The Forgotten Radical Peter Maurin: Easy Essays from the Catholic Worker

The Forgotten Radical Peter Maurin: Easy Essays from the Catholic Worker


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The definitive edition of Catholic Worker cofounder Peter Maurin's Easy Essays, including 74 previously unpublished works

Although Peter Maurin is well known among people connected to the Catholic Worker movement, his Catholic Worker co-founder and mentee Dorothy Day largely overshadowed him. Maurin was never the charismatic leader that Day was, and some Workers found his idiosyncrasies challenging. Reticent to write or even speak much about his personal life, Maurin preferred to present his beliefs and ideas in the form of Easy Essays, published in the New York Catholic Worker. Featuring 482 of his essays, as well as 87 previously unpublished ones, this text offers a great contribution to the corpus of twentieth-century Catholic life.

At first glance, Maurin’s Easy Essays appear overly simplistic and preposterous. But upon further investigation, his essays are much more complex and nuanced. Packed with demanding ideas meant to convey dense information and encourage the listener to ponder different ways to understand and interact with reality, his short poetic phrases became his modus operandi for communicating his vision and became a hallmark of his public theology. Each essay contained anywhere from one to ten or more stanzas and were part of a larger arrangement, often titled. Within the larger arrangements were individual essays, which were also titled and arranged in such a manner as to support the overall thesis. Many individual essays were later repeated in slightly altered forms in new arrangements. Previous arrangements were also repeated that omitted or added an essay.

Providing scholarly and contextual information for the modern reader, this annotated collection includes more than 350 footnotes which offer a layer of intelligibility that explains Maurin’s use of obscure references to historical people and events that would have been common knowledge for readers during the 1930s. When appropriate, the footnotes explain why Maurin chose to cite a person or event. A scholarly Introduction offers a robust synthesis of contemporary scholarship on Maurin and the Catholic Worker that considers radical Catholicism and questions regarding race, ethnicity, religious difference, and gender, because many of Maurin’s essays take up these themes. This book shapes the ways Maurin is read in the present day and the ways leftist Catholicism is understood as part of twentieth-century history.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780823287536
Publisher: Fordham University Press
Publication date: 08/04/2020
Series: Catholic Practice in North America
Pages: 864
Sales rank: 495,199
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Lincoln Rice received his Ph.D. in Moral Theology from Marquette and is the author of Healing the Divide: A Catholic Racial Justice Framework Inspired by Dr. Arthur Falls. He currently teaches theology at Marquette University and is a member of the Casa Maria Catholic Worker in Milwaukee.

Table of Contents

Introduction | 1

Easy Essays Published in The Catholic Worker | 19

Unpublished Easy Essays | 423

Appendix I: Four Interviews with Peter Maurin | 491

Appendix II: Peter Maurin’s Radio Interview | 505

Appendix III: Peter Maurin’s Book Recommendations | 509

Biographical Glossary to Peter Maurin’s Easy Essays | 513

Acknowledgments | 561

Easy Essay Index | 563

Name and Topic Index | 577

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