The Teachings of Modern Christianity on Law, Politics, and Human Nature - Vol. 2

By John Witte Jr.; Frank S. Alexander | Go to book overview

[CHAPTER 6]
Dorothy Day (1897–1980)

SELECTED AND EDITED BY DAVID GREGORY

Dorothy May Day was born on November 8, 1897, in Bath Beach, Brooklyn, New York. She died eighty-three years later, on November 29, 1980. Her family was not an easy one to be part of; Day and her family usually lived in poverty, primarily because of the inability of her father, John I. Day, to find regular work, a situation thatforced the family to relocate a number of times. Dorothy Day and her father were never close, and only later in their lives were they able to treat each other civilly. In contrast, Day, especially during her early adulthood, was very close to her mother, Grace Satterlee Day. Neither Day’s mother, an Episcopalian, nor her father, a Congregationalist, attended church services or took any steps to bring religion into their children’s lives. Day and her siblings were not baptized as infants. Though she was eventually baptized and confirmed in the Episcopal Church, Dorothy Day’s connection with Christianity was weak during her teenage years.

In the fall of 1914, Day matriculated into the University of Illinois at Urbana, where her grades reflected a student without distinction. When Day left the University of Illinois in June 1916, she was a different person from the impressionable, naive, and relatively apathetic young woman who had entered college two years before. She had developed a passion for a relatively new and radical movement, socialism. The nineteen-year-old Day headed to New York City. She received her first opportunity as a journalist with the socialist newspaper The Call. Perhaps Day’s first article offered an omen of future events, for in it she chronicled her attempt to live for a month on five dollars per week.

Day resigned from The Call, began working for another newspaper, The Masses, and in the summer of 1917 took up residence in Greenwich Village. In 1918, Day began working for The Liberator, which succeeded The Masses and became the American voice of the Russian Revolution. It was during this time that she met and became infatuated with Lionel Moise. Moise soon ended their brief romance, and the breakup threw Day into a massive depression that resulted in a suicide attempt; thereafter, though, she and Moise continued

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