First Things Podcast

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First Things is 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. Learn more:

Episode Date
Conversations with Mark Bauerlein (12. 14. 18) - The Man Who Made the Supreme Court
Senior editor Mark Bauerlein chats with Richard Brookhiser about his new biography, ”John Marshall: The Man Who Made the Supreme Court.”
Dec 14, 2018
Conversations with Mark Bauerlein (7. 12. 18) - Ivan Illich and “The Powerless Church”
Sajay Samuel joins senior editor Mark Bauerlein to discuss the legacy of philosopher and Catholic priest Ivan Illich.
Dec 07, 2018
Conversations with Mark Bauerlein (11. 30. 18) - Victory at Veritas
Keith Nix joins senior editor Mark Bauerlein to discuss classical education and the work of the Veritas School in Richmond, Virginia.
Nov 30, 2018
Conversations with Mark Bauerlein (11. 21. 18) - Impure Play
Alexander Riley and Mark discuss Émile Durkheim on religion and Riley’s book “Impure Play: Sacredness, Transgression, and the Tragic in Popular Culture.”
Nov 21, 2018
Conversations with Mark Bauerlein (11. 16. 18) - Campus Confidential
Jacques Berlinerblau joins Mark to discuss his latest book: “Campus Confidential: How College Works, or Doesn’t, for Professors, Parents, and Students.”
Nov 16, 2018
Conversations with Mark Bauerlein (11. 9. 18) - Guardians of Culture
Claudia MacMillan joins Mark to discuss liberal education and the work of the Louise and Donald Cowan Center for Education at the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture.
Nov 09, 2018
Conversations with Mark Bauerlein (11. 2. 18) - The Politics of Fear
Mark interviews Frank Furedi about his latest book, “How Fear Works: Culture of Fear in the 21st Century.”
Nov 02, 2018
Conversations with Mark Bauerlein (10. 26. 18) - Liberal Suppression
Mark and Philip Hamburger discuss Hamburger’s new book, “Liberal Suppression.”
Oct 26, 2018
Conversations with Mark Bauerlein (10. 19. 18) - Americans and the Arts
Sunil Iyengar of the National Endowment for the Arts joins Mark to discuss current trends in Americans’ engagement with theater, visual arts, music, and literature.
Oct 19, 2018
Conversations with Mark Bauerlein (10. 12. 18) - Lessons from Peter Damian
Charlotte Allen joins Mark to discuss the 11th-century monastic Peter Damian and what the Catholic Church today should learn from his “Liber Gomorrhianus.”
Oct 12, 2018
Conversations with Mark Bauerlein (10. 5. 18) - Looking for Fathers
C. C. Pecknold joins Mark to discuss the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report and the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church.
Oct 05, 2018
Conversations with Mark Bauerlein (9. 28. 18) - Conservatives and Moral Relativism
Hadley Arkes joins Mark to discuss why it’s a mistake for conservatives to adopt an absolutist position on free speech.
Sep 28, 2018
Conversations with Mark Bauerlein (9. 21. 18) - The Republican Workers Party
Mark interviews F. H. Buckley about his latest book, “The Republican Workers Party.”
Sep 21, 2018
Conversations with Mark Bauerlein (9. 14. 18) - Against a Naked Public Square
John Witte joins Mark to discuss the Cambridge Law and Christianity series and the relationship between law and religion.
Sep 14, 2018
Conversations with Mark Bauerlein (8. 31. 18) - Modernism and the Control of Nature
Michael Hanby joins Mark to discuss his 2016 First Things article “A More Perfect Absolutism.”
Aug 31, 2018
Conversations with Mark Bauerlein (8. 17. 18)- Preserving the Church of Saint Germain des Près
David Sheppe joins Mark to discuss the work of the organization American Friends for the Preservation of Saint Germain des Près Church
Aug 24, 2018
Conversations with Mark Bauerlein (8. 14. 18) - Renewal in Catholic Schools
Chris Weir and Elisabeth Sullivan join Mark to discuss their work with the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education, an organization dedicated to revitalizing Catholic schools through the classical tradition of the liberal arts
Aug 24, 2018
Conversations with Mark Bauerlein (8. 24. 18) - A Crisis of Credibility
Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, joins Mark to discuss the chief problems in higher education today.
Aug 24, 2018
Conversations with Mark Bauerlein (8. 3. 18) - Leo Strauss’s Catholic Readers
Geoffrey Vaughan, editor of the recent volume “Leo Strauss and His Catholic Readers,” joins senior editor Mark Bauerlein to discuss Strauss’s understanding of religion and Catholic Social Thought.
