A fruitful association | Justin Lee

The first things The Spring 2022 campaign aims to raise $600,000 by June 30. To contribute, visit www.firstthings.com/donate.

A a few weeks ago I had lunch with a student from one of our most august public universities (but not mine). He had reached out to me after reading my recent first things “Holy Fear” article. Although the student is a committed evangelical and a past president of his school’s chapter of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship of Campus Ministry, he has struggled to find a satisfying intellectual community. He came to faith in a private high school that took seriously Christ’s command to “Love the Lord your God with all your mind,” and was disappointed to learn that it was something exceptional in the evangelical world, which too often privileges the emotional experience. on integrative worship. But the intellectual camaraderie he lacked in everyday life he found in the pages of first things.

My experience at the large university where I teach has been similar. Secular humanist research is dead, but the colleges and universities that murdered it keep pieces of the corpse as keepsakes – something akin to heads being spat on medieval ramparts. But even that meager beyond may soon be gone. The refrain “it’s a new university” has become commonplace among the leaders of my department. Under the new dispensation, there is even talk of limiting what MFA students can write in their fiction and poetry according to enlightened prescriptions. In this context, first thingsin whose pages the humanities still breathe, has been invigorating.

It was also life changing. Since I began subscribing to the magazine and then writing for it, my purpose – as a thinker, writer, teacher, and most importantly, as a follower of Christ – has crystallized. More than that, the friendships I’ve developed with other readers and writers have helped stave off the deep loneliness that accompanies public rejection of ruling-class dogma. Be an engaged reader of first things is a social, intellectual and spiritual discipline that bears tremendous fruit.

This fruit includes a real effect on the temporal order for the common good. first things nurtures and platforms many of the sharpest and most energetic minds currently shaping the future of American conservatism. It thus functions as a laboratory for experimenting with the restoration of religion in public life.

The survival of any laboratory obviously depends on the generosity of the individuals and institutions involved in its mission. first things is no different. The magazine exists because readers like you support its mission by subscribing and donating. If you appreciate his experiences, or if, like me, you have grown in your faith or feel less alone in a hostile world because of first things, give generously to the spring campaign. And buy a gift subscription to a friend – share the fruits you enjoyed with others.

Justin Lee teaches undergraduate writing at the University of California, Irvine.

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Barry F. Howard