Skip to comments.... the Uncertain Legacy of Dorothy Day: A disturbing glimpse into the "Catholic Worker"
Posted on 04/26/2017 5:51:57 AM PDT by ubipetrusest
Dorothy Day founded an ongoing series of weekly talks at the Worker, dedicated to the clarification of thought. These talks continue to the present. Now, however, some Catholic Workers complain, most of the talks are immersed in the hard left and the thinking expressed is actually The Calcification of Thought, one wag has quipped mournfully.
Today, attendees of these weekly lectures have encountered the following ideas:
- Anti Israel, Anti-Zionist, Anti Usury, Anti NEOCON and pro-Iranian, pro-Assad, pro-PLO propaganda.
- Support for violent riots in American cities
- The return of antiquated Marxist terminology, like castigating peoples' opinions as "bourgeois".
- Against US national security (yet, inside sources tell us: the Catholic Worker makes sure its own doors are secure - they're highly security focused when it comes to guarding its own doors - indeed, when CW Martha Hennessy, granddaughter of Dorothy Day, recently visited Afghanistan for a fortnight, she availed herself of the protection of a Kalashnikov rifle.) ....
- Editorial repudiation of non-violence as an emblem of rigid white privilege, and championing rioting in Ferguson MO.
- Glorification of 1950s Puerto Rican Nationalist terrorism.
- Together, the US and Israel are planning to clamp down on the US population.
(Excerpt) Read more at frontpagemag.com ...
Day's followers wear two hats: radical and "Catholic." They reminisce publicly about burning their draft cards in the 1960s, while younger members participate in actions such as the pro-abortion Women's March in Washington, DC, because "although we still pray for an end to abortion, we have much to thank [the feminist] movement for in terms of respect and dignity afforded all members of society" (Ric Rhetor, "The Book of Notes," "CW, March-April 2017, p. 6.)
The author reveals: "Associate editor Tom Cornell defended the late pacifist leader AJ [Muste] for his WWII era declaration: 'If I cant love Hitler, I cant love anyone.' Cornell is a Catholic deacon on the Advisory Committee of the Dorothy Day Guild [for her canonization], which receives funds from the Archdiocese of New York. Martha Hennessy, Day's granddaughter is also a member.
"Pacifist" Day wrote in the September 1956 "CW": "We need to change the system. We need to overthrow, not the government, as the authorities are always accusing the Communists 'of conspiring to teach to do,' but this rotten, decadent, putrid industrial capitalist system which breeds such suffering in the whited sepulcher of New York." More information is available at the blog "Dorothy Day Another Way" and in Carol Byrne's "The Catholic Worker Movement (1933-1980): A Critical Analysis."
As for Dorothy Day's politics, it should be pointed out that the conditions of the poor in this country were dramatically different when Day was young than they are now. Almost all of what Dorothy Day would have wanted poor people to have — food stamps, medical care, housing — long since have become entitlements in the USA, and even the most ambitious conservative Republican hopes merely to trim waste. In addition, there is social security and unemployment insurance.
While there is no arguing that Dorothy Day was a political radical by the standards of her day, the Catholic Worker folks of today who insist she would be a radical leftist — meaning far to the left of the Democrat Party — in 2017 may be off-base, perhaps even disingenuous. While one could bet Day would favor maintaining or expanding social programs, I do not believe for a moment she would compromise on the issue of abortion. She believed abortion to be murder and regretted her own abortion for both moral and religious reasons.
In any case, it would be a shame if people — Catholics and non-Catholics — didn't read The Long Loneliness because they are (understandable) put off by the beliefs of today's Catholic Worker folks. I recommend the book.
No, thanks. Unrepentant communist sympathizer.
Sign on a Christian Church:
“Better a kind atheist than a cruel Christian”.
Maybe you should reread “The Long Loneliness.” In it, Day describes Tamar at three meeting her father again and saying to me resentfully, ‘That is my father, not your father’ (1997 reprint, p. 236). When the Catholic Worker (CW) became Dorothys family, she left Tamar with coworkers, preferably at the CW farms (pp. 280, 297-299), where some “feeble-minded” children destroyed the little clay village Tamar had built (p. 238). Things were similar at the city CW, where Day writes that “I left her in her bath and all but forgot her in the heat of discussion” (p. 237).
Years later Tamar said: “Sometimes I wondered if everyone doted on me because they felt sorry for me not only at how often Dorothy left to go on speaking tours, but at how distracted she could be. She would let me stay up late while she was talking, and I’d be forgotten while playing in the bath. Once this caused me to get a bladder infection, and I had to spend two weeks at St. Vincent’s Hospital” (Kate Hennessy, “Dorothy Day: The World Will Be Saved by Beauty,” 2017, p. 98).
Day traveled so much that Tamar nicknamed her Be-going (Rosalie G. Riegle, “Dorothy Day: Portraits by Those Who Knew Her,” 2003, p. 109).
Although Day opposed government “entitlement” programs, she was willing to have people—including her daughter and nine grandchildren—receive welfare benefits.
The Catholic Workers are correct, not “disingenuous,” when they claim Day remained a radical. She did not become less radical over the years. In “Long Loneliness,” she writes: “Each of the radical groups had its own vision, and each was terrified that immediate gains would make the masses content and not willing to go further toward the new earth they were envisioning. They had faith in the people, but they knew too how prone they were to settle down with their gains” (p. 62).
Day wrote in the December 1971 “CW”: “How many thousands, tens of thousands, are in [prison] for petty theft, while the “robber barons” of our day get away with murder. Literally murder, accessories to murder. “Property is Theft.” Proudhon wrote—The coat that hangs in your closet belongs to the poor. The early Fathers [of the Church] wrote—The house you don’t live in, your empty buildings (novitiates, seminaries) belong to the poor. Property is Theft.”
At age 76, Day wrote in her diary: “My very life is a protest. Against government, for instance” (”The Duty of Delight,” 2011, p. 582).
Day died on November 30, 1980. In the September 1980 CW she wrote: I am re-reading Mike Golds “Jews Without Money,” a battered paperback ... but you can still read the quotations from “The New York Times” reviewer, enthusiastically recommending it.... It reminded me so much of my first newspaper job on “The New York Call,” and my meeting with Mike, whose name was Irwin Granich. I must try to find another copy, bound and on better paper.” Gold’s novel ends: “O worker’ Revolution, you brought hope to me.... You are the true Messiah.... O Revolution that forced me to think, to struggle and to live” (1930; 1984 reprint, p. 309).