Daily Update: Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

Dorothy Day and Giving Tuesday

Today is the Remembrance of Servant of God Dorothy Day (died 1980). And since today is the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, today is Giving Tuesday. Early Voting continues today for the Louisiana Open Election and Congressional Election on December 10th.

Dorothy Day was born in 1897 in Brooklyn, New York, and was raised in San Francisco and Chicago by her Episcopalian parents. By 1913 she had read Peter Kropotkin, an advocate of anarchist communism, which influenced her ideas in how society could be organized. In 1914 she attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on a scholarship, but was a reluctant scholar; her reading was chiefly in a radical social direction, and she avoided campus life. She dropped out after two years and moved to New York City, settling on the Lower East Side, where she worked on the staffs of Socialist publications (The LiberatorThe MassesThe Call) and engaged in anti-war and women’s suffrage protests. She spent several months in Greenwich Village, where she became close to author Eugene O’Neill. Initially Day lived a bohemian life, with two common-law marriages and an abortion, which she later described in her semi-autobiographical novel, The Eleventh Virgin (1924), a book she later regretted writing. She had been an agnostic, but with the birth of her daughter Tamar in 1926 she began a period of spiritual awakening which led her to embrace Catholicism, joining the Church in December 1927, with baptism at Our Lady Help of Christians Parish on Staten Island. Subsequently Day began writing for Catholic publications, such as Commonweal and America. The Catholic Worker movement established by Day and fellow activist Peter Maurin started with the Catholic Worker newspaper, created to promote Catholic social teaching and stake out a neutral, pacifist position in the war-torn 1930s. This grew into a “house of hospitality” in the slums of New York City and then a series of farms for people to live together communally. She lived for a time at the now demolished Spanish Camp community in the Annadale section of Staten Island. The movement quickly spread to other cities in the United States, and to Canada and the United Kingdom; more than 30 independent but affiliated CW communities had been founded by 1941. In 1952 Day wrote her autobiography, The Long Loneliness. By the 1960s Day was embraced by a significant number of Catholics, while at the same time, she earned the praise of counterculture leaders such as Abbie Hoffman, who characterized her as the first hippie, a description of which Day approved. Yet, although Day had written passionately about women’s rights, free love and birth control in the 1910s, she opposed the sexual revolution of the 1960s, saying she had seen the ill-effects of a similar sexual revolution in the 1920s. Day had a progressive attitude toward social and economic rights, alloyed with a very orthodox and traditional sense of Catholic morality and piety. Day’s account of the Catholic Worker movement, Loaves and Fishes, was published in 1963. In 1971 Day was awarded the Pacem in Terris Award. She was proposed for sainthood by the Claretian Missionaries in 1983, three years after her death, in a move regarded a bit ambivalently by the Catholic Worker movement; they would prefer that the money that it would take to promote her cause in Rome be used instead to promote her ideals within the Catholic Worker movement. Pope John Paul II granted the Archdiocese of New York permission to open Day’s “cause” for sainthood in March 2000, thereby officially making her a Servant of God in the eyes of the Catholic Church. If you know of any miracles that can be attributed to her intercession, please contact the Vatican and the Catholic Worker. Giving Tuesday refers to the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in the United States. It is a movement to create an international day of giving at the beginning of the Christmas and holiday season. Giving Tuesday was started in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation as a response to commercialization and consumerism in the post-Thanksgiving season. Early Voting continues today for the Louisiana Open Election and Congressional Election on December 10th.

I woke up half an hour early and did my Book Devotional Reading, and on our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading and said the First Day of my Novena to the Immaculate Conception. We signed the Early Out list, and when we clocked in Richard was on Pai Gow and I was on a Blackjack table. We were out for 3:15 am (so we worked all of fifteen minutes), and when we got back home I went to bed, and Richard dosed himself for his cold. While I was sleeping the New Moon arrived at 6:20 am.

When I woke up again at 12:15 am I found that Richard had done my laundry; he said that my dealer pants and shirts did not need ironing, and that he had hung them up in my closet, and that there was a last load of my clothes in the washer. I read the morning paper and ate my lunch salad, then, as my clothes had by now gone through the dryer, I finished my laundry. I then got busy working on a couple of Advance Daily Update Drafts. While I was doing so, our mail brought me our box of baklava and fudge from Liz Ellen in tins (said tins are NOT to be thrown away, but need to go back with Liz Ellen when she comes down at Christmas). I sent Liz Ellen an Email advising her that we got the box. At 3:30 pm Richard went out to get boudin and some two-liter bottles of soft drinks, and at 4:15 pm we went over to Lele’s house and visited with her, Richard’s sister Bonnie from Texas, and Rosemary (Richard’s sister in law, married to his brother here in town). We ate dinner, and Lele sent us home with the boudin that had not been eaten.

