In Trying Times . . . Remembering Leon Bloy

In 1901, Jacques Maritain and Raissa Oumansoff made a suicide pact.

Both were students at the Sorbonne, living in a world that was a “spiritual desert,” in the words of the late Michael Novak (Crisis, March 24, 2016).

Novak explained:

“In a horrifying pact, they swore together to give themselves one more year to find some meaning in life. If that search failed, they promised to commit suicide together. The Maritains seem to have argued themselves into this decision much as Albert Camus was later to argue in The Myth of Sisyphus. If human life is absurd, then the only way to give it meaning is to give at least one act in it one’s own meaning. One could at least choose the time and the mode by which to exit from it. Suicide would not make life any more meaningless than it already was. But it could put at least one moment of purpose into it.”

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Imagining a Virtuous Capitalism

Over the last 30 years, we have witnessed the most significant movement out of poverty in human history. If this trend continues, we will see extreme poverty almost completely eradicated in the 21st century, according to a 2008 report from the World Bank. This historic economic movement was not the result of government programs, the United Nations’ national debt forgiveness, or even Christian charity. It was brought about by the spread of economic freedom and capitalism.

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How To Make A Caring And Critical Assessment Of Pope Francis

The Roman Catholic Church, a “family of families,” according to Pope Francis, has since the beginning of Christianity proposed to the world a model for a healthy human society. These suggestions to the world at large on what makes for a good and flourishing society are based on biblical principles and derived from Caritas, or charity (Matthew 22:36-40). This is the most important point about Catholic social doctrine. Without it being rooted in the scriptures and in biblical faith, it collapses to sociological concepts.

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Voices from Afghanistan

Nearly a decade ago I sat, together with Catholic philosopher Michael Novak, in the office of the Librarian of Congress, James Billington. Novak had brought us together—he was a longtime friend of Billington—and I was there to pitch an idea. I wanted the Library of Congress to host an exhibit of letters to Radio Azadi, the local branch in Afghanistan of the taxpayer-funded company I led at the time, the modernized Cold War media group called Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). Billington—joined by a couple of his division experts—was skeptical, to put it mildly. A station’s fan mail in the coveted space of the Library of Congress? Was I mad?

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What I Learned From Michael Novak

What I Learned From Michael Novak

Robert A. Sirico, writing in the Wall Street Journal:

I first read Michael Novak’s groundbreaking work “The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism” when it was published in 1982, before I entered seminary at the Catholic University of America. The book’s dialogue between economics and theology made a deep impression on me, as it did thousands of others. I wrote the author and asked if we might meet once I arrived in Washington. Thus began a friendship that lasted until Novak’s death last year.

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Michael Novak's Faith and Sense

On Saturday will be the year since the death of the American Catholic philosopher of Slovak origin, Michael Novak.

The memorial prayer cards given at his funeral had an unusual design: alongside the silhouette of the crucifix, they were dominated by the archery drawing, which focuses on the shot with the taut.

The author of the drawing is Karen Laub Novak, the artist and Michael's beloved wife. Michael liked to explain that the inspiration of this portrayal stems from Aristotle's Nikomach's ethics and is related to the achievement of practical wisdom. This can be gained by a long experience associated with a purposeful intellectual effort.

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Remembering Those Who Died in 2017

Michael Novak was a kind, brilliant Catholic philosopher whose majestic 1982 book, “The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism,” made a powerful case that free men and free markets provided the surest path to liberty and prosperity. Once of the left, he came to believe freedom’s ideals could overcome communism’s evil and was appointed by President Reagan to the board overseeing Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty.

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Resisting the Fortress of Solitude: What’s Wrong with First Things’ Anxious Anti-Capitalism

Yesterday, I began considering R. R. Reno’s recent manifesto revoking, or at least greatly qualifying, the approval of free-market capitalism that characterized First Things in the days of Richard John Neuhaus and Michael Novak. The first step in Reno’s argument was the preposterous assertion that we have much more economic freedom today than in the past. I went to almost comic lengths yesterday to prove the obvious proposition that government regulation of the economy has vastly increased in the last forty years or so. Today, I consider some of Reno’s other arguments.

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Notes from Reality About Economic Regulation: What's Wrong with First Things' Anxious Anti-Capitalism

Back in October, R. R. Reno, editor-in-chief of First Things, published a manifesto revoking, or at least greatly qualifying, the approval of free-market capitalism offered by Richard John Neuhaus, Michael Novak, and the other luminaries who made First Things an intellectual force. As may well be expected, this has occasioned strong rejoinders from Samuel Gregg, Michael Uhlmann, and others.

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