Fr. Richard John Neuhaus
May 14, 1936 – January 8, 2009
He was misunderstood by many, and maligned by some, but his influence on debates regarding religion, culture and public life is inestimable. Inestimable as in valuable beyond measure, particularly to young Christians hungry for an intellectually informed—and informing—faith. Like many, I met Fr. Neuhaus in words, and never in person. And I met him rather late, having only picked up First Things in my second year of university. But one of the strengths of his writing was that in reading it, you felt as you were in the company of a genuine and deeply loved friend, with a glass of wine or brandy in hand. Relaxed, but lucid. Yes, at times Fr. Neuhaus’s writing could be acerbic—some would say bitter—particularly when he was referring to the country of his birth. But for me, this was his greatest strength. The taste of his writing seemed appropriately suited to the culture in which we North Americans find ourselves: robust and shining on the surface, but showing signs of a serious internal illness (something with which he was intimately familiar) and in need of strong medicine. Even when he got the prescription wrong—which he did from time to time—his diagnosis was sound.
We are now without him and the world is a poorer place. I will miss him, though I’ve never met him in the flesh. But I, for one, am thankful for his life, and the guidance he offered to the Christian flock, and offer thanks that he now rests in the care of the great Physician and great Shepherd of the sheep.
. . . Regarding the upcoming Dignity Conference (January 30-31 in Ottawa), we neglected proper weblinks last week: see http://www.clac.ca/dignity/index.html for conference information, or go straight to conference sessions or the registration form.
. . . The 2009 Festival for Faith & Music at Calvin College is coming up on April 2-4, 2009. Writes Comment editor Gideon Strauss, “The FFM is a big favourite with many friends of Comment. At least two members of the Strauss household (not including your editor) plan to travel down to Grand Rapids this year to taste the feast.”
. . . And finally, Comment draws your attention to a special art exhibition coming to Winnipeg, January 29 – February 1. Acclaimed Winnipeg artist Gerald Folkerts has been struggling with an inoperable brain tumour since early fall 2008. A four-day retrospective of some of his work—including many pieces from the “Head Over Heels” and “Restless Slumber” series—will take place at Outworks Gallery, located at 290 McDermott Avenue. Read more about Gerald’s journey at a blog written by his children, gravelroadjourney.blogspot.com, and keep an eye for a piece by Gerald featured on the cover of the next print issue of Comment.