Celebrate the Living Legacy of Dorothy Day

The Dorothy Day Guild and America Media (publishers of America magazine) co-sponsored an event commemorating the 40th anniversary of the…

The Dorothy Day Guild and America Media (publishers of America magazine) co-sponsored an event commemorating the 40th anniversary of the death of Dorothy Day on Nov. 29, 2020. The event, live-streamed to more than 2,000 viewers, featured a conversation with New York Times columnist David Brooks, Comment magazine editor Anne Snyder and The New Yorker contributor Paul Elie. Robert Ellsberg hosted the event.

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0:05good evening ladies and gentlemen my name is nick sawicki and on behalf of

0:10the dorothy day guild in america media we are pleased to welcome you to this event

0:16celebrating the life of dorothy day and her legacy which continues to inspire so

0:21many 40 years after her death america is particularly pleased to partner with the

0:27dorothy day guild as well as the sheen center for thought and culture and so many other supporters who’ve made tonight’s event possible

0:35not only because dorothy day is such a pillar of american catholic faith

0:41but because she was a contributor to america for the better part of the last century

0:46always bringing her unique clarity and style that showed a real love and concern for the individuals and topics that she

0:53wrote about whether it was the daily life of a sharecropper in the 1930s in the american south

0:59whether it was railing against anti-semitism in brooklyn or whether it was sharing a unique and

1:06intimate correspondence when with an agnostic friend on matters of faith of despair

1:13and of hope dorothy day servant of god has made innumerable and

1:18incalculable contributions to so many throughout the world

1:24before welcoming robert ellsberg who will convene this evening’s conversation a few housekeeping notes

1:30we are pleased to welcome over 2000 people from around the world for tonight’s conversation from the united states the united

1:36kingdom ireland to france pakistan to korea singapore to haiti

1:41and in so many other places we welcome you and we’re glad to have you as part of tonight’s conversation

1:48uh in order to keep the conversation a little orderly this evening especially as we get

1:54uh to the question and answer period towards the end of the evening we would ask that at the bottom of your

1:59screen that you please use the q and a button which will allow you to submit your questions and for us to

2:05keep better track of them yes please do not use the chat button at

2:10the bottom but the q and a button so we can keep better track of your questions we promise to get to as many as possible

2:17but depending on the number of questions it’s unlikely that we’ll be able to answer all of them given how many folks are

2:23attending the conversation this evening additionally if you need to drop off at some point or if you know someone who’s

2:30unable to make either part or all of this evening’s conversation don’t worry this conversation is being recorded and

2:37will be shared to all registrants as well as being made publicly available at a future date finally

2:45if you would like to help lead the conversation between the church and the world i would highly encourage you to visit us

2:50at americamagazine.org for the latest news analysis and opinion

2:56on what matters most it is now my pleasure to welcome robert ellsberg publisher of

3:03orbis books to convene this evening’s conversation robert

3:08thank you i assume you can hear me all right yes embarrassing to the 2000 people

3:16listening if not uh i am very happy to welcome you to the celebration

3:23of the life and legacy of dorothy day i’m robert ellsberg the publisher of orbis

3:28books the editor of several volumes of her writings and a long time supporter for canonization

3:34it’s my pleasure to prepare the way for calling dali who will moderate the conversation with paul

3:40eli and snyder and david brooks and i’ve been asked to share some opening comments the basis

3:47for this invitation is that although i’m now growing old i was once very young and i had the privilege

3:53of knowing and working with dorothy day in the last year of her life on the opening

4:00credits there you you’ll see a young bearded version of myself with dorothy i was 19

4:07when i first arrived at the catholic worker in 1975 and dorothy was 77. i that was

4:14most remarkable to me at the time was how much interest she took in me and other young people and her

4:20ability to recognize and encourage our gifts and possibilities possibilities i should say

4:26that weren’t at all evident to ourselves after i’d only been at the catholic worker for a

4:31few months she asked me to serve as managing editor of the newspaper the task for which i

4:37had no evident qualifications and so in many ways i could not have foreseen she set me on

4:42the course of my life and vocation not just as an editor but as it turns out as the editor of her writings

4:50dorothy’s granddaughter hennessy has said that to have known dorothy day is to spend the rest of your life

4:55wondering what hit you and that was certainly my experience and 40 years after her death on this date

5:02november 29th in 1980 i still find myself trying to understand who she was and

5:08share her story with the world in many ways i’ve come to understand her

5:14much more deeply than i did when she was alive through editing her writings and particularly

5:19through editing her diaries and selected letters i learned in particular about the

5:24spirituality that was expressed in the ordinary events and encounters for daily life

5:31many people associate dorothy with dramatic actions on the public stage

5:36walking on picket lines uh refusing to take shelter during compulsory civil defense drills during

5:42the 1950s which resulted in annual stints in jail

5:47standing beside young men who were burning their draft cards during the vietnam war or being arrested for the last time at

5:54the age of 75 when she picketed with the united farm workers in california

6:00i’m sure we’re all familiar with the very famous photograph by bob fitch that shows her calmly

6:06sitting on a portable stool offset by the outline of two burly and well-armed police officers

6:13it was that image as much as anything that first attracted me to the worker of course we also associate dorothy with

6:19the daily work of the catholic worker putting out a newspaper but also living among the poor practicing the

6:26works of mercy feeding the hungry sheltering the homeless comforting the sorrowful and

6:32afflicted but reading and editing her diary showed me that those activities were only the public face of a life that

6:39was mostly spent as it is for all great souls and for the

6:44rest of us for that matter in very ordinary and undramatic activities

6:49and it was especially in that realm of ordinary daily life that she expressed her spirituality and found

6:56what you might call her path to holiness in this she was particularly inspired by

7:01her favorite saint teresa of lazio who taught what she called the little way

7:07the idea that our ordinary duties and encounters expressed in a spirit of love and in the presence of god were

7:13actually the principal arena for holiness that is the way it was for dorothy the

7:18daily exercise of patience forgiveness generosity unselfishness the

7:25struggle to curb her anger her tendency to judgment that was the real crucible of her holiness

7:32on the matter of anger someone once told dorothy to hold her temper and she replied

7:37i hold more temper in one minute than you will in your entire life

7:43in the spiritual discipline of daily life she found the courage and strength to demonstrate her faith in the public

7:49sphere and of course she believed in the social implications of teresa’s little way the power of small

7:56gestures protests we make or fail to make looking foolish by standing on a street

8:02corner with a sign for peace refusing to take shelter during the civil defense rate

8:08these were the loaves and fishes we could we can only offer the little faith and courage and hope

8:15that we possess and trust that god would make the increase that’s the way it is with the saints

8:21it’s the struggle to be faithful in small things that prepares the way for faithfulness in large matters

8:28now through her published diaries anyone can know dorothy in this way but still there are some things about

8:34dorothy that i think you could only know from spending time with her for one thing her intense curiosity and

8:41interest in life part of this came from the habits of a journalist accustomed to carrying around

8:47a notebook to jot down facts and details about the places she went the people she met she

8:54never seemed bored or jaded she was endlessly fascinated by other people

8:59where they came from what they’d read what they cared about but your favorite novel of dostoyevsky

9:05was a common opening question and i i think i told her the brothers karamazov a book i had not actually read

9:12though i was happy to learn that she agreed with me she had an ear and an eye for beauty

9:19whether in church or from the saturday afternoon opera on the radio but she noticed beauty in places that

9:26others might overlook in a piece of driftwood and the sound of a tanker on the hudson

9:31an ailanthus tree somehow clinging to life in the midst of a slum in an image of guadalupe taped on the

9:38wall of a farmworker shack she liked to quote saint john of the cross where there is no love

9:44put love and you will draw love out and that was part of her spiritual

9:50discipline to look on all people and all things with the eyes of love to train her eye to see beauty and the

9:56sacred even when it came to us in disguise once when i was fasting in a jail in

