Luke the Evangelist vs. Dorothy Day

With this our final round of Saintly Kitsch, the last spot in the Faithful Four is up for grabs. After a close race, Hilda of Whitby snuck by Harriet Tubman yesterday to join Frances Perkins and Oscar Romero as Lent Madness semi-finalists. Today it's Luke the Evangelist squaring off against Dorothy Day. Will the writer of Luke-Acts add another illustrious chapter to his legacy or will Dorothy carpe diem?

To get to this point Luke defeated Absalom Jones and John Donne while Dorothy made it past Edward Thomas Demby and Benedict of Nursia.

We've seen mugs and tote bags and trucker hats this week. Most of the Lent Madness faithful have enjoyed the respite from the serious business of learning even as the choices have become ever more agonizing. A handful have stormed off in a huff (though we have a funny feeling they're still voting). It's hard to believe there are only three voting days left in Lent Madness 2013. On Monday Frances Perkins will face Hilda of Whitby; on Tuesday it's Oscar Romero versus the winner of today's match-up; and on Spy Wednesday the two remaining saints grapple for the Golden Halo!

Luke the EvangelistLuke

Keep your iPhone cases and T-shirts. Kitsch is not just about the cheap stuff. Questionable religious taste belongs to rich and poor alike, and for truly high-end saintly kitsch, apparently you need an evangelist.

It’s obvious that Luke, whose Mary extolled a God who has sent the rich away empty, would need a 14 Luke2Karat Gold prayer medal. This stunning beauty, originally priced at $2,438.99, is available on Amazon for only $928.99  -- a 62% savings! Of course, it will take a couple days extra to ship from the seller, a company named (and I am not making this up) CleverEve Inc. Clever, indeed! Especially since numerous other 14K gold St. Luke pendants can be found on Amazon or eBay at prices ranging from $157. This one, for a mere $199, is especially tasteful.

Luke5If you are looking for something more practical and economical, perhaps this Italian Charm Watch with Stainless Steel Band would do the trick. Available on eBay, the St. Luke watch “has 16 stainless steel blank Italian charm links and measures approx. 5.1/2", fully expanded approx. 7.1/2" and will fit most average sized wrists.” Add extra charm with extra charms! Question: Is Luke looking up like that in pain after being stabbed from the back by the watch hands? Or is he merely resting his hand on the mechanism to manage his carpal tunnel syndrome after writing the bulk of the New Testament?

You might wish to match the watch with these fabulous St. Luke earrings. That is, if you want to picture Luke earringsLuke as a creepy bibliophile, inviting to look closely at your earlobes and his etchings.

Luke silverBut for the truly highbrow, what you really want is Art, such as this “Nicely Cast European Silver Saint Luke.” I have no doubt that it is, as the seller describes, “a finely cast, European silver figurine made during the 19th century…in fabulous overall condition.” And to be fair, if kitsch describes something mass-produced, then this does not fit the bill. However, if you allow your definition to stretch to religious representations of dubious taste, one might allow that spending $960 for a 4½ inch tall silver representation of a gospel writer particularly concerned with the poor and needy might merit the mantle of kitsch.

-- Laura Toepfer

 Dorothy Day

day5Like beauty, kitsch -- especially as it relates to the saints -- is in the eye of the beholder. What seems to some as appallingly cheesy as dogs playing poker with Elvis appears to others as magnificently inspiring as the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, where, as it happens, we once lost a son to a dense pack tourists for 30 long minutes. But that’s another story.

Dorothy Day, the American lay woman who co-founded the Catholic Worker movement and served tirelessly throughout her life on behalf of people living in poverty, did indeed spawn kitsch, but, like the woman herself who always wore donated clothes and lived a very simple life, it’s austere kitsch.

There is the famous poster by Bob Fitch who captured Day’s calm demeanor framed by police at a day2California protest organized by the United Field Workers in 1973. Seventy-six years old at the time, she was arrested later that day.

Those who are intent in promoting Day for sainthood have recognized the power of t-shirts and bumper stickers to make their case. The “Sainthood Now” campaign seems to speak with a revolutionary tone that Day might have endorsed for a less self-referential cause.

day4Speaking of revolution, this t-shirt captures the spirit of her conversion nicely, “The greatest challenge of the day is how to bring about a revolution of the heart.” Ain’t that the truth?

