Radical

dorothy day

Seems fitting on a Sunday to post a bit from an essay on Dorothy Day (1897-1980), the founder of the Catholic Workers Society — an anarchist who was occasionally jailed for civil disobedience, an ardent and outspoken pacifist, a single mother who had had an abortion, a devout Catholic, and formerly a “Greenwich Village swinger”:

“In the 1960s Dorothy was friendly with the anti-war crowd. She worked with the Berrigan brothers and with Daniel Ellsberg, Joan Baez, and Abbie Hoffman, King of the Yippies. But she had no time for the counterculture. The children from affluent middle-class homes who were marching against the war in Vietnam did not always impress her. In the summer of 1967 — the ‘summer of love’ — she wrote in her diary: ‘I felt in view of the blood and guts spilled in Vietnam the soldiers would like to come back and kill these flower-power-loving people.’

Her enemies in the church thought she was a communist, but she was a devoutly orthodox Catholic, going to Mass daily and to confession once a week, and would have been recognised as a conservative by Samuel Johnson, though not by Margaret Thatcher. After attending a dinner in 1980 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the right-wing National Review, the celebrated historian John Lukacs wrote of her ‘respect for what was old and valid’: her ‘dedication to the plain decencies and duties of human life, rested on the traditions of two millennia of Christianity,’ and she ‘was a radical only in the truthful sense of attempting to get of the roots of the human predicament.'”

(Source: “St. Dorothy of New York?” by Stuart Reid in the Oct. 2010 issue of The Oldie.  He wrote a very similar column in April 2008 for The Catholic Herald, which is online.)

 

 

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