Aug 03, 2018
Conversations with Mark Bauerlein (7. 27. 18) - Who is Brett Kavanaugh?
Mark Movsesian joins senior editor Mark Bauerlein to discuss Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
Jul 27, 2018
Conversations with Mark Bauerlein (7. 20. 18) - Kennedy Retires
Matthew Franck joins Mark to discuss Justice Kennedy’s retirement, “NIFLA v. Becerra,” and the implications of the “Masterpiece Cakeshop” ruling.
Jul 20, 2018
Conversations with Mark Bauerlein (7. 13. 18) - The Fate of Classical Music
Andrew Balio, principal trumpet of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, joins senior editor Mark Bauerlein to discuss the state of classical music in America today.
Jul 13, 2018
Conversations with Mark Bauerlein (6. 29. 18) - Reno’s Books
Senior editor Mark Bauerlein asks editor R. R. Reno about the books that formed him in youth.
Jun 29, 2018
From the Editor's Office (6. 27. 18) - The Paris Statement
Matthias Storme and Diederik Boomsma join editor R. R. Reno to discuss the Paris Statement and the future of Europe.
Jun 27, 2018
Conversations with Mark Bauerlein (6. 22. 18) - Mary and the Art of Prayer
Rachel Fulton Brown joins senior editor Mark Bauerlein to discuss her new book, “Mary and the Art of Prayer: The Hours of the Virgin in Medieval Christian Life and Thought.”
Jun 22, 2018
From the Editor's Office (6. 20. 18) - June/July 2018
In the inaugural episode of "From the Editor's Office," editor R. R. Reno discusses the June/July print edition.
Jun 20, 2018
Conversations with Mark Bauerlein (6. 15. 18) - The Dangers of Common Core
Mark and Nicholas Tampio discuss Tampio's book “Common Core: National Education Standards and the Threat to Democracy.”
Jun 15, 2018
Conversations with Mark Bauerlein (6. 1. 18) – Tragedy in Ireland
Fr. Peter Stravinskas joins senior editor Mark Bauerlein to discuss Ireland’s abortion referendum. He also weighs in on recent events in Philadelphia, where the city government has cut ties with Catholic foster care providers that refuse to place children with same-sex couples.
Jun 01, 2018
Conversations with Mark Bauerlein (5. 30. 18) – Teaching Great Books in the Bronx
Hostos Community College professors Andrea Fabrizio and Gregory Marks join senior editor Mark Bauerlein to discuss teaching the great books to a diverse student body in the Bronx.
May 30, 2018
Conversations with Mark Bauerlein (5. 14. 18) – Introducing the Classic Learning Test
Senior editor Mark Bauerlein is joined by Jeremy Tate, president and co-founder of the Classic Learning Test, to discuss the revitalization of standardized testing and American education.
May 14, 2018
Conversations with Mark Bauerlein (4. 30. 18) – Three American Poets
Mark Bauerlein discusses three poems about winter by American greats Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, and Wallace Stevens.
Apr 30, 2018
The Theological Roots of Foreign Policy, Presented by Michael Doran
Michael Doran delivers the 2018 First Things Lecture in Washington, D.C. This lecture is also available in the pages of First Things and on
Apr 12, 2018
Conversations with Mark Bauerlein (4. 4. 18) - The Dangers of Economism
Richard Spady discusses his essay "Economics as Ideology," published in the April 2018 issue of First Things.
Apr 04, 2018
Conversations with Mark Bauerlein (3. 21. 18) - Inside the Mind of Thomas More
David Oakley and senior editor Mark Bauerlein discuss Oakley’s book “Inside the Mind of Thomas More: The Witness of His Writings.”
Mar 21, 2018
Conversations with Mark Bauerlein (2. 27. 18) – In Praise of Bourgeois Culture
Amy Wax joins Mark Bauerlein to discuss how our society’s abandonment of bourgeois norms and values has resulted in widespread behavioral dysfunction.
Feb 27, 2018
Conversations with Mark Bauerlein (2. 12. 18)– The Administrative Threat
Philip Hamburger and Mark Bauerlein discuss Hamburger’s new book, “The Administrative Threat,” and the ways in which today’s administrative state curtails Americans’ basic constitutional freedoms.
Feb 12, 2018
Episode 35 – The Fall of Gender Neutrality (12. 23. 17)
On this episode of the FIRST THINGS Podcast: Editor Rusty Reno talks with senior editor Julia Yost about the allegations and revelations of sexual misconduct that occupied Americans all this fall. Are we actually just re-learning that men and women are different? Then, Julia examines the function of nostalgia in the great American Christmas songs, especially those composed by Jewish songwriters.
