Saturday, November 26, 2005

First Things

I recently received my first copy of First Things magazine published by The Institute on Religion and Public Life, "an interreligious, nonpartisan research and education institute whose purpose is to advance a religiously informed public philosophy for the ordering of society." What wonderful reading it is!

And then I found that some of First Things is available for free on the internet at the First Things web site. Please, do yourself a favor and add it to your favorites list and visit every day, right after reading palosverdesblog.

When you go to the First Things home page, you will encounter On the Square - Observations and Contentions where the editors write every day. Following is a sampling from this week.

Richard John Neuhaus writes:

“It’s nothing new.” That’s the judgment widely expressed in response to the instruction from Rome excluding from the seminary and priesthood men who engage in, or are deemed likely to engage in, homosexual acts. It is nothing new. The teaching is as old as the Church herself, but the sense of urgency and the context is new. The instruction might be paraphrased as saying, “And this time we mean it!”
William F. Buckley, Jr., turned 80 on Thanksgiving Day. George Will concludes his encomium with this: “Buckley, so young at 80, was severely precocious at 7 when he wrote a starchy letter to the king of England demanding payment of Britain’s war debts. Seventy-three years on, Buckley’s country is significantly different, and better, because of him.”

Last week there was a big and fancy bash for Bill’s birthday at the Pierre Hotel. Father George Rutler was in fine form, delivering what eventually turned out to be something like an invocation. (His remarks are on
the National Review website.) I was seated beside Priscilla Buckley, who is my candidate for the most charmingly hard-nosed woman in the world. She has recently published a memoir, Living It Up With National Review , which is aptly described as “revels with a cause.” She concluded her remarks by describing Bill as “my lifelong boss and best friend.”

Joseph Bottum writes:

Can poetry matter? The problem with most poetry these days is low ambitions. Oh, I know, Shelley once explained that poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world, but what many of them want is to be the world’s acknowledged legislators. And so a huge amount of political verse is poured out these days to try to change the world. But it still has low ambitions, as poetry ...

So maybe it’s worth mentioning that the poet and translator Charles Martin has just published in the Hudson Review what seems, on first reading, the poem of the year—and it has, precisely, such high ambitions. Called “After 9/11,” the poem can be
read online at the Hudson Review.

We lived in an apartment on the ridge

Running along Manhattan’s northwest side,
On a street between the Cloisters and the Bridge,
On a hill George Washington once fortified….

But then,
. . . without warning,
Twin towers that rose up a quarter mile
Into a cloudless sky were, early one morning,
Wreathed in the smoke from interrupted flight,
When they and what burst into them were burning ...

WOW. And here's some more from Joseph Bottum:

Liberté, égalité, fraternité is the motto of the French Republic, but the fraternité seems to have gone up in the smoke of burning cars over the last few weeks. And so the French government has appointed a commission to see whether another distinctive mark of modern France shouldn’t also be set aside: laïcité, the official and nationally enforced secularism of the state.

And here is a sample of the featured article in the current issue of First Things magazine.

God on the Internet
by Jonathan V. Last (online editor of the Weekly Standard.)

According to
a 2004 Pew survey, 64% of Internet-using Americans—82 million people—say they use the web for religious purposes. They are more likely to be female, white, middle aged, and college educated. Catholics and Jews tend to use the Internet slightly more heavily than Protestants. Half of these users report that they attend church at least once a week.

The virtual religious universe is wide-ranging. The largest site is, a one-stop-shopping portal which serves evangelicals, Catholics, Scientologists, and everyone in between. Founded in 1999, Beliefnet attracts more than 20 million page-views a month and sends out 9 million free email newsletters a day to subscribers. Only a handful of other sites, such as Catholic Online, Christianity Today, and Crosswalk can claim readerships even close.

Meanwhile, there are all the endlessly proliferating weblogs. The first blogs appeared in 1999. By 2004 there were estimated to be some 4 million of them. Today the number is closer to 8 million. John Mark Reynolds, a philosophy professor at Biola University who organized, this past October, the first religious blogger convention,
GodblogCon, says that there are “literally millions” of religious bloggers.

See what I mean about the writing?

Tomorrow I’ll discuss one of the new God Blogs.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you.


9:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cheers Bill!
Please keep me posted. Your e-mails nudge me to pursue lots of stories and material I may otherwise miss.


11:28 AM  
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