Novak, Michael 1933–
Novak, Michael 1933–
PERSONAL: Born September 9, 1933, in Johnstown, PA; son of Michael John and Irene Louise Novak; married Karen Laub (a painter and printmaker), June 29, 1963; children: Richard, Tanya, Jana. Education: Stone-hill College, A.B. (summa cum laude), 1956; Gregorian University (Rome, Italy), B.T. (cum laude), 1958; attended Catholic University, 1958–60; Harvard University, M.A., 1966.
CAREER: Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA, assistant professor of humanities, 1965–68; State University of New York, Old Westbury, NY, associate professor of philosophy and religious studies, 1968–73, provost, Disciplines College, 1969–71; Rockefeller Foundation, New York, NY, associate director of humanities, 1973–75; Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, Ledden-Watson Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies, 1977–79; American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, Washington, DC, 1978–, became director of social and political studies and George Frederick Jewett Scholar in Religion and Public Policy. Institute for Society, Ethics and the Life Sciences, fellow, 1969–; senior policy advisor to R. Sargent Shriver, 1970; speechwriter for R. Sargent Shriver, 1970, 1972, and for Edmund Muskie, 1971; member of staff, George McGovern's presidential campaign, 1972; Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., Foundation, advisor on programs in medicine and ethics, 1971; Ethnic Millions Political Action Committee, founder and member of board of directors, 1974; United States delegation to the United Nations Human Rights Commission, chief, Geneva, Switzerland, 1981–82; member of Presidential Commission on Cultural Diversity, 1978–84, Board for International Broadcasting, 1984–, and Presidential Commission on Ethnic Justice, 1985–87; U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission, 1981; Institute on Religion and Democracy, director, 1981; National Center for Urban and Ethnic Affairs, director, 1982–86; University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, member of faculty, 1986–87; visiting professor, 1987–88. Commonweal, associate editor, 1966–69; member of editorial board of Motive, 1966–68, Journal of Ecumenical Studies, 1967–77, Worldview, 1971, and National Review; American Report, member of board of advisors, 1970; The World, founder and member of editorial board, 1982–89; Crisis, cofounder, 1982, publisher, 1987–96.
MEMBER: Society for Religion in Higher Education (member of central committee, 1970–73), American Academy of Religion (program director, 1968–72), Council on Foreign Relations, Council on Religion and International Affairs, Catholic Theological Society, Society of Christian Ethics.
AWARDS, HONORS: Kent fellow, 1961; named most influential professor by the senior classes at Stanford University, 1967 and 1968; Hastings Institute fellow, 1970–76; Templeton Prize for progress in religion, 1974, 1994; "man of the year" citation from the city of Johnstown, PA, and Faith and Freedom Award from Religious Heritage Association, both 1978; Medal of Freedom and Friend of Freedom commendation, both 1981; George Washington Honor Medal, 1984; Award of Excellence, Angel Awards, Religion in Media, 1985; Ellis Island Honor Medal, 1986; theology award, Catholic Press Association, 1987, for Will It Liberate? Questions about Liberation Theology; Sovereign Military Order of Malta, 1987; Anthony Fisher Award, 1992; Wilhelm Weber Prize, 1993; Order of the Byzantine Cross, Republic of Slovakia, 1996; Award for the Arts, City of Bratislava, 1998; Cezanne Medal, City of Aix-en-Provence, 1998; Boyer Award, American Enterprise Institute, 1999; International Prize for Catholic Culture, Italy, 1999; Gold Medal, Slovak Academy of Science, 2000; Masaryk Award, Czech Republic, 2000; economics award, Fondazione Istitutio Dirigenti, Rome, Italy, 2000; Gold Medal, Pennsylvania Society, 2001; Milan R. Stefanik Award, Slovak-American Cultural Center, 2002; Maritain Medal for Scholarly Excellence, American Maritain Association, 2002; many honorary degrees.
A New Generation: American and Catholic, Herder & Herder (New York, NY), 1964.
The Open Church: Vatican II: Act II, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1964, revised edition, Transaction (New Brunswick, NJ), 2002.
(Editor) The Experience of Marriage, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1964.
Belief and Unbelief: A Philosophy of Self-Knowledge, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1965, 3rd revised edition, Transaction (New Brunswick, NJ), 1994.
