Judging Leaders at the Airports

Over and over again, people had to disobey lawful authority to follow the voice of their conscience. This obedience to God and disobedience to the State has, over and over again, happened throughout history. It is time again to cry out against our ‘leaders,’ to question (since it is not for us to say that they are evil) whether or not they are sane.

Dorothy Day, April 1954

Over and over again leaders face the judgment of citizens. Today thousands of citizens showed up at international airports to protest an order to block Muslims from entering the U.S.

The Bible, philosophers, Quakers, Henry Thoreau, all have plenty to say about when and how to confront authority.

If you see the extortion of the poor, or the perversion of justice and fairness in the government, do not be astonished by the matter. For the high official is watched by a higher official, and there are higher ones over them!                                  Ecclesiastes 5:8    (NET Bible)

Yet many are indeed astonished by the degree of perversion of justice in this ban.

The International Association for Refugees lists 46  Biblical instances of people forced from their homelands. [iafr.org]

The plight of refugees is one of the underlying themes in the Abrahamic traditions, yet still our leaders don’t get it. The treatment of strangers in our land is a test of our national conscience. And how we confront our leaders on this defines the values of citizens.

In this rather prophetic sentence, Day reminds us not to judge our leaders as evil, just whether or not they are sane. Wisdom from 1954 Catholic Worker.

 

And now the good news: According to Mother Jones: “A Federal Judge Just Issued A Stay Against Donald Trump’s ‘Muslim Ban’ Judge Ann M. Donnelly’s ruling halted deportations, but refugees abroad remain in limbo.”     JAN. 28, 2017 8:50 PM  [click on name for link]

 

Walking Toward God

What is the connection between walking and meditation, walking and prayer? Meditation and prayer require our mind, souls, and bodies to work together in order to bear fruit. Walking requires that our eyes and ears be open.

In The Long Loneliness, Dorothy describes her time living on Statin Island. She says, “I found myself praying, praying with thanksgiving, praying with open eyes while I watched the workers on the beach and the sunset, and listened to the sound of the waves and the scream of snowy gulls.”

“We can train ourselves to walk with reverence. Wherever we walk, whether it’s the railway station or the supermarket, we are walking on the earth and so we are in a holy sanctuary. If we remember to walk like that, we can be nourished and find solidity with each step.”

Thich Nhat Hanh, “Shambhala Sun”, August 6, 2012

 

Merry Christmas from Dorothy Day, 1936

Catholic Worker joins in appeal for democracy and peace, therefore asks you to join protest against all dictatorships, fascist and Bolshevist, against all suppression of civil liberties, fascist and Bolshevist, including freedom of religious propaganda, education, and organization, against all war, whether imperialist, civil, or class.

Merry Christmas.

Judge the Power of Prayer by the Reaction It Gets from the Powerful

Lessons from Standing Rock

“We certainly need to pray for courage these days. ‘Dear God, please deliver me from the fear of my enemies.’”  Dorothy Day 1970

Why talk about such inconsequential subjects as prayer in the time of hatred and irrationality?  We don’t have time for that.

The Standing Rock Water Protectors called on prayer as their foundation to protect their lands and our waters. People responded to their prayer: indigenous people from Hawaii, Australia, Canada, Congo, the Arctic, the Caribbean. Not only indigenous people,people of all backgrounds responded.

And government forces attacked. Again and again and again.

This is not the first time prayer had been attacked by government forces:

Aaron Mair recounts the government reaction to the Sioux Ghost Dance 1890. He relates that

The ‘Ghost Dance’ (Nanissáanah), a religious and spiritual resistance of prayer and dance was practiced by the Sioux Nation in 1890 to enlist the spirits of the dead to fight on their behalf, to make the white colonists leave, and to bring peace, prosperity, and unity to Native peoples throughout the region. Alarmed by the Ghost Dance, the United States government and local authorities sent in thousands of troops to violently put down this peaceful protest and sought the arrest Sitting Bull, who was believed to be one of the spiritual resistance leaders. The unarmed Sitting Bull was shot and killed when the attempt was made to arrest him.

Sierra Club 2016

Judge the power of prayer by the reaction it gets from the powerful.

Rev William Barber channels Dorothy Day, etc., etc.

The list of people Rev. Barber was channeling at the Dems’ convention is very, very long….back to New Testament and further.

 

Rev. Barber mentioned Dorothy Day in his speech. Small wonder.

This  is the introduction to the first Dorothy Day’s newspaper, Catholic Worker 1933:

“For those who are sitting on benches in the warm spring sunlight.

For those who are huddling in shelters trying to escape the rain.

For those who are walking the streets in the all but futile search for work.For those who think that

there is no hope for the future, no recognition of their plight, THE CATHOLIC WORKER is being

edited….”*

It burns me up what the right, Protestant and Catholic, deem Christianity all about sex and give hate-filled sermons. Churches, synagogs, mosques, are grassroots organizing places, not right-wing Hotspots.

