Michael Novak died last Thursday at the age of 83. In a remembrance for The Hill, Acton Institute President Rev. Robert A. Sirico reflects on the passing of his friend and mentor, and how he changed all of our lives:
Some of my most memorable conversations took place over what would become effectively known as the Salon Novak: dinner parties that Karen and I would orchestrate where we witnessed Clare Boothe Luce contending with Jack Kemp and Bill Bennett on the meaning of virtue; Irving Kristol, the godfather of neo-conservatism, and his wife Gertrude Himmelfarb, the historian and Victorian scholar, recount their own intellectual journeys from socialism; and became acquainted with Charles Krauthammer, Bob and Mary Ellen Bork, and Charles Murray. I would arrive at the Novak home after class as Karen was setting the table and arranging flowers, and would assemble my family’s traditional antipasto, which Michael insisted was the best in the District.
These gathering were a great augmentation to my classes. Those wide-ranging debates on economics and politics, art and literature and just about everything in between, modeled an open and informed discussion prompted by intellectual curiosity and civility—sadly lacking in the present public discourse.