Sunday, June 25, 2023

#176 / Peter Maurin


Since I wrote, recently, about "Excessive Wealth Disorder," it seems appropriate to write something about Peter Maurin, co-founder with Dorothy Day of the The Catholic Worker Movement (both are pictured above). 

The May, 2023 issue of The Catholic Worker, the paper published by by the Catholic Worker Movement, has a front page article titled, "Peter Maurin Our Co-Founder." The article was written by Dorothy Day, and it first appeared in the May 1940 edition of the newspaper. 
The Catholic Worker is published seven times a year, and I subscribe. The newspaper still proclaims, on its front page, "Price 1¢." The newspaper is not available online, and because it isn't, I am not able to link Dorothy Day's article about Peter Maurin, which I strongly urge is well worth reading. To read the article, you should send an actual letter to The Catholic Worker, 36 East First Street, New York, NY 10003. The paper lists its yearly subscription price as 25¢. I suggest sending a contribution in a greater amount, and specifically asking for your subscription to start with the May 2023 issue, which is the 90th Anniversary issue of the paper. 
The Catholic Worker Movement (reflecting the views of both Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin) has long advocated "voluntary poverty," so reading the newspaper does count as an antidote to any afflictions related to "Extreme Wealth Disorder." If you click this link, you can read what a recent edition of The Nation magazine has to say about the Catholic Worker Movement.
I met Dorothy Day, personally, when I lived in New York City during the 1970-1971 academic year. I was a student, during that year, at Union Theological Seminary. Both Dorothy Day and David Dellinger came (separately) to talk to a voluntary class I was teaching at Union, on war resistance. I still advocate war resistance, too!

Since I can't link you to Dorothy Day's article on Peter Maurin (who is probably not known to most of those who might read this blog posting), I can do two things to get you acquainted. First, something I have already done, is to suggest that you become a subscriber to The Catholic Worker. Second, I can introduce you to Peter Maurin's "Easy Essays." These "Essays," published originally in The Catholic Worker, have been gathered together and published in book form, as a reprint of what The Catholic Worker itself has published.  This is a book that you might want to have around the house! The "Easy Essays" are also available online, which is where I obtained the excerpt (on being a "radical") that I am submitting here!

Yes! I am a Radical

Down to the Roots

I was once thrown out
of a Knights of Columbus meeting
because, as the K. of C. official said,
I was radical.
I was introduced as a radical
before the college students
of a Franciscan college,
And the Franciscan Father added
“I am as radical
as Peter Maurin.”
Speaking in a girls’ college
near St. Cloud, Minnesota,
I was told by Bishop Busch,
are up in a tree
and you are trying
to go down to the roots.”

Poor Conservatives

After another meeting
I was told by a sociologist
“I still think
that you are a radical.”
And I told the sociologist
“We have to pity
those poor conservatives
who don’t know
what to conserve;
who find themselves
living in a changing world
while they do not know
how to keep it from changing
or how to change it
to suit themselves.”

Radically Wrong

Monsignor Fulton Sheen says:
“Modern society is based on greed.”
Father McGowan says:
“Modern society
is based on systematic selfishness.”
Professor John Dewey says:
“Modern society
is based on rugged individualism.”
When conservatives
try to conserve a society
based on greed,
systematic selfishness
and rugged individualism
they try to conserve something
that is radically wrong,
for it is built
on a wrong basis.
And when conservatives
try to conserve
what is radically wrong
they are also
radically wrong.

A New Society

To be radically right
is to go to the roots
by fostering a society
based on creed,
systematic unselfishness
and gentle personalism.
To foster a society
based on creed
instead of greed,
on systematic unselfishness
instead of systematic selfishness,
on gent1e personalism
instead of rugged individualism,
is to create a new society
within the shell of the old.
Modern society
is in a state of chaos.
And what is chaos
if not lack of order?
is not a science,
it is an art,
the art of creating order
out of chaos.
All founders of orders
made it their personal business
to try to solve the problems
of their own day.
If religious orders
made it their business
to try to solve the problems
of our own day
by creating order
out of chaos,
the Catholic Church
would be the dominant
social dynamic force
in our day and age.

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