A Time to Build, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1967.
(Editor) American Philosophy and the Future, Scribner (New York, NY), 1968.
A Theology for Radical Politics, Herder & Herder (New York, NY), 1969.
Naked I Leave (novel), Macmillan (New York, NY), 1970.
The Experience of Nothingness, Harper (New York, NY), 1970, revised edition, Transaction (New Brunswick, NJ), 1998.
Ascent of the Mountain, Flight of the Dove: An Invitation to Religious Studies, Harper (New York, NY), 1971, revised edition, 1978.
Politics: Realism and Imagination, Herder & Herder (New York, NY), 1971.
The Rise of the Unmeltable Ethnics: Politics and Culture in the Seventies, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1972, published as Unmeltable Ethnics: Politics & Culture in American Life, Transaction (New Brunswick, NJ), 1996.
(With wife, Karen Laub-Novak) A Book of Elements, Herder & Herder (New York, NY), 1972.
Choosing Our King: Powerful Symbols in Presidential Politics, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1974.
The Joy of Sports: End Zones, Bases, Baskets, Balls, and the Consecration of the American Spirit, Basic Books (New York, NY), 1976.
The Guns of Lattimer, Basic Books (New York, NY), 1978, revised edition, Transaction (New Brunswick, NJ), 1996.
(Editor) Capitalism and Socialism: A Theological Inquiry, American Enterprise Institute (Washington, DC), 1979.
The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1982.
Moral Clarity in the Nuclear Age, Thomas Nelson (Nashville, TN), 1983.
Confession of a Catholic, Harper (New York, NY), 1983.
Freedom with Justice: Catholic Social Thought and Liberal Institutions, Harper (New York, NY), 1984.
Will It Liberate? Questions about Liberation Theology, Paulist Press (Mahwah, NJ), 1987.
(Editor) Liberation Theology and the Liberal Society, American Enterprise Institute (Washington, DC), 1987.
(Coauthor) The New Consensus on Family and Welfare: A Community of Self-Reliance, Marquette University (Milwaukee, WI), 1987.
Taking Glasnost Seriously: Toward an Open Soviet Union, American Enterprise Institute (Washington, DC), 1988.
Free Persons and the Common Good, Madison Books (Lanham, MD), 1989.
Catholic Social Thought and Liberal Institutions: Freedom with Justice, Transaction (New Brunswick, NJ), 1989.
This Hemisphere of Liberty: A Philosophy of the Americas, National Book Network (Lanham, MD), 1990.
Toward a Theology of the Corporation, University Press of America (Lanham, MD), 1990.
Choosing Presidents: Symbols of Political Leadership, Transaction (New Brunswick, NJ), 1992.
The Catholic Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Maxwell Macmillan (New York, NY), 1993.
Awakening from Nihilism: Why Truth Matters, IEA Health and Welfare Unit (London, England), 1995.
(Editor) To Empower People: From State to Civil Society, American Enterprise Institute (Washington, DC), 1996.
The Future of the Corporation, American Enterprise Institute (Washington, DC), 1996.
Business as a Calling: Work and the Examined Life, Free Press (New York, NY), 1996.
The Fire of Invention, the Fuel of Interest: On Intellectual Property, AEI Press (Washington, DC), 1996.
The Fire of Invention: Civil Society and the Future of the Corporation, Rowman & Littlefield (Lanham, MD), 1997.
On Corporate Governance: The Corporation as It Ought to Be, American Enterprise Institute (Washington, DC), 1997.
Is There a Third Way? Essays on the Changing Direction of Socialist Thought, IEA Health and Welfare Unit (London, England), 1998.
(With daughter, Jana Novak) Tell Me Why: A Father Answers His Daughter's Questions about God, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1998.
On Cultivating Liberty: Reflections on Moral Ecology, edited by Brian Anderson, Rowman & Littlefield (Lanham, MD), 1999.
(Coeditor) A Free Society Reader: Principles for the New Millennium, Lexington Books (Lanham, MD), 2000.
God's Country: Taking the Declaration Seriously, American Enterprise Institute (Washington, DC), 2000.
Three in One: Essays on Democratic Capitalism, 1976–2000, edited by Edward W. Younkins, Rowman & Littlefield (Lanham, MD), 2001.
