Dear Refractions readers:
My next Refractions (34) called "The Artist and the Beautiful: Hawthorne, Darwin and the Watchmaker" will be out soon.
I am deeply saddened by the passing of Ralph McInerny. I wrote about my experience of sitting next to him on the bus as I accompanied The Presidential Committee of Arts and Humanities in our delegation trip to China in 2005. Here's my Refractions link from that essay called "Traveling in China with Father Dowling."
Dr. Thomas S. Hibbs of Baylor University who wrote for Rouault & Fujimura catalogue, writes an eloquent tribute to Ralph on First Things. It's worth your read and contemplation. Note also tributes from his students and friends below. This was an extraordinary man of intellect and grace.
Last time we met, we were at the White House celebration of National Medal of the Arts and Humanities. Here's pictures from then: my wife Judy, an avid reader of mystery books and a Catholic, was so delighted to meet him to fellowship with him.
Here's a quote from Ralph's "The Very Rich Hours of Jacques Maritain":
"Prudence is an intellectual virtue that intrinsically depends on the moral virtues. Unless one's appetite is well disposed to the good for justice, say, the mind cannot swiftly and surely find the means to be just here and now. If one's heart is elsewhere than in justice, say in injustice, appetite will obscure and eclipse the effort to seek and choose the means to be just. But art does not depend for its excellent exercise on the moral quality of the artist. This contrast between prudence and art, faithfully reported by Maritain and never rejected by him, nonetheless inspired a host of original suggestions that have the look of trying to circumvent the distinction. But that is hardly the major problem Maritain now faces. How is he to extrapolate from texts that talk of art in terms of the carpenter and farmer in order to say things of the poet and painter and novelist?"
The book was sent to me after our China trip and it is signed by Ralph with a statement:
"Hope you like this"