Richard John Neuhaus

In this past month following the death of Richard John Neuhaus, all manner of praise has been heaped on this Lutheran minister- turned- Catholic priest who was a prolific writer and a great thinker.    Of all the things that have been said about him, one that I was particularly struck by was a single line I read in a farewell written by Matthew Boudway in Commonweal.   Boudway writes that Neuhaus “sought out anyone who might have something to teach him, and didn’t avoid people with whom he disagreed.”

Both parts of that sentence are helpful rules to live by.  Often we decide in advance that people do or don’t have anything they can teach us, often losing the message due to rejection of the messenger.  And we sometimes have the tendency to seek out echo chambers, engaging only with those with whom we are already in agreement.  Neuhaus undersood that we can learn much from those with whom we disagree.