All is Grace: A Biography of Dorothy Day

All is Grace: A Biography of Dorothy Day
by Jim Forest
(Orbis Books, 2011)
A book review by Aiden Enns

There are plenty of stories here of Dorothy Day the saint. Of course I want to hear these stories, but they aren’t the ones I hunger for.

My soul wants to know something else about her. I have little in common with so-called saints. Even so-called prophets are strange to me. I do have, however, a common desire to be a better person, and coming to the aid of others in need. I want to understand when aid is warranted and when it further entrenches my position of power.

Like me, Dorothy Day was a person who made mistakes. An unwed mother and a chronic smoker, she was bossy, short-fused and prone to judging others. She made autocratic decisions seemingly without compunction.

Yet she found a certain loveliness in and among the poor. She sought solidarity more than compassion. I suspect that compassion is too often a shiny cover for good intentions without sacrifice when sacrifice is needed. Not in the case of Dorothy Day.

This book is a great intro to her life. Now I want to read her own reflections and those of her critics. Did she have any?

Issue 31

This article first appeared in Geez magazine Issue 31, Fall 2013, The Peace Issue.

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Issue 31, Fall 2013

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