10:03colorado she sent me a postcard with an aerial photo of cape cod with the message i hope this card refreshes you

10:10and does not tantalize you for dorothy all of life was a school of

10:17charity and gratitude as she wrote there is desperate suffering with no prospect of relief

10:24but we would be contributing to the misery and desperation of the world if we fail to rejoice in the sun the

10:30moon and the stars and the rivers which surround this island on which we live

10:35and the cool breezes of the bay and what food we have and then the benefactors god sends us

10:43it’s a great spirit of adventure she was always ready for something new whether

10:48starting a house of hospitality for women or standing up to the irs when they took her to task for refusing to pay

10:55federal income taxes for war what an exasperated irs agent once asked

11:01her to estimate how much she owed in taxes she replied why don’t you just tell me what you think i owe and then i just won’t pay it

11:10regardless of how old she became there was always a youthfulness to her and she loved the idealism and energy of

11:17young people and what she called their instinct for the heroic she loved conversation around the

11:24kitchen table and sharing stories from her long life in the church in the radical movement

11:30the long loneliness ends with meditation where she says we were just sitting around talking when everything happened when

11:36peter morgan came in when lines of people began to form when someone said let’s all go and live on a farm

11:42she says it was as casual as all of all that i often think came about it just happened

11:50that’s one of the things you had to experience for yourself being around dorothy the unexpected things that could begin

11:56in a conversation is you just sat around talking the way that history or

12:01your own life could suddenly take a turn as you were just sitting around the kitchen table over a cup of coffee or a bowl of soup

12:09and she herself was always ready to be inspired and renewed in her diary she wrote no matter how old

12:16i get no matter how feeble short of breath and capable of walking more than a few

12:21blocks with all these symptoms of age and decrepitude my heart can still leap for joy as i

12:28read and suddenly ascend to some great truth enunciated by some great mind

12:34and heart and that leads me to one last thing and this comes as a surprise to many people who only

12:41know her through her dour image and photographs and that’s how much fun it was to be with her she had a tremendous

12:48sense of humor and a girlish laugh many people have described that john court who joined the catholic

12:55worker soon after graduating from harvard in the early 1930s was drawn to the worker after witnessing

13:00how much fun dorothy seemed to be having here was this woman who appeared to be pretty old at the time she was in her

13:07mid-30s who seemed to be having the time of her life and we wanted to have a share of that

13:13when you were with dorothy i hope you wanted to be a better person

13:18and then you could be a better person and that it would be tremendous fun and a great adventure to

13:25be a better person and i think that’s probably how people responded to saint francis and many

13:30other saints and now dorothy herself has been proposed as a candidate for canonization

13:39it’s become one of the most famous facts about dorothy that she wasn’t fond of being called a saint

13:44in part that i think reflected the humility that any saint would share but in large a large part of it was her

13:51desire not to be put on a pedestal to give the impression that what she did was out of the reach of ordinary people

13:58she didn’t even want to look at the canonized saints that way she talked about them as if they were her friends her contemporaries

14:06and she felt it was important that we recognize their full humanity their faults and weaknesses their doubts

14:12and uncertainties the saints were like us in all ways and they encouraged us to be more like them

14:19far from being cynical about saints dorothy believed that all christians were called to be saints

14:25that was not necessarily a matter of being canonized or having a church named after you it was

14:31about striving to conform oneself to the pattern of jesus to put off the old person

14:36and put on christ and that wasn’t something that occurred once and for all it was an

14:42ongoing process over the course of a lifetime responding to the challenges of daily

14:47life the needs of our neighbors and the demands of our moment in history

14:52that’s what she tried to do and she felt that all of us should aspire to that calling in our own way in our own circumstances

15:00and yet the church does recognize certain exceptional figures as official saints

15:06especially people who exemplify and open up a new model of holiness

15:12that speaks to the needs of our time among other things dorothy modeled a new

15:17form of holiness by joining the practice of charity with the struggle for justice

15:24even as a child when she first learned about the saints she had recognized this need for a new kind of

15:29stateliness when she asked where were the saints to change the social order

15:34not just to minister to the slaves but to do away with slavery

15:40it’s a question she answered with her own life because dorothy we would not have to ask

15:46where were the saints to change the social order she helped the church rediscover the

15:51peace message of jesus that flows directly from the works of mercy what you’ve done to the least of

15:57these you’ve done to me whether that is feeding the hungry or burning their farms and villages

16:03sheltering the homeless or killing those whom we call the enemy

16:08through her emphasis on the land and farming communities she pointed to an ecological sensibility

16:14a sense of peace and balance with the earth which is such a vital aspect of our

16:20contemporary catholic social teaching she pointed the way to solidarity the option for the poor in what pope francis

16:27envisions a poor church for the poor and she did all this as a lay person as a

16:34as a woman whose conversion was prompted by the experience of pregnancy

16:39who had experienced the joys and anguish of family life and the struggles of maintaining a large and raucous community

16:47i think particularly in our time that pope francis has offered a framework for understanding the particular

16:52kind of holiness or discipleship that dorothy represented in his emphasis on mercy on hospitality

17:00for migrants and refugees in his call to the church to open its doors and go out to those on the peripheries and

17:06the margins in his call for us to touch the wounds of christ

17:12in his plea from nagasaki to abolish the horrors of nuclear weapons in his wish for a church that is bruised

17:18and dirty from being in the streets rather than safe and clean from living in an

17:23enclosed and self-product protected bubble and all these things

17:28i hear the voice of dorothy day still in the purity of her vision and

17:34her courageous witness she continues to walk ahead beckoning the church to follow so it

17:41wasn’t surprising that pope francis should have referred specifically to dorothy day

17:47among the four great americans he cited in his speech before congress in 2015.

17:52such figures he said offer us a new way of seeing and interpreting reality and i think the church can see and

17:58appreciate those qualities in dorothy much more clearly at a distance of 40 years than was possible

18:04during her life or at the time of her death and i think that appreciation is what brings us together this evening on the

18:1040th anniversary of her death and i think of how much she speaks to us in this time of the coven 19 pandemic

18:17which has imposed the time of stillness and reflection and perhaps has made us better able to appreciate

18:23how much we are connected to one another to imagine what it would mean to fashion a world on principles of

18:29solidarity community and mercy rather than on competition division and isolation

18:36in words that speak to this moment dorothy concluded her memoir we have all known the long loneliness

18:42and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community it

18:47all happened while we sat there talking and it’s still going on

18:53and perhaps that conversation will continue this evening and with that i’m very happy to enlarge

18:59the conversation by turning the program over to colleen dulle thank you very much

19:05thank you so much robert um i’m always glad to hear your perspective as someone who knew dorothy

19:11you know you you give these little insights these stories about sitting with her and and it brings so

19:16much more depth than we’re able to just get from her writing or from photos of her even from those rare video interviews so thank you um so now

19:24i’d like to welcome our panelists we welcome david brooks who is columnist for the new york times

19:30author of the road to character and the second mountain these are two books that explore what it means to live a morally

19:35engaged life we also welcome his wife ann snyder who is editor-in-chief of comment magazine

19:41which is a journal of public theology for the common good uh she’s also involved with its partner project breaking ground which is dedicated to

19:48galvanizing the transformative power of the christian imagination in this year of crisis and finally we

19:53have paul eli who wrote the life you saved maybe your own an american pilgrimage which is

19:58an acclaimed group portrait of dorothy day walker percy flannery o’connor and thomas merton

20:04paul is a senior fellow with georgetown university’s berkeley center for religion peace and world affairs where his work

20:09revolves around the expression of religious ideas in literature the arts and culture he’s also a regular contributor to the

20:15new yorker i’m so glad to be joined by all of you thanks welcome um i’m gonna start with

20:21just kind of an introductory question so that everyone can get to know why we’re here tonight um which is what

20:27is your connection to dorothy and maybe more revealing is there anything about dorothy that you personally find