On Two Wings: Humble Faith and Common Sense at the American Founding, Encounter Books (San Francisco, CA), 2002.
(With others) Cattolicesimo, liberalismo, globalizzazione (title means "Catholicism, Liberalism, Globalization"), Rubbettino (Soveria Mannelli, Italy), 2002.
The Universal Hunger for Liberty: Why the Clash of Civilizations Is Not Inevitable, Basic Books (New York, NY), 2004.
(With daughter, Jana Novak) Washington's God: Religion, Liberty, and the Father of Our Country, Basic Books (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to books by others, including Frederick Hart: Changing Tides, Hudson Hills Press (New York, NY), 2005; columnist for Forbes, 1989–94; contributor to publications, including Commentary, Harper's, New Republic, Commonweal, and Washington Star; contributing editor, Christian Century, 1967–80, and Christianity and Crisis, 1968–74;
SIDELIGHTS: Social philosopher Michael Novak interprets the American experience in theological terms in order to produce a philosophy-theology of the American way of life. Novak, who is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC, writes books, articles, and newspaper columns that examine the relationship between the principles of democratic capitalism and Judeo-Christian teachings. He is one of the few Catholic scholars who defends capitalism on theological and moral grounds and who finds capitalistic societies most conducive to human spiritual growth. As William McGurn noted in the Wall Street Journal, Novak enters a "heated debate" as "a bridge between two groups who often do not realize how mutually dependent they are. He is at once a theologian who appreciates how wealth is generated and sustained, and an economist who understands the moral virtues that make this possible."
Novak was born and raised in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, the grandson of Slovak immigrants. He was devoutly religious from an early age, and at fourteen he became a junior seminarian in the Congregation of Holy Cross. Planning to enter the priesthood, he attended Stonehill College in Massachusetts and then Gregorian University in Rome, earning bachelor's degrees in philosophy and theology. Shortly before his ordination in 1960, he obtained a dispensation from his religious vows in order to continue his studies in the secular community. Novak left priesthood training because he wanted to be a writer and felt that unless he did, he couldn's be an independent thinker and traveler. The Catholic church remained his major early focus, however. His first novel, The Tiber Was Silver, takes place in Rome, and his journalism of the period concerns American Catholics' opinions and the church reforms set in motion by Vatican Council II. While working on his master's degree at Harvard, Novak wrote several books, including the essay collection A New Generation: American and Catholic, and a firsthand account of Vatican II, The Open Church. In 1965 he went to Stanford University as an assistant professor of humanities.
At Stanford Novak was a popular instructor and became involved with protests against the Vietnam War and other radical platforms. His writings from 1965 through 1970 analyze the mood of alienation and disorientation prevalent in that era. Having undergone personal crises of faith himself, his books offer a case for Christian theism as one avenue to self-knowledge. These works include A Theology for Radical Politics, The Experience of Nothingness, Belief and Unbelief, and Ascent of the Mountain, Flight of the Dove: An Invitation to Religious Studies. In a Chicago Tribune Book World piece on The Experience of Nothingness, Charles Frankel called Novak "a philosopher of the rising generation [who] makes the effort to explore the current mood … to speak for that mood, and to go beyond it to the expression of an ideal which might turn this mood from a purely negative one into an affirmative program."
From 1968 to 1973 Novak worked as an associate professor of philosophy and religious studies at the State University of New York, Old Westbury campus. During those years his focus was broadening to include social, political, and cultural questions. He served as an advisor and speechwriter for several Democratic politicians, including R. Sargent Shriver, Edmund Muskie, and George McGovern. Concurrently, he published a controversial book, The Rise of the Unmeltable Ethnics, in which he praised ethnic diversity and called for a "new cultural pluralism" to challenge the established "elite Protestant politics." Some reviewers reacted adversely to the level of passion Novak employs in The Rise of the Unmeltable Ethnics. In the New York Times Book Review, Garry Wills wrote: "There is something dismaying about an immoral book written by a very moral man…. Nothing is quite so strange as a naturally pleasant person who feels it is his duty to be unpleasant, to call civility an Anglo-Saxon deceit." Wills concluded that the book serves as a contribution to the "rapidly growing literature on the social uses of hatred."
