Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Dorothy Day touted for sainthood

Dorothy Day, the hero of the Delanys who began the soup kitchen that became the sprawling Loaves & Fishes empire on Ahern and North C, is getting talked up as a saint candidate by important Catholic leaders, including New York’s conservative archbishop, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, according to an article in the New York Times, "In Hero of the Catholic Left, a Conservative Cardinal Sees a Saint."

Dorothy Day
We're told that "this month, at Cardinal Dolan’s recommendation, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops voted unanimously to move forward with her canonization cause."

It's not the place for Sacramento Homeless blog to weigh in on the merits or many demerits for Day's sainthood. I am sure the Catholic church has as many oinkers on its registry of saints as it has murderers and thugs on its list of popes. So what if they add another stinker to the stench pile (if that's the case)? I mean, hey, we're talking here about a religion that is responsible for the Crusades, the Grand Inquisition, collaboration with Nazi Germany, and, in recent decades, a vast organized worldwide conspiracy to molest children. I have to conclude that the Catholics do not have an unsullied resume for finding the especially great, good people that have been in our midst. But all that's their business, I guess. Hollywood has the Academy Awards; the Vatican gives out the Sainthood prize. It's all much the same thing: Best Performance in a Leading Role (to then be used for political purposes).

The weird thing about Day, though, is that people glom onto her for wholly [and not 'holy'] political reasons. The conservatives want to use her for her opposition to abortion and the supposed "Big Government, getting ever fatter under Obama", that, they say, weighs against freedom. Leaders at Loaves, cherish her for her unstinting crusade for the needs of the poor, while rejecting (for themselves) her steadfastness and effort to identify with the poor. [Loaves closes on a Friday, with little notice, for the staff to go bowling; then closes on Black Friday, with little notice, for the staff to go shopping. Sheesh. Sure is tough for those employees to have a job that cuts so severely into their social life.  Also, Loaves moved their Admin offices down the street in a brand-new building, away from the poor.]

But what gets brushed under the rug is Day's cartoonish romantic idealism. Day was opposed to fighting the Nazis, for example, and encouraged resistance to the draft in the 30s and 40s. While all wars are terrible, WWII was the one war that needed to be fought.

A person is not a serious thinker if he or she doesn't come to know that we need police in our cities. In the very same way -- because there are bad actors in the world -- we need a military, too. Sometimes, we need to use violent force for completely good purposes. Call me silly, if you want to, but I think it was the case when we declared war on Germany, the US did the right thing. Now, well after the war, there can be no doubt that stopping the Nazis was good and necessary.  I mean:  You think?

Day was also opposed to Social Security. Why? It appears that she had so very much faith in her screwy absolutist thinking that she believed the old who were poor shouldn't have control of their own lives.

Day wrote this as late as 1945, when Social Security was operating and being hailed as a great success by most others:
We believe that social security legislation, now [hailed] as a great victory for the poor and for the worker, is a great defeat for Christianity. It is an acceptance of the idea of force and compulsion. It is an acceptance of Cain's statement, on the part of the employer. "Am I my brother's keeper?" Since the employer can never be trusted to give a family wage, nor take care of the worker as he takes care of his machine when it is idle, the state must enter in and compel help on his part.
What horrible sentiment on two fronts! Day voices an expectation for the employer to be the caretaker of its employees, beyond their working years, on into old age. She basically saw average workers as life-long children who needed a keeper in a never-ended parent role.

The idea of the federal government stepping in to allow the old and disabled to have money to be the authors of their own lives was highly offensive to Day.

Day determined that SHE should look after the poor, if they had no family to help. SHE was what was needed as the dominatrix of a fiefdom for the poor.

Day was a scary control freak. And it is exactly that that some at Loaves & Fishes admire in sharing her admiration of totalitarian communism. In a totalist regime, the government is pretty much in charge of every aspect of your life. In 1945, when Day wrote the piece where the blockquote, above, comes from, Joseph Stalin was the leader in the Soviet Union and led the prime example of a soviet utopia. Or, I should say dystopia. Stalin killed 61 million of the citizens in his country when he led the Soviet Union and is surely one of the worst villians of all time, or, truly, THE very worst villian, topping even Hitler and Pol Pot, and Mao.

Addendum 1/7/13:  I took the blog down for a spell in significant part because I was feeling ego dystonic for having written a -- what? -- Catholic-hating blogpost!?  Yipes.  Is that ME.  But reading this blogpost now, it doesn't seem so bad to me, I am surprised to find.  I mean, if, say, a Rotary Club in Duluth that had been around, say, fifteen years, has crimes way, way, way, way scaled down for its size and period in operation but otherwise in the realm of the record of the Catholic church, a SWAT team and the Marines would storm this Rotary Club and put everyone under arrest for crimes against humanity.  On the whole, over its history, I think even most rational Catholics would agree that the history of the Church is atrocious.

But, since Catholicism is THE religion -- the foundational church of the world's leading faith -- it slips past its crimes and problems.

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