20:35that you relate to um so maybe david let’s start with you so i taught a course at yale um which

20:42was called humility because i thought it would be funny for a new york times columnist to

20:47uh and uh i taught 14 books uh including saint gusman’s confessions

20:53plato the symposium viktor frankl’s man’s search for meeting and one of the books

20:58was the long loneliness and i i really assigned books that i thought had a shot

21:03at changing my students lives and there were 14 in the books we taught over the course of the term

21:08and at the end of the term i gave a final assignment which was pick any of the 14 books

21:14you’ve written you’ve read and assigned apply it to a problem in your own life and 19 out of the 24 students in the

21:21class chose the long loneliness wow and they were transfixed by her and some of the best papers were written by

21:26orthodox jews by the way and i was wondering why were they transfixed by her as i had been which is

21:32why i assigned it first i think they they aligned with the fact that she was

21:37something of a hot mess as a young woman uh she you know she really i always say she couldn’t just read

21:44books she had to live them out and unfortunately she read a lot of dostoyevsky uh so she lived out a lot of bad stuff

21:50um but so i think they really appeal to that and that she had put herself together through

21:57surrender and that was appealing the second thing was a sense of high calling i compared her

22:05in my book to dorothea in middle march someone who from a very early age had a

22:11lofty ideals and a spiritual hunger that for a time was not met but then was met

22:17and i think the students in their idealism related to that then a sense of security which she had

22:24achieved and i think that is something they had not discovered in many of their own lives a sense of spiritual security that faith

22:31is never still but faith can provide a grounding and a foundation and i think they envied the tranquility with

22:38which she approached the end of her life and then finally a sense of not just social activism and a life

22:45dedicated to the poor but a transcendent frame for that faith and i think this was true for some of

22:50the jewish students you know moses when he sought social justice in the first instance with the persecution of the hebrews and

22:56he killed this egyptian soldier he did it outside of any moral system

23:02and it was only in the second story of you know coming in exodus that he really was within a framework

23:07and so they found all that within her and i don’t think many came to faith through her but they found

23:13just a magnetic person upon which they could really reflect on their lives and that would be true for me too

23:19thanks david um and how about you what was your introduction to dorothy and what do you connect to in her

23:26uh yeah thank you it’s really an honor to be here um i actually encountered dorothy i think

23:32through working david and i worked together on this book that became read to character and

23:38i somehow she came up as a potential exemplar so i had at that point in my life never

23:45been able to answer the question you often get asked in second grade fifth grade eighth grade onward like who’s

23:50who’s a hero um and for some reason i just never been able to answer that in sort of historically um

23:57integris way and suddenly i found someone who who’s life while i didn’t shadow it or

24:03echo it at all like exactly my own autobiography there’s something about sort of the

24:08personality of um dorothy’s prose and her i think particular pairing of um

24:17kind of personalism with sort of the learned realism um that just really intrigued me and at

24:22the time um i found myself working in journalism but i was trying to

24:28i felt like it was a very socially distance actually before that word became a thing um emotionally distant profession in

24:35many ways or at least the models immediately around me had that and i was struggling with how do i sort of embody

24:41how could what is the way of love in this profession and there was something about her um integration integration of the craft

24:48of writing with um really you know choices of self-sacrifice and choices of accompaniment with those

24:55who may have come from a different background from herself and just deep commitment um that sort of painted a pathway for how i

25:03could try to at least approximate that in my own kind of journalistic vocation um so i could say more but i think at

25:10the end of the day and we’ll probably come back to this word over and over because it manifests in a million ways in her own life but

25:16her constant striving to integrate what was often within herself a drawing to

25:22extremes extreme passions extremes and convictions extremes across

25:27left and right sometimes in our current you know sort of political categories um uh and in people and i think

25:35sort of a desire to not to not um sort of succumb to the cheapening of the

25:40categories of the world but actually to seek something deeper that was more centering

25:45you’re absolutely right but i want to come back to all of that thank you so much anne uh and paul how about yourself what was

25:51your first exposure to dorothy and how do you connect to her

25:56thanks for asking and i’m very glad to be part of this conversation i’d heard about dorothy day in college

26:02at fordham the way people hear about great catholics my real encounter came

26:08through the anthology by little and by little which robert ellsberg put together i

26:15bought it in the um [Music] a book sale in a church basement corpus christi church up near columbia

26:20university and that book which is published by konofan was

26:26given a very literary presentation with gil typeface no pictures

26:32writing as writing left a tremendous effect of what anne’s calling the integral quality

26:39of dorothy day’s life and what in the catholic and jesuit presentations we do at georgetown we

26:44talk about is the whole person here was a whole person expressing herself in prose she’s writing about

26:50mexico she’s writing about rallies she’s writing about pregnancy she’s writing a strident piece

26:57saying our country passes from undeclared war to declared war we continue our pacifist stand she’s

27:04calling out the true man truman for dropping the bomb on hiroshima

27:09and on and on and on this sense of super abundance in that volume and i um i was there and i

27:17haven’t let go since i think revisiting her work as i did just in anticipation of this

27:23event as you asked what um strikes us about dorothy day today i was

27:28struck in the sense of dorothy day as the patron saint of midlife

27:34i’m 55 when she was 55 that’s when the long loneliness came out 1952

27:40but it’s just amazing to think of all that happened subsequently that book a two-part new yorker profile

27:47the whole um air raid conflicts and civil defense actions of the 50s

27:53she goes to cuba she goes to rome and fasts for the passage or adoption of pachiman

27:59terrace and a non-violent position in the teaching of the church second vatican council myriad protests

28:06of different forms against the vietnam war uh she’s in india with mother teresa

28:13she’s in delano with cesar chavez she’s in the lower east side with the next generation of catholic workers

28:20she’s living the third half of life in her cottage and staten island and getting photographed by avedon all

28:26this happened after she was 55 and that’s an incredibly emboldening thing to realize

28:31if you’re 55 or older yeah you’re absolutely right um and

28:37you’re also right about this this super abundance of of things that lessons that dorothy offers us

28:43different uh incidents in her life that we can look into and discuss here but unfortunately we only have limited

28:49time so i wanted to zero in and uh robert mentioned earlier this

28:54parallel between dorothy and pope francis now i am a person who runs a vatican podcast for american

29:00media and so i spend a lot of my time thinking about pope francis uh i won’t ask all of you about him too

29:05much but he has been trying to teach us throughout the course of this pandemic

29:11that there’s a way for us to take this as an opportunity to stop

29:16and to reevaluate what we’re about and to undergo a process of discernment

29:22right here’s a jesuit who’s always talking about discernment but undergo a process of discernment and really figure out

29:28what is it that we see needs to change how do we want to change and then let’s

29:33go do that right let’s take this as an opportunity to reset um and dorothy offers us something

29:40similar there were a lot of similarities i think between her time and the time

29:45that birth the catholic worker movement in particular and arm time now so paul i want to throw this to you um

29:50you wrote this great biography of her and these other 20th century catholics what parallels do you see between

29:56dorothy’s time and our time now thanks for asking i mean to think about

30:02her life and to think about that period in particular is to realize that the problems of her

30:08time were the problems of ours they’re the problems of a human society that abide

30:14um you’ve got um pandemics you’ve got uh war there’s the struggle of rich and

30:20poor of urban life versus rural life and all sorts of ways of living in between

30:26you’ve got the princess of the church forming informal alliances with autocrats uh as happened

30:32um during the spanish franco period that dorothy day was put in a pinch certainly after the

30:38catholic worker was founded so those problems just are abiding and

30:44uh the poor will always be with us in a biblical sense so we have to find our own um era as

30:52solutions to those problems but look to precursors like dorothy day then more specifically and this is where pope

30:58francis comes in i think is this matter of christian personalism

31:03i’m not going to go into personalism in any detail but francis is a personalist pope the human

31:10scale is the scale that’s what christianity tells us god came to earth and became a human person

