I'm not a Catholic Worker

Heather and I enjoyed the weekend away. In Iowa I saw friends from the Catholic Worker houses in Cleveland and South Bend, and met some interesting folk from St. Louis as well. The landscape there is beautiful rolling farm land. And worship Sunday morning was joyful and fun.

But I was also reminded of the things that I really don't like in the Catholic Worker culture. Like the emphasis on political activism, especially "arrestable actions," the Bush-bashing (even the kids were doing it), and the hyper-sensitivity to gender language ("Amen... and A-woman!"). The main point of the priest's message Sunday morning was "Whee!"--I'm not joking. But he also opened it up for others to make comments about the readings and there were some good ones, like about forgiving others, including politicial leaders and those who oppress us. I liked that. But the other stuff, which I find very hard to respect, is enough to remind me why I veered away from the Catholic Worker movement years ago, and still feel a little uncomfortable, like an outsider, at gatherings like that.

On the way back we stopped at Plow Creek farm and spent the night. We saw old friends (and new baby Elaina), were welcomed warmly, and Heather and Miranda even got to ride the horses. Then yesterday morning I sat outside as the sun was rising and listened. It was very quiet. Only the wind was moving, and as it stirred the trees it felt very familiar and comforting to me. I don't know if it was the feeling of God in nature, or the symbolism of the Spirit, but I rejoiced in it and at the same time respected it deeply. And I thought, this is the source of my identity and at-home-ness much more than any human organization or culture.

And I thought that there is wind in the trees here in Champaign as well. And that the Spirit "blows where it pleases," also among people that seem at times misguided or silly to me. There is much I respect in how the Spirit works through people here and at other houses of hospitality across the country. So I'm glad to be here. But it's clear to me that I'm not a Catholic Worker.

[Today after lunch in the soup kitchen, I went and sat by the cross outside St. Mary's. And listened to the wind rushing through the pines.]