Unruly Saint: Dorothy Day’s Radical Vision and its Challenge for Our Times

Broadleaf. Nov. 2022. 256p. ISBN 9781506473598. $26.99. REL
Couple a personal spiritual crisis with a heart longing for justice, and readers get Mayfield’s (The Myth of the American Dream) elegiac homage to Catholic activist Dorothy Day (1897–1980, although the introduction incorrectly lists her birth at 1898). Much of Mayfield’s musings are based upon Day’s own 1952 autobiography, The Long Loneliness, and her letters as well, which were meant to convince her radical compatriots of the time. The author becomes so deeply invested in her subject, she embraces a personal connection to those letters, which she says helped her with questions about how to be a person of faith in an unequal and unjust world. Mayfield is at pains to explain why Day, whose Protestant parents rarely attended church during her childhood, converted to Catholicism in her twenties after giving birth to her daughter. But the book isn’t meant to be a biography. It’s about the years surrounding the birth of the Catholic Worker movement, which Day cofounded in 1933—and still exists today—to help those who are unhoused or without food. It also remains committed to nonviolence.
VERDICT This is best for readers who already have knowledge about Day and her work.
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