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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Trying to set the record straight

When many people think of Dorothy Day they tend to associate her with the following words, anarchy, communism, pacifism and social justice. When people think of the modern Catholic Worker movement the same words may pop into there heads. There needs to be some clarification as to what Day's views were, on these topics and others. The people that seem to lead the movement today are latching onto the radical social views and disregarding the Catholic teachings on which they rest, or worse accepting positions contrary to the Church. Consequently, many Catholics associate the Catholic Worker Movement with liberals and will have nothing to do with it or Dorothy Day. This stems, I believe, from our country's two party political system. In this country, there's the left and the right, the liberals and the conservatives, the Republicans and the Democrats-and never the two shall meet. When someone's beliefs straddle both parties, they become difficult to classify. And it amazes me how many people will alter their beliefs to fit those of the party to which they belong, and then say the Church agrees with them. People can't just be Catholic, they have to pigeonhole their faith into a political party's framework. The Catholic church is not Republican or Democrat.
So anyway, because Dorothy Day is best known for her views on pacifism, rights of the workers, etc. the left has snapped her up as a Catholic who followed her conscience and made a difference even if the big, bad Church hierarchy disagreed with her. She protested against wars, big business and the maniacal American government-we love her! But don't make her a saint because then people might know she's prolife. (Seriously, read about her cause on the Workers website.)
Newsflash hippies-you don't represent Day's vision of the Worker movement. If you want to help the poor, that's great, just don't call yourself Catholic. Don't claim to expound what Day taught unless you tell it all. You're lying by omission.
And to everyone else, I don't agree with all of Day's writings but I'm trying to read everything and there's some great stuff-inspiring stuff you might be surprised to find. Don't pass on the Worker Movement because of what you might have heard. I want to set the record straight. First, the ultimate biography on Day is 'Dorothy Day, A Biography' by William D. Miller. Day turned over all her papers to Miller who is/was (?) a history professor at Marquette University. He spent years reading over everything and interviewing people before writing the book. It paints a complete picture of Day, warts and all. You can also access all her works online through the Worker website by a subject list. To do my part, I will start posting quotes from her work that I feel best illustrate her views and work. If you don't trust me, you can always look the stuff up yourself. You might just learn something.