World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Michael Novak

Article Id: WHEBN0000204745
Reproduction Date:

Title: Michael Novak  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: American Enterprise Institute, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, Templeton Prize, 14th Dalai Lama, People by year/Reports/No other categories/2
Collection: 1933 Births, American Diplomats, American Enterprise Institute, American Male Writers, American People of Slovak Descent, American People of Slovene Descent, American Political Philosophers, American Political Writers, American Roman Catholics, American Tax Resisters, California Democrats, Critics of Atheism, Harvard University Alumni, Living People, New York Democrats, Pennsylvania Democrats, People from Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Recipients of the Order of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, Representatives of the United States to the United Nations Human Rights Council, Roman Catholic Writers, State University of New York at Old Westbury Faculty, Stonehill College Alumni, Templeton Prize Laureates, The American Spectator People
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Michael Novak

Michael Novak
Michael Novak in July 2004 at Washington Foreign Press Center.
Born (1933-09-09) September 9, 1933
Johnstown, Pennsylvania
Nationality American
Education Stonehill College (1956) (BA)
Pontifical Gregorian University (1958) (STB)
Harvard University (1966) (MA)
Occupation Professor, Ave Maria University
Known for Philosopher, Diplomat, Author, Professor
Religion Catholic
Spouse(s) Karen Laub-Novak
Children Richard Novak, Jana Novak, Tanya Novak
Website .netmichaelnovak

Michael Novak (born September 9, 1933) is an American Catholic philosopher, journalist, novelist, and diplomat. The author of more than twenty-five books on the philosophy and theology of culture, Novak is most widely known for his book The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism (1982). In 1993 Novak was honored with an honorary doctorate degree at Universidad Francisco Marroquín[1] due to his commitment to the idea of liberty. In 1994 he was awarded the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, which included a million-dollar purse awarded at Buckingham Palace. He writes books and articles focused on capitalism, religion, and the politics of democratization.

Novak served as American Enterprise Institute. As of 2004, he has claimed to be a lifelong Democrat, but he has supported many Republican candidates in recent years.[3]


  • Early life, education, and family 1
  • Early writings 2
    • Second Vatican Council 2.1
  • Early books 3
  • Stanford years 4
  • SUNY Old Westbury 5
  • Later career 6
  • Opinions 7
  • Bibliography 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11

Early life, education, and family

Novak was born in 1933 in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, to a Slovak-American family, the son of Irene Sakmar and Michael J. Novak.[4][5] He was married to Karen Laub-Novak, a professional artist and illustrator, who died of cancer in August 2009. They have three children (Richard, Tanya, and Jana) and four grandchildren.

Novak earned a B.A. summa cum laude in philosophy and English from Stonehill College in 1956, a Sacrae Theologiae Baccalaureus (a degree in theology), from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1958 and an M.A. in history and philosophy of religion from Harvard University in 1966. Novak attended Harvard University to study philosophy and religion, intending to obtain a doctorate in philosophy of religion. Novak stated that he thought the philosophy department was too focused on analytic philosophy, neglecting religion . He left Harvard after receiving his M.A., and began work as a writer.

Early writings

Second Vatican Council

Novak worked as a correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter during the second session of the Second Vatican Council in Rome, where he also got the opportunity to fulfill a book contract for a fellow reporter who was not able to complete the project. The result was Novak's second book, The Open Church, a journalistic account of the events of the second session of the Council.

His writings at the time were criticized by the more Conservative factions in the Church, and apostolic delegate Egidio Vagnozzi advised US Churchmen to silence him.[6]

Early books

Early in his career, Novak published two novels: The Tiber Was Silver (1961) and Naked I Leave (1970). At the time, he considered the modest $600 advance to be "a fortune."[7]

Stanford years

Novak's friendship with the Presbyterian theologian Robert McAfee Brown during the Second Vatican Council led to a teaching post at Stanford University, where he became the first Roman Catholic to teach in the Humanities program. Novak taught at Stanford University from 1965 to 1968, during the key years of student revolt throughout California. During this period, he wrote A Time to Build (1967), discussing problems of belief and unbelief, ecumenism, sexuality, and war. In 1968, he signed the “Writers and Editors War Tax Protest” pledge, vowing to refuse tax payments in protest against the Vietnam War.[8] In A Theology for Radical Politics (1969), Novak makes theological arguments in support of the New Left student movement, which he urged to advance the renewal of the human spirit rather than merely to reform social institutions. His book Politics: Realism and Imagination includes accounts of visiting American Vietnam War deserters in France ("Desertion"), the birth and development of the student movement at Stanford ("Green Shoots of Counter-Culture") and philosophical essays on nihilism and Marxism.

SUNY Old Westbury

Novak left Stanford for a post as dean of a new "experimental" school at the newly founded State University of New York at Old Westbury, Long Island.

