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Friday, April 29, 2016

An Eye for Others: Dorothy Day, Journalist, 1916-1917 - A Book Review

The timing for An Eye for Others: Dorothy Day, 
Journalist 1916-1917 couldn't be better.

On April 19, 2016, the Archdiocese of New York announced a canonical inquiry into Dorothy Day's life. Currently a Servant of God, she is on the next step in the formal process of Sainthood. There are many ordinary people whose names we will never know who lived as saints, but Saint with a capital "S" would lift Dorothy to the role of an acknowledged example of how to live as a disciple of Christ. This inquiry will include a theological examination of her writings with an eye for doctrine and morals, and An Eye for Others is a good place for the curious layperson to start.

The book, written by Tom McDonough, covers Dorothy's articles for The New York Call  and The Masses from 1916-1917. McDonough puts the articles in context by reporting on what Dorothy and New York were going through during the year leading up to World War I, sometimes in Dorothy's own words from her later writings. This gives the reader a unique and personal perspective of an important moment in history. 

A dedicated advocate of the poor, Dorothy lived a bohemian life with a string of lovers, an attempted suicide, and an abortion before she converted to Catholicism. Through her writings, the reader can understand the basis for her attraction to Socialism and similar ideologies as well as the disillusionment that caused her to later abandon them.

For one who is unfamiliar with her writings (and too familiar with the vitriolic rantings of many activists today) one of the most surprising characteristics found in her "voice" is the humor and wit with which she attacks her subject, often through a "Silly me, I should have known better" viewpoint that often borders on comedy. One such example arises out of her time spent on the The Call's Diet Squad, when she tried to live on $5 per week (about $100 in current money) in sympathy with the poor. She despairs of having spent $2.40 on weekly groceries -- $0.58 more than the amount recommended by the Organized Charities:

"You are too extravagant," said the Organized Charities..."You should not eat so much fruit, you should not eat so many potatoes, and you should eat butterine instead of butter...you have been gormandizing as much as four rolls at a time."...

I left the office chastened. Yes, such reckless extravagance must cease.   

              from "Call's Diet Squad is Accused of Gluttony by Experts" by Dorothy Day,  Friday, December 16, 1915

The articles also bring to light some shocking reflections of the time, such as the amount of money the wealthy Astor family spent on their baby, while children all around New York were starving: $75 per day for baby Astor (almost $1,800 by today's standards) as compared to $0.33 per day for the poor.

The poor were struggling to find work and to eat, while controlling corporations focused on price-gouging for profits, especially as the U.S. geared up for war. Dorothy passionately called out the hypocrisy embedded in the responses of politicians and the wealthy.


It was disheartening to find that some things never change. Workers were being left without jobs, having been replaced by machines. Today, those jobs go to computers or overseas. The left was committed to abortion as a solution to the poor, as if eradicating them would make their lives better. Mainstream media channels weren't trusted, though, ironically, it was the left that feared they were controlled by the right. The media's agenda for the most part has flipped from right to left these days, but the root fear that corporations controlled the message remains the same.

In the end, Dorothy realized that the various ideologies that first attracted her were in love with their way of thinking - without any real love for the person.

"I either want to retire from the world and study for the sake of acquiring wisdom or else I want to do something simple and useful."

           from The Eleventh Virgin by Dorothy Day

Fortunately for us, she chose the latter and went on to join forces with Peter Maurin to establish the Catholic Worker Movement, a charity dedicated to the Works of Mercy and the God-given dignity of every human person.

Reading An Eye for Others won't give you a full picture of Dorothy Day's life, but it's a great start to understanding the woman Pope Francis recently praised as an example of "a great American." By the end of the Church's investigation, I think we'll find she was much more than that.  



Monday, April 18, 2016

Looking for Opportunities to Promote Your Book? Author Marilyn Meredith Tells You Where to Look!

F. M. Meredith who is also known as Marilyn Meredith is nearing the number of 40 published books. Besides being an author she is a wife, mother, grandma and great-grandmother. Though the Rocky Bluff she writes about is fictional, she lived for over twenty-years in a similar small beach town. Besides having many law enforcement officers in her family she is counts many as friends. She teaches writing, loves to give presentations to writing and other groups, and is a member of Mystery Writers of America, three chapters of Sisters in Crime and on the board of Public Safety Writers Association. Visit her blog, Marilyn's Musings , website Fiction for You,  and Amazon Author Page. She writes the Rocky Bluff series under F.M. Meredith and the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series under Marilyn Meredith.

Heads Up!  Marilyn is hosting another contest. The person who comments on the most blogs during Marilyn's current blog tour can have a character named after them in the next Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery. Tomorrow you can find Marilyn at Thonie Hevron Mysteries

Anyone who follows Marilyn knows that she is always off on another book-signing adventure, so I asked her to share her experience with other writers looking for venues in which to promote their books. 

Marilyn, how do you make all of those connections? 

This is not an easy question to answer. First, I must say I love meeting readers and talking about different facets of writing.

Early on, I felt like bookstore signings were the only way to go—but it didn’t take me long to discover there were so many more places to appear and talk about my books.

I always keep an eye out for book fairs and craft shows. Book fairs are great because the people who come are interested in books. I tend to like the smaller ones where there aren’t so many big names in attendance for obvious reasons. Craft shows are great too. As I’ve grown older, I like the ones best that provide the table and chairs.

Marilyn at the 2015 Jack Ass Mail Run
When I started going to the craft show put on by our local art gallery, I asked if I could give a talk on “How to Get Published” and they were enthusiastic about the idea. I’m thinking of doing another “How to” there.

Library talks are wonderful. Sometimes a library has approached me, other times I’ve asked. Some libraries have special author days—and these are great. Find out what’s going on in the libraries around you.

Speaking to special interest groups like various Sisters in Crime organizations. I belong to three chapters and am always ready to speak on various subjects. Recently I was asked to give a talk to a brand new chapter in a nearby city by a friend on Facebook.

Writers’ groups are always looking for writers to share their expertise on a variety of subjects.
Offering your expertise to writing conferences can also offer you opportunities to speak.

I’ve spoken about writing and my books to many schools, from grade school to college. Usually I’ve been asked by a teacher, but sometime it was initiated by a student.

Last but not least, contact local service and social groups who are always looking for speakers, and always take along a supply of books to sell.

Anyone who has any other ideas, please add them in your comments.

F. M. aka Marilyn Meredith

Thank you, Marilyn. Be sure to visit Marilyn's social media sites, and check out her latest book!
Places you can find Marilyn:  Website:BlogFacebookTwitter

 A Crushing Death

A pile of rocks is found on a dead body beneath the condemned pier, a teacher is accused of molesting a student, the new police chief is threatened by someone she once arrested for attacking women, and Detective Milligan’s teenage daughter has a big problem.

Buy it here!