Father Richard Neuhaus Dead

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Two years ago, when New York named its five most influential intellectuals in New York, three of the five had direct connections to Columbia. The first two were well-known professors Jeffrey Sachs and Brian Greene, but Bwog pauses today to remember the third Columbia presence on that list, Father Richard Neuhaus, who died today at the age of 72.

Unlike his professorial counterparts, Neuhaus, the famous conservative theologian and editor-in-chief of First Things, was no campus star, or even an official faculty member. Instead, he only spent several springs preaching at the Catholic Ministry’s on-campus masses. While his politics may not have matched with most of Columbia, or even much of his Catholic audience, his sermons – noted for their old-school oratorical stylings – were hugely popular among those who knew about them.

For the curious, Bwog highly recommends former B&W editor Andrew Flynn’s profile of Neuhaus in our April/May 2007 issue,  and you can also listen to his old sermons on the Columbia Catholic Ministry’s website.




  1. Bye Bye

    the fewer people we have advocating for the infusion of religion in politics, the better.

  2. really?

    Bwog, why did you censor that post? It wasn't necessarily particularly well informed, well written, or anything else like that really but I don't see why you took it down. It wasn't specifically attacking anyone, didn't name a student, etc. and was in at least some ways more civil than a lot of the stuff that shows up on these comments

  3. yellow

    Hey liberals, did you know that 42 million Americans are considered illiterate? Also, it's not just right wing Christian Bible bangers; actually, it's largely minorities and illegal immigrants whose culture is based around government handouts and the taxes raised by idiot liberal policies. By the way, Evangelicals rank in the highest IQ range, one point lower than Jews, when it comes to religious groups.

  4. CC '99 alum  

    Back to the topic: Father Neuhaus I know was an inspiration spritually and intellectually to some very impressive young people on this campus, not to mention the wonderful Dominican chaplains who also traveled in his circle; we were lucky to welcome him regularly to campus and have him so close by in NYC. (I personally returned to the Church from a period of partly-Columbia-induced groupthink-libertinism, after and partly from discovering the journal he founded, First Things.) His legacy will only grow.

    I strongly recommend that thoughtful students interested in issues of religion and politics read about the life of this man and visit FirstThings.com to check out his articles and perhaps especially his commentaries in "The Public Square" -- the loss of which I know will be a source of selfish sadness to many serious fans of good writing whether "theocon" or "spiritual-not-religious." He was such a funny writer and addressed so very many different topics. I am hard pressed to name a professor on this campus who might share, say, my own appreciation for Fr. Neuhaus' contribution to not only Catholic thought but to public dialogue about religion, religious people, religious thought -- in the public square. If you care about or are curious about the intellectual milieu in which the vast majority of CU profs are stewing (and I think many CU students are), then, the alternative -- indeed, a counter-cultural alternative at this point -- may interest you too. That alternative is the milieu of intellectuals who happen to be serious and orthodox in their religious beliefs.

    Perhaps the typical left-liberal student's response is exemplified by "Bye Bye" above with "the fewer...the better..." But for thoughtful readers an engagement with Neuhaus' thought would be essential in order to understand, e.g., the state of present arguments for school vouchers or against abortion. Some of his writing is certainly appropriate for a short-form second-semester CC text (and perhaps will be if history proves it to be as influential on American political and cultural life as his detractors fear it may already be).

    Thanks to BWOG for acknowledging his death. May he rest in peace.

  5. blue

    Even in the age of Obama, why is it such a crime to not only be white, but to be proud of ones European heritage and to seek its preservation in the fact of Marxists who seek its complete destruction?

    • hmmm

      I don't know what your deleted comments say, but the language you use about being white is uncannily similar to the language that white supremacists use. I would bet there is a good chance you are one. What does any of this have to do with Richard Neuhaus, in any event?

    • what

      exactly is worth preserving about your European heritage? Europe has a pretty checkered past. The one saving grace for Europe of yore was the scientific ingenuity that emerged from it, yet even that was subject to persecution and every discovery was a contemporary heresy.

  6. CC '07

    While I wouldn't say that I agree with everything Neuhaus stood for, the man certainly is about looking at issues critically and not just with blind obedience to a cause.

    Also, I'm pretty sure he was active in the civil rights movement in the 1960s, and was even friends with Martin Luther King.

    Of course, today, we have decided to secularize the civil rights movement, and forget that religion played a large part in the struggle.

  7. CC '99  

    CC '07 is quite right -- RJN was what we could call a liberal in the 1960's and a colleague of MLK and other civil rights and anti-war activists. He was pastor of a very poor Lutheran parish in Brooklyn. He wrote often about how his own shift began to happen when the flag of (classical) liberalism was placed on the wrong side of the abortion debate.

  8. CC'09

    He was, from what I've read, a principled liberal in the 1960s, a principled conservative since the 1980s, and the complete opposite of a racist throughout his entire life.

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