Catholic All the Way: Michael Novak’s Legacy
Michael Novak was a thinker whose sweep was without peer in his time, or ours. As a public intellectual, his contributions ranged over a staggering list of fields – theology, philosophy, journalism, economics, politics, poetry and fiction – just for starters. His public service included work as an ambassador for human rights, as a professor, as a public speaker in great demand; and his service was recognized by a staggering list of honors: 24 honorary degrees, the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, awards from the Central European governments and associations for whom his towering work, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, would serve as a providential blueprint during the years in which they clawed up from decades of communist oppression.
Peering into Michael’s legacy can’t help but make anyone feel inadequate to the task of addressing any of it. I’d like to focus on one aspect of Michael that deserves more attention in the public eye: that is Michael Novak, Catholic, and the influence of Catholicism throughout his life’s work.
Of course, he was always identified as a “Catholic intellectual.” But in a secularizing age, it bears special emphasis that Michael’s Catholicism was the irreducible nucleus that held together every orbit in which his life’s work was spinning, and spins still.