Novak's writings during this period included the philosophical essay The Experience of Nothingness (1970, republished in 1998), in which he cautioned the New Left that utopianism could lead to alienation and rootlessness. Novak's novel Naked I Leave (1970) chronicles his experiences in California and in the Second Vatican Council and his journey from seminarian to reporter.

Later career

After serving at Old Westbury/SUNY from 1969 to 1972, Novak launched the humanities program at the Rockefeller Foundation in 1973–1974. In 1976, he accepted a tenured position at Syracuse University as University Professor and Ledden-Watson Distinguished Professor of Religion. In the fall semesters of 1987 and 1988, Novak held the W. Harold and Martha Welch chair as Professor of American Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

In the spring of 1978, Novak joined the George W. Bush Presidential Center.

Novak is a founding board member of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. He is also a founding member of the Board of Trustees of Ave Maria University and is a member of the Catholic Advisory Board for the Ave Maria Mutual Funds. A portrait of Novak by Igor Babailov hangs in the Canizaro Library on campus.[10]


  • Novak believes that Utopian beliefs can lead to the weakening of social bonds. He wrote that "the family is the human race's natural defense against utopianism." (The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism)
  • He states that religion can 'thrive only in a personal universe' and not universities or companies, and that Western Humanism, which he states is the leading belief system of most of academia, does not ask "the fundamental questions about the meaning and limits of personal experience" and that "they leave aside the mysteries of contingency and transitoriness, for the certainties of research, production, consumption." ("God in the Colleges," A New Generation: American and Catholic (1964))
  • Novak states that the Holy Trinity and God are often thought of in abstract and impersonal terms in philosophy, and that they should be "thought of as a Communion of Divine Persons—radiating his presence throughout creation, calling unworthy human beings to be his friends, and infusing into them his love so that they might love with it." (From “The Love That Moves the Sun,” in A Free Society Reader)
  • On December 12, 2007 Novak declared his support for the presidential candidacy of Republican Mitt Romney.[11]


  • Writing from Left to Right: My Journey From Liberal to Conservative (2013)
  • The Myth of Romantic Love and Other Essays (with Elizabeth Shaw) (2012)
  • Living the Call: An Introduction to the Lay Vocation (with William E. Simon) (2011)
  • All Nature is a Sacramental Fire: Moments of Beauty, Sorrow, and Joy (2011)
  • No One Sees God: The Dark Night of Atheists and Believers (2008)
  • Washington's God: Religion, Liberty, and the Father of Our Country (with Jana Novak) (2006)
  • Universal Hunger for Liberty: Why the Clash of Civilizations is Not Inevitable (2004)
  • On Two Wings: Humble Faith and Common Sense at the American Founding (2001)
  • Business as a Calling (1996)
  • The Catholic Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1993).
  • Free Persons and the Common Good (1988)
  • Tell Me Why (1998)
  • The Open Church (1964, 2002)
  • Joy of Sports (1976, 1994)
  • Catholic Social Thought and Liberal Institutions (1984, 1989)
  • This Hemisphere of Liberty (1990, 1992)
  • Will it Liberate (1986)
  • Toward the Future
  • Moral Clarity in a Nuclear Age (1983)
  • Ascent of the Mountain, Flight of the Dove
  • Character and Crime
  • On Cultivating Liberty
  • The Fire of Invention
  • The Guns of Lattimer
  • Choosing Presidents
  • A Free Society Reader
  • Three in One
  • The New Consensus on Family and Welfare: A Community of Self-Reliance (Novak et al.) (1987).
  • The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism (1982). ISBN 0-8191-7823-3.
  • Rise of the Unmeltable Ethnics (1972).
  • The Experience of Nothingness (1970; revised and expanded 1998).
  • Naked I Leave (novel, 1970).
  • Belief and Unbelief, a Philosophy of Self-Knowledge (1965; 3rd ed. 1994).
  • The Tiber was Silver (novel, 1962).

See also


  1. ^ Honorary Doctorate Degrees at Universidad Francisco Marroquín
  2. ^ American Enterprise Institute, retrieved May 25, 2008 from
  3. ^ National Review, retrieved January 1, 2009 from [1]
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Less Ecumenism, Please
  7. ^ Michael Novak (1999) "Controversial Engagements", First Things (April 1999).
  8. ^ “Writers and Editors War Tax Protest” January 30, 1968 New York Post
  9. ^ Biography at the American Enterprise Institute, retrieved May 25, 2008 from [2].
  10. ^ Igor Babilov's Oil-on-canvas portrait of Michael Novak, retrieved December 17, 2012 from [3].
  11. ^

External links

  • Graduation speech at Universidad Francisco Marroquín in 1993.
  • Novak's website
  • Appearances on C-SPAN
    • , March 17, 2002.On Two Wings: Humble Faith and Common Sense at the American Founding interview with Novak on Booknotes
In 2012, he authored an article entitled 'The Moral Imperative of a Free Economy' in

Novak is a frequent contributor to magazines and journals including First Things and National Review. In 1994, he was a signer of the document Evangelicals and Catholics Together.


This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.