Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker Movement: Centenary Essays

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker Movement: Centenary Essays

Article excerpt

Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker Movement: Centenary Essays. Edited by William J. Thorn, Phillip M. Runkel, and Susan Mountin. [Marquette Studies in Theology, No. 32.] (Milwaukee: Marquette University Press. 2001. Pp. 615. $30.00 paperback.)

In October, 1997, Catholic Worker scholars and activists met at Marquette University to honor the centenary of Dorothy Day's birth. More than 500 indivictuals attended the international gathering-part conference and part celebration-including first-generation Catholic Workers whose connection to Day and the movement spanned more than sixty years. This thick paperback volume, published in 2001, showcases the research and insights of many conference participants. Capturing a good share of the excitement of the meeting, this long-awaited anthology allows for the expression of wide-ranging viewpoints with little apparent intrusion from the editors.

Those who are expecting a purely academic volume: beware! While a number of the papers measure up to the strictest academic standards of professional journals, other contributions were addressed to a non-academic audience. Many of the most lively and original contributions represent the work of thoughtful activists whose writings amply demonstrate engaged creative intelligence. At worst, a few sprawling essays add little toward interpreting issues of significance to the movement.

One of the greatest strengths of the volume is the span of viewpoints from Catholic Worker communities throughout the United States and in Canada. Like the work of Patrick Coy, Rosemary Riegle (Troester), and Harry Murray, which it complements, these essays represent some of the geographic, ideological, and theological diversity within the movement in the era after Dorothy Day's death.

The anthology of thirty-nine essays is loosely organized into twelve sections, with coverage of CW history; the relation of the movement to the Church; CW nonviolence; Day's social and political thought; the movement's philosophy of work; Day's writings; her spirituality; Peter Maurin's influence; Ammon Hennacy; the movement's early pacifism; ecumenical perspectives; and personal narratives. Readers will find among the most original, valuable, and accessible essays: David O'Brien on the significance of the movement; Mark and Louise Zwick on some of its spiritual and philosophical roots; three especially provocative essays on the movement and the Church by Fred Boehrer,Ann O'Connor and Peter King, and Brian Terrell. …

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