“History of a Radical Movement”
A Review of
The Catholic Worker After Dorothy:
Practicing the Works of Mercy in a New Generation.
by Dan McKanan.
By Brent Aldrich.
Coming to Dan McKanan’s The Catholic Worker After Dorothy: Practicing the Works of Mercy in a New Generation, I have in mind several relations I’ve had with Catholic Workers just over the past couple years, one of which being the agronomic university model in LaMotte, Iowa, New Hope Farm. In a recent email from the farm, the worker was excited by the immanence of Peter Maurin’s green revolution, and lamented that this book “missed this shift entirely,” so I was curious to see how that would develop over the course of the book. Entering into only the introduction of the text though, I am confronted by a certain reading of history, so foundational for the rest of the book, that it nearly overshadows the rest of the book for me; this is a construction of history so entangled with the politicized Western culture that it fails to see the most radical characteristics of Dorothy Day, Peter Maurin, and the Catholic Workers. By aligning – and arguing fervently for – liberal politics with radical Christianity, McKanan reduces attributes that make the Catholic Worker so radical.