I can't recall if I sent you a thank-you note for that book, but I'm finally reading through it, and I'm grateful you sent it along.
You mentioned that the author is a friend of yours. If you're in touch with him, please tell him that he has succeeded in coaxing the dying embers of my Catholic Worker enthusiasms back into flame.
I didn't become a Catholic because of Dorothy Day, but I don't think I would've become a Catholic without her – and Peter...and the whole messy Catholic Worker schtick.
Decades ago, in Eugene, Oregon, I read Dorothy Day's autobiography and decided to move to "the city" to find out about this Catholic Worker thing she started. Before I left, I forked over to Harper & Row for a whole box of Long Loneliness paperbacks, and I handed them out to family and friends and strangers. I urgently wanted others to meet this extraordinary woman – to see Jesus through her eyes, to meet him again, as I had, with her help.
Years ago, here in South Bend, I asked the New York Catholic Worker community to sign me up for a bulk subscription to their newspaper. Ever since, every month or two, I get a tight roll of 50 copies in the mail. I spread them out on a table, weigh them down with encyclopedias to flatten them, and then place them in the vestibule and exits at my church. It's not quite the same as passing out copies of Dorothy's autobiography. Still, there's always the possibility that somebody will, out of curiosity, pick up one of the newspapers and discover the Catholic Worker for the first time – and, indirectly, discover Dorothy.
However, Terrence Wright's new book, the one Joe sent me, has brought me up short. I read it eagerly, and I'm looking forward to reading it again. Far from nostalgia, it makes Dorothy's complex legacy and the rollicking CW ethos come alive, succinctly and compellingly. And, for me, it was a powerful reminder of why I've been pushing The Long Loneliness and the newspaper all these years: Because Dorothy Day knew Jesus, and she hoped the Catholic Worker – through the works of mercy and peacemaking and clarification of thought – would help others to know him and make him known.
So, stand by, Ignatius Press. Once I scrounge together the cash, I'll be contacting you for a boxful of Wright, and I'll get back into the book-pushing business.