Category Archives: Obituaries

The Work of Two Intellectual Giants

I come to praise the dead, or perhaps, to recognize their importance at the least.  Actually a little of both.  Last week the intellectual world lost two more giants.  Perhaps I am getting old, but this seems to be happening with greater frequency.  Michael Novak and Kenneth Arrow both died.  Novak (1933-2017) and Arrow (1921-2017) were quite different in their outlooks and professions, though they shared some common interests (not however through mutual acquaintance).   Novak was a widely respected… Continue Reading ››

Michael Novak: The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism

On February 17, 2017 Michael Novak, champion of capitalism, died at the age of 83. Arguably Novak had a more significant impact than any other scholar of his generation who wrote on political economy from a distinctive Christian perspective. I picked up my copy of his 1982 classic: The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism (still a best seller at Amazon). I skimmed  through the book reading some of the passages I highlighted the first time I read the book in the late 1980s. I would like… Continue Reading ››

Phyllis Schlafly (1924-2016)

Phyllis Schlafly, a social conservative icon, died yesterday at the age of 92.  For decades she had been the head of the Eagle Forum, after an early career in helping move the voters of California in the direction of conservatism and preparing the state for Ronald Reagan.  Though not a native or resident, Schlafly was very much like one of those that Darren Dochuk wrote about in his fascinating book, From Bible Belt to Sunbelt: Plain-Folk Religion, Grassroots Politics, and… Continue Reading ››

Forrest McDonald (1927-2016)

Just as I was thinking about one of my favorite author-scholars today, I discovered he had very recently died.  Forrest McDonald, one of the truly great scholars of early American political thought, and long-time professor of history at the University of Alabama, passed away at the age of 89.  The first lesson I should learn is that I had better be careful who I am thinking about on a given day.  But humor (attempted) aside, McDonald wrote such impressive works… Continue Reading ››

Dean Smith, R.I.P.

Dean Smith, the legendary University of North Carolina basketball coach, died Saturday at 83 years of age. Smith was a coaching oddity, much more than a sweat-suit clad whistle-blower. A fierce intellect, Smith was well-read and poised. He possessed balance, a trait that seemed to flow into his players and teams. I promise I am not the sort of person who makes everything about himself. Dean Smith’s death is not about me at all–it is about the loss of a… Continue Reading ››