Day & the Catholic Workers movement

The thing about Occupy Wall Street that bothers me most is that it didn’t start within the Church. I admit I’ve been heavily influenced by the writings of Dorothy Day and the Catholic Workers Movement.

The poverty of the Great Depression compelled Day to act upon her faith. Fighting against the unequal distribution of wealth is not a new idea. Day wrote extensively about it in the newspaper she edited – The Catholic Worker. Day had very visceral responses to the political and economic conditions of her time.

She was the best kind of anarchist because Day believed that there were no limits in how far the love of Christ ought to compel a person: “The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us?”

She was willing to be jailed, if it meant serving others.

She was willing to be rejected, if it meant serving others.

She was willing to be belittled, if it meant serving others.

She was willing to be marginalized, if it meant serving others.

She was willing to be ridiculed, if it meant serving others.

She was willing to be a pain in the ass, if it meant serving others.

She offered no defense for her radical ways. Day believed that Jesus called us to be radical in our ways.

When questioned, Day answered, “We are impractical… as impractical as Calvary … We are here to follow our Lord. We are here to follow His lead. We are here to celebrate Him through works of mercy. We are here, I repeat, to follow his lead – to oppose war and the murder of our fellow human beings, to reach out to all we see and meet. We are not here to prove that our technique of working with the poor is useful, or to prove that we are able to be effective humanitarians….We are not another community fund group, anxious to help people with some bread and butter and a cup of coffee or tea. We feed the hungry, yes,  we try to shelter the homeless and give them clothes, if we have some, but there is a strong faith at work – we pray. If an outsider who comes to visit doesn’t pay attention to our praying and what that means, then he’ll miss the whole point of things.”

You know what I think?

I think the Church is missing the whole point of things.

Instead of being a catalyst for change, the Church has become a sad reflection of all that has gone wrong on Wall Street. Church is big business here in America, in the states of the Reds & Blues.

If Dorothy Day were around today, I’m pretty sure she would be a leading force behind Occupy Wall Street.

“By fighting for better conditions, by crying out unceasingly for the rights of the workers, the poor, of the destitute–the rights of the worthy and the unworthy poor, in other words–we can, to a certain extent, change the world.”

But it seems as though here in corporate America that our corporate Church leadership is far more interested in being hip with the world, than they are in changing the world.

Over the past two years, I’ve overheard more discussion out of church leaders on how to build a brand and how to expand one’s social media reach than I’ve ever heard about fighting for the rights of workers, or the poor.

Frankly, I’m fed up with celebrity pastors and their social networks and their 10-step approach to avoiding hell. I don’t want to read another blog post telling me how I, too, can build my influence by following their six-step plan to social media success.

Give me a street pastor like The Marine, or my friend Steve in North Carolina, or Roger in Portland, all who are living out the gospel of which Dorothy Day spoke about so eloquently.

What about you?

Don’t you wish we all were as impractical as Dorothy Day, as impractical as Calvary when it comes to serving & loving others?
What’s the most impractical thing compassion has compelled you to do lately?









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  • Yes, this. Are we building a brand for ourselves or building the Kingdom? We need to constantly be asking ourselves of this.

  • Amen, preach it sister. Way too much dialogue about how to bring people to Christ, who’s going to heaven, who’s going to hell, and not near enough just BEING Christ . . . and allowing the Holy Spirit to do the work it would so like to do through our hands and feet. ***sigh***

  • I love Dorothy Day. I agree with you that the church reminds me more of Wall Street than the occupiers, sadly.

    • Have you read Robert Cole’s book about Day? A blog reader sent it to me. I love it.

  • Michaeltmc2

    What pastors are you talking about? I appreciate your heart to see the life of Christ lived out in the church, but one could make the same argument of “I’m fed up with people making strawman arguments about ‘the Church’ or ‘this pastor’ or ‘those groups’ without citing specifics. It’s a cheap way to bolster your own point without actually citing what you’re arguing against.

    I’m not criticizing the heart and point behind this article, but I think you owe it to your readers to call out those you think are worth calling out. And if you aren’t convicted enough, or don’t have the evidence you espouse, then don’t make nameless and faceless accusations.

    • Michael:

      These are just a few I pulled from my Twitter feed… I could do this for hours because there is an abundance of such evidence…

      Nearly 93,000 followers on Twitter:

      For $97 you, too, can get the skinny on Twitter success…

      Thank God for favor! First class upgrade on 15 hour flight to Sydney. For free. God is having mercy on me. :-)

      My column at, “Are Evangelicals Dangerous?,” now has 75 pages of comments. Wow. @albertmohler

      ART @Bryan_Ferrell: Not many times you see @albertmohler headlining CNN webpage 🙂 Great article from Mohler…as usual (Retweeted by Mohler)

      Mohler has 32,000 followers on Twitter

      stevenfurtick Steven Furtick
      People who keep their word are awesome. People who don’t are rather useless, frankly.

      “@hayleyxparker: Just met 3 VIPs who came all the way from South Korea just to visit @ElevationChurch. Crazy awesome. #worldwideimpact”

      stevenfurtick Steven Furtick
      If you sense that you were meant for more, but feel confused about that means or stuck where you are-I’m writing my next book for you.

      stevenfurtick Steven Furtick
      “@shawstruck: Coworker who visited @elevationchurch with me said her & spouse found it on TV after SNL.”
      7 Oct

      Furtick has 65,000 followers on Twitter

      PastorMark Mark Driscoll

      Congrats to @MarsHillPDX on 1st Sun core group meeting 363 + 15 protestors + Fox News & newspaper reporter = big start.

      MT @marshilluwd: The first 100 at @PastorMark at @MarsHillUWD will get a free copy of Pastor Mark’s “Doctrine” book.

      PastorMark Mark Driscoll
      Preached 8 sermons in 2 states over the last 3 days. Looking forward to some time at home today!

      Happy 4th anniversary to @MarsHillBEL! In 4 years, gone from 100 to 1,500 per week and getting ready to move into new building this month.

      Driscoll has 175,000 plus followers on Twitter

  • John in PDX

    An answer to your question.
    I am going to go by and see Anna again today. I never seem to have enough time and it’s easy to make excuses. Anna is 84 and she has been in a recovery room now for 90 days. Anna has no family members that live in the NW.
    It’s such small things – maybe they will all add up someday.

    • You get the prize for being the ONLY person here & on Facebook to answer the question I posed. How as Anna today? Happy to see you I bet!

      • John in PDX

        Anna was very happy to see me. She has not eaten solid foods yet but she looks close. I told her I was going to put $5.00 on Red for her in Vegas tonight.
        Anna struggles with a question you keep trying to explain and I still haven’t bought into the answer yet.
        “Why is this happening to me?”
        I am pretty sure Connie had it figured out.

  • Ann Hite

    You inspire me and give voice to what I’m thinking. Our churches have to get involved and help overcome this problem, not be part of it!

  • Mbartram

    all I can say is AMEN….