John Z comments on his own article in which he'd mentioned Dorothy Day in passing:
Well, I can't quite give you a full answer, since I found D.D.'s book so unpleasant I couldn't get through it. But what I have read of her, and seen of her movement, makes me queasy. To put it briefly, she seems to me the mirror image of Ayn Rand, and equally insufferable. I'm planning to slog through her book in pursuit of an article about her and Rand.
It strikes me that she didn't love the poor so much as poverty, and that her objections to the market economy were precisely that it produced wealth and middle-class comfort, which she seemed to detest. I'm reminded of Christopher Dawson's profoundly mistaken essay on Catholicism and the Bourgeois Ethic, and Amitore Fanfani's equally off-putting book on Catholicism, Protestantism, and Capitalism. I'm reminded of the Spiritual Franciscans, and all those who hold up ordinary Christians to monastic standards--goading them in the short run perhaps to heroism, and in the long run to despair or cynicism.
In general, any AUTObiography that makes me "feel unworthy to call myself a Christian" compared to the AUTHOR makes me deeply suspicious.
Any religious movement which becomes almost 100% heretical in the lifetime of its founder was probably built on sand.
But again, I'll have to goad myself to finish her book, with the promised reward of the essay: "The Two Insufferables: Ayn Rand and Dorothy Day." Stay tuned....
This is as humor-filled as any Zmirak essay, and in it he pinpoints what has always troubled me about Day. Like many leftist radicals, her left-anarchist followers seemed to believe that any system is preferable to the present one, therefore let us tear it down. Whereas her followers who are not as radical are continually in a sheepish "well-what-she-really-meant-was" mode. Neither one of these interpretations of Day's teachings strikes me as Catholic nor even coherent and is therefore most likely an utter waste of time in a world filled with great Catholic classics which I yet need to read.
Anyone enamored of Day from her writings would advise me to read them. What I have read of her comes across as the tedious rantings of an insufferable scold. If she was great for what she accomplished, then I've known many great people. If she was great as a writer, then I've read books by greater people and much better communicators. And maybe I should start my line of Pauli-brand books.