I never expected First Things to give a theologically nuanced interpretation of the current U.S. war on terrorism, and it hasn’t disappointed me. Its editor-in-chief, Father Richard Neuhaus, has yet to see a war for which he could not provide theological justification from the magnificent Catholic magisterium—despite what the pope says. Yet I have been astounded by the relentless, unanimous smugness that has characterized First Things since September 11. Everyone who writes for the journal is so sure that we are right, so certain of President Bush’s sagacity, so damnably smug.
Though Jesus didn’t condemn smugness as a sin, he should have.