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First Things

First Things
Editor R. R. Reno
Categories Religion
Frequency Monthly
First issue March 1990
Company Institute on Religion and Public Life
Country United States
Language English
ISSN 1047-5141

First Things is a conservative and traditionalist ecumenical religious journal focused on creating a "religiously informed public philosophy for the ordering of society".[1] The journal is inter-denominational and inter-religious, representing a broad intellectual tradition of Christian and Jewish critique of contemporary society. Published by the New York-based Institute on Religion and Public Life,[2] it is published monthly, except for bi-monthly issues covering June/July and August/September. Newsweek called First Things "the most important vehicle for exploring the tangled web of religion and society in the English-speaking world."[3]


First Things was founded in 1990 by Richard John Neuhaus, a prominent Lutheran minister and writer, who converted to the Catholic Church and entered the priesthood shortly after the journal's founding. Fr. Neuhaus served as the journal's editor-in-chief until his death in 2009 and wrote a regular column called, "The Public Square." He started the journal after his connection with the Rockford Institute was severed.[4]


With a circulation of approximately 30,000 subscribers, First Things is considered to be influential in its articulation of a broadly ecumenical and erudite social and political conservatism. George Weigel, a sometime contributor, wrote that after its founding in the early 1990s, First Things "quickly became, under [Neuhaus's] leadership and inspiration, the most important vehicle for exploring the tangled web of religion and society in the English-speaking world."[3] Ross Douthat wrote that, through First Things, Neuhaus demonstrated "that it was possible to be an intellectually fulfilled Christian".[5]

Editors and contributors

Neuhaus died in January 2009, and was succeeded by Joseph Bottum. Bottum, who had come to the magazine from The Weekly Standard, served through October 2010, when James Nuechterlein returned from retirement to become interim editor. R. R. Reno, a professor of theology at Creighton University who had been involved with the magazine for over a decade, became the magazine's third editor in April 2011. David Mills, who had been serving as deputy editor, became executive editor.[6]

Contributors represent traditional Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, and Jewish viewpoints. Among the frequent contributors in the magazine's first year (1990) were Harvard Law professor Mary Ann Glendon, historian Robert Louis Wilken, papal biographer George Weigel, and Lutheran ethicist Gilbert Meilaender. Others appearing included Peter L. Berger, Robertson Davies, Avery Dulles, later named a cardinal, Stanley Hauerwas, Martin E. Marty, Michael Novak, Robert Royal, and Michael Wyschogrod.[7] Frequent contributors in recent years have included many of those writers, as well as Orthodox writer David Bentley Hart, Anthony M. Esolen, Mary Eberstadt, Alan Jacobs, Robert P. George, and Wilfred M. McClay,[8] and foreign scholars such as the French historian Pierre Manent.[9]

The magazine publishes articles every day in the Web Exclusives section of its website.[10] Regular columnists include Reno, Weigel, Leithart, Dean of Beeson Divinity School Timothy George, Wesley J. Smith, and Elizabeth Scalia.[11]


The magazine is run by the board of the Institute on Religion and Public Life, whose members include Jewish ethicist David Novak, legal scholar Mary Ann Glendon, historian Robert Louis Wilken, and George Weigel.[6] First Things' Advisory Council includes physicist Stephen M. Barr; neoconservative writers Michael Novak and Midge Decter; Jewish scholars David G. Dalin and Eric Cohen, Editor-at-Large of The New Atlantis; historian Wilfred M. McClay; philosophers Hadley Arkes and Robert P. George; theologians Timothy George (Baptist), Robert Jenson (Lutheran), Peter Leithart (Presbyterian), and Gilbert Meilaender; and Mark C. Henrie, Chief Academic Officer of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute.[6]

See also


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