The Home of American Intellectual Conservatism — First Principles

March 25, 2017

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Murray, John Courtney
George Weigel - 11/29/11

Given the correlation of intellectual forces in the Church and the country at the time of his death, Murray might well have been surprised had someone suggested that he would be an entry, a generation later, in an encyclopedia of American conservatism. Like all great intellects and spirits, Murray defies easy ideological classification. Yet Murray’s argument that the American Revolution, unlike the French, was a “revolution of conservation” which owed intellectual and moral debts to Christian medieval philosophy, would be found entirely congenial by American Christian neoconservatives (who “rediscovered” Murray when he was being largely ignored by more radical theologians) in the 1980s. So, too, would Murray’s vigorous anticommunism and his mature American patriotism. The Murray revival that began in the mid-1980s and has continued until the present day seems likely to keep the question of Murray’s intellectual and political legacy alive for the foreseeable future.

Further Reading
  • Neuhaus, Richard John. The Naked Public Square: Religion and Democracy in America. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1984.
  • Pelotte, Donald E. John Courtney Murray: Theologian in Conflict. New York: Paulist Press, 1976.
  • Weigel, George. “The John Courtney Murray Project.” In Tranquillitas Ordinis: The Present Failure and Future Promise of American Catholic Thought on War and Peace. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.
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