Lots of new stuff since I’ve been away.

  • New York Catholic Worker Matt Vogel made an appearance in a New York Times op-ed. It referenced a march by Catholic Workers to Guantanamo to oppose torture there. It also mentioned 80 people gathering in NYC to remember Dorothy Day. Among these were Clinton’s Patty Angevine and Worcester’s Rev. John Madden.
  • Volcanoboy reports that Mike Duffy has died. I got to know him a few years ago working on a production of “The Trial of the Catonsville Nine.” He played the judge. Damn nice guy. There’s another remembrance of him at Wormtown.
    Joe Finneral, Andy Keefe, Mike Duffy, and Mike Benedetti celebrate with pizza and beer
    Joe Finneral, Andy Keefe, and Mike Benedetti salute Mike Duffy (center, with pizza) after their final performance. Photo:
  • Many people have pointed out another CW mention in this New York Times story:

    One F.B.I. document indicates that agents in Indianapolis planned to conduct surveillance as part of a “Vegan Community Project.” Another document talks of the Catholic Workers group’s “semi-communistic ideology.” A third indicates the bureau’s interest in determining the location of a protest over llama fur planned by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

    All My Heroes Have FBI FilesCatholic Worker co-founder Dorothy Day had an FBI file, so it’s entirely appropriate that the Feds would keep tabs on us Known Christians. (Dorothy’s FBI file includes a footnote on St. Vincent de Paul, among others.) Her 581-page file is smaller than Einstein’s 1,756, but more than Lennon’s 248. It dwarfs Tom Landry’s puny 23. The real players are guys like Abbie Hoffman, at 13 thousand, and Dillinger, whose summary is 157 pages, and whose gang has a 36,952-page file. (All stats from the FBI FOIA Index.)

    Dorothy will possibly be made a saint; she’s already a “Servant of God,” her “cause” having been promoted by the late John Cardinal O’Connor, among others. If I knew how to make a Freedom of Information Act Request, I’d ask: which saint has the longest FBI file? (If you read the Cardinal’s letter, which makes a distinction between Dorothy’s life pre- and post-conversion, keep in mind that the vast majority of her FBI file comes from her post-conversion activities.)

    The ACLU has released these recent files. The full quote, from the ACLU’s copy of the file:

    Based on the author’s overhears and conversations with protestors [in 2001 at Vandenberg Air Force Base], the Catholic Workers advocated peace with a Christian and semi-communistic ideology, the Santa Cruz group [Santa Cruz Direct Action Coalition] advocated peace with an organic, save the earth ideology.

    From another memo on the same demonstration:

    The Catholic Workers Group (CWG) is based in Los Angeles, CA. According to one arrestee, XXXXXX (PROTECT), CWG advocates love and peace through prayer. XXXXXX and another CWG protestor, XXXXXXXX advocated impeding NMD launches thru non-violent civil disobedience. Based on the author’s interpretation of comments made by various CWG protestors, CWG also advocates a communist distribution of resources.

    The FBI agent seems to be confused about a couple of things. I’ve never seen the Catholic Worker movement referred to as the “Catholic Workers Group (CWG)”, nor is the decentralized Catholic Worker movement based in Los Angeles. From now on, though, I’ll be happy to refer to the LA Catholic Worker as the “CWG.”

    It’s obvious that the “semi-communistic” comment is meant as a shorthand, but even so I think it’s pretty inaccurate. The personalism of the CW is more of an anarchism or “libertarian socialism,” quite different from what we normally think of as communism or capitalism. CW intellectual godfather Peter Maurin put it well in “Christianity, Capitalism, Communism“:

    Christianity has nothing to do
    with either modern Capitalism
    or modern Communism,
    for Christianity
    has a Capitalism of its own,
    and a Communism of its own.

    There are certainly individual CW folks who are semi-communist, or socialist, or whatever, and maybe the CW seems as semi-communistic to them as it seems not-semi-communistic to me. That’s how things tend to go in a non-centralized movement.

    So I don’t blame the FBI agent for being confused about things.

    (My father, looking at this draft over my shoulder: “Everybody has an FBI file. I have an FBI file!” His dates from his Top Secret clearance in his Vietnam military days. Another hero of mine with an FBI file.)

    Update: The LA Catholic Worker (CWG) website helpfully offers: for those “wishing to start, or add to their own files the next protest at Vandenberg will be on May 20th.”

5 thoughts on “Items”

  1. The Catholic Worker movement is named after the Catholic Worker paper, which was named to compete directly with the Daily Worker. The idea was to provide the Catholic analysis and solution to the same problems that the Communists were addressing.

    The story goes that on one street corner a guy would be hawking papers, shouting “Read the Daily Worker!” while down the street Peter Maurin would be hollering, “Read the Catholic Worker daily!”

    Peter actually wanted to call the paper the Catholic Radical, which would probably have resulted in less confusion all around.

  2. Joe DiMaggio got 247 347 pages, but somehow Sid Vicious rated only a paltry three.

  3. An appropriate quotation:

    It is one of the delightful anomalies of our time that when the Federal Bureau of Investigation began keeping its file on [Dorothy Day], its agents felt obliged to furnish explanatory footnotes with brief biographies of Francis of Assisi, Vincent de Paul, and others.
    –Michael O. Garvey

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