31:16the scale of things is the human scale and he’s done a particularly good job of kind of embodying that by just

31:22being a human-sized pope and what dorothy day’s life tells us again

31:28and again is how we live life at human scale in the pandemic for example

31:35a lot of us aren’t traveling as much so we have to commit to our families our neighborhoods our communities the

31:41people on whom were most directly dependent and to be really aware of that that’s something that we may have needed

31:47a pandemic to remind us but she seemed to have grasped early and maintained all along

31:53yeah that’s right um i was reading a little bit um in preparation for this conversation

31:59and i saw that ann and david you guys co-wrote an article uh talking about how dorothy you know chose to enter into

32:09crisis kind of voluntarily right enter into suffering voluntarily david you included her in a whole chapter about

32:14about suffering in your first book um and i wanted to ask you about this because you know

32:21dorothy she she did seek out suffering in that way

32:28she also spent a lot of time in in self-reflection and i wonder in a time that we’ve all

32:33been so you know forced to suffer in so many ways but also been given this

32:38opportunity to reflect um what what lessons do you think that we can learn from dorothy

32:43about self-reflection and also about choosing to enter into suffering at this time first as well

32:49speaking i was thinking about the parallels to our day and i was thinking about how the radical independence she showed

32:54because she was in the welsters of her day she was coming to faith she was she was with

33:00john dos paso she was eugene o’neill michael gold who was this very prominent marxist writer in the

33:06village and she was among them and then suddenly she came to faith which would have been the most radically unlike thing

33:12you could possibly do in that circle and a lot of them were like are you crazy what is like you’re going to join the reactionaries right and so

33:19that was a radical gesture and it was a time of great inequality

33:24and i run something called weave the social fabric project which we we hold up the dorothy days of our time

33:31uh and they are personalists in the way she is they talk about the whole person and i have a

33:36friend named pancho arguelles who’s down in houston who takes men undocumented immigrants who’ve

33:42broken their back and become uh paralyzed because of construction accidents and he gives them

33:48diapers and catheters and wheelchairs and he helps work with them to become social workers so you’ll get a dozen

33:54latino guys and wheelchairs come in your neighborhood to serve and pancho speaks in that way of he

34:01it not just a compromised life but an attempt at a pure life and i once said to pancho you know you radiate holiness and

34:08he said no i reflect holiness which is the right answer in that circumstance um i sometimes wonder whether dorothy

34:16suffered too much it’s not it’s presumptuous to me to judge but and i i think she did have what they

34:23called the duty to delight and as richard said she was apparently very fun to be around but in the diaries i see such suffering

34:31i see such separation with her daughter uh and even in jail when she’s arrested for

34:37being a suffragette such self-recrimination and to be honest i think she suffered more

34:44than she needed to out of an excessive desire for purity that’s my honest opinion but you do get the benefits of that

34:51suffering paul tillich says suffering interrupts your daily life and reminds you you’re not the person you thought you were

34:58and until it writes suffering carves through what you thought was the floor of the basement of your soul

35:03and it carves below that and reveals a cavity below and occurs below that and reveals the cavity below so there is a depth of suffering people

35:10don’t come out of that kind of suffering with empty hands she came out with full hands and so i i

35:15do think she exemplifies it but you know there are some people who like there’s a great contrast between

35:22samuel johnson the the british writer and montaigne not quite the same

35:27time but roughly and samuel johnson was like i’m a sinner i’m a sinner and i’m a sinner

35:32and montaigne was like hey i’m good i’m good no i’m fine i’m a good guy and my students when we read them said

35:40uh samuel johnson is an east coast rapper and montana is a west coast raptor if you get that reference um and so uh but dorothy day was it was

35:48east coast she was a sufferer uh and i wish somebody had been around

35:54to say um contentment because i i i just feel you feel bad for her for

36:00all that she put herself through not only that she’s volunteered for but all that she put herself through

36:06yeah i think that robert has also pointed out in some of his writings that dorothy wrote as an escape right so part

36:13of it is that she’s kind of processing a lot of her negative feelings and i remember being so surprised when i

36:18started hanging out with the catholic workers in new york and suddenly learning that dorothy was this fun person with this killer sense

36:24of humor because i had just read her books and been like oh she’s she’s kind of a miserable person people

36:31go to their prayer journal and say hey i’m awesome today right exactly especially not catholics

36:36um and i wanted to ask you about this personalism that david just brought up and that you brought up earlier

36:42um and what it’s taught you i mean we’re all people in journalism here but what it’s

36:48taught you about your writing because i know that you said that it’s had an impact on you

36:54love her personalism um and just actually paul triggered something when he was well when you were asking about pope francis

37:00in the context of personalism i i pulled up but one of my favorite quotes of his um

37:06that i think is very in tune with in many ways is sort of a mirror to how dorothy lived her life again both

37:12journalistically but but more importantly sort of her everyday life um and i’m just going to read it here it’s from his very famous

37:18interview but way back in 2013 and in america magazine um it’s just this little section where he goes where

37:24he says um he’s actually being he’s he’s being asked a question about contemporary journalism and he answers um

37:30when i insist on the frontier i am referring in a particular way to the need for those who work in the world of

37:36culture to be inserted into the context in which they operate and on which they reflect there is always the lurking danger of

37:43living in a laboratory i am afraid of laboratories because in the laboratory you take the problems and

37:49then you bring them home to tame them to paint them out of their context you cannot bring home the frontier

37:55but you have to live on the border and be audacious and that sort of quote has always like

38:01deeply inspired me and i think you know day herself her entire life is a model of that but

38:06somewhat in her desire to go to the margins to always be on the edge of the inside um she just was so committed i think in

38:14part because of her spiritual disciplines whether it was daily mass prayer these journals

38:20as well as just the discipline of living within the annoyances of true community and the inconveniences of it but through

38:26it all she just really kept the dignity of souls front and center whole person as paul said earlier and i

38:34think especially in our current moment and i say this as someone who’s in a different form of media now but

38:40still in that in that world where you’re writing about others you know we are just in this moment

38:46culturally in the u.s in particular where labels lead and shame cells and i just find her both very basic

38:54in many ways but also deeply sacred um personalism as radical and morally

39:00directive as it ever was um so i think you know there’s um there’s just and

39:07this is perhaps maybe part of her being females on and we may talk about that later but she

39:12just she always put persons before issues um and was more interested in sort of the

39:18complexities of a particular human being or the texture and smells of chestnuts on the streets and all of

39:24those sort of almost uh sort of artistic and scent uh what’s the word i’m looking for a

39:30sensual sensuous i always get those too confused but essentially sort of portrait of reality to complexify

39:36um the ideological portrait or the statistical portrait and i just i continue to think we need a

39:43lot more of that in our certainly in our journalism but i think more more broadly in our public

39:48life where sort of the honoring of persons is primary um to any other assumptions you may make

39:55or judgment calls etc yeah i mean to maybe use another word from the christian tradition she’s

40:01everything about her life and her writing is incarnational right she believes in you know she

40:07believes in a god who became a person and that’s clear in her life too she’s not willing to just have

40:13ideas be you know what she has motivate her what she has motivating her is is going

40:19out in the street is being with people is is the sense of community um

40:24you’ve gotten at an uh this idea of dorothy’s integrated life how she kind

40:31of much like pope francis paul paul was saying uh she transcends a lot of the binaries a lot of the

40:38tensions that i think our polarized society uh pushes us towards uh this is a question for kind of

40:44everyone on on the panel so whoever wants to take it can um i i wonder about you know

40:52how we can express the manner in which dorothy was able to integrate opposing

40:58viewpoints because i think there’s a few different models for us here you know you can either say oh i’m

41:03holding them in tension or you can say dorothy was focused on something else um you know she was focused on the

41:10person on the poor and so this helped her transcend these binaries um or you know some people offer a model

