Michael Novak: "Writing from Left to Right: My Journey from Liberal to Conservative"

Writing from Left to Right: My Journey from Liberal to Conservative
Image Books. September 2013.
Engagingly, writing as if to old friends and foes, Michael Novak shows how Providence (not deliberate choice) placed him in the middle of many crucial events of his time: a month in wartime Vietnam, the student riots of the 1960s, the Reagan revolution, the collapse of the Berlin Wall, Bill Clinton's welfare reform, and the struggles for human rights in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also spent fascinating days, sometimes longer, with inspiring leaders like Sargent Shriver, Bobby Kennedy, George McGovern, Jack Kemp, Václav Havel, President Reagan, Lady Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II, who helped shape—and reshape—his political views.

Yet through it all, as Novak’s sharply etched memoir shows, his focus on helping the poor and defending universal human rights remained constant; he gradually came to see building small businesses and envy-free democracies as the only realistic way to build free societies. Without economic growth from the bottom up, democracies are not stable. Without protections for liberties of conscience and economic creativity, democracies will fail. Free societies need three liberties in one: economic liberty, political liberty, and liberty of spirit.

Novak’s writing throughout is warm, fast paced, and often very beautiful. His narrative power is memorable.



Also of Interest

PAPAL ECONOMICS: The Catholic Church on Democratic Capitalism, from Rerum Novarum to Caritas in Veritate, by Maciej Zieba.
Intercollegiate Studies Institute. July 31, 2013.

Maciej Zieba, OP, a close associate of Pope John Paul II, is the author of The Surprising Pope: Understanding the Thought of John Paul II. He was a key player in the Polish Solidarity movement and is the director of the European Solidarity Center and the founder of the Tertio Millennio Institute in Poland. Father Zieba has lectured extensively on economics and theology. Reviews

  • Popes on Economics, by Michael P. Orsi. First Things 10/23/13. "There exists a great deal of confusion regarding the popes’ social encyclicals. The problem is threefold: they span over one hundred years in changing political and social milieus; the language that is used is inconsistent; and, finally, there are competing tensions contained in the documents. This book navigates the reader through the confusion."
  • Toward a More Human State of Economics, by Gabriel Torretta, O.P. Catholic World Report 10/16/13.

Dr. Samuel Gregg

Samuel Gregg
Dr. Samuel Gregg is director of research at the Acton Institute. He has written and spoken extensively on questions of political economy, economic history, ethics in finance, and natural law theory. He has an MA in political philosophy from the University of Melbourne, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in moral philosophy and political economy from the University of Oxford, where he worked under the supervision of Professor John Finnis. - Staff Profile (The Acton Institute).

Natural Law, Natural Rights and American Constitutionalism

Natural Law, Natural Rights and American Constitutionalism - brought to you by the Witherspoon Institute, "to create an online archive containing the seminal documents of these traditions with educational resources" -- made possible through the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities and with direction from scholars associated with the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University.

Jacques Maritain (1882–1973)

Jacques Maritain
Jacques Maritain (1882–1973), French philosopher and political thinker, was one of the principal exponents of Thomism in the twentieth century and an influential interpreter of the thought of St Thomas Aquinas.

Relevant Readings

About Maritain:

By Maritain:

Dr. Gregory M. A. Gronbacher

Gregory M. A. Gronbacher
Dr. Gregory M. A. Gronbacher is the director of the Center for Economic Personalism, the academic research division of the Acton Institute in Grand Rapids, MI. He holds a Ph. D. in philosophy from the Milltown Institute of Theology and Philosophy in Dublin, Ireland, where he also was a lecturer. Dr. Gronbacher researches and lectures on the synthesis of free market economic science and Christian personalism as well as political and social philosophy and Catholic social thought.

Relevant Articles / Interviews

Relevant Articles

The 'Finn-Gronbacher Debate' 1998-2001

Eugene McCarraher

Eugene McCarraher
Dr. Eugene McCarraher [Academic Homepage] is Assistant Professor of Humanities and History at Villanova University and a 2006 fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies. He received his Ph.D. in American History from Rutgers University, where he studied with Jackson Lears. He is the author of Christian Critics: Religion and the Impasse in Modern American Social Thought. He has taught at Rutgers, the University of Delaware, and Princeton. In addition to articles for scholarly journals, he writes essays and reviews for Commonweal, Books and Culture, and In These Times. His current project is a cultural history of corporate business entitled The Enchantments of Mammon: Corporate Capitalism and the American Moral Imagination, which will be published in 2006.

Published Works (Relevant to the Discussion):

Articles about Eugene McCarraher


Articles by Eugene McCarraher

About McCarraher

David Schindler

David Schindler
David Schindler is Gagnon professor of fundamental theology at the John Paul II Institute for the Study of Marriage and the Family in Washington, D.C., and editor of the North American edition of Communio, the international theological review. See also: David Schindler (Biographical entry in First Principles' journal by Jeremy Beer).