Dec 23, 2017
Conversations with Mark Bauerlein (12. 18. 17) – Justice Kennedy and “Masterpiece Cakeshop”
Mark Movsesian and senior editor Mark Bauerlein discuss the Supreme Court’s oral argument session regarding “Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.”
Dec 18, 2017
Conversations with Mark Bauerlein (12. 7. 17) – Failure of Fatherhood
Heather Mac Donald joins senior editor Mark Bauerlein to discuss how America’s high out-of-wedlock birthrate is at the heart of inner-city violence today.
Dec 07, 2017
Conversations with Mark Bauerlein (11. 9. 17) – The Decline and Fall of Catholic Schools
Peter Meyer joins senior editor Mark Bauerlein to discuss the history of Catholic education in the United States from its heyday in the 1960s to its virtual dissolution in the twenty-first century.
Nov 09, 2017
Episode 34 – Reformation! (11. 2. 17)
On this episode of the FIRST THINGS Podcast: Senior editor Julia Yost talks with Carl Trueman about Martin Luther, the German monk who argued against the practice of indulgences, and in the process changed the world. Carl explains why Luther remains important, to Lutherans and other Protestants; whether Luther ushered in the secular age; which of the heroic Reformers would be best to be stranded on an island with; why Luther’s vernacular Bible was so revolutionary; how Protestants and Catholics of today should talk to each other; and more.
Nov 02, 2017
From the Print Edition: “The Myth of Scientific Objectivity,” by William A. Wilson (November 2017)
The purported objectivity of scientific inquiry is a damaging myth. Science has been ideologically captured since its birth, and “value-laden inquiry” is not a recent deviation but is rather fundamental to its successful practice. Read the text version here: For more recordings of essays and articles like this, download the Audm app for iPhone.
Oct 27, 2017
Episode 33 – The Truth About Dogs (10. 25. 17)
On this episode of the FIRST THINGS Podcast: Senior editor Julia Yost talks with Leah Libresco Sargeant about Harvey Weinstein, whose record of sexual harassment and assault was an open secret in Hollywood for years. Is his exposure an indictment of the film industry, or of all of us? Then, editor Rusty Reno and senior editor Matthew Schmitz join Julia to discuss dogs—as pets, as “emotional support animals,” and as substitute children. Are they man’s best friend, or stalking horses for the culture of death? Julia circles back to these issues with special guest Lucy Reno.
Oct 25, 2017
Conversations with Mark Bauerlein (10. 12. 17) – The Revolt Against the Masses
Fred Siegel joins senior editor Mark Bauerlein to discuss the origins of contemporary conflicts between mass and elite in American history.
Oct 12, 2017
From the Print Edition: “Dress Up,” by G. Bruce Boyer (June 2017)
A society hospitable to the down and out will not be afraid to dress up. Read the text version here: For more recordings of essays and articles like this, download the Audm app for iPhone.
Oct 04, 2017
Episode 32 – A Song of Vice and Fire (9. 14. 17)
On this episode of the FIRST THINGS Podcast: Senior editor Julia Yost talks with former assistant editor Alexi Sargeant about HBO’s Game of Thrones. Subtopics include dragons and zombies, monarchy and neoconservatism—and the virtues and vices* of the most popular series on television. *Viewer discretion is strongly advised.
Sep 14, 2017
Conversations with Mark Bauerlein (9. 6. 17) – Religion on the College Campus
Drew Trotter joins senior editor Mark Bauerlein to discuss the renewal of religion in higher education through his work with the Center for Christian Study and its network of campus chapters.
Sep 06, 2017
Episode 31 – Welcome to Post-Christian Society (8. 25. 17)
On this episode of the FIRST THINGS Podcast: Editor Rusty Reno talks with associate editor Julia Yost about the violence in Charlottesville. Rusty observes that racial unrest has changed since the Civil Rights era: The right has cribbed a sociopolitical critique from the left, and the left has learned paramilitary tactics from the right. The replications are ominous. Then, senior editor Matthew Schmitz talks with Julia about Convertgate, the recent dust-up in which liberal cradle Catholics instructed converts not to criticize the pope. Julia points out the incongruity of this spasm of liberal ultramontanism.
Aug 25, 2017
Episode 30 – Two Deaths in England (8. 10. 17)
On this episode of the FIRST THINGS Podcast: Associate editor Julia Yost discusses the death of Charlie Gard with Charles Camosy, associate professor of theological and social ethics at Fordham and author of “Learning from Charlie Gard.” Camosy argues that the removal of Charlie’s ventilator constituted an act of euthanasia. We need to call this act what it is—as hospitals increasingly aim at the death by omission, on the basis of quality-of-life judgments. Then, Julia marks the 200th anniversary summer of the death of Jane Austen, with a reflection on sin and death in Austen’s novels.
