Dorothy Day: A Radical Devotion

Dorothy Day: A Radical Devotion

Dorothy Day: A Radical Devotion

Dorothy Day: A Radical Devotion

Synopsis

Robert Coles first met Dorothy Day over thirty-five years ago when, as a medical student, he worked in one of her Catholic Worker soup kitchens. He remained close to this inspiring and controversial woman until her death in 1980. His book, an intellectual and psychological portrait, confronts candidly the central puzzles of her life: the sophisticated Greenwich Village novelist and reporter who converted to Catholicism; the single mother who raised her child in a most unorthodox "family"; her struggles with sexuality, loneliness, and pride; her devout religious conservatism coupled with radical politics. This intense portrait is based on many years of conversation and correspondence, as well as tape-recorded interviews.

Excerpt

In the spring of 1952, I was a medical student ready to abandon the idea of medicine. On the day that classes ended, I took the downtown subway at Broadway and West I65th Street, hard by the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, where I was going to school. I wasn't quite sure where I was going — only glad to be getting away from where I was. As the train pulled out of the station, a picture of Union Theological Seminary entered my consciousness: that was where I was going. I had been auditing courses there and was especially taken with Reinhold Niebuhr's searching and independent mind. I had also come to know another theologian, David Roberts, who had a strong interest in psychoanalysis but no desire to have it replace the Old and New Testaments as his guiding light. Both of them had mentioned Dorothy Day to me and the fine work being done in Catholic Worker "hospitality houses" all over the country. Their comments had brought back memories of my mother reading the monthly newspaper The Catholic Worker in the late 1930s and of my father doing likewise, though with far less enthusiasm.

Those memories again came to mind as I sat in the subway that May morning. Suddenly I realized that classes at Union were probably over, too. I thought of going farther downtown — perhaps to visit the Museum of Modern Art, this time unhurriedly, with no pathology or bacteriology test dominating my conscience. But I

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