tv Book Discussion on Richard John Neuhaus CSPAN April 3, 2015 12:03am-12:57am EDT
>> randy boyagoda a novelist writing about "richard john neuhaus" how did we get here? >> guest: first of all the great question i started perking on this book in some ways in 2009 of approach to a profile for him. it was an essay that argued here is the most influential canadian born that none of you have ever heard of. so then at that point i was in the midst of a terrible unreadable academic monograph and to be rescued from the project relies it really was a story about a
man in his involvement and i thought your is a story that needs telling. but then i presume after the biography lot of people could write the biography. then his very good friend who i knew from a shared coincidence because my wife went to college with his daughter. >> especially for our audience extremely distinguished in papal biographer. if for any never of books i wrote him and said is anybody doing this?
>>. >> let me ask you something. what was your first introduction? when we first aware? >> add a cemetery in toronto and the priests had an interest in literary matters then with the globalization is the area of reading of faulkner why would you devote your life to would drunk? then you should read this.
but that was an important moment for me because it is what i thought of with the devotional catholicism period in my intellectual life with i modern fiction and there is nothing in between. if you do them both they should never meet that wallace separation. so you could be a cosmopolitan minded intellectual to have this sense of the world around you. >> host: telesis to "richard john neuhaus" really was. to say repeatedly in the biography. as a fixture in the pages of "the new york times" editor.
is then he was in texas with seminary in st. louis . but then his face commitment to discover more than just reading and writing. it is partly a story of how a man of faith or god actually ventures will be out into the public life. if you are in a public square one of his titles tell us many times was arrested with martin luther king's gimmicky absolutely adored and admired him.
patterned himself to some extent and wanted to live that kind of life was that happening? >> i think it was those nuances emerging from the '50s into his first call of a poor black and hispanic parish thing in williamsburg >> the obvious question is how does the lutheran pastor with the african-american congregations are that many lutherans? the but they are basically white a historic parish in williamsburg that over the course of the 20th-century postwar the demographic shift did in though first
like of peanut butter sandwich. [laughter] but they get there of majority black parish the civil-rights movement is just emerging. and neuhaus comes out of a church that is rather almost allergic engagement to social interaction. there are too theologies in the of misery tradition there is a kingdom of god and the kingdom of man and never the to show meet then he gets involved through the parish life with questions of the dignity of the human person to have the need
around new york segregation questions with first real involvement in politics. >> is a defacto issue? >> moving ahead of the al jim-crow south. >>. >> then new house gets very interested then he is already involved with the small lutheran organization that was raising civil-rights questions. but he did a summer internship at a parish in to try to. one of the moments that struck at sunday at 11:00 a.m. is the most segregated hour. to watch engaged right
sunday morning before the service would begin. those that would sit with money. if they would show up for the black church because that is how they dealt with the of mixed-race congregation. it is like political walking money. >> but new house reacted against this. but did williamsburg that are predominantly black and hispanic parish. >> host: so let me ask the relief question.
there will find them amusing but in this day and age if somebody came to the ministry would day be as likely to have the range of experiences? did he spend time in chicago? and then coming to williamsburg. but actually in some ways i don't mean to be disrespectful but he sees it as it the islamic. >> but it wasn't either. talking to one of his
roommates in the senator why he was a part that i could travel intellectually and physically. with this small town german midwestern texas but then you would see that to set himself apart and then to be elsewhere to your question was a cosmopolitan experience with most traditional congregations. probably not but it wasn't then either. >> so he had the authority to be able to choose the different stations.
he presumed or if they tried they fail day and kept going. but the counterexample gary who is the brilliant catholic raise did wisconsin any worse was bill buckley that is the end of the journey. but they don't have the sense from the memoirs. he has written about his own journey about speaking out as a journalist with a y 89 diverse experience. >> it is interesting neuhaus
got there earlier a and you suggest in the book he had the intuitive sense for that cultural and political actions. >> and then to figure out how to get there. basket in his early writings he was assessed to meet and market that metaphor. but his ability was to identify at any given moment he thought to himself there is significant anti-vietnam war. with that secular hard-line left leveraging so that was
him realizing nobody speaks about this and a higher religious term. and what it means to be with your theological principles. better than anyone else spirit that is the moment. >> that's right. i did not know the great journalist in "the new yorker" with divine disobedience with the different styles of anti-war protests they were organizing. >> but who else was in there? >> william sloane, a special , harvey cox.
but then they ran into trouble with the new york cardinal. how could that be the case? [laughter] hq. we have the right audience. i will ask you a question. to bring opinion check if you were around in the 1960's and 70's you know who these people were. with the magazine's and talking about the vietnam war. it to be a big figure with martin luther king. was there anything like it? >> we don't need powerful
and influential religious people of politics to dominate. what's it like and what happened? >> there is a whole mission with that distinctive voice then they require me to make contact with the editor to point to one thing that it is a great moment we should have captured on tape. for those that were involved not as many as in earlier times. there is a change in the political culture but when did that happen?