We arrived back home at 7:30 pm, and just before 8:00 pm we lit the Advent Candle for today. Right now our New Orleans Pelicans are playing an NBA game with the Los Angeles Lakers, and our LSU Tigers are playing a College Basketball game with the Houston Cougars; since I am going to finish this weblog and take a bath, I will record the scores of those games in tomorrow’s Daily Update.

Tomorrow is the Feast of Saint Andrew, Apostle (died mid- to late-first century), and the end of the 2016 Hurricane Season.  And Early Voting continues for the Louisiana Open Election and Congressional Election on December 10th. I will do the Weekly Computer Maintenance and the Weekly Virus Scan, then start putting up the Christmas decorations. At some point tomorrow I will address a letter to Matthew and Callie and Kitten, and also go out to get my Powerball and Louisiana Lotto lottery tickets for tomorrow night’s drawing.

On this Giving Tuesday Evening our Parting Quote comes to us from Joseph F. Girzone, American Catholic Priest and author. Born in 1930 in Albany, New York, he was the oldest of twelve children. He entered the Carmelite Order as a young man and was ordained as a priest in 1955. A few years later he chose to leave the order in favor of life as a secular priest and was accepted by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany. He then served at various parishes of the diocese, in the course of which he became active in advocating for the elderly. He was a driving force in the formation of the Office for the Aging of Montgomery County. In 1981, however, Girzone was diagnosed with a heart condition which was judged to be fatal, leading him to retire from active ministry. He accepted the forfeiture of any pension or medical benefits from the diocese as part of an agreement for his early retirement. Following his retirement, Girzone embarked on a second career as a full-time writer and speaker. He published his first novel, Joshua, in 1983, which was the first of a whole series of books which had the premise of Jesus Christ returning to earth and living as an itinerant carpenter. After being rejected by all the publishing houses he had approached, he founded his own publishing company, Richelieu Court Publications, to release the novel. He carried boxes of the book in his trunk of his car, making modest sales at different locales. The story, written in a simple language, of a carpenter and Christ-like figure who arrives in a small town and transforms peoples’ lives with random acts of kindness and messages of peace struck a chord in readers and was brought to the attention of an editor at Macmillan Publishers. This major publisher bought the rights to the novel and a paperback version was released in August 1987, and with its national distribution and marketing might, published five more titles in the Joshua series. The books reached an unexpected level of popularity. After Girzone’s initial success, he was offered a contract by Image Books, a Catholic-oriented imprint of Doubleday. The Joshua novels eventually numbered ten. They were translated into a dozen languages, selling more than three million copies and became known among publishing executives as “the Joshua phenomenon”. The first book of the series was made into a movie with the same name, released in 2002, which was financed by the wealthy entrepreneur Philip Anschutz, who was a fan of the novel. The cast included the noted actors F. Murray Abraham and Tony Goldwyn in the lead. Having sold over a million copies of his books within some ten years, the earnings were so great that in 1995 Girzone was able to acquire a 100-acre estate, with a 21-room Victorian mansion on it, in Altamont, New York, which he named Joshua Mountain. He founded there the Joshua Foundation, an organization dedicated to making Jesus better known throughout the world. Sacks of mail arrived for Girzone weekly from lapsed Catholics and spiritual seekers of all stripes showed up at his home to share how his books had affected their lives, and he held classes on spirituality. He also gave spiritual talks and led retreats, both around the nation and internationally. He purchased a retreat center that he ran in Lothian, Maryland. Through his foundation, Girzone personally funded various projects to answer the needs of the people in need in the region. In Schoharie County, the foundation operated a food pantry, delivered meals and helped to pay heating bills of the rural poor. He also covered the tuition of needy high school students. However, after that long period of success, due to changes in the publishing industry and the loss of his aging readership, Doubleday dropped Girzone without any warning after the lackluster release in 2007 of Joshua’s Family. Girzone then donated the 21-room house he had been living in, with its huge annual tax and heating bills, to his foundation and moved to an apartment above the estate’s garage. He eventually sold the Maryland facility. In 2015 Girzone entered hospice care at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany (died 2015): “[I wanted to convey that the Son of God] didn’t come off as someone who was self-righteous but as a person who was free and joyful and happy and had tremendous love and compassion for others.”

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