Of course, not all Google searches turn up treasures you can buy -- or even see. For example, the Dorothy Day Archives at Marquette University apparently house, tucked away in some “Raiders of the Lost Ark” storeroom, the following items:

  • Runner hand-loomed by Dorothy Day, ca. 1936
  • Clothing worn by Dorothy Day: belt , coat, night gowns (2), scarves (2), stockings (2), n.d.
  • Prison smock autographed by inmates and Joan Baez on 2 August 1973
  • Hair clippings from Dorothy Day's brush, 6 April 1980
  • Straw hat worn by Dorothy Day when she was arrested in support of farm workers in 1973
  • Last typewriter used by Dorothy Day (acquired ca. 1974)

Hair clippings! Sday8tockings!

And unlike web searches on St. Luke the Evangelist or, say, Macrina the Younger, it is possible for a Celebrity day9Blogger to land on the Jacksonville PD’s website and realize that in 2005 Dorothy Day, aged 56 -- after what must have been a bad night -- was arrested for domestic assault. Obviously not our Dorothy Day.

Day wrote, “My strength returns to me with my cup of coffee and the reading of the psalms.”

That brings us to the most ubiquitous of kitsch: the mug, both travel and ceramic, and its night-before cousin, the stein.

day7Then there is this deliciously funny mug. My boss, Bishop Steve Lane, has a terrific laugh and it’s fun to find ways to crack him up, which, verily, he did yesterday when I told him about this mug.day3

But always, always, we circle back to where we started. Back to truth and beauty and its beholder. One of the best finds of all is a mural of Dorothy Day painted by Amanda Webber at Luther Place Memorial Church in Washington, D.C.

day6Other doorways at the church are arrayed with murals of St. Martin of Birmingham and St. Francis of Assisi. At the dedication of the Dorothy Day door in May 2011, Pastor Karen Brau said, “We celebrate today the gifts of Biblical hospitality lived out in the life of St. Dorothy Day of New York. A woman who came to her faith in adulthood, St. Dorothy took the words of Jesus so seriously that she sought ways to live out Jesus’ love for all people, particularly the most vulnerable — the poor.”

And the people said, “Amen.”

-- Heidi Shott


Luke the Evangelist vs. Dorothy Day

  • Luke (60%, 1,995 Votes)
  • Dorothy Day (40%, 1,315 Votes)

Total Voters: 3,310

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97 comments on “Luke the Evangelist vs. Dorothy Day”

    1. I pray for you to recover your health, Jon, and for God to minister peace to you while doctors and nurses administer care. And Luke it is.

    2. Jon,
      Prayers on the way for your healing.
      Peg from SMAA vote went for was the Luke earrings that swayed the vote 🙂

        1. Blessings to Jim too, why not. In all seriousness if this is not fun for someone there is no reason in the world for them to continue on, so by all means Stop the Madness (for yourself). Jim, I wish you well in your alternative studies.

          Meanwhile, an idle thought - if it is a sin to vote for a saint in remembrance of one who shares the name, is it also a sin to name someone after the saint to begin with, esp given that said small human is bound to go through a very undignified helpless and squalling phase, perhaping bringing dishonour to his/her namesake? Yeah, I think not. So I'm ok to stay, and I'm not renaming any of my kids (which would be awkward anyways since they're all adults).

        2. I think it has to do with the order the photos appear on the blogpost, but then Facebook might use some algorithm other than order of photos in the code in the post You can always unchecked the "show thumbnail" bo before posting. Or you can go to right click on the photo you want (like one of the Lent Madness logos found under, I think, widgets), choose file save as, and then post it as a photo on FB and add the URL to Lent Madness in the photo description.

        3. Dear Maple Anglican, can you please include the URL to the video on YouTube along with the embedded video since for some reason iOS 5 (the last iOS with good maps) won't play the embedded videos.


        4. Verdery & Heidi:

          Maryhill Museum in Goldendale, Washington has among many artifacts and works of art on display, a bracelet that was made for Her Majesty Queen Marie of Romania (each of her first cousins got one) as a gift from her Grandmother Victoria (yes, that Victoria who ruled a third of the world in her day). The bracelet is very beautiful and is delicately woven out of Her Majesty Queen Victoria's hair.

