Heritage Mourns Michael Novak


Heritage Mourns Michael Novak

Feb 17, 2017

Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint released the following statement on the death of Michael Novak:

I fondly remember Michael Novak’s last public appearance at The Heritage Foundation in July of 2016. He had written the introduction to our Index of Culture and Opportunity, and I was honored to introduce and listen to him the day of its launch last summer. We were reminded once again that day why Michael has had such a powerful shaping influence as he taught the love of freedom and care for the principles that produced it.

Heritage Foundation Founder, Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D. also issued the following statement:

Michael Novak’s clear thinking, sparkling writing and self-deprecating humor inspired all who knew him to love him. To love him for whom he was, and how he had become himself. 

Michael’s journey from progressive socialist to leading conservative intellectual can be told by many, but never more clearly than he does himself:  “slowly I taught myself out of left-wing positions … " he says in his 1989 essay “Errand into the Wilderness”, wherein he tells us both how he made the journey from an uncritical man of the left, to an advocate of democratic capitalism.

And for those who admit to a conservative perspective, Michael’s commitment is not only to “private property, incentives, and markets, … but rather by a social order favorable to alertness, inventiveness, discovery and creativity.”  

Thus, Michael forced those of us trained in the dismal science of economics to explain that we should be more than “free to choose”—rather we should be free to make good free choices.  

Michael Novak’s journey through life in the academy he loved so much, with younger people whom he mentored and who admired him, and with those of us who were friends and colleagues, was as spirited as it was enjoyable.  He was universally calming and caring.  

Dining with Michael at home in Washington, in Florida, or on his beloved Delaware shore, always became a learning experience from this selfless noble man.

Michael Novak was proudly a “cradle Catholic”—who almost became an ordained priest.  Throughout his life his faith was his bedrock, and he never wavered, even as he developed new tracks of public policy thinking building on the great Catholic tradition from Aquinas to Acton and to Novak.  His writing will truly guide future generations.
America has lost a leading intellectual, Michael’s children have lost their loving father, and many of us have lost a gentle, humble and wonderful man, whom we are proud to call our friend.

Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity Vice President Jennifer Marshall:

We learned so much from Michael Novak—both from his intellect and spirit. Conservative economic and social principles are indivisible, and his example and encouragement helped form many of us in the task of continually cultivating this understanding. He always reminded us to tend to the spirit, not just the structures, of our American order. As he wrote in the introduction to our 2016 Index of Culture and Opportunity:

 “[A]n economy without beauty, love, human rights, respect for one another, civic friendship, and strong families (the tutors of moral habits) is not likely to be loved, to be worthy of human persons, or to survive very long.”—Michael Novak 

External Relations Vice President Bridgett Wagner:

Michael Novak packed a powerful message in such a gentle voice.  His writings and lectures dealt with the big issues, in the most critical of times, and as a consequence he shaped the thinking of generations of intellectuals, politicians and students.  The Washington think tank community has lost a cherished mentor and friend.