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Maiello and Orion on Star Wars, Working Out and Right Wing Militias

A note - Blogging isn't free. Right now I provide gifts to my writers as a way of thanking people for writing. I would like to be able to afford to give them some sort of renumeration, even if it is small, for making this blog what it is. I'm in talks with a friend who may be able to help connect this blog, which has been in existence for one year now, with more religious communities dedicated to interfaith dialogue. Your donation will do a lot toward making that happen.



If you've been reading Radical Second Things for any period of time, you know very well that Michael Maiello and I regularly get together to ask questions of one another on various things. I had a lot of things to ask him this time and so, ask I did.
Questions for Maiello
So by now, I imagine you have seen the Season Two premiere of Star War: Rebels, “Siege of Lothal.” Disclaimer: I absolutely loved this. I had trouble with the first season simply because I was so impatient. I needed to know what had happened to Ahsoka Tano, what Vader was up to, etc. and they were focusing on a bunch of new characters first. This Ahsoka/Vader confrontation buildup is some heavy stuff – it could possibly exceed the emotional weight of the original trilogy because this is someone who really did know Anakin when there was good in him. What do you think?

I've watched it twice.  It's the best they've done with this show and I agree with you that the feud between Vader/Ahsoka has a lot more heat than Vader/Luke.  Vader and Luke didn't know each other. Vader and Ahsoka have a deep relationship.  One idea I've encountered that I like is that she makes it all the way to the Emperor and he kills her, like he almost kills Luke in ROTJ.  It would help explain Vader's later change of heart.
I really loved the way he took on their entire fleet by himself.  And how easily he took down Kanan.
I agree that it could help explain Vader's abrupt change of heart in ROTJ. Both ROTJ and ROTS are good movies but Anakin's fall to the dark side and his return to the light seem abrupt in both instances. I think these cartoons are great because they take the time to explore these really complex characters in a way movies never could.

You look good and photogenic lately. You been working out?

Thank you!  Yes.  I run one day and do calisthenics on a pier by the Hudson River the next.  Getting outside, as opposed to a gym, has been really good for me.  No weights!  Jump rope, medicine ball, TRX... that kind of thing.

Some of your family shots were of you and the kiddo on the Subway. I know how stressful mass transit was in the Bay Area. Does it ever get stressful, especially with family in tow?

Nah, he's Manhattan born and a natural on public transportation.  As for me, I barely use it when traveling alone.  I commute by Citibike, our local bike share, which is excellent.

What projects do you have going on right now?

I have this idea for a story about a time traveling killer cyborg who gets into politics.


So gay marriage is legal. I was informed by a friend of Jen's (Jen was Canadian) that it's been legal up north for some time. What do you make of this?

I wrote about this a little for Dag.  I am happy for everybody involved and I think it's a step forward for our society. But, I have a friend whose lover died, quite suddenly, years ago.  Had they been able to get married, they would have.  So the fact that this took so long robbed them of any married time they might have had together.  As a society, we can never make that up to them.  We did wrong.

On a darker note, another mass shooting. Guns have been around a long time, like slavery was, and we went a pretty good amount of time without this happening every couple months. We're going against hundreds of years of legal reinforcement of the right to bear arms but I honestly think it will crack some time in the coming years. It's sad that things had to be like this but, well, it usually is after bloodshed that things change, I guess. What do you think?


I think it's easier for people to give up Confederate flags than guns. The most charitable reason I can think of for that is that most gun owners really are responsible people and so they do not believe that they will ever do anything wrong with their guns.  They don't accept limitations on their own freedoms because to them, guns are just things and they and their friends are good people who just happen to own them.  I suppose there could be a huge cultural change, but I don't see people giving up on this. (Note from Orion: you could probably replace "guns" with slaves in that sentence and it would have made perfect sense 160 years ago.)
Questions for Orion
Tell us about your exciting book project, timing, what to expect, everything!  Okay, that was a command, rather than a question.
When I talked to you last, I told you that I had a lot of people helping and supporting me. I had friends who created a living situation in which I could write unmolested, I had other friends who provided material, a friendly prospective publisher in Hampton and I even now have an artist who is interested. The feedback has been positive.
Despite the support, I am nervous and anxious. It's one thing to write an article and get published - I have been doing that since I was 16 years old, for God's sake. The closest I ever did to this was helping draft reports when I was at the Heritage Foundation or doing a thesis in college. It's really an entirely different animal, what I'm doing right now.
The book is a Christian book but it's also a radical and progressive one. I feel very privileged to have been able to create such a thing. It's on the short side, while the draft has evolved to past 150 pages, I'm not expecting to pass 200 unless I really am inspired - I was influenced by books like Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning which were really powerful while also being just really concise.