Choosing Our King and The Joy of Sports: End Zones, Bases, Baskets, Balls, and the Consecration of the American Spirit both offer analyses of the religious and psychological symbolism behind secular American institutions. Choosing Our King "refers to the President as king, high priest, and prophet," according to George E. Reedy in the National Review, with special emphasis on the failed 1972 campaign of George McGovern. In The Joy of Sports, to quote New Leader reviewer Ben Yagoda, Novak reveals "that the limits and disciplines of sports, like the formal rituals of religion, can momentarily free us from the irredeemable impurities of earthly life." Reedy concluded that Novak's work "serves the highest purpose of writing—to make people think."
In the mid to late 1970s, Novak underwent a fundamental ideological metamorphosis from being a supporter of socialist ideals to being a defender of democratic capitalism. Novak faced economic reality, he said in the Rocky Mountain News, and then had to admit that socialism "doesn't work very well. In politics, it produces tyranny; in economics, it produces poverty." Anne Husted Burleigh noted in Modern Age that Novak's change of ideology has altered his theology as well. "Novak's movement from left to right across the theological spectrum, documented in a superb and sober … book, Confession of a Catholic, corresponds to the change of heart he has undergone in politics and economics," Husted Burleigh wrote. "One supposes that, as he grew in his understanding of how a limited government-free market political economy works and how it can protect moral-cultural values, he became increasingly disenchanted with the pronounced gnostic and Marxist tone assumed in the last twenty years by a substantial wing of the church." This theme is elucidated in The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, Moral Clarity in the Nuclear Age, and Freedom with Justice: Catholic Social Thought and Liberal Institutions.
The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism remains one of Novak's best-known books. The work "pronounces democratic capitalism the best of all political-economic systems, in ideal as well as in results," according to a New York Times reviewer. Furthermore, Novak states, despised though it is, capitalism offers the best actual hope for alleviating poverty and suppressing tyranny—it allows even the humblest citizen to improve his or her station in society. "Novak argues that democracy and a free economy are the natural embodiment of the ideals of liberty and individual worth that are the foundation of the Judeo-Christian tradition," Walter Isaacson wrote in Time. Isaacson concluded: "The marriage of pluralism and productivity best realizes the Christian ideal of caritas, or the compassionate love of fellow human beings." Novak's thesis takes into account the inherent dangers of democratic capitalism—materialism and greed—but concludes that the system is the only one that "renders sinful tendencies as productive of good as possible." New Republic essayist Charles Krauthammer called The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism "a sophisticated and often original defense of Western democratic capitalism, and a hymn to its spirit of freedom and pluralism. Novak's book is certain at least to inspire those now just beginning to lay siege to the heretofore sacrosanct citadel of liberation theology and its claim that 'Christianity is the religion of which socialism is the practice.'" Isaacson similarly concluded that Novak's "carefully woven theological and political argument succeeds in its overall mission: to remind readers that democratic capitalism is not only a system that truly works but at its best is a living embodiment of its own ideals."
Moral Clarity in the Nuclear Age, Freedom with Justice, and Will It Liberate? Questions about Liberation Theology are all meant to influence international Catholic thought on such issues as socialism, national defense, and human rights. According to Walter Goodman in the New York Times, Novak's "plain objective is to provide ammunition to those within his church's hierarchy who oppose Marxist-tinged doctrines, exemplified by the liberation theology movement that is enjoying considerable influence in Latin America." New York Times Book Review contributor Aaron Wildavsky observed that Novak "aims to describe Catholic social thought in modern times, to make manifest the contributions as well as errors of popes and theologians, revealing their ready acceptance of political rights and their halting appreciation of economic productivity, to critique 'liberation theology' and to begin the task of devising a Catholic economic theology." Most critics thought that Novak's arguments in support of democracy, capitalism, nuclear arms as deterrents to war, and limited central government have influenced the tenor of several controversial pastoral letters from Catholic bishops in recent years.
