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A Catholic Salvation Army: David Goldstein, Pioneer Lay Evangelist

  • Debra Campbell (a1)

With the publication of Catholic Revivalism in 1978, Jay P. Dolan transferred the scholarly discussion of nineteenth-century American revivalism to a larger arena. He not only unveiled the Catholic counterpart of a phenomenon hitherto considered exclusively Protestant, but he also demonstrated that potentially fruitful comparisons might be drawn between the Protestant and the Catholic revival experiences. Although twentieth-century evangelism still awaits an inclusive ecumenical treatment along the lines pursued by Dolan, some promising subjects for initial forays into this field have surfaced. This essay focuses upon one minor character in the epic story of American Catholic evangelism, David Goldstein (1870–1958), a convert from Judaism and socialism and a pioneer lay Catholic street lecturer between the world wars.

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1. Dolan, Jay P., Catholic Revivalism: The American Experience, 1830–1900 (Notre Dame, 1978).

2. See Goldstein, David, Autobiography of a Campaigner for Christ (Boston, 1936), pp. 16.

3. See Carrigan, D. Owen, “Martha Moore Avery: The Career of a Crusader” (Ph.D. diss., University of Maine at Orono, 1966);Goldstein, David and Avery, Martha Moore, Socialism: The Nation of Fatherless Children (Boston, 1903), p. viii;Goldstein, , Autobiography, chaps. 34.

4. Goldstein to Avery, 21 April 1917, David Goldstein Papers, Boston College Special Collections, Chestnut Hill, Mass. (hereafter cited as GP).

5. Quoted in Tierney, Richard H., S.J.,“‘Big Roman Catholics’ and Billy Sunday,” America, 23 06 1917, pp. 259260.

6. Anonymous editorial, America, 7 07 1917, p. 336.

7. Tierney, “‘Big Roman Catholics’ and Billy Sunday.”

8. McLoughlin, William G., Billy Sunday Was His Real Name (Chicago, 1955), p. 149.

9. Quoted in Goldstein, , Autobiography, p. 266.

10. For a description of the first vehicle, see Goldstein, , Autobiography, p. 266.

11. The Pilot, 7 July 1917.

12. Ibid.

13. For a detailed discussion of Goldstein's method and content, see Goldstein, , Autobiography, chaps. 1214; and Campbell, Debra, “David Goldstein and the Lay Catholic Street Apostolate, 1917–1941” (Ph.D. diss., Boston University, 1982), chaps. 35.

14. Goldstein, , Autobiography, p. 346.

15. An important exception is Goldstein's, essay, “Lay Street Preaching,” in The White Harvest: A Symposium on Methods of Convert-Making, ed. O'Brien, John A. (New York, 1927), pp. 209238.

16. For the first phrase, see, for example, Goldstein, , Autobiography, p. 262. The latter term appears in numerous places, most prominently in the title of Goldstein's autobiography.

17. [Dorsey, Theodore H.], From a Far Country: The Conversion Story of a Campaigner for Christ (Huntington, Ind., [1939]), p. 168. Goldstein owned at least four papal-colored vehicles between 1917 and 1941, including two sedans equipped with sounding boards, a Buick with portable speakers in the early 1930s, and a bus with a built-in sound system from the late 1930s on. See photographs, GP.

18. See, for example, Dolan, , pp. 7980.

19. Marius Risley, Goldstein's former assistant, supplied the detail concerning the crucifix in an interview on 12 May 1981.

20. Along with pamphlets and standard apologetic works, Goldstein, sold his own books at meetings both to spread Catholic teachings and to finance his work. His published works include Autobiography of a Campaigner for Christ (Boston, 1936),Campaigners for Christ Handbook (Boston, 1931),Jewish Panorama (Boston, 1940),Letters of a Hebrew-Catholic to Mr. Isaacs (St. Paul, [1943]),My Boston Pilot Column (Boston, 1956),Suicide Bent:Sangerizing Mankind (St. Paul, 1945), and What Say You? (St. Paul, 1945). In addition, Goldstein collaborated on three books with Martha Moore Avery: Bolshevism: Its Cure (Boston, 1919),Campaigning for Christ (Boston, [1924]), and Socialism: The Nation of Fatherless Children (Boston, 1903). Goldstein also published several pamphlets as well as numerous articles in Catholic journals and newspapers.