>> it is about a more divisive america where you have people very capable very persuasive speaking to people that believe and though in the same way. what could neuhaus do? he could speak beyond a conservative christian audience with the conservative christian information the perfect example is the economist late in the book to be involved in public life. but they know there should be no involvement. by the end of the day they're all persuaded otherwise. the concern with catholics but to point to the
different voices with a different type of institutional authority the perfect example of "the new york times". >> this will interest many. >> there was a very gifted op-ed column in "the new york times". about one month how does it have a healthy ego? he printed every e-mail he ever wrote. my fingers were destroyed. but what i found is one wrote to house to set the goose so much i have a son at harvard studying law and your magazine is so informative they gave the
mobilization theory and a set of terms to demonstrate people do believe in god and "the new yorker". all these things can have that synthesis. to be a great columnist for the times where does that come from? it comes from "the new york times" not from any religious confession. we would be hard-pressed to find a religious leader to command a national voice like someone of "richard john neuhaus" or kaufman or the reverend martin luther king as a preacher.
rick warren can get on tv to organize his approach to the evangelical christianity but to go beyond that confession talk about a new house as a writer. but with a lot of name dropping to the more sophisticated in life been to policy. >> every time you read it is a kleenex. the structure these conversations i am glad you got to this subject because part of what interested me is the development of the writer. >> key found that 1984.
>> with a book to empower people that is partly peter. but that phrase the naked public square is a frenzy. >> host: what does he mean by that? >> a public right that is aggressively shown of any reference to the judeo-christian argument for who we are or how we perish but that kicked up into the public consciousness so when that happened they finally calmed down. so like mailer every other sentence he is trying to come up with the one phrase.
he is a natural writer. and prolific. 10,000 words a month. and thousands more in other contexts. but he found his voice during the reagan administration and he is quoting the normal phrase's it is amazing of that transition mode and he has been called by some in the way he would survey but i would say this that we all love those moments you love him you hate him the use far more supple is his best work with and against the liberal missions would suggest.
as a dispassionate sensibility with the you are a militants atheist or a catholic to hear the accounts our religion should matter. to define them in political terms nor should we make it a public square but to be a vital center. >> i will go through a few things then take questions. talk about faulkner. >> i am glad that you asked me. he almost died in early january 1993 from ruptured:to a tour that he had with the beautiful
and it had to do with the kind of war on religion they came from the communist regime. the one that i think we can end with that is so important, the conversion deciding to become a catholic which very much proves the vatican. and it was the final. >> close, close friends. >> was see one of these guys the chambers. ultimately acted like one. >> was there a kind of -- you use the phrase crypto with new house. that side of him that was drawn to it. he would argue yes.
>> he strikes me as an ideologue. >> it really was for me. >> i think he was formed under his seminary teacher. properly understood. had to come to the conclusion. the near minority really was a branch of american populism. i don't really no myself. there might be something. >> there we go. >> well. >> that is when. and i kind of criticized him to a degree the theological
and ecclesial decision. but that strikes me artificial division. >> the impulse. >> i was not persuaded by this. a full account of democratic anti- communism. >> in cold war terms any attempt to demonstrate the democracy finally in religious terms being made. his big book. the apology. so the larger development post 1950 global life political and cultural and historical danger. and all of those informed
the internal core. what would he say? , what would he say? >> sure. [inaudible conversations] >> the question. >> the inevitable question. yes. walked here today for this discussion. argue sunday group to? [laughter] no, no no. i don't have the confidence doctor gupta has. i cannot venture like wise.
he could make a case. a special interest to him. what he could do is two things. he could translate them into probably assessable terms. that is what he could do be advancing arguments well beyond the confines of a sizable leadership. that is what he would be doing. again, we can predict are presumed. the.is not what he would be saying but where and how he would be saying it. >> a huge twitter following.
was not they're, mitch wasn't there. and so as a result of this would came out the end of democracy basically asking do we have illegitimate state because of the usurpation of the democratic legislative decision-making. new house at the time did not realize just how incendiary this would be. >> yes and no. it was a a wizard to make this case. >> prevented from doing so
it explosion provided they are in no doubt that the republican know that i need them a note cannot help but i need that money and i need that money and for the biography. >> i could not find one. something like this. >> and accusation here. >> i'm just saying. anyway this thing explodes. basically said this is exactly what we have
ingested. peter berger was perhaps his closest co-author and friend providing him and intellectual co-author and intellectual context. he walked away. i met him. and he said at that.we started reminiscing were too far apart. we cannot see things. reminiscence. not what we should pick up next. bill buckley figured try his best to mediate. the firefight. >> he was trying basically to say.
