I met Richard John Neuhaus only a couple of times, but he took the second occasion to tell me to my face, with his clerical collar on, that I was "objectively disordered". I remember this rather well because we were in an elevator at the time and I didn't quite know where to look. I have no way to judge him as a person, but admired his candor in a way, and the many glowing personal obits are testament to a man who clearly made great friends and was a witty, funny, humane companion. I knew his work and read it closely and appreciated his influence, which is why I've done what I can to engage and counter it.
Neuhaus began on the very far left and ended up rather quickly on the very far right.
The transition from Communist to Catholic in the 20th century was not unknown, but Neuhaus's rapid shift can only be understood through the prism of the 1960s, Vatican II, the sexual revolution and the rise of the New Left. He remains of that generation genuinely and permanently horrified by the 1960s and 1970s - and determined to move the culture back past them. Neuhaus and Benedict are twins in this respect.
Damon Linker has the most balanced assessment here. Neuhaus was at once an intellectual father of Christianism - the transformation of Christianity into a political movement allied with other fundamentalist faiths - and a fierce opponent of any civil equality for gay human beings. There can be no such inequality in heaven, of course, where no such boundaries endure. Maybe I'll meet him in an elevator up there one day. I wonder which of us will be more surprised to see the other.
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