1/5/13

A Few Sketches of Roman Catholic Contacts in the 1960s in Chicago

I remember going down to talk to Karl Meyer 
in a little house south of North Avenue
Karl was part of the Catholic Worker movement
I had already demonstrated with Dorothy Day in NYC
against fall out shelters
That was in the 50s this was in the 60s
My leaning has always been pacifist and non-violent
Karl had more attitude than anyone I have ever met
Knowing him was a confrontation
I think he represented the challenge anyone does
who genuinely despises owning things
I suspect behind that attitude may
lie a lust to possess
but this is not a shrink piece
It is just a way of saying something about a few
strands of Roman Catholicism 
I encountered during the decade that I called Chicago home

I later had some glancing contact with Daniel Berrigan
and by that time I was not enamored with what seemed to me 
a conspicuous form of Catholic rectitude
I remember suggesting to Dan that
one did not need to be a poet to be against war
(I was not without attitude)
Aside from Quakers and Mennonites
and marginal Catholic activists 
pacifism was not exactly hopping in the 1960s
I distinguish pacifism from the
non-violent civil rights movement
That movement was based on a challenge to
rampant hypocrisy
and laws breached
Pacifism was and remains
a rejection of war

Another very different encounter with
"Catholicism"  
Ecumenical Monasticism
was with the Taize Community in Chicago
I remember these men as delightful enjoyable
and as human as can be
Brother Frank was my main contact
and he was a superb ambassador
of this global community which remains centered in France

Had Bobby Kennedy lived and become President
I might have gotten closer to 
the mainline Catholic community
by moving to DC
As things stand I can only claim the contacts
on this page and a few
exposures in NYC of late
which I categorize under the heading
serendipitous 
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