Aug 10, 2017
Conversations with Mark Bauerlein (7. 31. 17) – Supreme Court Round-up
Mark Movsesian joins senior editor Mark Bauerlein to discuss recent cases appearing before the Supreme Court related to religious liberty. This is the first in an ongoing series of interviews on religion and culture.
Jul 31, 2017
Episode 29 – A Militant Church (7. 24. 17)
On this episode of the FIRST THINGS Podcast: Editor Rusty Reno and literary editor Matthew Schmitz talk to associate editor Julia Yost about a recent article in the Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica. According to the authors, both of whom are advisers to Pope Francis, American Evangelicals and Catholics are warmongers and apocalyptic cultists bent on establishing a theocratic state. What does the article reveal about American religious conservatives—and about its authors? Then, Julia reflects on her experience reviewing Louise Milligan’s Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell.
Jul 24, 2017
Episode 28 – A Toast to Silence (5. 23. 17)
On this episode of the FIRST THINGS Podcast: Matthew Walther, associate editor of the Washington Free Beacon, drops by the FIRST THINGS offices with a bottle of Louis Roederer non-vintage champagne. He talks with Matthew Schmitz and Julia Yost about his plan for champagne socialism, outlined in a recent review for FIRST THINGS—and why fake champagnes, like Barefoot Bubbly, are very, very bad. Then, Schmitz and Julia discuss The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise, the new book by Robert Cardinal Sarah. Find out why The Power of Silence is impressing people, including the pope emeritus.
May 23, 2017
Episode 27 – Conservatism’s New Terms (4. 17. 17)
On this episode of the FIRST THINGS Podcast: Editor Rusty Reno talks to associate editor Julia Yost about a shift in the terms that govern our political debates. He argues that the primacy once given to “freedom” in American conservatism now is given to “nationalism”—or should be. Then, literary editor Matthew Schmitz joins Julia to discuss a few recent news items: the curious case of Boston’s re-frocked priest; Mike Pence’s rules for a happy marriage; and the cautionary tale of the professor who practiced “radical inclusion.”
Apr 17, 2017
Episode 26 – Suburban Coercion (3. 31. 17)
On this episode of the FIRST THINGS Podcast: Literary editor Matthew Schmitz and associate editor Julia Yost discuss The Americans—the Cold War spy drama that raises the question, Whose approach to sex is more dehumanizing? The KGB’s, or the average American parent’s? Then, Matthew and Julia discuss John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress—the Puritan classic that, Matthew argues, anticipated all our American stories, whether we know it or not.
Mar 31, 2017
Episode 25 – Faith and Fatherhood on Film (3. 16. 17)
On this episode of the FIRST THINGS Podcast: Associate editor Julia Yost talks to junior fellows Veery Huleatt and Connor Grubaugh about The Shack—the bestselling novel by William Paul Young, now a major feature film. In it, a bereaved father finds his way back to faith. But an unorthodox vision of the Holy Trinity compels us to discuss: Is it best to imagine the triune godhead according to biblical tradition, or according to personal taste? Then, Julia talks to assistant editor Alexi Sargeant and journalist Leah Libresco Sargeant about Logan, the newest installment in Marvel’s Wolverine franchise. Themes of faith and fatherhood animate this film, in which we observe the maturation of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, and of the superhero genre.
Mar 16, 2017
Episode 24 – Spirit and Form (2. 27. 17)
On this episode of the FIRST THINGS Podcast: Editor Rusty Reno and associate editor Julia Yost are joined by Midge Decter in a conversation about Michael Novak, who died on February 17. A theologian, social theorist, sports fan, and member of the founding generation of FIRST THINGS, Novak saw his way through the neocon transition from left to right. In his masterpiece, “The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism,” he made an influential case for the morality of free markets. Then, Julia talks with literary editor Matthew Schmitz about a feature article in the forthcoming April issue of FIRST THINGS: “Return to Form,” a defense of traditional Catholic liturgy by the distinguished German writer Martin Mosebach. Matthew also overviews his own analysis of the post–Vatican II class divide in Catholic liturgy and practice, appearing recently in the Catholic Herald.