Novak concentrates on the intersection of democracy and capitalism in Business as a Calling: Work and the Examined Life, a work that picks up where The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism leaves off. Less religiously based that the former, Business as a Calling expounds on the idea that thriving free-economy capitalism is necessary for a healthy democracy. Capitalism is the best way for individuals to realize their self-worth and to allow people to escape from poverty. More than a way to make money, engaging in business is a way to serve one's community, says Novak. But the book does not deal with some of the stark realities of capitalism: recessions, layoffs, and a safety net of health insurance, for example. The book is upbeat in tone; Novak holds up Andrew Carnegie as a role model for capitalists and urges labor unions to become "service corporations" that more easily adapt to the changing needs of the workplace. Indeed, the tone is so upbeat that William J. Byron of America wrote that "Novak is nothing less than rhapsodic in singing the praises of capitalism," yet his portrayal of capitalism "is all so idealistic as to be of little help to those searching for a solution to the economic troubles of our time." "Always a romantic," wrote Eugene McCarraher in Commonweal, "Novak once again demonstrates that his romanticism inspires both his virtues and his faults." McCarraher concluded that "Novak's hosannas to 'creativity' drown out the noisy historical struggles of ordinary people against the expropriation of their knowledge and skill." Gilbert Meilaender, writing in Christian Century, found Business as a Calling to be "engagingly and provocatively written," and he thought it "both fascinating and important that Novak, a Roman Catholic, should have become perhaps the principal advocate of the view that business can be a calling."
Steve Forbes reviewed The Fire of Invention: Civil Society and the Future of the Corporation in Forbes, calling it a "brilliant, succinct analysis of the American corporation today." Novak characterizes the corporation as being the creator of wealth and the mobilizer of people and capital, and the beneficiary of all by providing rising equity values and meeting the needs of the consumer. He expounds on Abraham Lincoln's belief that progress is fueled by patents and copyrights that lead to new products and processes. Among the contemporary issues he discusses is the field of genetics and the ethical issues pertaining thereto. Novak warns executives that they should not give special interest and antibusiness groups more control over their policies. Socialism, he says, can limit corporate power through efforts to save the environment and provide social programs.
Novak collaborated with his adult daughter Jana for Tell Me Why: A Father Answers His Daughter's Questions about God. In question and answer format taken from a fax that Jana originally sent her father, she asks hard-hitting questions about why religion matters, others pertaining to sex and birth control, and how to reconcile the world's different religions. Both father and daughter aim for a respectful tone throughout the book, with Michael Novak expressing his views in a nonjudgmental manner that he hopes will encourage his daughter to explore religion further in her life. Novak also expresses his thoughts on Catholicism and its spotted history and explains why he remains true to its tenets. He also backs up his beliefs with quotes beyond the Bible from religious thinkers such as C.S. Lewis. In the end, said a reviewer for Publishers Weekly, "Novak does an excellent job of creating a 'learning atmosphere' for his daughter by providing her with a solid foundation of biblical principles and Catholic traditions to contemplate." John J. DiIulio, Jr., writing in the National Review called the book "intimate, intellectually challenging, and artfully organized."
On Cultivating Liberty: Reflections on Moral Ecology is a collection of essays delivered as conference papers or published by Novak during the previous two decades, with a third of the volume consisting of an autobiographical essay. Novak is a self-described "Catholic Whig" identifying himself with such like-minded men as Thomas Aquinas, Alexis de Tocqueville, Lord Acton, Jacques Maritain, Yves R. Simon, and John Courtney Murray. "Like Tocqueville," noted J. Brian Benestad in the Journal of Religion, "he argues that the friends of liberty should also be the friends of religion, virtue, and truth. A convenient way to understand Novak's thought on the contemporary threats to freedom is to examine his seven "'Whig' amendments to the liberal conception of liberty for civil society. By 'liberal conception' Novak is referring to philosophical liberalism, that 'set of beliefs about the individual, liberty and choice that may be shared by both political liberals and political conservatives.'"
The central metaphor of On Two Wings: Humble Faith and Common Sense at the American Founding is the American eagle, which, according to tradition, takes flight under the equally important powers of reason and faith. The book argues that though the founding fathers of the United States were students of the Enlightenment, they were not godless or without faith. Novak states that the trend toward separating religion from the events surrounding the American Revolution is revisionist history and not representative of the truth; secular life and religious life were not set in opposition during the eighteenth century. Furthermore, the Constitution is not a "godless" document, as some have claimed, but rather it was created with religious freedom in mind. Thus, Novak argues, religion was central to the ideals that formed the country, and without the faith of the founding fathers, the Republic would have been doomed. Judaism in particular—a "Hebrew metaphysics," Novak calls it—inspired those who came to America, because of its idea of a "promised land" free from tyranny and persecution. Novak explores how allusions to Hebrew figures and allegories figure in the deeds of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, among others, and how their religious sensibility combined with the theories of John Locke to create a wholly new concept of a state.
