Skip to main content

Richard John Neuhaus





Richard John Neuhaus: A Life in the Public Square by Randy Boyagoda

With an eye towards the most important details of Richard John Neuhaus’ life, author Randy Boyagoda has penned an informative and wide-ranging book on one of modern Catholicism’s most notable figures.  With a sense of highlighting the main features of Richard’s ministry, his long career at First Things, and his engagement with the church at all levels, Randy gives the reader a well-rounded portrait of Neuhaus.

Early on, Randy points out the way Richard’s experiences in school left an indelible mark on his life.  Boyagoda recounts, “His very first teacher declared him “uneducable” and his parents pulled him out of school after this early, failed effort (34).”  Yet, his father Clem nurtured his son’s insatiable desire for learning by putting him in front of his catechism class at the early age of ten years old (33).  Richard was a bit of prankster at school yet remained enthralled with learning, albeit on his own path. 

Concordia Seminary had a lasting impact upon Neuhaus throughout his entire life.  One item that Boyagoda mentions is the influence of certain authors on his view of church/state relations.  Boyagoda writes, “While at seminary he read The State and the New Testament, a 1956 treatise by Lutheran Scripture scholar Oscar Cullmann that advocated for the Gospel-driven necessity of Christian’s engaging  with the secular state, which Neuhaus later invoked as “the one book that launched me into serious concern about church-state relationships (64).”  I was amazed here at how Cullman had such a drastic impact since Cullman’s major work was directed toward Christology in the New Testament.  Yet, it was the impetus for a burgeoning philosophy of church-state relations that Neuhaus took from Cullman. 

We find an extraordinary amount of time during the Civil Rights era with Neuhaus involved in every facet of the fight against racism and those who opposed blacks.  Boyagoda writes, “Indeed, rather than mixing with elites, Neuhaus pursued only greater involvements with the marginalized masses, as when he attended the August 1964 march on Washington (82).”  His commitment to racial equality was initially fueled by his father’s long history of opposition to Nazism and the training he received, but the application of these principles were furthered by Neuhaus’ insistence that faith not remain in the shadows but in the light of social and cultural changing norms. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and hope that you will find a multi-faceted view of Richard John Neuhaus.


Thanks to Blogging for Books and Image for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

the great spiritual migration

The Great Spiritual Migration by Brian D McLaren

Brian McLaren and his own pithy way brings to the foreground and emphasis on a new kind of Christianity. The kind of faith that Brian envisions is a kind of migration not been set in the bedrock of beliefs that is unmoving but rather shifting with both culture and with faith. His new book the great spiritual migration is exactly that, a pointed work that encapsulates a vision towards the future where Christianity is changing and its peoples lives are changed as well.

Brian states in the introduction, "but we also know that for a lot of people Christianity is malfunctioning, seriously so, and it's not pretty. This kind of frustration with conventional Christianity is what McLaren gets gets to at the heart of this message is concerned with a number of different clusters unbelief. One, namely that Christianity has been stuck in a set of propositions or beliefs that has controlled churches in the faith, rather then a spirit of love t…

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning by Timothy Snyder
Misperceptions, misconnections, and missed observations are just some of the issues that Timothy Snyder raises in his book, Black Earth, concerning the Holocaust.  Snyder, no stranger to the frontlines of scholarship on the Holocaust, with his previous book Bloodlands, that concerns the land from Hitler to Stalin, takes a look at the Holocaust from new sources and new avenues of thought.  How did some nation-states survive relatively unscathed from Nazi persecution while others, notably Jewish populations, succumb to a wave of killings?  Also, what was the role of the Soviet Union in the war and how did Stalin effect changes in the Final Solution?  These questions are only two of the many that Snyder answers in his detailed account of the Holocaust.
One of the best chapters was entitled The Auschwitz Paradox.  Generally when the public thinks about the Holocaust, we think of Auschwitz first or at the top of our mental m…

The Paraclete Poetry Anthology, Edited by Mark S. Burrows

Bringing words to life on a page is hard work, and no work is harder than poetry.  Poets take the visceral, the mundane, and the disjointed and frayed things of life and put them on their head.  This new anthology of poetry put out by Paraclete Press and edited by Mark S. Burrows, takes the best poetry of today and brings together old and new poems from these gifted creators.  You find poems from Scott Cairs, SAID, Phyllis Tickle, and others.  The collection stems the span of 2005-2016 and includes both religious poems and themes, as well as themes covering a broad swath of topics.

One of the beauties of this collection is the array of poems that the anthology includes in its pages.  One poem in particular stuck with me as read through the collection.  Anna Kamienska is a wonderful Polish poet who interacts with the wider lens of faith while looking carefully at the world we live in.  She says in her poem named Gratitude, (44)

A tempest threw a rainbow in my face
so that I wanted to…