Feb 27, 2017
Episode 23 – Life on the Line in Ireland (2. 14. 17)
Associate editor Julia Yost talks with Senator Rónán Mullen of the Irish Parliament about the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution. The Eighth Amendment, which guarantees the legal protection of unborn human life, is currently threatened by a repeal campaign. Learn about George Soros’s scheme to interfere in the affairs of a small Catholic country—and learn what Americans can do to help the pro-life cause in Ireland (hint: Then, Julia gets editor Rusty Reno’s take on recent developments in Church, politics, sports, and fashion.
Feb 14, 2017
Episode 22 – This American Carnage (1. 29. 17)
Senior editor Mark Bauerlein talks with associate editor Julia Yost about Donald Trump’s first week in office, from the inauguration speech to the Women’s Marches to the March for Life. Then Julia conjures the spirit of the William Peter Blatty, who died earlier this month. They discuss The Exorcist—that very Catholic work of horror, for which Blatty authored both novel and screenplay.
Jan 30, 2017
Episode 21 – Silence & Sherlock (1. 13. 17)
On this spoiler-filled episode of the FIRST THINGS Podcast: Associate editor Julia Yost talks with assistant editor Alexi Sargeant about Silence—the 1966 novel by Shusako Endo, newly adapted as a film by Martin Scorsese. Is the film better than the book? Will it win all the Oscars? Will it convert you to Death of God Theology? Then, Leah Libresco joins for a discussion of Sherlock, the BBC’s update of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Great Detective, returning now for its fourth season. Is the series better or worse now than when it began? Is an iPhone cooler than a pocketwatch? Is Sherlock an addict, or isn’t he? What’s up with the fandom? And what do we want to see in the season finale?
Jan 13, 2017
Episode 20 – A Wonderful(?) Life (12. 22. 16)
Senior editor Mark Bauerlein and associate editor Julia Yost discuss the Christmas movie everyone either loves, or loves to hate—Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Points of contention include: whether Aristotle would approve of the film’s plot; whether Henry F. Potter’s banking practices would have forestalled the 2008 financial crisis; whether George Bailey should be blamed for American suburbia; and whether Jimmy Stewart’s voice can be tolerated. Plus: Learn how you can advance the FIRST THINGS mission during this season of giving. (Every time you hit the donate button, an angel gets his wings.)
Dec 22, 2016
Episode 19 – Therapeutic Culture (12. 13. 16)
On this episode of the FIRST THINGS Podcast: Editor Rusty Reno introduces Philip Rieff’s The Triumph of the Therapeutic: The Uses of Faith after Freud. Published in 1966 and still fresh today, Rieff’s book (we particularly recommend the introduction) is the original and best critique of our therapeutic culture. Then, Senior editor Mark Bauerlein and associate editor Julia Yost discuss the 2016 season in college football.
Dec 13, 2016
Episode 18 – Post-Castro, Post-Truth (12. 5. 16)
On this episode of the FIRST THINGS Podcast: Editor Rusty Reno talks with associate editor Julia Yost about the life, death, and meaning of Fidel Castro. 1:18 The enduring allure of the bearded revolutionary 6:45 Why young Cubans are post-Castro 15:16 The past and future of Cuban-American relations Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year for 2016 is “post-truth.” Senior editor Mark Bauerlein joins Rusty and Julia to discuss the wisdom and significance of this pick. 19:39 “Post-truth” as Word of the Year—yay or nay? 27:05 Post-truth politics as populist politics 37:35 Reality’s well-known liberal bias 42:13 The evolution of English: descriptivism vs. prescriptivism
Dec 05, 2016
Episode 17 – Poetry and Popery (11. 21. 16)
1:34 Poetry has gone viral on social media in the wake of Donald Trump’s election. Senior editor Mark Bauerlein and associate editor Julia Yost discuss what role poetry should play in public life, in this time of political tension and attention deficits. 30:12 Four cardinals have presented five ”dubia” to Pope Francis, concerning the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia. Deputy editor Elliot Milco talks with Julia about what this move portends, why schism remains highly unlikely, and why Cardinal Burke inspires so much schadenfreude in Catholic liberals. 46:40 A special Thanksgiving message from the FIRST THINGS editorial staff, courtesy of assistant editor Alexi Sargeant.
Nov 21, 2016
Episode 16 - Post-Election Roundtable (11. 12. 16)
On this episode of the First Things Podcast: Editor Rusty Reno, senior editor Mark Bauerlein, associate editor Julia Yost, and deputy editor Elliot Milco gather on the morning after Donald Trump’s election victory to sort out how it happened and what it means. 0:50 Shock, awe, and the failure of Big Data 8:00 Taking Trump seriously but not literally 11:20 Implications for the Religious Right and the Catholic Church 24:10 What happened to fusion conservatism? 33:50 Trumpism in the global and globalist context 37:25 A permanent Republican majority?
