Much Love to You Always, Dorothy

All the Way to Heaven: The Selected Letters of Dorothy Day; Marquette University Press (2011), $35

Reviewed by Jack Downey

The acclaimed Catholic University of America professor, John Tracy Ellis, once said that you can’t be a good historian unless you enjoy reading dead people’s mail. Happily for anyone who considers herself a Dorothy Day aficionado but has neither the resources nor the particular inclination to hoof it out to Milwaukee to visit the glorious Dorothy Day-Catholic Worker Archives at Marquette University, the universe has given us the Orbis Books editor-in-chief and Day historian extraordinaire, Robert Ellsberg. His new anthology of Dorothy’s letters, All the Way to Heaven, joins its brick-sized companion volume of her journals – The Duty of Delight – to give anyone with a public library card or an few extra bucks in his pocket a glimpse into the intimate thoughts and correspondence of this icon of progressive American Catholic activism. That said, if you’re looking for an excuse to visit the birthplace of affordable hipster-friendly light beer, then a trip to the archives might be just what the doctor ordered.

David O’Brien, the eminent American Catholic historian and professor emeritus at Holy Cross, has called Dorothy Day “the most significant, interesting, and influential person in the history of American Catholicism.” Continue Reading →

Catholic Workers Take a Stand Against Anti-Terrorism

Mary Valle: Way to go, Baltimore City Paper, for covering Viva House’s rejection of the loyalty oath now demanded of United Way fundees, as directed by the USA PATRIOT act. Edward Ericson Jr. reports that a soup kitchen, which has been run since 1968 by Catholic Workers Brendan Walsh and Willa Bickham, will no longer receive the small “write-in candidate” checks it received from the United Way as a result of not signing an “Anti-Terrorism Compliance Measures” form.  Walsh and Bickham drafted a letter in reply saying that “We continue to ‘do the works of mercy and resist the works of war,” and “Loyalty oaths don’t bring about unity or good health. Instead, they break us apart as a people.”  They then urged United Way to “abandon its USA PATRIOT Act compliance effort.” Check out the letters to the editor and comments on this one! Continue Reading →