Tag Archives: Richard John Neuhaus

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Mistaken and Dangerous: David Brooks on “Death and Budgets”

David Brooks on death and budgetsIn a recent New York Times op-ed titled “Death and Budgets,” columnist David Brooks points to the example of a writer named Dudley Clendinen to illustrate what Brooks apparently feels is the correct way to face death, especially from that which we call terminal illness. Dudley Clendinen is sixty-six years-old, and has a diagnosis of A.L.S. (Lou Gehrig’s disease). He wrote a piece himself for the Times called “The Good Short Life” in which he explains his decision to forgo a variety of treatments that could keep him alive for some additional years, albeit in a progressively more disabled state. Essentially he says that he is plumping to let the disease take its course, and he thinks it likely that he will die from aspirational pneumonia some time in the next several months (although he is not opposed to giving himself a shove into death by some other means if he deems it necessary).

David Brooks moves quickly to presenting Clendinen’s story as a valuable “backdrop to the current budget mess.” Health care costs being such a big part of it, he argues, wouldn’t it be great if everyone had the same attitude to death as Dudley Clendinen? Our society would save so much money by not having to provide great quantities of medical care to the elderly and terminally ill, when all it does is provide them with a few more years of living—and diminished living at that. His argument is really just that simple. Continue reading Mistaken and Dangerous: David Brooks on “Death and Budgets”

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Earth: The Story So Far

Earth: The Story So FarThere’s a book called “God With Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas”.One of the chapters in it was written by the late, great Richard John Neuhaus, and begins like this:

We are all searching, and ultimately — whether we know it or not — we are searching for God. Ultimately, we are searching for the Ultimate, and the Ultimate is God. It is not easy, searching for God, but maybe your reading this book is part of your own searching. The fact is that we do not really know what we’re looking for or who we’re looking for. Almost a thousand years ago, St. Anselm of Canterbury said, “God is that greater than which cannot be thought.” Continue reading Earth: The Story So Far

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A few more links on RJN

Just some more things out there pertaining to the late Richard John Neuhaus that I’ve found rewarding:

In NRO, from Rabbi David Novak, this heartfelt piece: RJN and the Jews.

At the First Things blog, reflections from Stefan McDaniel: “Some giants labored in that cloud …”

From the Times of London, click here for a strong-minded obituary, from a more historical perspective, for RJN from an anonymous but seemingly well-informed author.

And this online archive of homilies by Richard John Neuhaus which he gave during masses he said at Columbia University during some spring semesters. Sound quality is mixed but there you go.

And the text of RJN’s resounding speech in July last to the convention of the National Right To Life Committee: We Shall Not Weary, We Shall Not Rest.

More links and info at First Things.

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Writers remembering Richard John Neuhaus

There are many touching remembrances of Richard John Neuhaus being published far and near. In this passage from Hadley Arkes’s tribute (beginning about halfway down this page), he humorously recalls hearing the rumors that RJN was to convert from Lutheranism to Catholicism:

But before there had been any announcement, and while the benign gossip had been making its way within “the family,” I phoned: “Richard, I just wanted to tell you that I’ve heard the news, or I’ve heard versions of it, and I want to be among the first to congratulate you. For the word is that you are about to join the Lubovachers.” He said, “Hadley, I’ll never forget this conversation.” About a year or so later, we were gathered at the seminary at Dunwoodie for his ordination, and Cardinal O’Connor, with his characteristic humor, said, “Richard, you don’t deserve this ….any more than I deserve the honor of being here, ministering to you.” Richard was just lit up that afternoon, with a freshness and sparkle rare even for him, as we all gathered in the garden after the ceremony. I noted again “the family” gathered around – George Weigel, Bob Royal, David Novak, Midge Decter, Norman Podhoretz.

And I couldn’t help wondering what Cardinal O’Connor would make of it all: Who was this man, with so wide a reach, bringing in with him this contingent so varied that it included Jews? He would offer his prayers to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; it was the Catholicism of John Paul II, which incorporated the Jewish tradition. Were the Jews on the way to Rome? Or was it that Rome had brought the Jewish ethic to the rest of the world? As one friend put it, When you’re Catholic, you are at least Jewish. And that sense of things, nurtured by Richard, has marked the cast in which I too would find myself moving.

Continue reading Writers remembering Richard John Neuhaus

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More timely reflections from Richard John Neuhaus

It is one of many of Richard John Neuhaus’s unique gifts to this world that after his death there exist countless words of his own that can strengthen those who miss him. When it came to dying and indeed his own death, he literally wrote the book on it. The book is As I Lay Dying: Meditations Upon Returning. I quoted briefly from it yesterday and here is another excerpt (and what a beautiful piece of prose this truly is, of the kind that RJN was able to conjure so often): Continue reading More timely reflections from Richard John Neuhaus

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A view of what’s coming

I’ve often linked to pieces by Richard John Neuhaus. Among other factors, his book “Death on a Friday Afternoon” was a formative influence on me in terms of clearing away stumbling blocks and noise which had made a stronger faith in Christ difficult for me personally to attain. You don’t need to intellectually understand Christianity in order to have faith (or else most of us would be lost); however, the very human yearning to intellectually understand it can ironically create its own obstacles to faith. And so it is that thinkers and writers like Richard John Neuhaus (of which there are very few but perhaps just enough) can through God’s grace provide just the right solution to the cerebral static that would otherwise be impossible for many of us to overcome. At least such is my opinion. Continue reading A view of what’s coming