Nov 12, 2016
Episode 15 – Cowboys, Robots, and Private Eyes (11. 4. 16)
1:10 – Senior editor Mark Bauerlein explains how classic hardboiled detective novels turn boys into men. And he does it while maintaining the lines between high culture, popular culture, and mass culture. 28:40 – Associate editor Julia Yost talks to deputy editor Elliot Milco about the buzzy new HBO series Westworld. What is producer Jonathan Nolan trying to tell us about human nature? And video games? And porn? And prestige-drama fan theories?
Nov 04, 2016
Can the Religious Right Be Saved? Presented by Russell D. Moore
Now in its 29th year, the Erasmus Lecture brings world-renowned speakers to New York—including Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, Gilbert Meilaender, and Rabbi Jonathan Sacks—to address an audience of First Things friends and subscribers each year. The lecture also appears in the pages of First Things and on
Oct 31, 2016
Episode 14 – Ashes to Ashes (10. 31. 16)
1:25 – Rusty comments on the Vatican’s new guidelines for cremation. Why has the Catholic Church traditionally favored intact burial? And why are people, including Catholics, increasingly opting for cremation? 18:30 – Alexi Sargeant reflects on the life and legacy of Jack Chick, the evangelical comic book artist who died last week. The “Chick Tracts” sought to scare people to Jesus—and away from Catholicism, Halloween, Dungeons & Dragons, and a few other things. What should we make of this earnest and inventive evangelist, who was also rather feverish and offensive? 30:55 – Mark observes the one-year anniversary of the Halloween horror show at Yale, when students lost their minds over culturally insensitive costumes. This year, college administrators across America are designing programs to prevent offense from being given or taken. In an op-ed for the New York Times, Mark argues that rather than micromanaging students’ social interactions, administrators should be offering positive moral guidance.
Oct 31, 2016
A Night of Poetry with Dana Gioia
First Things is pleased to host the second annual Poetry Reading with Dana Gioia. Learn more about this event at
Oct 24, 2016
Episode 13 – A Day in Court (10. 24. 16)
Literary editor Matthew Schmitz recounts his day in a Manhattan jury pool. He failed to be selected for the jury, but he made many colorful friends. Now he argues, in the spirit of Tocqueville, for fewer plea bargains, more jury trials, and the death penalty. Then, Matthew talks to associate editor Julia Yost about his Back Page column in the November issue. He argues, in the spirit of Confucius, against the utilitarian ethos that prevails at elite universities. What would the Master say about Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy?
Oct 24, 2016
Episode 12 – A Catholic Spring? (10. 14. 16)
Matthew responds to criticisms of his New York Times op-ed, “Has Pope Francis Failed?,” and reminds liberal Catholics of their claim that liberalizing doctrine and rhetoric would bring alienated believers back to the Church. Plus: What do the three new American cardinals tell us about Francis’s agenda? Then, First Things staffers stage a dramatic reading of the Clintonites’ Catholic-themed emails, revealed by WikiLeaks this week. Matthew and Julia discuss the proper response. Finally, Bob Dylan has won this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature. Matthew reflects on Dylan’s legacy and achievements, and why Bill Gothard was right about secular music.
Oct 14, 2016
Episode 11 – American Caesar (9. 23. 16)
Helen Andrews provides some historical perspective on the choice Americans must make this November—between two styles of dictator, the personalist (Trump) and the clientelist (Clinton). She looks back on the last president who combined these two styles, as an illustration of how momentous a dictatorial presidency can be. Then, Matthew Walther previews a new edition of T. H. White’s “The Once and Future King,” a novel that contains more metaphysics, and less fantasy, than you think. Finally, Walther takes aim at E. B. White (no relation), explaining why “Elements of Style” is overrated and the passive voice is underrated.
Sep 23, 2016
Episode 10 – Against Gender (9. 16. 16)
Remember that time Slate alerted the civilized world to our terrifying feature article on “gay denialism”? Michael W. Hannon was the author of that feature, “Against Heterosexuality,” and he sits down with Matthew and Julia to recall his bombshell and reflect on its consistency with his present life with the Norbertine Fathers. On sexuality and gender, he has opinions to spare. Facebook’s seventy-one gender options: Too much? Or not enough? Then Rusty joins, fresh off his victory (or was it?) in a debate over Catholic perspectives on immigration. Should our preferential option be for immigrants, or for those who are already our neighbors?
