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Michael Novak
""MichaelNovak (cropped).jpg
Michael Novak in July 2004 at Washington Foreign Press Center
Born (1933-09-09)September 9, 1933
"Johnstown, "Pennsylvania
Died February 17, 2017(2017-02-17) (aged 83)
"Washington, D.C.
Cause of death Complications from "colon cancer
Nationality American
Education "Stonehill College (1956) ("BA)
"Pontifical Gregorian University (1958) ("STB)
"Harvard University (1966) ("MA)
Occupation "Professor, "Catholic University of America
Known for "Philosopher, "diplomat, "author
Spouse(s) Karen Laub-Novak
Children 3

Michael Novak (September 9, 1933 – February 17, 2017) was an American "Catholic philosopher, journalist, novelist, and diplomat. The author of more than forty books on the philosophy and theology of culture, Novak is most widely known for his book "The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism (1982). In 1993 Novak was honored with an honorary doctorate degree at "Universidad Francisco Marroquín[1] due to his commitment to the idea of liberty. In 1994 he was awarded the "Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, which included a million-dollar purse awarded at Buckingham Palace. He wrote books and articles focused on "capitalism, religion, and the "politics of democratization.

Novak served as "United States Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in 1981 and 1982 and led the U.S. delegation to the "Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe in 1986.[2] Additionally, Novak served on the board of directors of the now-defunct "Coalition for a Democratic Majority, a faction of the Democratic Party, which sought to influence Democratic Party policies in the same direction that the "Committee on the Present Danger later did. Novak was George Frederick Jewett Scholar in Religion, Philosophy, and Public Policy at the "American Enterprise Institute. In 2004, he claimed to be a lifelong Democrat, while noting that he has supported many Republican candidates.[3]


Early life, education, and family[edit]

Novak was born in 1933 in "Johnstown, Pennsylvania, to a Slovak-American family, the son of Irene (Sakmar) and Michael J. Novak.[4][5] He was married to Karen Laub-Novak, a professional artist and illustrator, who died of cancer in August 2009. They have three children (Richard, Tanya, and Jana) and four grandchildren.

Novak earned a B.A. summa cum laude in philosophy and English from "Stonehill College in 1956, a "Sacrae Theologiae Baccalaureus (a degree in "theology), from the "Pontifical Gregorian University in "Rome in 1958 and an M.A. in history and philosophy of religion from "Harvard University in 1966. Novak attended Harvard University to study philosophy and religion, intending to obtain a doctorate in philosophy of religion. Novak stated that he thought the philosophy department was too focused on analytic philosophy, neglecting religion["citation needed]. He left Harvard after receiving his M.A., and began work as a writer.

Early writings[edit]

Second Vatican Council[edit]

Novak worked as a correspondent for the "National Catholic Reporter during the second session of the "Second Vatican Council in Rome, where he also got the opportunity to fulfill a book contract for a fellow reporter who was not able to complete the project. The result was Novak's second book, The Open Church, a journalistic account of the events of the second session of the Council.

His writings at the time were criticized by the more Conservative factions in the Church, and apostolic delegate "Egidio Vagnozzi advised US Churchmen to silence him.[6]

Early books[edit]

Early in his career, Novak published two novels: The Tiber Was Silver (1961) and Naked I Leave (1970). At the time, he considered the modest $600 advance to be "a fortune."[7]

Stanford years[edit]

Novak's friendship with the "Presbyterian "theologian "Robert McAfee Brown during the "Second Vatican Council led to a teaching post at "Stanford University, where he became the first "Roman Catholic to teach in the "Humanities program. Novak taught at "Stanford University from 1965 to 1968, during the key years of student revolt throughout California. During this period, he wrote A Time to Build (1967), discussing problems of belief and unbelief, "ecumenism, "sexuality, and "war. In 1968, he signed the “Writers and Editors War Tax Protest” pledge, vowing to refuse tax payments in protest against the Vietnam War.[8] In A Theology for Radical Politics (1969), Novak makes theological arguments in support of the New Left student movement, which he urged to advance the renewal of the human spirit rather than merely to reform social institutions. His book Politics: Realism and Imagination includes accounts of visiting American Vietnam War deserters in France ("Desertion"), the birth and development of the student movement at Stanford ("Green Shoots of Counter-Culture") and philosophical essays on "nihilism and "Marxism.

