The death of Fr. Neuhaus is a very sad thing for Christians in the public square. The long time editor of First Things and author of the always-anticipated “The Public Square” stood squarely for the orthodox core of the Christian faith in all of life. In a culture that (more often than not) mindlessly dismissed the power and relevance of the Christian worldview, Neuhause stuck out as its incisive and winsome defender.
His death has surprised me in how much it has moved me. I was not aware of the cancer that took him, and so I took the arrival of my journal subscription a little for granted. To me, he was a paragon of cultural engagement. As a pastor, I do a degree of that on a regular basis, but Neuhause was “always on.” He knew his world extremely well, he knew his theology and Christian conviction just as well, and he knew how to talk about the two deeply and seamlessly.
My prayer is that his role will be filled by many others. An individual can never be replaced, but they can certainly act as examples and guides. Right now, in a culture that is as unsympathetic to the Christian faith as our is, we need more and more thoughtful and provocative champions of the faith.
I will miss Fr. Neuhause.