David Schindler v. Neoconservatism: A Symposium

PLEASE NOTE: As with my other websites, my references are by and large limited to what's available on the web -- regretfully, Communio hasn't yet followed the norm of other Catholic periodicals in making their contents available online to the general public (free or by subscription).

As representative of the "Augustinian Thomists" I appreciate Dr. Schindler's contributions to the debate, but as he is generally published in Communio he falls among those authors who aren't as accessible online. Fortunately, David of the Catholic blog la nouvelle théologie provides a list of "must-read" Communio articles from Dr. Schindler and company (including an exchange btw. Schindler and Weigel).

    Schindler, David L. "Editorial: On Being Catholic in America." 14, no. 3 (1987): 213-14.
    ---. "Is America Bourgeois?" 14, no. 3 (1987): 262-90.
    ---. "Once Again: George Weigel, Catholicism and American Culture." 15, no. 1 (1988): 92-121.
    ---. "The Church's 'Worldly' Mission: Neoconservatism and American Culture." 18, no. 3 (1991): 365-97.
    ---. "Response to Mark Lowery." 18, no. 3 (1991): 450-72.
    ---. "Religious Freedom, Truth, and American Liberalism: Another Look at John Courtney Murray." 21, no. 4 (1994): 696-741.
    ---. "Christological Aesthetics and Evangelium Vitae: Toward a Definition of Liberalism." 22, no. 2 (1995): 193-224.
    ---. "Christology and the Imago Dei: Interpreting Gaudium et Spes." 23, no. 1 (1996): 156-84.
    ---. "Modernity, Postmodernity, and the Problem of Atheism." 24, no. 3 (1997): 563-79.
    ---. "Reorienting the Church on the Eve of the Millennium: John Paul II's 'New Evangelization.'" 24, no. 4 (1997): 728-79.
    ---. "Luigi Giussani on the 'Religious Sense' and the Cultural Situation of Our Time." 25, no. 1 (1998): 141-150.
    ---. "'The Religious Sense' and American Culture." 25, no. 4 (1998): 679-699.
    ---. "Beauty, Transcendence, and the Face of the Other: Religion and Culture in America." 26, no. 4 (1999): 915 NC.
    ---. "Homelessness and the Modern Condition: The Family, Community, and the Global Economy." 27, no. 3 (2000): 411-30.
    ---. "Toward a Culture of Life: The Eucharist, the 'Restoration' of Creation, and the 'Worldy' Task of the Laity." 29, no. 4 (2002): 679-690.
    Weigel, George. "Is America Bourgeois?: A Response to David Schindler." 15, no. 1 (1988): 77-91.
    ---. "Response to Mark Lowery." 18, no. 3 (1991): 439-449.
    Lowery, Mark. "The Schindler/Weigel Debate: An Appraisal." 18, no. 3 (1991): 425-38.
    Wendell Berry, Lorenzo Albacete, Eric Perl, V. Bradley Lewis, and John Berkman. "A Conversation with Wendell Berry." 27, no. 1 (2000): 59-82.

Tracey Rowland

Tracey Rowland
Dr. Tracy Rowland is the Dean of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family based in Melbourne, and a Permanent Fellow of the Institute of Political Philosophy and Continental Theology. She holds degrees in Law, Politics and Philosophy from the Universities of Queensland and Melbourne and a Doctorate from the Divinity School of the University of Cambridge. She is a member of the editorial board of the international Catholic journal, Communio, and a member of the Commission for Australian Catholic women. Her current research interests include Theological Anthropology, The Philosophy of Language and it relevance to the New Evangelisation, The Thomist Tradition, Theological Critiques of the Political Philosophy of Liberalism, Genealogies of Modernity and Post-Modernity, Communio Ecclisiology and interpretations of Vatican II.

Relevant Articles / Interviews

Thomas Storck

Thomas Storck

Mr. Storck has taught history at Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia, and philosophy at Mt. Aloysius College in Cresson, Pennsylvania and Catonsville Community College in Catonsville, Maryland. He holds an undergraduate degree in English literature from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio and an M.A. from St. John’s College, Santa Fe, New Mexico, with additional studies in history at Bluffton College and in economics at the USDA Graduate School in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Storck served as a contributing editor for Caelum et Terra from 1991 until the magazine closed in 1996 and the New Oxford Review from 1996 to 2006. Since 1998 he has been a member of the editorial board of The Chesterton Review.

He is the author of three books, The Catholic Milieu (Christendom Press, 1987), Foundations of a Catholic Political Order (Four Faces Press, 1998) and Christendom and the West (Four Faces Press, 2000).

Political foundations of the social order

America and Americanism

Thomas Storck has written extensively on economics and distributism -- you can find some of his writings on our page devoted to the Libertarian-Distributist debate. For a full list of Storck's writings on distributism and economic matters see ThomasStorck.org.