 

 

 

*http://www.catholicworker.org/dorothyday/articles/913.html

 

 

 

 

 

An Embarrassing Hero

I saw Dorothy Day at a Mass one afternoon. She sat in a front pew with her head bowed in prayer. I had the same contradictory reaction to her that I do now, forty years later.

Her uncompromising belief in pacifism inspired everyone I worked with in the Catholic Left, activists who worked for the end of the American War in Vietnam, and for a shift in America’s attitude toward war. She is best known for her work with desperately poor people, opening Houses of Hospitality to feed and house the most marginalized in Depression America, and after. She constantly confronted the Catholic hierarchy in their neglect of the Christian message of social justice. Her stand for pacifism was absolute. Christians, she said, had no other choice.

That afternoon, what I saw in her bowed head was a piety and submission to authority that made me cringe. She once said that if the Cardinal told her to stop printing her Catholic Worker newspaper, she’d shut it down immediately. The idea of totally obedient and will-less devotion to a religious authority is a destructive medieval hold-over. It is an infantile approach to church. She was devoted to that obedience.

However, to categorize Dorothy Day as totally obedient or will-less or infantile verges on the ridiculous, and counter to everything we know about her life. So Dorothy Day, enigma, paradox, embarrassing hero, haunts my spiritual life.

This year, when a pastor was arrested for feeding homeless people outdoors in Fort Lauderdale, I swear I could see her right there. She goes to Palestine with Sherrill; she’s in jail for acts of social justice next to Paki. She is working at the Food Pantry. She is insulating walls with Richard to protect the creation she loved. She is striking with fast-food workers for a living wage. She is an unfailing guide for social justice.

But, a spiritual guide? Yes: “How can you not believe in God when there are so many beautiful things?” she asked her lover. Her beliefs about the sanctity of voluntary suffering? No. Her rigidity about women’s roles and about divorce? No. Her humbleness before church authority? No. Her humbleness before God? Yes.

I gave up this year. The only way to deal with a ghost is to face her. I’m reading what she wrote and what is written about her. I’m sitting next to her before God. The result: her paradox is becoming more pronounced – not what I was hoping for. Now the paradoxes in my own soul are clearer to me. Wandering in the celtic knot of Dorothy’s life is making me recognize the knot of my own life. Celtic knots are mysterious and beautiful, however unsettling to live with.

Who is the Most Communist Catholic? Catholic Opinion Divided!

“I quote the Gospel, they call me a Communist.” 

Pope Francis

Websites dedicated to the idea that Dorothy Day was a Communist agitator are easy enough to find.

Pope Francis and Dorothy Day are neck in neck for the title of The Most Communist Catholic. Francis took the lead when Fox News reporter Stuart Varney called him “the Obama of the Catholic Church.” To him, that’s even worse than being a Communist.

carl-marx-and-Obama conservative papers.com.

conservativepapers.com

Trying to stick a political label on Dorothy Day is futile. Feminists who came to see her were disappointed, Communists were disappointed. Because one Catholic Worker headline proclaimed “Feed the Hungry, Starve the Bankers,” probably the bankers were disappointed. She was outspokenly anti-communist. Communists believed that the good of the “masses” mattered more than the good of the person, an idea she strongly opposed. Also, they were atheist.

She kept her eyes focused on God and the “Body of Christ,” feeding poor people, caring for the most marginalized.

One thing is for sure, state control of the economy would be an anathema. Much of what she said about unemployment insurance and other programs would be hailed by Rand Paul.

If Day had any ideology, it would be, using her word, “personalism.”  Personalism is the opposite of communism and popularized in the Church by John Paul II. He summarized it as, “persons are not to be used, but to be respected and loved.”  “ (Redemptoris Missio)

Debates about Dorothy Day’s ideology already fill books and websites. They miss the point.The center of Day’s thinking was her beliefs in God, Christ living in every person, in every moment. She read the Bible every day. Whoever advanced the vision of the primacy of The Beatitudes was her companion, regardless of affiliation. She writes:

“The truth is the truth, writes St. Thomas, and proceeds from  the Holy Ghost, no matter from whose lips it comes.”

Currently there are only four communist countries in the world. Granted, China is pretty big, but it is also turning more toward capitalism. So declaring the supposed communism of gospel-inspired people is a waste of time. It detracts from the message of the kinship of all people.

These two Catholics can call themselves Aquinas-ist, aquinas pixVincent dePaul-ists, or Ezekial-ist ezekial picor Amos-ist, or Zachariah-ist, or best of all,

dd jesus volto-cristo-bologna                                                             Jesus-ists.

These are the teachings on social justice that Dorothy Day held dear.

But Communist? Marxists? No.

Political label?

She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.

Proverbs 31:20:NIV

Simple as that.