Karen House Catholic Worker



About Karen House

About the Catholic


The Roundtable

Get Involved




The RoundTable


Fall 1986


Major Articles


  • Choosing Nonviolence in the Western World – Virginia Druhe
  • A Nonviolent Pilgrimage – Pat Coy
  • Haiti and Spiritual Hunger – Mev Puleo
  • Against the Idolatry of Ideas – Mark Scheu

Download Entire Issue by Clicking Image Above

(large file - takes a minute!)


Karen House:

1840 Hogan St.

Saint Louis, MO  63106

Contact Us:



Regular Features

  • Cover – Artwork by Fritz Eichenberg
  • Why This Issue – Mark Scheu
  • Centerfold – Photos by Mev Puleo
  • From Cass House – Tim Pekarek
  • From Little House - Mary Ann McGivern, SL
  • From Karen House – Lee Carter
  • From our Mailbag
  • RoundTable Talk – Barb Prosser

Why This Issue:

From the beginning of my life as a Catholic Worker I have puzzled over our cherished ideal of nonviolence. Even though I have committed myself to a nonviolent life, I have never fully understood exactly what nonviolence is. The term is used in many contexts seemingly to signify different things. I have heard people argue that going limp upon arrest does violence to the police officer who has a fragile back, while others maintain that such passive resistance is a legitimate pert of nonviolent actions. Or a heated and ugly exchange is characterized as violent even though physical force is absent, whereas a storm is called violent precisely because of its physical force -even though malevolence is obviously absent. A materialistic lifestyle is said to do violence to those oppressed in order to sustain such a lifestyle. On the other hand, sometimes our attempts to live simply or to pursue social justice complicate our lives to the extent that we do violence to ourselves.


It is significant that every contributor to this issue is a member of the Catholic Worker community, with the exception of Mev Puleo, who is a good friend and long-time supporter. This is appropriate given our claim that we value nonviolence and try to embody it in our lives. For if we who maintain this principle cannot explain it, whom should we expect to do so?


Virginia Druhe's article negates the assumption that nonviolence is merely a choice one makes at a specific moment in time when one must opt for force or surrender. As she points out, many of our life choices implicate us to varying degrees in the violence of our culture. Mev Puleo writes about the use of nonviolent resistance in the overthrow of the Duvalier regime in Haiti. In this case, nonviolence was not so much a choice as a last resort, not so much a lifestyle as a tactic. Her article sheds new light on Jesus' prediction that the powerless will inherit the earth.


Mark Scheu issues a cautionary note that we be careful not to idolize nonviolence. Any principle, as compelling as it may be, has value only insofar as it is rooted in Christ. Pat Coy writes about nonviolence as it operates in our houses of hospitality. While it is perhaps "cheap grace" for North Americans to be pacifists in the absence of war, our commitment to nonviolence is tested daily in our houses as we deal with our guests and each other. He points to the need for a deep sensitivity to others as an integral part of being nonviolent.


Each article reflects a dimension of nonviolence: as a way of life, as a political tactic, as a gospel value, and as a method of relating to one another. It is this call to a sensitivity to our nature as human persons which runs through each article and supplies the key to the meaning of nonviolence. Unless we assume that all people share a common humanity which is intrinsically valuable, it makes no sense to speak about nonviolence.


For what is a violent act or choice violating if not one's very self? What does the way of nonviolence respect but the common human hunger to free and the universal desire to be loved?


- Ellen Rehg



The RoundTable is 24 pages long.  To download, you'll need the most recent version of Adobe Acrobat.

Download Adobe Acrobat 8 here (it's easy AND free!)


Search all of the RoundTable issues for an author, subject or title here:

Google search
WWW www.karenhousecw.org