        5. If fun and learning couldn't coexist I don't think I would have survived 7th grade math. (I had a great teacher for that class, which sadly was the exception not the norm during my K-12 career.). Peg is right. Many vote. Few comment. As for reading the comments . . . all can, some should, none must.

  1. I note that Luke is ahead probably because some hospital CEO where the poor cannot be treated has sent a request to vote. The truly poor of course have no Internet connection and are disenfranchised. So on their behalf Dorothy wins the Day for me

    1. Ditto and you hit the nail on the head!
      I work with poor daily and they need our support as does Dorothy !

    2. That is probably the most mean-spirited comment I've seen on this site (Big Lobster and Big Pineapple don't come close). 14 hours later Luke has kept pretty much the same margin all along which also makes me question its veracity; a big surge and then some narrowing of the gap would be the more likely pattern if it were true.

    1. Dear SEC, once again we do not have our choice of thumbnails supporting our saint of choice! There is only one today, and it is not neutral!

      1. That's on FB, not on LM... as the admin for a church FB page, I run into this problem all the time.

  2. Kitsch aside, I still have concerns about DD's statements regarding Castro, Lenin & Mao Tse Tung, which seemingly condoned their use of violence (mass murder). Hard to understand how she could believe that these tyrants acted out of love. I'm voting for Luke (his kitsch sets the bar much higher than what we've seen so far, although I'm still dreaming about the Hilda iPhone case!)

  3. As an Archivist, I was entertained by the description of Dorothy Day's Papers as "tucked away in some 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' storeroom.'" Regardless of their vault's similarity or lack thereof to the storeroom in question, Marquette has some terrific stuff, including this collection that may be of interest to Lent Madness folk:
    Marquette originally acquired Tolkien's papers because of his role as a Christian/Catholic author.

    Despite the obvious appeal of Dorothy Day's archival collection, though, my vote goes to Luke.

  4. Luke has SWAG y'all! It's hard for Dorothy Day to compete with all that swag. Yet, I am drawn to the anti-swag today. That and Day's inspiring me to work for social justice have earned her my vote up in heer.

    1. Not to supplant the Archbishop's wise suggestion of prayer, but here is some supplemental help - A Psychological Tip - from Piet Hein for the severely undecided:

      "Whenever you're called on to make up your mind,
      and you're hampered by not having any,
      the best way to solve the dilemma, you'll find,
      is simply by spinning a penny.
      No - not so that chance shall decide the affair
      while you're passively standing there moping;
      but the moment the penny is up in the air,
      you suddenly know what you're hoping."

      (translation for Canadian readers, recently bereaved of lowest coinage denomination: "penny" = "nickel"

  5. I do love Silver Luke and His Hypnotised Cow, with ham-handed Luke suffering the beginnings of a coronary--no doubt having seen his figurine self in a mirror. And blessed are the poor in spirit but rich in pocket who would invest in "Pray For Us" golden bling. That is some mighty fine kitsch. But then there's Dorothy's hair clippings and straw hat--perhaps the one from her poster image! Think of the provenance! But seriously, folks, no matter what color Luke was, he is my pick, across the ages, around the world, in the hearts and minds of all sorts and conditions of humanity. His gospel writings give insights found nowhere else. Dorothy Day did great good. I hope she is sharing psalms and coffee with the writer, the healer, the uplifter known and loved as St. Luke.

  6. Voting for Luke. He was the first Episcopalian after all, showing Jesus at all those smart dinner parties.

  7. Two POWER CB's go head to head today! Loved both the writeups, especially Laurie's. While I liked Luke's kitsch better, I'm sticking with Dorothy Day, although if I had more time I might look up those quotes by her about Mao Tse Tung etc.

  8. As much as coffee and the Psalms sounds like my kind of morning, I responded first and best to Luke's account of the Gospel. Besides, Darth Vader killed his father. Oh, wait... Team Luke for me.

  9. Oh, c'mon! Hair clippings! Stockings! And a mug that makes you snort out your coffee!!! Dorothy Day all the way ...

  10. We don't even know who Luke was or how much of what's in the Gospel was any one person's. I love the Gospel but have no sense of the person. So, it's Dorothy for me.