SUNY Old Westbury[edit]

Novak left Stanford for a post as dean of a new "experimental" school at the newly founded "State University of New York at Old Westbury, "Long Island.

Novak's writings during this period included the philosophical essay The Experience of Nothingness (1970, republished in 1998), in which he cautioned the New Left that utopianism could lead to alienation and rootlessness. Novak's novel Naked I Leave (1970) chronicles his experiences in California and in the Second Vatican Council and his journey from seminarian to reporter.

Later career[edit]

After serving at Old Westbury/SUNY from 1969 to 1972, Novak launched the humanities program at the Rockefeller Foundation in 1973–1974. In 1976, he accepted a tenured position at Syracuse University as University Professor and Ledden-Watson Distinguished Professor of Religion. In the fall semesters of 1987 and 1988, Novak held the W. Harold and Martha Welch chair as Professor of American Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

In the spring of 1978, Novak joined the "American Enterprise Institute for Social Policy Research as a Resident Scholar, a position he still holds as of 2008. He remains at the American Enterprise Institute as the George Frederick Jewett Chair of Religion, Philosophy, and Public Policy, and as the Institute’s Director of Social and Political Studies.[9]

Novak was a frequent contributor to magazines and journals including "First Things and "National Review. In 1994, he was a signer of the document "Evangelicals and Catholics Together.

In 2012, he authored an article entitled 'The Moral Imperative of a Free Economy' in "The 4% Solution: Unleashing the Economic Growth America Needs, published by the "George W. Bush Presidential Center.

Novak was a founding board member of the "Institute on Religion and Democracy. He was also a founding member of the "Board of Trustees of "Ave Maria University and was a member of the "Ave Maria Mutual Funds Catholic Advisory Board. A portrait of Novak by "Igor Babailov hangs in the Canizaro Library on campus.[10]

In 2016 he joined the "Tim and Steph Busch School of Business and Economics of the "Catholic University of America as a distinguished visiting professor.[11]

Novak died of complications from "colon cancer February 17, 2017 in Washington, D.C. at the age of 83.[12][13]



See also[edit]


  1. ^ Honorary Doctorate Degrees at "Universidad Francisco Marroquín (in Guatemala City, Guatemala). Archived May 1, 2011, at the "Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ "SCHOLARS & FELLOWS – Michael Novak". American Enterprise Institute. Archived from the original on 28 February 2010. 
  3. ^ "National Review, retrieved January 1, 2009 from [1]
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on August 4, 2012. Retrieved February 4, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 16, 2012. Retrieved August 1, 2012. 
  6. ^ Less Ecumenism, Please
  7. ^ Michael Novak (1999) "Controversial Engagements", First Things (April 1999).
  8. ^ “Writers and Editors War Tax Protest” January 30, 1968 New York Post
  9. ^ Biography at the American Enterprise Institute, retrieved May 25, 2008 from [2].
  10. ^ Igor Babilov's Oil-on-canvas portrait of Michael Novak, retrieved December 17, 2012 from [3].
  11. ^ Michael Novak joins Catholic University.
  12. ^ "Michael Novak, theologian who made a spiritual case for capitalism, dies at 83". Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-02-17. 
  13. ^ Grimes, William (2017-02-19). "Michael Novak, Catholic Scholar Who Championed Capitalism, Dies at 83". The New York Times. "ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-02-21. 
  14. ^ Novak, Michael (2007-12-12). "Why I Decided to Support Mitt Romney". "National Review. Retrieved 2009-10-20. 

External links[edit]

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