Blog author: rsirico
Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Acton Institute, and I personally, have lost one of our most enduring and earliest friends in the peaceful (and I am told, beautiful – if such a word can be used) death of Karen Laub-Novak, wife of our long-time collaborator and mentor Michael Novak.

During the time I lived in Washington, D.C., some 25 years ago, the Novak dinner table became a veritable salon of the free society. As Michael would be mixing up his magical Manhattans (where I learned to make them), Karen and I would be busy in the kitchen churning out Italian dishes: antipasti, pollo caccitore, broccolini in padella – all served into the midst of sparkling conversations and debates around that table. Here were the likes of Clare Booth Luce holding formidable court against Bill Bennett, Irving Kristol and his wife Gertrude Himmelfarb; Bob and Mary Ellen Bork would be conversing with the late Jack and Joan Kemp or Charles and Robyn Krauthammer.

Karen, an artist of note, had a natural ability in such an intellectually charged atmosphere to exude an infallible and gracious hospitality, making anyone who visited her domain feel fully at home.

A bit of beauty has gone out of the world in Karen’s passing. RIP.

  • I had never heard of Karen Laub-Novak until August 11, 2009 when I looked at Michael Novak’s web site to send him a request to examine my evangelartistry art exhibit at (I thought he might be a Catholic philosopher who had at some point lamented “the lack of meaningful Catholic art in the Christian world” in our time.)

    On that site I noted information about Karen’s own web site and so ventured onto and discovered with great delight her expressions of what I see also as evangelartistic works (paintings mostly) for which she – I do not think – has received any recognition as such. But then perhaps I have been out of touch.

    I sent Karen an email asking her (lazy fool that I am) to please read the email I sent to her husband regarding my work, but to also visit the above web site and then to please comment on it to me at her convenience. I had no idea of her health situation or God’s plans for her at this point.

    On August 12th I viewed her web site again and read down to the middle of her second literary entry regarding mysticism, etc. which blew me away! I then came to realize I was out of my league trying to communicate with this Great One… and wrote back to her saying, “You are too good, don’t waste your time on me!”

    Obviously God wasn’t going to give her that time. But surely there are other evangelartists – Catholics who implement cultural media (the arts and things in the environ in general whereby to convey the Gospel and Christian culture) who will as “servants of the rest” carry on where Karen left off.

    And though we may anticipate that she is “Resting In Peace”, let’s nominate her as unofficial female patron saint of evangelartists… and invoke her spirit to actively inspire us to continually seek a mystical union between the action of Martharian evangelization and living in charity with the Marian contemplation of Being in the Art of God!
    Karen Laub-Novak, inspire, motivate, and pray for us!
    Kevin R. Landry