I was late in receiving my Richard John Neuhaus tribute issue from First Things, so forgive my mentioning it after many have long read it.
Going through, one thing that stands out is that Richard John Neuhaus was so influential not only because of his tremendous proficiency and prolificity with words, but also because of his gift of friendship. When great groups of friends stay together for a long time, it is often because there is one person standing at the center doing the work and exerting an almost magnetic attraction. Neuhaus stood at the center of an incredible network of brilliant people. That becomes clear as you read the tributes.
I had a friend like that in high school. He made the friendships work. We didn’t have a lot without him. We got together recently in Chicago after twenty years apart. The same dynamic was in place.
Stephen Barr’s tribute underlines the point:
[Neuhaus] also created a particular part of the public square that hadn’t existed before. He created a place where a great throng of religious intellectuals, hitherto isolated from one another and often unaware of one another’s existence, could meet to share their thoughts and pool their intellectual resources.
Quite right. And one man was brilliant at linking those people together in a culturally important way. Who will be next? Robert George? Father Sirico? I wonder . . .
Both of those gentlemen will be at the next Acton University.