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The Catholic Worker Review: ‘Pure Act: The Uncommon Life of Robert Lax’

19th February 2016

Jim Forest, in the January- February issue of The Catholic Worker, writes about Michael N. McGregor’s “hard-to-put-down biography,” Pure Act: The Uncommon Life of Robert Lax, where he describes how Lax “became a quiet voice telling his readers about the love of God in language that is never hackneyed or crazy but is lean, surprising and drawn from deep wells.”

He says in his review, “Michael McGregor — who knew Lax well — has written a book I’ve waited a long time to read. It’s a story with many surprises and much beauty. McGregor has the biographer’s gift of not only keeping careful track of Lax’s long pilgrimage, both physically and spiritually, but of bringing the reader into a space in which Lax is permanently alive and well. It’s a luminous story told with love and skill.”

Jim Forest tells us how he had met Robert Lax at The Catholic Worker in 1961, saying that “The Catholic Worker was a natural place for Lax to be. He had an affinity for the marginal and for those drawn to them.”  The Catholic Worker is a newspaper that was started by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin in order to make people more aware of how the church taught social justice and what it said.

Dorothy Day was an incredible woman, and you can read more about her somewhat controversial life in Fordham Press’ upcoming book, Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker: The Miracle of Our Continuance.  “In this beautiful new book, more than sixty photographs—many published here for the first time—are accompanied by excerpts of Day’s writings gleaned from her column “On Pilgrimage” and other articles published in The Catholic Worker between 1933 and 1980. The result is a powerful visual and textual memoir capturing the life and times of one of the most significant and influential North American Catholics of the twentieth century.”

For a first look at Vivian Cherry’s photographs and Dorothy Day’s works together in one book, there will be a book launch at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center Campus in the 12th Floor Lounge on Tuesday, May 3rd at 6:00 pm.  Details to follow in the upcoming months.

To learn more about McGregor’s Pure Act: The Uncommon Life of Robert Lax, you can check out his interview with New Dimensions Radio, available for free from February 17th– March 1st, here.  You can also listen to Late Night Library’s podcast interview of McGregor and poet, John Beer, talking about Lax and his book here.  This interview will become available on February 23rd.

In the meantime, check out Fordham Press’ website for McGregor’s book and our soon-to-be released book on Dorothy Day.