41:16of trying to make a synthesis by taking the best of each i i wonder how all of you might express

41:21the way that dorothy was able to do that and and what kind of model that offers us for today when we’re also faced with

41:28you know a society that pushes us towards these these uh these oppositions

41:37it’s a big question i know i’ll first i feel like i should throw

41:43the ball but i’ll go first uh the one thing you know in the 60s on

41:49some sense she was very much on the left uh the anti-war movement etc uh but in

41:55culturally she was not a hippie uh and she did not like the idea of using the dixie cup for the eucharist

42:02and and she was not an antinomian she was she believed in sin uh and so in that

42:09way she cut across i think one of the interesting things way she cuts across and has even been evident in our conversation here

42:14is between the sense of personal service and systemic change and that her ability to be on both sides

42:21of that equation is a rare ability and she clearly was in personal service

42:27but also she was there to um

42:33to the suffragette to the the peace movement do the pacifism do real big systemic change and one of

42:39the things that’s struck me about her in my book i sort of mentally paired her with francis perkins

42:45who was the first labor secretary under fdr and also spent a life of service

42:50but in politics and that’s what we usually think of as systemic change and in a life of politics compromises

42:57everything and getting your hands dirty is everything and working with bad actors

43:02and taking the responsibility of the situation on yourself and dirtying yourself while doing half measures and dave was

43:10not like that so these are two different versions one is holding up the lofty ideal

43:16and marching for a just cause and the other is getting your hands dirty i think both these roles are necessary in systemic change

43:23and she was just a rare person who did both personal service and that kind of structural change that

43:30a lot of people are trying to to do today she kind of raises a question for me of

43:36if you can do one without the other credibly

43:42great question not a question to be to be answered uh paul did you have

43:47anything that you wanted to add on that last one though well thinking about binaries i i’m not

43:53quite sure what ones you mean but that’s not i’m fret about that what’s striking about dorothy day’s life

44:01is how um it reminds us that binaries existed you know in prior ages too

44:06and that she uh actively had to push past them the story of her life in the late teens

44:13and early twenties was a she was living um in the village and there was

44:18what malcolm kelly called the war between war and bohemia between the bohemians and the radicals

44:25and the radicals wanted to change society along communist lines and the bohemians

44:31wanted to kind of live free and challenge social norms without a thorough going

44:37revision of society and these two positions were in uneasy coexistence and dorothy day

44:44felt some attraction to both of them but what she noticed about the radical position is that the

44:49radicals who were intellectually in solidarity with the poor weren’t actually socially in solidarity

44:55with the poor the poor were to be found in the catholic church so she wanted to be joined actually to

45:01the poor and so kind of stepping out of one set of binaries and ignoring what david alluded to earlier

45:08the fact that the catholic church in in doctrine and in theory was aligned with the powers and principalities

45:14she went there because that’s where the poor were to be found at some point there’s nothing no accounting for

45:21it other than human stubbornness and determination and that brings us back to personalism

45:26no trend created dorothy day she didn’t wait for circumstances to be propitious for a

45:32social movement of the kind that she had a priori envisioned she kind of went

45:38and got it done and and pushed through and that’s a really powerful model for us we can’t

45:45wait for the right circumstances we just we’ve got one life uh the clock is ticking

45:50and we’ve got to get busy yeah you’re absolutely right and this is one of the things that always

45:55strikes me when i’m at the catholic worker is you know it’s it’s however much you want

46:01to read these these big ideas of shorties and everything and the end of peter morin’s right

46:06um when you get there you’re put to work and it’s you know when you ask people at

46:12the worker what they do they say i do whatever needs to be done and that’s something that i think

46:17like it’s a really powerful lesson for for us today who i mean at least i

46:23myself tend to get to get lost in these these idea debates and it’s like well actually

46:29just go out and do the work um i want to ask you all about loneliness

46:35which dorothy wrote a lot about uh in her book called the long loneliness obviously

46:40um and she writes at the end of the long limit loneliness that uh quote we have all

46:46known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community and

46:52yet right now we’re in a time of isolation community can seem like it’s in short supply or it’s only

46:58mediated by zoom which has you know it opens us up so that we can have conversations with 2000 people but also

47:04it limits us and that it’s it’s you know it’s not sitting around the table at the catholic worker um

47:11and so i wonder how do we build community how do we build a sense

47:16of solidarity in this time of isolation what does dorothy have to teach us about that

47:25she was an interesting mixture of of the aloof personality type of a writer

47:30uh with the the tremendous hunger for community you know she lived with people all

47:36around her all the time and but you had the sense she had that was not her default i often tell young journalism students if you um

47:43are a football game and everybody’s doing the wave and you just sit there and don’t do the wave then you have the right kind of aloof

47:49personality type to be a journalist because we don’t actually do anything we just sit back and watch other people do things and she did have a little of that

47:56personality but knew that was not the life she was called and not the life that god asked her to do um and so she had the

48:03advantage of and the challenge of being with people now in our circumstance

48:09uh it’s hard i wrote a piece for the atlantic on social trust that i worked on for several months in the

48:14beginning i it was going to be the year that made america because i thought this was

48:20a a time of coming together and supporting each other

48:25and in especially in march and april there was a sense that neighbors were getting to know each other families were getting to know each

48:31other there was a sense of cultural communion we were all going through an experience together

48:36i have to say there’s no evidence to support the idea this has been good for at least american society

48:42there’s plenty of evidence to suggest this has been very terrible for american society because we did not at the end of the day

48:47come together partly because of our political divisions but also because of our social divisions and because of a pervasive whale of

48:54distrust we are a more fractured society than we’ve ever been

48:59and that’s partly i think because of the emotional trauma being alone and partly for a lot of underlying

49:06structural reasons and so i do think rather than look at

49:11this as a time when dorothy day style community was built it was a time when dorothy daystail was estranged

49:18and we just have to go into 2021 without realism

49:23and take her radical commitments as a model the commitments to the to the houses to

49:29the centers to the worker but also the her personal commandments one of the most amazing

49:34thing about her is at the end of her life when her love great love interests forced her has

49:40this woman he’s living with the ned who’s dying of cancer and he sort of gets at a dodge

49:47and asks her to take care of her and even that radical act of compassion which she does and nurses nanette to her

49:54death that’s the small act that leads to to the rebuilding of community

50:00emerson said souls were not saved in bundles they’re saved one by one and it’s it’s that sort of act that

50:05we’re called on to do whenever this is over uh because we not only have to heal the

50:10division that we walked into kovit with but the the open wounds

50:16that have been exposed by it thanks david i’m always the life of the

50:24party uh anna paul did you want to add anything on that point

50:30i guess you know i would say in person obviously i think we would all agree everyone here

50:36that it’s just been a very challenging year to be creative in terms of how to

50:41um you know how to be hospitable in a way that isn’t putting others at risk and um how to

50:48celebrate a public sacrament uh be that a wedding or a funeral and you know

50:53just like all all the sort of standard modes of love and conviviality and memory and

50:59all of those kind of sacred monuments all that has been made much more difficult although people have creatively found

51:05ways virtually um i’m lucky in that i um

51:10you know i steward a magazine and so i’ve just tried my best this year to think about

51:15ways in which what is the pain that needs to be brought to speech and we’ve not just the pandemic this year but in

51:20the us again you know there’s this huge white more sort of more widespread racial reckoning

51:27um uh i think deeper questions around character of leadership and just and the

51:33sense sort of meaning of life type questions going around and i was talking to a friend on thanksgiving

51:39day saying i bet this year in a in a maybe counter-intuitive way people’s thanksgiving tables as they go around

51:45and say what they’re grateful for are probably more pronounced and poignant and in some ways heartfelt than

51:50previous years just because we’ve all been sort of thrust back to the rudimentary to really appreciate the rudimentary

51:56things of life like trust like hugs like um um

52:02uh you know all sorts of things that i think we we see that have been revealed this year for being as vital as they are