Sep 16, 2016
Episode 9 – Trigger Warning! (9. 9. 16)
Phyllis Schlafly, anti-feminist icon and foe of the Equal Rights Amendment, died this week. Rusty, Mark, and Julia discuss her legacy—with the help of their special guest, journalist and editor and all-around legend Midge Decter. Then, it’s time to head back to campus—and that means getting up to speed on the new rules for avoiding microaggressions. Is it still okay to say “you guys”? Rusty has sympathy for the special snowflakes; Mark and Julia have stories from the trenches.
Sep 09, 2016
Episode 8 – Mother Teresa, Ineffective Altruist (9. 2. 16)
Mother Teresa of Calcutta will be canonized on Sunday. Why is her service to the poor so much more inspiring than that of secular “effective altruists”? Rusty and Matthew explain their takes, and Julia freaks out her colleagues by half-agreeing with Christopher Hitchens. Then: If you were the mayor of a French town with a beachfront, what would you do about the burkini? Think carefully, because “the soul of France” is in question. But does France have a secular soul, or a Christian one? Finally, Julia reads a famous passage from literature, containing a prediction about saints named Teresa. Rusty and Matthew try to source it. Maybe you can beat them!
Sep 02, 2016
Episode 7 – The Francis Effect? (8. 26. 16)
New survey findings from Georgetown University update us on rates of ritual participation among American Catholics. Do they show a “Francis Effect”? If so, is the effect positive or negative? Rusty, Matthew, and Julia discuss why millennial Catholics need more, not less, incense. Then, Broadway’s “Hamilton” is up for debate: Is it “a pack of tricks we play on the dead”—retrojecting multicultural ideology onto the Founding? Or does it benignly correct our postmodern suspicion of the American past? Assistant editor Alexi Sargeant and junior fellow Connor Grubaugh debate. Finally, the Marquis de Lafayette speaks through Alexi, rapping very fast about guns and ships.
Aug 26, 2016
Episode 6 – Asexual Millennials (8. 19. 16)
A surprising new study reveals that members of the Millennial Generation are avoiding sex—and for all the wrong reasons. Rusty, Mark, and Julia discuss the impact of careerism, pornography, and the fear of “catching feelings,” and what it all means for Christian morality. Then, Rusty uses the “Elephant Graph” to explain why, in this age of globalization, there is no longer a harmony of economic interests between elites in the West and the middle classes they are elected to lead. Can the nation-state survive? Finally, Rusty and Mark try to guess the authors of three aphorisms, each on the subject of “Youth and Age.”
Aug 19, 2016
Episode 5 – Is God Still Dead? (8. 12. 16)
God was pronounced dead by Time Magazine fifty years ago—and now He’s deader than ever, according to Matthew Rose. Joining Rusty and Julia, Matt argues that our present age was heralded in 1966 by the Death of God theologians, who viewed secularity as the highest development of Christian ethics. Julia then interviews Rusty about his new book, Resurrecting the Idea of a Christian Society. Our culture is falling apart—which is good news and bad news, according to Rusty. Why is he optimistic that Christians will be the leaven in an increasingly decadent society? Finally, Julia hosts a game of “Stump the Editors” with Rusty, Mark, and Matthew. Play along and test your knowledge of literature! Musical credit: Dave Brubeck.
Aug 12, 2016
Episode 4 – NFP vs. Sex Ed (8. 3. 16)
What can natural family planning teach you about the body that sex ed won’t? Catholic writer and "science nerd" Leah Libresco guests on this segment, as does her fiancé, assistant editor Alexi Sargeant. Then, why are Catholic and Evangelical Republicans parting ways over Trump? Leah crunches the numbers, and Rusty envisions life for religious conservatives during a Trump presidency. Finally, Matthew and Julia discuss this week’s news from Rome, and conclude that ordaining women as deacons not only makes no sense, but would set women back. Musical credits: The Losers, Chad Crouch.
Aug 05, 2016
Episode 3 – Death of a Country Priest
Was the murder of Fr. Jacques Hamel by Islamic State militants an act of “absurd violence,” as Pope Francis suggests, or did it have clear religious motivations and implications? Matthew disagrees with First Things senior fellow Francesca Aran Murphy. Then, what are we to make of the two new vice-presidential nominees, each of whom is Catholic in his own way—Mike Pence the “Evangelical Catholic” and Tim Kaine the “Pope Francis Catholic”? Finally, Julia hosts a session of “Ask a Theologian.” Find out whether all dogs go to heaven, why the Pope Emeritus wears white, which way is liturgical East—and more! This episode features music by Sergey Cheremisinov, Scott Holmes, and Unthunk.
Jul 29, 2016
Episode 2 – Does Liberal Catholicism Have a Future?
