Articles

Related Articles