52:08to pure societal survival so i think there’s i’ve my question just editorially and trying

52:14to answer your questions sort of how do you try to build a sense of community is to point people towards more inviting

52:20questions about their own lives in the society in which they live and to also be giving plenty of voice for the very

52:26real grief out there that often is vague but just needs some time to kind of crystallize and

52:31somehow in that bar dorothy’s phrase i think she always talked about writing being an active community to try to allow

52:38people to feel accompanied wherever they are whether it’s through words images um

52:43and yeah so that’s just one way and i think each of us probably in different vocations whether they be very physical or more

52:49cerebral um have a way to answer that question what is the way of love and um in this

52:58task not the best known um episode from dorothy day’s life but

53:05she was a front-line worker in a pandemic that’s right county hospital during the influenza

53:11pandemic emptying bed pans changing sheets uh caring for patients

53:18accompanying the dead bodies out to the makeshift morgues of that time and there’s no question that it had a

53:25deep effect on her she she described the sacrament of discipline that it initiated into her the combination of a

53:33strict schedule and service that was at once a gift and a requirement let’s say

53:39i think we as a society are looking for a lot of cheap grace from this pandemic we’re thinking the pandemic will change

53:46us that’s not how things work people people are changed by events but

53:51it happens individually and happens over decades let’s hope that there’s a dorothy day or

53:57two out there who the experience of frontline work um is an initiation into the sacrament of

54:03discipline on the level of depth that it was for her but we can’t really expect that

54:08we’re going to just be changed by this experience whether um whether me or pope francis

54:14it’s just too easy to move i think and i don’t think dorothy would expect that

54:22um i wanna invite our uh viewers at home to submit questions using the q a button

54:28we’ll be uh moving that to that in just a minute um i do wanna

54:33kind of do a a little practice here um of something that that dorothy often

54:39had to remind herself to do which is is the duty of delight as our last question before we move into uh move into our audience

54:46questions so i wanted to just go around and ask you know dorothy often sought beauty especially in situations

54:54of ugliness situations of pain of suffering which is certainly the situation that that many of us find ourselves in

55:00this year um so as a last question for each of you where why are you seeing

55:05beauty these days what are you delighting in these days

55:12i just find myself a lot i think i’m hopefully speaking for everyone watching here and and on this channel but i just find

55:18myself so much more attentive to details that i wasn’t previous often details in nature

55:24sometimes idiosyncrasies in my husband um the arc of a frisbee just like i think um moments of grace

55:32sort of in physical things i i’m cutting a lot more flowers than normal and rewriting them over and over

55:38um but i think just sort of the aesthetic the aesthetic of the natural world um

55:43including other human beings and i just finding my sort of observational sense

55:49just much more ponderous and there has been a lot of gratitude in that it’s just seeing life

55:58i think this the social commitments that we’re seeing in this moment are beautiful uh

56:05basically this summer when the commercial power uh i mean so much

56:12of our public space is devoted to commerce and when a lot of that was withdrawn because of the pandemic

56:18into that public space surged people calling out for justice against police brutality the use of

56:24force state-sponsored violence this is a beautiful thing to see our streets

56:30alive with people uh claiming individual agency to speak out against social injustice

56:36and then to see 80 million people voting for one candidate 74 million people voting for the other

56:42candidate to see people stepping up to vote for the first time it’s a beautiful thing

56:48and on on those two levels this level this kind of social engagement

56:54is something to behold and i would say one of the most

57:00spiritually beautiful moments i’ve ever read is a dorothy day story probably everybody on this call knows but i love telling it and i probably

57:06read it in paul’s book but it was the time at the end of her life when she was asked if she would write a memoir by

57:12robert coles and she said she sat down and she wrote a life remembered and she

57:18and then she said i thought of the lord and his visit to us all those many centuries ago and i was just grateful to have had him

57:24on my mind all that time and that’s that moment of of rest and tranquility

57:29is a just a spiritually beautiful moment and so i think she’s inspired many

57:35people with with episodes like that i would say in my life previously traveling around

57:42with this weave project there are a lot of dorothy days out there they’re not quite like her but

57:47they’re a bit like they’re you go into any community and you land and say who’s trusted here

57:54and you find people who are living lives for others

58:00uh and we are we ann and i have a friend named jimmy durrell who lives in waco texas who’s a pastor

58:05and he lives literally of the homeless shelter and is attached to his house and he uh one wanted to serve the

58:13homeless the church the homeless didn’t come to church so he he took the church to the homeless and he has a church called

58:18church under the bridge in waco texas uh where he under a highway overpass he was running

58:24a church and so you meet these people and they’re out there and so that element of just human

58:31service and living as jesus wanted us to live is is

58:36prevalent and untalked about and as somebody who works for the new york times

58:43it is our shame on us that we don’t cover these people enough because we have a broken model of social

58:49change which is that it’s our job to expose the problems of the world it’s not our job to expose the solutions to the world

58:56and so we have this focus on the negative but those people are out there and i’m sure everyone on this call

59:02has those people in their lives and the final thing i’ll say just about this year is i think all of us

59:09have rediscovered natural beauty i i was on a panel last summer with a

59:14woman named kate bowler who has stage four cancer and is living with it and there was a guy in the audience who

59:22has stage four cancer and is more in peril right now and he just rose the audience said i’m

59:29i’m like you i’ve got stage four cancer and she said what’s it like he said i just find i’d like to be outside more

59:37and through covet i think we’ve all spent more outside and i even yesterday i was taking a walk and beautiful the

59:42sun was setting the the sun the rays were coming through the tree trunks and i’m of course walking with my phone

59:49uh and i look up from twitter and i see this awesome natural beauty i think we’ve all had moments like that

59:55and um that we couldn’t appreciate before because we weren’t stuck in one place

1:00:02yeah um you mentioned that there are so many dorothy’s out there i

1:00:08want to just take a moment to acknowledge our gratitude for all the catholic workers who are on this

1:00:14call today who are actually putting this work into action um and and living out dorothy’s legacy in a

1:00:20way that that the rest of us can can only hope to do a fraction of um so very very grateful for them so

1:00:27let’s pivot to taking some questions from the audience um

1:00:33one of the first things maybe paul you might you might be the person to answer this since i think you’ve

1:00:38read the most of her writings out of everyone on this panel um someone asked i think fear is one of the

1:00:44things that is preventing formation of real communities today what can you tell us about dorothy’s approach to the idea of fear

1:00:53does anything come to mind you know i’m tempted just to say she was fearless

1:01:00but um what’s easy to lose sight of because canonization is

1:01:07in process is just how unpopular some of the positions she took

1:01:12um to begin at the end you know there are a number of people from the catholic workers community now

1:01:18who are about to enter prison for an act of protest against nuclear weapons in

1:01:24georgia the king’s bay bioshare seven and their story is not um prominent uh their suffering is gonna go

1:01:31largely unrecorded in the media uh but it’s directly in line with the principles of the catholic worker and

1:01:37the life of dorothy day and to think of them is to be reminded of just how marginal and

1:01:42how unpopular dorothy day was in her time if she was looking for something that

1:01:48would scale or something that would pull well uh none of this ever would have happened

1:01:54so i don’t know how she dealt with fear or what she wrote about fear in her diaries

1:01:59but at some level she was bold enough to step beyond the natural human fears and

1:02:05say this is what i’m called to do this is what the gospel says to do this is what we ought to do and now

1:02:12let’s go and do it um and you mentioned maybe you wanted to

1:02:18talk about uh dorothy and her her perspective on womanhood there’s a question here that’s coming

1:02:25from someone anonymous so i can’t get their name uh but they said it was mentioned that

1:02:30dorothy’s pregnancy played a major role in her conversion would someone please talk more about that and how she

1:02:35viewed her abortion um i wonder if you could talk about maybe what she said about pregnancy and also

1:02:40uh what she said about or or how she’s affected you and your perception of