asking the question does not necessarily mean the answer is yes. >> didn't he have -- >> asking -- questioning whether or not got on acceptable doesn't mean we are arguing. >> the question of whether it ought to be okay. not because you are teeing up the great catastrophe. >> thank you, exactly. >> so, it shocked new house. here is a guy who is cosmopolitan many many years. thirty-five years of it. from the right from the left changed his faith and
he was surprised. why? what was he not prepared for? >> not prepared the intensity of the negative reaction of his allies and his longtime allies. it shocked him. i would say by and large or catholic and conservative christian members obviously george wigle. the straightforward example. >> joe brand. >> who attacked and otherwise constantly. thank you. >> so he was -- one time, long time time, long time ago, a member of the buckley group of the national review over the course of his life everyone trusted him. anti- cosmopolitan. >> and then he hammered on
the house. political operator after he converted to catholicism. he was constant. but on this one he cannot have it right. >> at least joe and i. >> let me ask you something. this would be one of the few examples five years really questioning a decision. he very rarely felt maybe i should not have done that. in the apartment. tell that. wise is happening. told you so moment. a very sort of moderate and prudent level, against it. >> the other question goes well, though.
>> two things. [inaudible question] >> i think he had an ambivalent attitude court the christian coalition. he spoke repeated roadster victory, campaign events. my research about this he went there and at her apartment. he would go they're. ) culture warrior basically get the vote over. and he got up and basically said, what you doing? obviously he could could be partisan in different ways. but he was concerned about the idea the perfect alignment of party politics and that it could happen. a contrary an element to it. >> yes. >> that's right. and then on reagan he was
very keen on reagan and had a lot of personal conduct george w. bush let's say but i think he found reagan entirely not in the least just because of his strong anti- communism. and at that. the questions of public life and because knew house could tell he was johnny on the spot. i get the sense the moral majority movement was so important in some ways media it still argued. it comes up again. it it showed that and became a welcome figure of the reagan white house. historical providence. but i think he found in reagan openness john paul
ii come and more generally against the soviet union. he was supportive of that. i would not say he was nearly as interested in reagan as he was. >> fascinated. yes. one of the kind of precursors. new house he was excited -- the reaction to watergate. someone who could openly and confidently speak out of the christian informed morality about matters of public significance. and for new house and ironically years later. very excited. a few really big pieces of the carter presidency and then everything fell apart
over the families. >> different. >> yes. appointed by carter. this effort i think. the situation of the american families. >> the domestic pressures on. >> lbj had with moynihan. >> exactly. >> exactly. and he realized quickly kind of on the harder democratic left arguing the term family is self exclusionary because it presumes a heteronormative understanding of the family and he turned in the families plural. and he saw that as an abandonment in pure demographic terms of the people in economic terms as well, i think, those who really need attention and he walked away. >> you mean again. >> exactly. >> other questions.
>> a very deep voice. >> after his death. >> about the time, he died in january of 09. obama was inaugurated. the end of the bush presidency which at the time was viewed in highly negative terms. going to be the next president. i have read the 1st half. i have not gotten to the 2nd half yet. but -- >> he dies in the end i should tell you. >> that's right. that's right. >> his father knew how to think about all of these projects crashing and burning toward the end. >> they did not crash and burn.
they did not crash and burn. involved with. everyone who is watching. the idea the project late 2,008 the interesting part of course in political terms , positively about president obama and obama gave the post jeremiah wright on race. deeper. he wrote a very respectful piece. the only person that could do things credibly speaking in racial terms, not political terms. questions related to life a foreign-policy but by late 2,008 in his last major public appearance he gave a talk and the expectation
october 2008 get up and slay the democrats. he. instead of doing that he had a more melancholic set of observations about the difficulties of trying to pursue the faith commitment. >> it was not working out in the current election cycle. and if i am not mistaken his last reference, talking to someone in late 2,008 what should we do and obama presidency, and his response was -- and that strikes me as a very kind of dispassionate response and not higher order response. at that time in his life he was moving in the opposite direction. let's say the obama presidency. >> ambiguous. >> of course, but i think he
would want us. absolutely. >> other questions? >> that was it. a >> that was it. a terrific and important book getting excellent reviews. >> very much so. >> thank you. >> thank you. [applause] [applause] >> a great conversation. books are for sale. amazon.com. the bonus of getting it signed by the author. subscribe. >> there we go. >> thank you very much everyone. [applause]
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on the way back down. >> i think in particular in congress itself often times we have a lack of true statesman. as much as much as i may disagree, senator john mccain did something impressive last year committed to the veterans affairs reform bill. reading the senate torture report, maintaining how staying away from torture is essential to the character of our democracy. at a time will we have people willing to cross the island make these decisions with people who they may not often agree with his essentially what we need to maintain the security, integrity of our nation as we go on. >> high school student is that generally ranked academically in the top 1 percent of their states were in washington dc as part of the united states senate youth program sunday night at 8:00 o'clock eastern and pacific on c-span q&a. >> up next on book tv in prime time author gary
wells discusses his book the future of the catholic church with pope francis. from politics and prose bookstore in washington dc, this is just over an hour. "the future of the catholic church with pope francis" with -- from politics and prose bookstore in washington d.c., this is just over an hour. [inaudible conversations] [applause] >> good evening everyone. thank you all so much for coming out tonight. what an outstanding crowd. i'm not surprised. you have