Sunday, June 30, 2002

Stolen from Gerard Serafin's blog: Dorothy Day on obedience

This example was given last month during the press discussion of the rebuke to the Jesuits by Pope Paul, who seemed to think they were straying from obedience to papal directives to which they were sworn. Such obedience never has surprised me, convert that I am. I felt it was part of love, of loyalty, of abandonment, part indeed of that folly of the Cross so emphasized by St. Paul. Obedience, I thought, meant an ordered universe and was proper response to authority. It meant people working together for the common good.

A man had authority when he knew what he was doing, whether performing an operation, filling a tooth, directing a symphony. If a man was an authority in his field, it meant obeying his directions whether, as around the Catholic Worker, it meant Hans in the kitchen, Mike in the engineering line, John in the fields or Martin Corbin in the editor's chair. In the House of Hospitality in the city, it meant whoever was "in charge," who would take the responsibility of doing the job, getting the tobacco, shopping for the groceries, giving out the flop money or carfares or emergency gifts or loans, getting the speakers for Friday night meetings. Authority was certainly decentralized and many shared in it.

Philosophical anarchism, decentralism, required that we follow the Gospel precept to be obedient to every living thing: "Be subject therefore to every human creature for God's sake." It meant washing the feet of others, as Jesus did at the Last' Supper. "You call me Master and Lord," He said, "and rightly so, for that is what I am. Then if I, your Lord, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. I have set you an example; you are to do as I have done for you." To serve others, not to seek power over them. Not to dominate, not to judge others.

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