September 30, 2010

Mourning Joe

OCPA has hosted several interesting people through the years, and I've had the good fortune to talk to many of them and even shuttle them around town. But if you ask me who my favorite is, it's not even close. I loved the author and columnist Joseph Sobran, who died today at the age of 64.

In high-school math class, rather than paying attention to my teacher, I was furtively reading the latest issue of National Review (which, miraculously, was available at the Bartlesville High School library. Hooray for public education!). I would also read Joe's essays in The Human Life Review, many of which were compiled in the 1983 book Single Issues: Essays on the Crucial Social Questions. And his extended NR essay, "Pensees: Notes for the Reactionary of Tomorrow," was and is a masterpiece.

Fast forward 15 years, and I'm driving him around the metro. It was the day after Constitution Day in 1998, and I took him to speak to the students at Edmond Santa Fe High School, and then to the old Applewoods Restaurant south of Reno off Meridian, where some 300 folks heard him discuss "How the Constitution Was Stolen." The photo at right was taken that day. I even asked Joe to write a piece for Perspective, which he did.

There's much more to say, but my heart is heavy and I'm not in the mood. Besides, others will have plenty to say, and I'll start compiling some links below. Joseph Sobran, dead at 64. R.I.P.

"Joe Sobran, R.I.P." by Jack Fowler
"Bard of the Right" by Matthew Scully
"Extraordinary Joe" by Kevin Lynch 
"A Noble Heart" by Robert Royal
"Not Your Average Joe" by Ann Coulter
"Joseph Sobran, RIP" by Lew Rockwell
"Joseph Sobran, R.I.P." by the editors of Chronicles
"Joe Sobran, RIP" by Tim Bayly
"Interregnum -- and a Transition" by Tom Bethell


  1. I met Joe Sobran in fall 1980, on my first visit to National Review. He was a gentleman, and a gentle man. He was a great writer and thinker. Some of his most creative and controversial writings were far removed from the world of politics and public policy, and were focused on various aspects of the life of William Shakespeare. On a handful of occasions, we sat together at Holy Mass in St. Thomas More Cathedral in Arlington, Virginia. He generally attended the earliest possible Mass on Sunday morning. I still recite a good many "Sobran-isms" -- wise and witty sayings just a few words in length. I know that for the rest of my life, whenever a situation brings one of those to mind, I'll think of Joe, and miss him. -- Pat McGuigan

  2. Well said, Pat. He was a gentle man. I remember him telling me about the baptism of his son (perhaps a grandson, but I'm pretty sure it was a son) who died in infancy. Only then did I understand the dedication in his 1997 book "Alias Shakespeare: Solving the Greatest Literary Mystery of All Time":

    To my descendants

    Kent, Vanessa, Mike, and Chris. And Joe, John, Willie, Jim, and Elizabeth

    And I haven't forgotten you, Joe Paul.

  3. Anonymous4:18 PM

    RIP Joe Sobran...I spent an afternoon alone with Joe when he was here and found him to be humble and kind. My favorite "Sobranism" was .."if the Iraquis need a constitution let them have ours...we're not using it." I made him laugh at a lunch in D.C. one time when I suggested that the O.J. Simpson verdict was just an example of jury nullification. What a loss.


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