The Corner

Fr. Richard

What I will miss most about Richard is the twinkle in his eye, and the tones of his voice: He could make setting a lunch date sound like a message from Mt. Sinai, although there was usually a laugh in there.

My part of his story is that I sought him out to be NR’s religion columnist. I have lived a lonely life at my favorite magazine as a non-R.C. One day a newsletter crossed my desk (maybe Hillsdale’s Imprimis) and there was a knowledgeable essay by a Lutheran minister about the state of things in all American churches. We need this man, I thought. Richard always retained that knowledge and that interest, even after he swam the Tiber.

He had one of the best bad book-publicity stories ever. In his early, left-wing days, he wrote a Christian/Marxist attack on the ecology movement, which got him an appearance on some major TV show. About 45 seconds into the interview, he realized that the host thought he had written a cookbook, and the host realized that he had not. They covered gracefully.

He had a run-in with the paleos when they discovered that the Jew was the source of all our troubles; it was a foreshadowing, on the right, of what is now the orthodoxy of the “reality-based community.” Richard would not put up with that. Some years later, he provoked more controversy when First Things wondered if the post-Roe state deserved our continued obedience. The right of revolution precedes all states, but there are rather strict tests for invoking it; Jefferson mentions some.

He contributed a line to the outgoing administration–”welcomed in life and protected by law”–and he told how candidate George W. Bush jumped on it, knowing a good line when he first heard it.

A charming companion, a thoughtful man, a brave heart in all his sufferings. R.I.P.

Historian Richard Brookhiser is a senior editor of National Review and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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