A Reasonable Pacifism

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Led here by a post from the Western Confucian, I found this helpful and inspiring quotation from Dorothy Day.

from "The Traditional Catholic Worker Movement"
Thomas Storck

Dorothy Day certainly was a pacifist, and here I admit that she departed from the central tradition of Catholic thought, which includes the teaching that a war of defense may be just. As someone who accepts this doctrine of the Church that a just war is theoretically possible, I was impressed when reading this book that Dorothy Day's pacifism was not so much an ideological position as a radical and personal embrace of the Gospel. That is, the words of Jesus Christ about love of enemy and accepting the injustices that others may impose on one made such an impression on Dorothy Day's heart that she was moved to a total rejection of war. When a young Catholic Worker asked her for a "clear, theological, logical pacifist manifesto," she could only reply: "I can write no other than this: unless we use the weapons of the Spirit, denying ourselves and taking up the Cross and following Jesus, dying with Him and rising with Him, men will go on fighting, and often from the highest motives, believing that they are fighting defensive wars for justice and in self-defense against present or future aggression." Dorothy Day's response was akin to that of a monk who might run out between the battle lines, calling upon each side to stop killing those created in God's image. Her pacifism was part of her response to following Jesus Christ, indeed part of her own love for the person of our Blessed Lord.

(Emphasis mine.)

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Dorothy Day's pacificism is admirable in the same way Origen's self-castration was admirable: i.e. not letting anything get in the way of the literal message of the gospel.

Dear TSO,

Quite so. However, whereas one damages the integrity of the individual, the other operates always as a reminder of the perfection toward which we strive. If all were pacifists and called to pacifism, I might see your point. But if there are those so called who operate for the good of all, the two measures are not commensurate nor analogous.



In Tragedy under Grace, Balthasar discussed in depth the counsels of Christ as beckoning ever more, which opens the possibility for a personal response to these counsels which goes beyond the minimum expressed in the Church's prudent teaching on self-defense, just war, capital punishment, etc.

I anticipated you'd say that but relished the brevity of my comment too much to caveat it. (Vanity, thy name...)

For me they are analogous simply in that I admire both actions for similar reason: they take Christ's words literally. We would do well to do it more often.

I've always liked Fundamentalists for that reason even if they don't take everything literally (i.e. "This is My Body...").

The other reason I like that literalism is I don't have to think. Thinking gets old - which is why it's high time for me to have some beer! Wooo-ooo!



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on January 11, 2008 9:43 AM.

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