Up the Hill, with Phil (and Charlie)

Late start on 13 mile journey to Charlie’s school this morn; house been a-flu-ey; no symptom more revealing than my failure to tune in ‘Bird Flight’ til 9:30, just as Phil Schaap was rapping up his discernment on the order of recorded solos taken by members of Charlie Parker’s ‘golden age’ quintet during a triumphant visit to France in May 1949. Our Charlie always lights up at sound of Phil’s voice; loves the music and even exploits the phonic affinities to exhort his dad, ‘up hill Phil!’ as we near a steep slope that leads us—when time permits—on an extended bonus listening tour prior to finally making our entrance at Charlie’s very special school.

Last night I told students that if Phil can devote 80 minutes of WKCR airtime each weekday morning—now going on three decades–to the music of a genius who died at age thirty-four, historians and biographers of Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker movement ought to bring similarly passionate devotion to treatment of  Ms. Day’s writings, spanning seven decades. And especially, we suggested, to Part Two, or the ‘conversion narrative’ portion of her classic spiritual autobiography, The Long Loneliness.

Dorothy was indeed, pace Dave O’Brien’s ringing 1980 elegy, ‘the most influential, interesting, and significant person in the history of American Catholicism.’ So the fact that nearly three years—not a mere nine months as was always reported and never corrected by Dorothy herself—transpired between the birth and baptism of her daughter Tamar Teresa and Ms. Day’s entry into the R.C. church ‘means something.’ We explored those somethings last evening in class. DD and Fotser Batterham 1925 It means something because Dorothy Day was in fact not merely the most influential, interesting and significant person in the history of American Catholicism: her life was among the most meaningfully lived in her nation’s experience. Dorothy Day on Christopher Close-up, part I (video)


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