Liberal Catholics are growing impatient. What if Pope Francis fails to institutionalize his reforms? Editors Rusty, Mark, Matthew, and Julia discuss, and are politely opposed by their guest, Commonweal editor Matthew Boudway. Then assistant editor Alexi Sargeant drops in to evangelize for Pokémon Go. Finally, the editors reflect on the feelings of insecurity that seem to be motivating Americans in both parties (and no party) during this political season. Musical credits: “OST 01 Tutorial” by Sawsquarenoise, “Generic Falling Blocks Puzzle” by Mathgrant, “Shrine” by Visager, and “Final Sacrifice” by Visager. All four are used under Creative Commons licenses, which can be found with the full tracks at
Jul 22, 2016
Episode 1 – Inside the August/September Issue (7/15/16)
Is Donald Trump a disciple of the power-mad Nietzsche, or of positive-thinking guru Norman Vincent Peale? Editors Rusty, Mark, Matthew, and Julia discuss. Then Carl Trueman Skypes in and disputes mildly with Rusty about the meaning of the recent "bigot-baiting" in Bakersfield, California. Finally, the editors are joined by attorney Darren Geist, a critic of Amnesty International's dehumanizing new policy on prostitution.
Jul 15, 2016
The Meaning Of Marriage: A Podcast with R. R. Reno
The Meaning Of Marriage: A Podcast with R. R. Reno by First Things
Dec 07, 2015
Recovering Classic Evangelicalism: Applying The Wisdom And Vision Of Carl F. H. Henry
Gregory Alan Thornbury was recently installed as the sixth president of The King's College of New York City. Before his appointment, he was professor of philosophy, dean of the School of Theology and Missions, and vice president for Spiritual Life at Union University in Tennessee. Thornbury is a senior fellow at the Kairos Journal and serves as a visiting professor teaching philosophy at Ansgar Teologiske Høgskole in Norway and at Southern Seminary. He is a member of the Society of Christian Philosophers and the Evangelical Theological Society.
Aug 07, 2015
The Catholic Writer in America: A Podcast with Dana Gioia
Dana Gioia may be best known to our audience for his essay in First Things last year entitled “The Catholic Writer Today.” The essay began with a dismaying regret that while 50 years ago one could scan the American literary scene and find Catholicism and Catholic writers playing a formative role, today that role has disappeared. As Gioia put it, “the religion of one-quarter of the U.S. population has retreated to the point of invisibility in the fine arts.” As you may imagine, the essay sparked heated responses both among First Things readers and in the literary world. In February USC and the Institute of Advanced Catholic Studies hosted a conference on the topic, entitled “The Future of Catholic Literary Imagination,” and it included some of the leading Catholic writers and critics in America. Last month, Gioia sat down for an interview with First Things to discuss the topic.
Apr 02, 2015
Randy Boyogoda on the Thought and Character of Father Neuhaus: A Podcast
​Randy Boyogoda’s biography of Father Richard John Neuhaus, ​Richard John Neuhaus: A Life in the Public Square came out last month and has already received significant notice. A few weeks ago, Boyogoda himself took up a central theme of Neuhaus’ in an op-ed in the ​Wall Street Journal, underscoring the delicate relationship of religion and politics in the United States throughout American history. Last week, he sat down for an interview with First Things to continue the discussion of the life and significance of Father Neuhaus. We have recorded the discussion as a podcast, which you can listen to below.
Mar 23, 2015
Podcast: The Marriage Statement
Podcast: The Marriage Statement by First Things
Feb 09, 2015
Raising Kids In A Digital Age featuring Mark Bauerlein on Relevant Radio
Raising Kids In A Digital Age featuring Mark Bauerlein on Relevant Radio by First Things
Dec 08, 2014
Archbishop Chaput & R.R Reno on Spirit Catholic Radio
Chaput details both the history of the threats and possible responses in “A Charitable Endeavor,” published in First Things (November, 2009). In their conversation about this essay on Spirit Catholic Radio, R. R. Reno and Chaput discussed militant secularism, the need for mediating institutions, and the historical collaboration between Church and state on issues of poverty.
Oct 08, 2014
R. R. Reno and Mary Eberstadt on Spirit Catholic Radio
Mary Eberstadt and editor R. R. Reno discuss the current state of marriage on Spirit Catholic Radio. In 2009, there were a series of tell-all articles by women, published in New York Times and The Atlantic among others,that lamented the woes of marriage. Eberstadt, observing the trend, wrote up an analysis, “What Does Woman Want: The war between sexless,” published in the October 2009 of First Things.
Sep 24, 2014