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The Conversions of Richard John Neuhaus

If you were inclined to identify uniquely Canadian contributors to Catholic thought in our time you might name Bernard Lonergan, Charles Taylor, Marshall McLuhan and David Stanley. You would certainly name Gregory Baum. But Richard John Neuhaus would be another matter. A genuinely Catholic matter, so it seems.

On CBC Radio One's Sunday Edition (March 4) anchor/host Michael Enright--a renegade Catholic of delicious irreverence--queried Father Neuhuas about his new book, Catholic Matters, his longstanding commitment to the "right ordering of public life," and his abhorrence of that crusading determination and zeal that undermines the "bond of civility." The editor of First Things--a journal that certainly eschews all forms of crusading determination and zeal--was coridal to a fault. A Canadian fault.

The seductive logic of the master Schoolman worked its charm--with an occasional dollop of casuistry to help--but there was littled disclosure when it came to fathoming the mystery behind the conversion. When did the Lutheran child of a family of eight in the Ottawa Valley--Pembroke, to be precise--convert from being a Canadian to an American in sensibility, ideology and citizenship? I understand his opting for Rome over Wittenburg, but Washington over Ottawa? Matter, no doubt, for a later interview.

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I would never have suspected Neuhaus of being unAmerican, but the fact is that there are many Canadians under cover in the U.S. We must all be on our guard.

Don't worry. You can spot them by their tell-tale cordiality and their tendency to stand in queues. There are American moles in Canada, too. Trust me.

--"and his abhorrence of that crusading determination and zeal that undermines the "bond of civility.""He would have fooled me. Seems that Sir John has made it a habit of crusading and unermining. In his earlier years he opted to overthrow the govt. for the left while lately (before his savior W appeared) he was willing to risk anarchy for the right. Michael, the question is has the poor man found himself yet? Certainly the Canadians don't want him and, as they learn more, neither do the Americans.What are his choices now?Maybe Damon Linker has more than the last word on the matter.

I didn't listen to the interview. But I believe RJN was born in the United States and later moved to Canada, though he returned to the states for high school (which he never finished) and seminary. At least one side of his family is American, I think.