21. The Pilot reported regularly on Goldstein's lectures and occasionally included excerpts.

22. Goldstein, , Autobiography, p. 309.

23. Ibid., p. 296.

24. Goldstein, , “A Layman's Apostolate,” America, 11 01 1919, pp. 336337.

25. Poster from tour in 1931–1932, GP. On Sunday's advertising and that of the Catholic mission priests, see McLoughlin, , pp. 6971, and Dolan, , pp. 5759.

26. America, 17 March 1917, p. 556; West, Stuart P., “Lay Apostolate,” America, 2 03 1918, p. 521.

27. Dolan, , pp. 5052;Elliott's, WalterNon-Catholic Missions (New York, 1895) is a handbook explaining how to conduct lectures for non-Catholics.

28. See Russell, W. H., “The Catholic Evidence Guild in the United States,” Lumen Vitae 3 (1948): 301317.

29. Goldstein, , “The Record of a Dozen Years of Campaigning for Christ,” The Pilot, Centenary Edition, Section B, 8 03 1930.

30. See C.P., Conlith Overman, “American Street Preaching,” Homiletic and Pastoral Review 46 (03 1946): 432.

31. See clipping labeled The Tablet [London], 16 August 1924, GP.

32. See notebook on tour of Louisiana, 1937, GP.

33. Goldstein, , Autobiography, pp. 273274.

34. McKinley, Edward H., Marching Toward Glory: The History of the Salvation Army in the United States, 1880–1980 (San Francisco, 1980), pp. 136137.

35. May, Henry F., The End of American Innocence: A Study of the First Years of Our Own Time, 1912–1917 (New York, 1959), p. 95; and Allen, Frederick Lewis, Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the Nineteen-Twenties (1931; reprint ed., New York, 1959), pp. 8283.

36. Goldstein, quoted Archbishop Ireland in “A Layman's Apostolate,” pp. 335336;A. S., , Providence, Letter to the Editor, America, 1 02 1919, p. 421;Goldstein, , Letter to the Editor, America, 15 02 1919, p. 470.

37. (Unsigned carbon), K. F. Lahr, St. Joseph, Mich., to William J. McGinley, national secretary, Knights of Columbus, 22 February 1927, GP; Clipping from the Vallejo [California] Morning Times, 13 01 1918, GP.

38. See Campbell, , pp. 281284, 323334.

39. Heffron to Goldstein, 17 January 1935, GP; Rogers to Goldstein, 28 January 1935, GP.

40. Goldstein to Avery, 30 November 1927, GP.

41. (Carbon), Goldstein to Rev. John C. Riedinger, 23 March 1936, GP; Goldstein, , Autobiography, p. 277. English street speakers, both clerical and lay, made similar claims. See Pope, Hugh, O.P., “The Modern Apostolate,” Ecclesiastical Review 61 (08 1919): 128; and Ward, Maisie, Unfinished Business (London, 1964), p. 91.

42. Kenkel to Goldstein, 30 October 1923, GP.

43. McLoughlin, , p. 287.

44. Interview with Risley, 12 May 1981.

45. O'Brien, John A., “An All-Out Diocesan Campaign for Souls,” in Bringing Souls to Christ: Methods of Sharing the Faith With Others (Garden City, N.Y., 1955), pp. 3867. Although the Catholic convert movement peaked before Vatican II, evangelization remains an important issue in certain sectors within the American Catholic church today. In 1976 New Catholic World devoted the entire July-August issue to the evangelization of the American unchurched. This issue appeared in the wake of the 1974 Synod of Bishops in Rome, Pope Paul VI's encyclical Evangelii Nuntiandi (1975), and the Marriottsville Conference held in this country late in 1975, all of which addressed the topic of evangelization.

46. O'Brien, John A., “Editor's Foreword” to chapter two, “How You Can Win Converts,” in Winning Converts (New York, 1948), p. 11.

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Church History
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