1:02:46womanhood um yeah well david i think is probably better on the um the pregnancy and abortion piece so i’ll

1:02:53i’ll let him handle that although she did famously i think she um when she gave

1:02:59birth uh to her daughter she somehow either before she must have decided this

1:03:04before a childbirth occurred but she noticed that um all the accounts of childbirth were written by men and she thought she

1:03:10might be good to change that so i uh uh i think david and my right like 45 minutes after the

1:03:16umbilical cord was cut um she just sat down and wrote the entire sort of experience

1:03:21physically the sort of the earthquake and the fire and the all the sensations um as well as the extraordinary joy of

1:03:28seeing her daughter for the first time so i always loved that little story and love that she kind of pioneered

1:03:35an essay on the subject as a woman experiencing it um you know i think

1:03:41she’s interesting to me because she was so formidable in many ways um like i see her as a woman at least

1:03:49publicly of such spine which isn’t to say that you can’t be that way as a woman but i think there’s i also in

1:03:55that i also see there’s something like very distinctively feminine in the gift she brought to bear

1:04:01in her writing and work there was um i mean like she’s almost like a edith stein kind of um feminine genius

1:04:08um she led with sort of a and wrote with this concreteness and an incarnationalism has been already

1:04:15named and this personalism that just tends to be more female territory than

1:04:20male instinct obviously i’m generalizing but um i think in many ways

1:04:26she was both in her voluntary poverty and building of these houses of hospitality

1:04:32a womb for other souls or if she herself wasn’t because she did have this writerly desire i think sometimes to self-isolate

1:04:39and get away from everybody she at least created space for these kind of nurturing formative wombs for

1:04:45souls both poor and well-equipped to be together um and in many ways the fact that she saw

1:04:51writing as an active community was sort of the most feminine definition bringing a relational instinct to and

1:04:58from the ink on the page um so yeah that’s how david you might have

1:05:04more insight into the actual sort of pregnancy in her and that being in literally and figuratively sort of an

1:05:11incubator for her final leap of faith i his date with paul in the club so

1:05:17paul can correct me um my memory is that she did want to write an account of

1:05:22giving birth and i think she wrote it for the new masses if i’m not correctly which is a left-wing magazine at the time

1:05:28and she wrote about the pain the fire of pregnancy the fire of delivery and then i’m gonna botch the quote but

1:05:34the climax comes and she said if i had painted the greatest painting sculptured the

1:05:40greatest sculpture or written the greatest symphony i could not have felt the more exalted creator than i did when they placed my child in my

1:05:46arms with that came a vast floods of love and joy and a need to

1:05:52thank someone a need to express gratitude and of course the person she expressed gratitude to was

1:05:58jesus unto god and that was her coming of faith i hope i haven’t mangled that story paul i’m doing it from memory but it was

1:06:06right a moment of faith through gratitude now you can tell me i’ve got it all wrong i think you got it right i guess what i

1:06:14um remember exploring in my own book was how that the gratitude that

1:06:20then applied in so many areas was especially concentrated at that moment because she thought she might not be

1:06:27able to get pregnant it was an unexpected situation for her

1:06:32and the the gratitude she felt was itself unexpected she had a gratitude so large that she

1:06:38could not account for it without expressing it in terms of of god and so that um so so so much that

1:06:46followed flowed from that deep sense of gratitude for life

1:06:51for motherhood being being tied up with creation and the creator and and she kind of went and acted on

1:06:58that you know for the next 43 years or whatever it was

1:07:07um i want to ask y’all about uh we have a question from mark murray who says uh teresa therese elizio was

1:07:14famously one of dorothy’s spiritual anchors who were her other spiritual anchors

1:07:25i think teresa of avila was no she she named her daughter to mar teresa and said that she

1:07:31uh she had pulled that name from both i believe paul you might see my correctness meant

1:07:37a lot to her a whole whole bunch of other saints and one of the most powerful

1:07:42aspects of the catholic worker then and now is the way the lives of the saints are represented visually

1:07:48in the newspaper it’s kind of like saying the lives of the saints are news and dorothy day both in her writing and

1:07:55in her life made it feel that way she cycled through different scenes at different uh points just because i’m

1:08:02a writer i think so much about how much different writers meant to her again and

1:08:08again in the course of her life she would either pull herself out of depression or

1:08:13gird herself for a big challenge by reading a great novel dostoevsky dickens tolstoy

1:08:20lesser-known works like bread and wine by celine she just so those

1:08:27politically engaged spiritually alive writers were also really significant figures for her and

1:08:33they just show up all all through her work if if you’re paying attention

1:08:39um this might be a bigger discussion so maybe i’ll throw in some follow-up questions here but

1:08:45someone simply asked what is the role of personalism in addressing social justice and i think

1:08:50what they’re probably getting at is you know this this personal relationships with people that dorothy

1:08:56was very focused on how how does that relate to the process of

1:09:01of big social change of also being the saints who want to change the social order as robert said earlier

1:09:06i wonder if any of you wanted to offer any insights on that somebody once said that personalism is

1:09:12an alternative it’s the it’s the transcendent middle ground between individualism on the one hand and collectivism on the other

1:09:18hand and so but and personalism is between and rises above uh those two and it’s of course built on

1:09:24the dignity of the human person of the whole person and so if you conduct a a policy as as

1:09:30if each human being has an infinite and equal soul and that becomes the foundation of your

1:09:37policymaking then your attitude shorts poverty or certain things your attitudes

1:09:42toward even realism and foreign policy are certain things and so it really is to me it’s

1:09:49it’s a separation of a lot of our usual categories of thought

1:09:55uh and an orientation around the dignity of the human being and john jp2 was of course another

1:10:02leading personalist philosopher and a lot of that grows out of his reaction to communism

1:10:07right it also reminds me of um in his most recent encyclical fertility tutti pope francis talks about how every

1:10:16social transformation begins with meeting a person and having having a

1:10:21sit-down discussion with them having a personal relationship with someone who’s different from you and he says it’s in getting to know someone that you

1:10:28then get to know the social issues that affect them and it’s by you know starting to love

1:10:33them in that context that then leads you to want to to work to transform the social structures

1:10:40that might be unjust to them or whatever um we are just about out of time

1:10:46and are gonna transition back to robert but i wanted to ask if anyone had anything that they wanted to add before we do that

1:10:56just following what you said colleen and david the uh for dorothy day uh the personal scale

1:11:05it didn’t take much explaining she wrote an essay about kissing a leper twice that’s what personalism was

1:11:12the leper in front of you was the leper in the gospels the poor person in front of you was jesus and you would resist every

1:11:20attempt to kind of scale it up you just keep things on that scale and she was opposed to large parts of

1:11:25the new deal because they didn’t um involve the works of mercy performed at a personal sacrifice

1:11:31so i think she’s a great reminder that we we shouldn’t look to um scale out our

1:11:37social justice efforts uh personalism is the way as far as she’s concerned one-on-one

1:11:43and keep keep doing it that way that’s right she’s i’m sorry i’ve got something through it um but yeah you’re right she’s she’s

1:11:50opposed to all forms of of bigness right that’s you know big business on one hand big government on the other

1:11:56she’s she’s content to you know work with the people who show up at the door and and give the person in front of them

1:12:02what they need um and that’s that’s entirely her model robert uh can i bring you back to maybe

1:12:08fill in any gaps that we’ve left as as somebody who who knew dorothy personally

1:12:13and maybe close out our evening thanks happy to fill the gaps i i really enjoyed this

1:12:21conversation there were so many places where i would have liked to to jump in but i think everybody uh handled the

1:12:28questions very well i i think that you know the question that was raised on how does dorothy would you

1:12:34relate to our time today uh which is so interesting and uh

1:12:40among other things one of the latest things that i i’ve just edited is uh is her columns from the 1960s uh

1:12:46which will appear in the spring of the title on pilgrimage the 60s there was an

