First Things is far and away my favorite print-medium, non-technical journal. I always have a copy in my backpack, whether I'm just heading in to the office or flying off to a conference somewhere, because I know that I can always find something worth a careful read in there. In particular, I've been a fan of Neuhaus since he was the religion editor for National Review, back when he was still a Lutheran, and like many others I always turn first to his Public Square.
But now there is a controversy a-brewing over Jonathan Last's article on blogging, God on the Internet. As usual, Chris Blosser (Against the Grain) has an excellent discussion of what's going on. In particular Chris points out the hatchet job that was done on poor old Steve Ray, a hard-working apologist who comes under fire for--gasp!--advertising his own books and videos on his website! Why I'm shocked--shocked!--to hear of such a thing! You won't see any advertisements at the First Things website for--oh, wait a minute, let me just check that out....oops! Um...never mind!
Apparently I'm not the only one to have noticed that Last criticizes Ray for something that is actually a fairly widespread and, ethically speaking, perfectly acceptable, practice which appears to be condoned even by the venue in which Last airs his outrage. When you look at the other complaints registered by Chris it begins to look as though a little more editing was needed, though perhaps we needn't go so far as the speculation offered by Ray.
If this had happened anywhere other than the print edition of First Things I would say that it's just a tempest in a teapot, but this one may not go away. Now that First Things has gotten its own blog up and running it has become part of an even broader community that it is probably better not to alienate. I would imagine that most Catholic bloggers like First Things, and this won't change that--but it will make most folks a little more circumspect. That's a good thing, too, obviously--people should always practice critical reading skills. But you don't want to call into question the whole editorial policy.