Noted Catholic scholar Fr. Richard John Neuhaus has died. Perhaps best known as the founder and editor of the monthly journal of Catholic philosophy/theology/culture critique called First Things, he also made his mark with his book ‘The Naked Public Square’ (1984 but still one of the best books on the place of religion in the public square). He was a prolific writer, a very clear mind, and with George Weigel and Michael Novak was probably the best known ‘Whig Thomist’ (who wish to synthesize the politics of modernity with Catholicism, as opposed to the ‘Communio School’ or ‘Augustinian Thomists’ like Alasdair MacInture who see the liberal tradition of rights talk as hopelessly modern and incompatible with Thomist and Catholic views of person/community).
I am personally quite sad over it. Neuhaus’ brilliant book ‘Death on a Friday Afternoon’ is something I read every Lent. It is a penetrating and personal series of meditations on the last words of Christ, informed by thinkers from Augustine to Renee Girard. I would recommend it highly to both Christians and non-Christians, anyone who wants a thoughtful reflection on why Christians think Good Friday is the center of everything.