Joseph A. Varacalli

Joseph A. Varacalli
Dr. Varacalli is Professor of Sociology and newly appointed Director of the Center for Catholic Studies at Nassau Community College. In 1992, he co-founded (with Stephen M. Krason) the Society of Catholic Social Scientists. He is the author of Bright Promise, Failed Community: Catholics and the American Public Order (2001) and The Catholic Experience in America (The American Religious Experience) (2005).


Published Works (Relevant to the Discussion):

Relevant Articles

George Weigel

George Weigel
George Weigel is Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and author of Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II.

An online archive of Michael Novak's writings can be found here.

Relevant Articles / Interviews

Michael Novak

Michael Novak
Michael Novak holds the George Frederick Jewett Chair in Religion and Public Policy at the American Enterprise Institute. His research focuses on the three systems of the free society--the free polity, the free economy, and the culture of liberty--and their springs in religion and philosophy. Twice the U.S. ambassador to the UN Human Rights Commission, and once to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. He directs social and political studies for the AEI and is the author of twenty-five influential books published in every major Western language (as well as Bengali, Korean, Japanese). He is the recipient of the 1994 Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion; the Antony Fisher Prize for The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism presented by Margaret Thatcher; the Weber Award for contributions to Catholic Social Thought in Essen, Germany; the Cezanne Medal from the City of Provence, and the Catholic Culture Medal of Bassano del Grappa in Italy; the highest civilian award from the Slovak Republic in 1996; the Masaryk Medal, presented by Vaclav Havel of the Czech Republic, in 2000.

An online archive of Michael Novak's writings can be found here.

Relevant Articles / Interviews

Understanding Novak: Introductory Resources

On Democracy, Religion & 'The American Experiment'

Michael Novak on the "Hunger for Liberty" -- an interview with Zenit.org. May 11, 2005.

  1. Part 1: On the Need for Morality to Safeguard Freedom
  2. Part 2: The Clash of Civilizations
  3. Part 3: On Europe's Lost Desire for Freedom

On Economics & Social Thought

See Also:

Relevant Writings

John Courtney Murray, SJ (1904-1967)

John Courtney Murray, SJ (1904-1967)
John Courtney Murray (September 12, 1904 – August 16, 1967), was an American Jesuit priest and theologian, who was especially known for his efforts to reconcile Catholicism and religious pluralism, particularly focusing on the relationship between religious freedom and the institutions of a democratically structured modern state.

During the Second Vatican Council, he played a key role in persuading the assembly of the Catholic bishops to adopt the Council's ground-breaking Declaration on Religious Liberty, Dignitatis Humanae.

Articles by John Courtney Murray

Excerpts from Books

On the thought of John Courtney Murray

Fr. Richard J. Neuhaus (1936-2009)

Richard J. Neuhaus
(May 14, 1936 – January 8, 2009) was a prominent Christian cleric (first as a Lutheran pastor and later as a Roman Catholic priest) and writer. Born in Canada, Neuhaus moved to the United States where he became a naturalized United States citizen. He was the founder and editor of the monthly journal First Things (popular among readers for his monthly column "The Public Square") and the author of several books, including The Naked Public Square: Religion and Democracy in America (1984), The Catholic Moment: The Paradox of the Church in the Postmodern World (1987), and Catholic Matters: Confusion, Controversy, and the Splendor of Truth (2006). Fr. Neuhaus passed away on January 8, 2009; an online archive of his writings can be found here.

"Proposing Democracy Anew", a three-part series from his monthly column "The Public Square":

Other Articles by R.J. Neuhaus

Robert P. Kraynak

Robert P. Kraynak
Robert P. Kraynak came to Colgate in 1978 from Harvard University, where he received his PhD in government. He teaches courses in the fields of political philosophy and general education, including courses on American political thought, the history of Western political philosophy, natural law, religion and politics, and conservative political thought. He received the Colgate Alumni Corporation "Distinguished Teaching Award" in 2006, and he directs Colgate's Center for Freedom and Western Civilization.

Among his published works are Christian Faith and Modern Democracy: God and Politics in the Fallen World (Notre Dame Press, 2001); In Defense of Human Dignity, edited with Glenn Tinder (Notre Dame Press, 2003): and Reason, Faith, and Politics, edited with Arthur M. Melzer (Lexington, 2008). He also contributed to Human Dignity and Bioethics, published by the President's Council on Bioethics (2008).

Church-State Relations in America and Europe - Interview w. Zenit News Service.

From Journal of Markets & Morality Volume 7, Number 2. Fall 2004:

Christian Faith and Modern Democracy - A Symposium - Catholic Social Science Review Volume IX (2004) - [NOTE: all articles in Adobe .pdf format]:

Joe Hargrave

Joe Hargrave
Joe Hargrave is an adjunct professor of political science at Rio Salado Community College in Tempe, Arizona.

From Crisis Magazine.

From The American Catholic