The book received good reviews. Even though Gordon S. Wood, writing in the New York Review of Books, remarked that "we don't live in the eighteenth century anymore, and we may need a wall of separation between the state and religion in ways the eighteenth century did not," he nevertheless complimented "Novak's earnestness and sincerity." Jan Blodgett, writing in Library Journal, said that Novak is "clearly passionate about his topic," and Wilfed M. McClay noted in the journal First Things that it is "a lively, marvelously accessible, and infectiously enthusiastic book." More temperate praise was offered by Charles R. Kesler in the National Review, who wrote that the idea of "plain reason" lacks a sufficient definition. Thus, wrote Kesler, "the excellence of individual parts shines through, but the whole disappoints because the parts are too various."
The Universal Hunger for Liberty: Why the Clash of Civilizations Is Not Inevitable puts forth Novak's theory that most Muslims wish to find "an alternative to terror." He writes: "It is called, in the political order, democracy. In the economic order it is called the dynamic enterprise economy." He contends that through capitalism and the free market system, the poverty of Islamic nations could be alleviated. He writes that "more than nine of every ten Muslims prefer a world of personal dignity and prosperity in which their rights would be protected and their opportunities for growth and advancement would become abundant."
Novak theorizes in three sections titled "The Culture of Liberty," "The Economics of Liberty," and "The Politics of Liberty." A Kirkus Reviews critic wrote: "Let's hope Novak is right. Those who are convinced prima facie that he is will likely enjoy his latest; others will wonder whether the current headlines shouldn't dim his optimism just a tad." A Publishers Weekly contributor commented that Novak "cogently compares Catholicism's relative incorporation of democracy to the differing applications of Islamic law today."
Commonweal reviewer Paul J. Griffiths found favor with Novak's contention that countries that have embraced capitalism over the last four decades have fared better than those who have not. Griffiths wrote: "It is impossible not to admire Novak's warmheartedness and energy in advocating programs in economics and politics that embrace these truths. But he is just as good at ignoring truths inconvenient to his vision … as he is at advocating those that conform to it, and in this he shows the characteristic vice of Whigs: they, like blinkered horses, look in only one direction, straight forward, following the upward track of progress with future-fixated eyes." First Things contributor Lawrence A. Uzzell commented that Novak "looks for points of classic Islamic doctrine that seem to offer potential for development into a mature theory of freedom—dormant seeds that may someday blossom into 'a delayed springtime for worldwide Islam.' Among these, he suggests, are Islam's great stress on the dignity of all men and their fundamental equality before God."
In Washington's God: Religion, Liberty, and the Father of Our Country, Novak and his daughter Jana study the religious beliefs of George Washington, as they interpret them through his writings. They argue that he was a firm believer in the God of scripture and in Jesus, although he never said as much. Most historians contend that the first president of the United States was a deist who believed in a "Providence," as the force that ruled destiny. According to the Novaks, these interpretations are wrong, and they argue that he was a Christian. A Kirkus Reviews contributor described the volume as "a tendentious effort to keep our founding father firmly in the fold of Our Father (and His Son)." The book was written at the request of Mt. Vernon and is well researched. A Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote that the authors demonstrate that "a depth of religious feeling ran through Washington's public and private speeches and correspondence."
Reviewing Washington's God in the Journal of Church and State, Daniel L. Dreisback called the study "sober in its analysis. While dispelling the old claim that Washington was a deist, the Novaks simultaneously counsel against errors in the opposite direction—that is, portraying Washington as a fully confessing, orthodox Christian. The extant evidence will not sustain this conclusion, they argue, not because Washington eschewed Christian practice or failed to exhibit Christian virtues, but because he was extraordinarily private in matters of personal faith."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Bunzel, John H., editor, Political Passages: Journeys of Change through Two Decades, 1968–1988, Free Press (New York, NY), 1988.
Contemporary Issues Criticism, Volume 1, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1982.