  11. Gotta be Luke for me. I have had Luke 9: 57-62 before me for a long time now. I predict Luke and Frances for the Golden Halo. Now that will be an epic battle. Ham vs Lobster!
    With my hand on the plow,
    Michael Cunningham

    1. The mug won me over as well....but then I am also a strong admirer of the Catholic Worker House as well. On behalf of women everywhere, thank you, Dorothy.

  12. Anyone up against Luc, well....that boy is too fab to be beat out by anyone, except! Isn't it time for women's day? Like Dorothy Day!
    Today is the Day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in her!
    Vote Dorothy!

  13. Well I finally had to chime in. Come on folks - can we let Luke outpace our beloved Dorothy Day? I know she wasn't an Episcopalian BUT she would be the talk of the town if she walked in to any of our fashionable Episcopal congregations on a Sunday morning with that designer outfit. Certainly she would make our Lenten Array look absolutely cheesy in comparison. PLEASE VOTE NOW for Dorothy Day. No respectable Episcopalian or friend of mine would want Luke, who never even got arrested once, to win today's voting.

  14. I just *had* to vote for Dorothy Day. Oh, I'm sure people like me will be roundly excoriated in this "comments" section for our "political correctness" for daring to vote for a modern-day revolutionary over the man who wrote a significant portion of the New Testament (I see it's already started). But, hey! (As Si on Duck Dynasty would say & nothing's more kitsch than DD, but I digress...)

    (1) Dorothy Day has been one of my personal heroes since my teens (2) My best friend & I were *just* talking about Dortohy the other day (& now I know what to get him for his bday this year, that "I'm more Dorothy Day than Opus Dei" mug!) (3) they mentioned the Day ARCHIVES!!! & I'm an archivist. Also amused that every time someone in the general public mentions an archives, they seem to be required to talk about the archives being like the end of Raiders. Sigh. (4) in said archives is a smock autographed by prisoners & St Joan Baez! (5) as if I needed anything else to seal the deal, the article quotes Pastor Karen Brau, whom I know personally & worked with on many a social action back in the day. !!!

  15. Hair clippings, stockings - 1st and 2nd class relics you guys! Those will be high demand once Rome gets around to declaring Dorothy "venerable"

    1. Right, Alan. Just what I thought when I read about those. Especially the hair clippings, with their "Eeww!" factor.
      I admit I might go for the smock signed by Joan Baez!

  16. Even though I've often been voting for the women this Lent Madness season, I am voting for Luke today. Being Year C it's the year of Luke in the lectionary, and Luke has so often captured the pattern of Jesus' relationships with women (as well as foreigners, the outcast, the poor), thereby setting the pattern for later disciples such as Dorothy Day to follow. That my exegetical reasoning and I'm sticking with it! 🙂

  17. Loved the DorothyDay/Opus Dei mug! Based on kitsch, since I can't spend all day being torn between two beloved saints - seems counterproductive, I'm voting for Dorothy today. Thank God we're reading Luke this year so I can revel in his words come Easter Sunday! I do love the way he tells the story.

  18. Good to know there's high-end kitsch; thanks for that. Interesting, too, to see how closely "kitsch" and "relics" combine and re-combine with each other. (I wonder if there was medieval kitsch? I bet there was.)

    Well, it's Luke for me today; glad he's still around....

  19. The mug (hair clippings and night gowns) did it for me, too .... My vote goes to Dorothy.

  20. Went for Dorothy Day, though it wasn't easy. I think it was the handwoven runner — along with the vision of her with a cuppa joe in one hand and a psalter (very plain, of course) in the other.

  21. Earlier this week in Lent Madness, when Dorothy Day was winning the field against our father among the Saints Benedict of Nursia, William Cooper and I pointed out her adulatory remarks about the good motives of such luminaries as Lenin, Stalin, and Mao, butchers of millions, as well as lesser lights like US Communist leader Angela Davis, who was denied the same opportunities her mentors had.

    In fairness, however, even though saying this may seal our Catholic Worker's loss to the Holy Evangelist Luke in today's contest, it should be pointed out that Dorothy Day took strong stands for things that are very unpopular in the contemporary Episcopalian milieu. I'm afraid that, due to her outspoken views on abortion & contraception, social welfare & the minimum wage, government-run medicine, and traditional sexual mores, Dorothy Day would be dismissed unceremoniously as one like unto an evil Republican, waging war on women and the poor.