Day & the Catholic Workers movement

Day & the Catholic Workers movement October 17, 2011

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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