Novak, Michael, The Rise of the Unmeltable Ethnics: Politics and Culture in the Seventies, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1972.
Novak, Michael, On Two Wings: Humble Faith and Common Sense at the American Founding, Encounter Books (San Francisco, CA), 2002.
Novak, Michael, The Universal Hunger for Liberty: Why the Clash of Civilizations Is Not Inevitable, Basic Books (New York, NY), 2004.
America, February 5, 1994, Charles K. Wilber, review of The Catholic Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, p. 26; April 5, 1997, William J. Byron, review of Business as a Calling: Work and the Examined Life, p. 30; November 8, 2004, Alan Wolfe, review of The Universal Hunger for Liberty: Why the Clash of Civilizations Is Not Inevitable, p. 30.
Booklist, February 1, 2006, Bryce Christensen, review of Washington's God: Religion, Liberty, and the Father of Our Country, p. 18.
Chicago Tribune Book World, May 31, 1970, Charles Frankel, review of The Experience of Nothingness.
Christian Century, December 4, 1996, Gilbert Meilaender, review of Business as a Calling, p. 1200.
Commonweal, February 28, 1997, Eugene McCarraher, review of Business as a Calling, p. 28; October 22, 2004, Paul J. Griffiths, review of The Universal Hunger for Liberty, p. 32.
First Things, May, 2002, Wilfred M. McCoy, review of On Two Wings, p. 50; February, 2005, Lawrence Uzzell, review of The Universal Hunger for Liberty, p. 48; March, 2006, review of Washington's God, p. 57.
Forbes, December 15, 1997, Steve Forbes, review of The Fire of Invention: Civil Society and the Future of the Corporation, p. 28.
Journal of Church and State, summer, 2006, Daniel L. Dreisbach, review of Washington's God, p. 704.
Journal of Religion, July, 2000, J. Brian Benestad, review of On Cultivating Liberty: Reflections on Moral Ecology, p. 539.
Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2004, review of The Universal Hunger for Liberty, p. 794; January 15, 2006, review of Washington's God, p. 76.
Library Journal, July, 1998, Bernadette McGrath, review of Tell Me Why: A Father Answers His Daughter's Questions about God, p. 98; November 15, 2001, Jan Blodgett, review of On Two Wings, p. 72.
Modern Age, spring-summer, 1984, Anne Husted Burleigh, review of Confession of a Catholic.
National Review, May 24, 1974, George E. Reedy, review of Choosing Our King: Powerful Symbols in Presidential Politics; April 12, 1993, Shirley Robin Letwin, review of The Catholic Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, p. 56; October 12, 1998, John J. DiIulio, Jr., review of Tell Me Why, p. 54; April 8, 2002, Charles R. Kesler, review of On Two Wings, p. 44; December 31, 2004, John Fonte, review of The Universal Hunger for Liberty, p. 37.
New Leader, July 19, 1976, Ben Yagoda, review of The Joy of Sports: End Zones, Bases, Baskets, Balls, and the Consecration of the American Spirit.
New Republic, June 16, 1982, Charles Krauthammer, review of The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism.
New York Review of Books, May 9, 2002, Gordon S. Wood, review of On Two Wings, pp. 20-21.
New York Times, May 9, 1982, review of The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism; December 5, 1984, Walter Goodman, review of Freedom with Justice: Catholic Social Thought and Liberal Institutions, p. 27.
New York Times Book Review, April 23, 1972, Gary Wills, review of The Rise of the Unmeltable Ethics: Politics and Culture in the Seventies; December 9, 1984, Aaron Wildavsky, review of Freedom with Justice.
Perspectives on Political Science, spring, 2000, Joseph M. Knippenberg, review of On Cultivating Liberty, p. 116.
Publishers Weekly, June 29, 1998, review of Tell Me Why, p. 49; August 16, 2004, review of The Universal Hunger for Liberty, p. 54; January 16, 2006, review of Washington's God, p. 60.
Real Estate Issues, winter, 2004, Bowen H. McCoy, review of The Universal Hunger for Liberty, p. 43.
Rocky Mountain News, June 24, 1984, interview with Michael Novak.
Time, May 10, 1982, Walter Isaacson, review of The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism.
Wall Street Journal, February 20, 1985, William McGurn, review of Freedom with Justice, p. 30.