1:12:52early edition of that but i redid the whole thing and re-edited it and what struck me uh very much you know

1:12:58referring to a lot of the events that paul uh referenced you know that happened uh

1:13:03in the latter part of her life what an exciting time that was uh and in some ways in the 60s you see

1:13:11dorothy kind of uh the world catching up with her uh away in a way and as you know david

1:13:17pointed out i think responding to her radicalism and her protest uh there were not that many uh models

1:13:25of people of her generation or uh catholics or you know christian leaders you know who are on

1:13:30the front lines they’re being arrested and standing in solidarity with draft resistors that sort of thing

1:13:35marching with the civil rights with the civil rights movement or the the farm workers

1:13:40but he david was also right that that she was not a a 60s person she was not one of those

1:13:48radicals later who was nostalgic for the wonderful 60s and the spirit of just rebellion and

1:13:55counterculture and in fact she was quite resistant to aspects of of of that

1:14:01culture which meant that uh that in the 60s just like every other time

1:14:07she didn’t quite uh fit into the usual binary categories as has been

1:14:14uh pointed out uh and you see in the sixties uh her responding uh so much to the

1:14:20to the events of of her time uh including you know going to cuba in 1962

1:14:27just before the the missile crisis going to rome during the second vatican council uh going south uh to uh cover write

1:14:35about the civil rights movement but dorothy was never somebody who just

1:14:40uh was uh in favor of protesting for the sake of protesting or

1:14:46just announcing all the things you’re against and i think that’s an aspect of dorothy day and the catholic worker

1:14:52that people don’t focus on enough because we we we know about her work with the

1:14:58the the works of mercy which she shares with many other religious congregations mother teresa

1:15:05everybody franciscans uh and we know that one of the unique things that she did

1:15:10was to join that with uh resistance and protest against a system that gave rise to so

1:15:18much poverty and injustice so the protest what she was against and what she did with the works of mercy

1:15:25we focus on those things uh but there’s the third element maybe it’s the part that kind of peter morin

1:15:30brought into the catholic worker i think which is this uh question of what are you for

1:15:37what is the alternative society that you were trying to work toward and her

1:15:42personalist approach to that was not to just create a new uh bureaucracy or structure or institution

1:15:49organization to embody that but that we should begin where we are now

1:15:55to live by the values that we would like to see uh in place whether that’s you know involves non-violence uh

1:16:01community generosity solidarity uh so i think those those three things are

1:16:07kind of the ingredients of of of the catholic worker soup if you want you want to call it that one thing i wanted to respond to was uh

1:16:14david’s reference to her maybe inordinate uh

1:16:20suffering uh that she uh and of course you know people pointed out that she also had a capacity for joy

1:16:26and humor and that sort of thing um but i i think of dorothy really as the complete

1:16:32kind of woman of the beatitudes uh pope francis has said that’s a

1:16:37christian’s identity card a job description you want to call it that

1:16:42and you could look through every each of those beatitudes which is the program that jesus laid out or the

1:16:48description of the the qualities or virtues of of of discipleship

1:16:54and each one of them uh she didn’t just live that but she kind of enlarged our

1:16:59understanding of what that might mean if you look at you know blessed are the poor in spirit for instance

1:17:04and how that relates to our time uh to model a a non-acquisitive uh

1:17:11you know value uh of letting go of the kind of uh grasping you know ego

1:17:18that drives so much of our economy and so much of our culture or if you look at um blessed are those

1:17:25who mourn now that doesn’t just mean that you’re sad all the time here’s somebody who

1:17:30has the gift of tears or something but i think it’s it’s very much in terms of what pope francis has talked

1:17:35about in a person whose heart is open and vulnerable

1:17:40to the pain of the world and does not have we is not driven by that kind of

1:17:46self-protective uh impulse uh to uh shut out or desensitize ourselves

1:17:54to things that are just too hard to think about and dorothy never insulated herself from

1:18:02uh the suffering of the world around her uh but it was you know in that spirit of where where there’s no love you know put love

1:18:08you’ll call love out uh that the response to that was not just to be depressed

1:18:14uh but to uh you know to invite the world into your heart and and

1:18:20and and share with the world uh you know the love that is there and of course you know

1:18:25blessed are the the peacemakers uh blessed are those who uh hunger for god’s righteousness

1:18:33blessed blessed are the meek i think of dorothy also always referring to pope francis

1:18:38but but in her criticism and people have mentioned this of big institutions uh

1:18:46big movements trying to make a big impact this is one

1:18:53of the places where she differed i think from the spirit of the 60s where she felt that spirit of protest

1:18:59and of just focusing entirely on what you were against would create a sense of frustration and

1:19:05desperation and a kind of escalation in in tactics as people felt that it has to be a

1:19:11bigger meet uh rally it has to involve you know getting a fight with the police or the hardhats or something

1:19:18uh they involve offending people with letter words making drawing attention to yourself

1:19:25publicity bigness whereas everything about her was about the power

1:19:30of small means individual means personal conscience uh standing on a

1:19:36street corner by yourself uh sitting in the city hall park during the civil defense drills

1:19:41uh i think again like pope francis who’s two of his great mottos are

1:19:48are reality is more powerful than ideas uh and for dorothy that meant that she

1:19:56really wasn’t all that interested in in ideologies or abstract kind of

1:20:01concepts she was much more interested in how ideas were lived out by by people

1:20:07i’ve told this story many times but the first time i met dorothy and i tried to make an impression on her i said uh

1:20:14i was 19. you know forgive me how do you reconcile anarchism and catholicism and she just

1:20:19looked at me and said it’s never been a problem for me and i think if i’d asked her

1:20:25to talk about the anarchism of sacramento or tolstoy or something like that she

1:20:30would have had a lot to say about that but she wasn’t this kind of ideological thinker the other uh line of pope francis that resonates

1:20:37so much is that time is more powerful than space and many in the radical movement or in

1:20:44other movements whatever are focused on on seizing power of having the high

1:20:49ground of commanding you know the forces uh whereas pope francis and dorothy had

1:20:56this idea that planting seeds setting processes in motion

1:21:01uh that will perhaps flower bear fruit in ways that we can’t imagine you know is will

1:21:07ultimately carry the day so in a lot of ways

1:21:13a person of step with many of the values of her time and of our time uh

1:21:19but precisely for that reason i think somebody who who still remains so radical and hard to box in to our

1:21:27categories whether political or or religious

1:21:32yeah certainly thank you so much robert and thank you to all our panelists um robert i know that you had just one

1:21:38closing message uh about the dorothy day guild i see some people asking about it in the comments um so maybe you can wrap

1:21:46us up and then we’ll get out of here i i do want to acknowledge uh the comments that have come in from many people who’ve

1:21:52said they wish that uh you know actual members of the catholic worker community were uh part of this uh

1:21:58conversation and i i would be very remiss if i did not encourage people who are interested in supporting

1:22:04dorothy’s work and mission to reach out to the catholic worker uh whether in new york or in your local community and you can find out more

1:22:11about uh the catholic worker and how to make those kind of contacts through the dorothy guild and for those

1:22:18who are interested in promoting the legacy of dorothy day and who feel in particular that it’s a good thing to

1:22:23see her canonized i urge you please to join and support the guild in any way

1:22:29you can find it online at just one word dorothy dayguld.org

1:22:36the guild has been working to support the work of the archdiocese of new york to prepare her cause for canonization

1:22:43and i can report that that work is nearly complete uh we actually expect uh that by june of next year

1:22:49everything necessary will be assembled and ready to send to rome for the next phase of the process

1:22:55unfortunately as you can imagine it’s a very complicated long and expensive process and

1:23:00your support is gratefully received and on the subject of gratitude i do

1:23:05want to thank all our generous panelists david ann and paul and especially colleen and nick and our

1:23:13partners from america media who made this evening possible and all of you who have joined us from around the world

1:23:20for this evening so good night and stay well