You don't write about religion an awful lot but I've been able to pick up from our talks that you are at least casually distrustful. People like you are my audience. I'm working with the premise that the New Testament was Radical Judaism - Christianity is Radical Judaism - and so even if Christian institutions become conservative, when you actually look at the gospel, you will find that Christ was this extraordinarily radical figure who stood against the most powerful institutions of his time. I have a lot of conservative friends of faith and even if they disagree, they don't think this stuff is bizarre or out there. There is definitely an audience - there's always an audience for Christ!!!
What's your take on Greece?  How many geniuses does it take to destroy a country?
What I think is really scary in Greece is the rise of militia groups. As this country continues to unravel, you have groups like Golden Dawn who are able to attract to people because they're out feeding where there no longer is food or it's unaffordable. Right wing militias are always a risk whenever a state or financial institution collapses - they capitalize on the raw anger and fear and direct it toward this or that group. The Jews are a pretty secure and protected group at this point - I think it would be Muslims who would be blamed for everything that's gone wrong, like Muslims were blamed in Yugoslavia in the 1990s. It's all bad.
I think people were pretty meh about the Obama legacy until now.  How do you think he will be remembered?
I don't like Obama personally. There, I said it. It's not for the reasons that most don't - I think that Pope Francis is every bit the leader that Obama promised to be and Francis is far to the left of him. Obama is very Nixonian - he promised to end our wars and just continued new ones remotely. He hasn't shown the sort of leadership that we all thought he could back in 2008. Perhaps his hands are tied and he is limited but I have trouble thinking that a man who flat out said that our foreign policy should be about taking oil by force in front of the United Nations represents me.

Also, I think Obama's legacy relates to the mass shooting. I don't like firearms, I want regulation but the things have been in this country a very long time, like hundreds of years, without regular mass shootings. They exist in places like Canada and Australia - those countries have way stricter laws but once you're in the country, guns are around just like here. The country is unraveling and an unraveling country has things like this. Sure, Obama inherited a lot of this but his Nixonian nature kept him from really being a great leader.
What are you reading these days?  What's your summer reading recommendation?
I have a friend who is a bit of a neophyte about most things in this world and bought a copy of A People's History of the World. It's good Marxist stuff but he didn't expect that for some reason, despite the title. I also read a book called Radical by a pastor from Alabama that wants to reintroduce socialist principles to American Christianity. Yeah, you read that right.


  1. Good luck with your book. Nice to here it is coming along.


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About Radical Second Things

Michael Orion is a blogger, writer, artist and photographer based in the Bay Area. Besides his maintenance and promotion of Radical Second Things, he contributes to the San Francisco newspaper SF Western Edition, where he writes about local non-profit organizations.

Mark Cappetta is a practicing Catholic and active LGBT activist. He has been instrumental in keeping Radical Second Things and updates the Facebook account almost daily.

Eva Gnostiquette is an artist, programmer, "future scientist," bi-trans girl and graphic designer. She voluntarily helped to create the first print issue Radical Second Things and designed our beautiful banners. Thanks so much, Eva!

Jordan Denato is a professional artist based out of Iowa. He took the initiative to illustrate both Jennifer Reimer's story and Michael Orion's Oscar Romero work. He has his own art studio, Tar and Feather Studios, and is a critical part of Radical Second Things.

Radical Second Things is a liberation theology themed blog that has clear cut goals - we see the structural decline of the United States and much of the west and hope to present alternatives that will offer "a preferential option for the poor" as more become vulnerable.

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