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In 2011, I experienced a brutal and horrible drug withdrawal. While travelling through southeast Asia, I went without SSRI and benzodiasepenes, which I was taking together in order to alleviate crippling anxiety. The process mentally was indescribable - in no small part because I don't fully remember it all. I remember a decent amount sure, which honestly felt pretty close to dying - whatever these drugs do leads to a very destructive feeling during withdrawal, but I wasn't conscious for all of it - it came to a head with me waking up in a hospital, being told of a fit that I had absolutely zero memory of.
When I woke up, I woke up to a Chamorro nurse telling me my "brother" was there. My brother of course was Erving, who had helped me survive hell by keeping me with him. He brought McDonald's, which I will admit has led…
Today I attended mass at Saint Columba Catholic Church. For the parishioners, they provide a pamphlet called "The Justice That Makes Peace Possible: An Interfaith Proposal." SCCC seems to be a genuine liberation theology driven Catholic church in the heart of the Bay Area - the sort of congregation that I have hungered for for years.
I want people to see for themselves and to visit their website or, if they are in the area, the church for themselves. However, I really did enjoy parts of the proposal and want to share portions of it here. The text was originally written by Thomas P. Bonacci, C.P. with the Interfaith Peace Project. Check it out:
1. We must become what we want the World to be. It is quite normal to have a vision for the World. We are often disappointed with the World around us and the people we meet and encounter. Sometimes we are angered by the misdeeds of others. The World situation can seem overwhelming. I come to realize what disturbs me. This upset can be…
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Today, I actually got out of bed in the middle of the morning, as exhausted as I really was, got on the BART train and made it all the way to San Pablo, in North Oakland, to attend services at Saint Columba church. I found about the church from an online special about it. I would greatly like to interview someone at the church but until then, here is a feature with some of the pictures I took. Saint Columba has portraits of Cesar Chavez, Dorothy Day, Oscar Romero and a number of other radical Catholic figures that you wouldn't typically expect to be prominent in a major church. In addition to that, there is a black Jesus figure - an homage to its largely African American constituency.
Radical religious organizations aimed at African Americans aren't really a new thing but they usually are Baptist, Muslim, even Seventh Day Adventist or…
My friend Eva, a big part of Radical Second Things, dug up stuff where I wrote about Richard Spencer and Donald Trump all the way back in 2011. I wish I hadn't been a prophet about this but I guess I was:
So I have created a music playlist that I think pretty much epitomizes the times we currently live in on a progressive level. Prog rock was huge in the 1970s and oddly enough seems to be somewhat resurgent in our current times, times that are socially very, very similar. There was a bunch of music I thought would work in this playlist but I kept in concise so that the casual listener would greater appreciate the songs I think are core to this collection.
While watching Russia Today recently, they had a guest on (I've been unable to find the original video) who wrote an upcoming piece in the American Conservative that in part defended the most disappointed part of Obama's presidency - the continuation of various Middle East wars. The author said that leaks from within the Obama administration seem to indicate that Obama was very well aware of the real power dynamics in the Middle East and simply was pressured in to various actions by Sunni Arab interests.
The disastrous Trump months vindicate this - Trump has not hesitated to sign an epic arms deal with Saudi Arabia, throwing various rhetoric to the side with much less nuance than Obama did. The links between terrorism and the Sunni states has continued to fracture as well, as a large scale war threatens to break out with Qatar and Yemen as battlegrounds.
One thing Dave Chapelle said, just as he said that he would "give Trump a chance," is that we may end up missing …
I have had the spectre of Asperger's / autism over me most of my life. Few people have ever called me a bad person or anything like that but more than a few bring up "autism," ADHD or whatever think I have with derision.
I have gone through various transitions of embracing it and rejecting it. At first this seems confused or erratic, perhaps even mean and vindictive to the people who only cared about me who had me diagnosed with it. However, there was reason to doubt. Asperger's syndrome wasn't named after a British or French psychoanalyst but after an Austrian doctor who came up with the disorder at the height of Nazi Germany.
There is something seriously wrong with me however. One friend said I feel too much - that I feel fear on a level perhaps most don't and that when someone close to me is in distress, I feel the need to protect them in ways that may be over the top or dramatic. When I am frustrated with someone, a similar result comes about.
My life has not been easy - people who know me personally know about most of it. I somehow have persevered and kept trying where most people would have left the building a long time ago. That's all well and good - my story only matters so much.
2016 was disturbing to me personally on many, many more levels. As the world seemed to go through some wider, brutal transition phase, I repeatedly ended up dealing with roommate who seemed on the verge of collapse. Joe Biden has said that 2016 stoked "our darkest emotions" and I think this is most certainly true.
Only one person who freaked out, Jean, decided to target me personally - although another, Alex, and I got in a few meaningless arguments. Jean got downright scary - as scary as I really have seen a person. Jean was/is (based on e-mails I got from him later on, he's still alive) a senior citizen who lived seven decades. He lived in Lake Oswego when I was trying out Portland.
I came up with Radical Second Things in 2014, well before working at Tikkun, however, once I was there I saw the great ideals that a radical / progressive religious organization can have and also how the organizational structure can be lacking.
Rabbi Michael Lerner's emphasis on a "Global Marshall Plan" helped foster a great deal of the infrastructure focus of the posts here and on the Facebook page while his membership group, the Network of Spiritual Progressives, was a cool way of keeping people involved.
I want to mirror that model with my own network. I am announcing a network called "The American Tradinista Network." The objective of this would be much more narrow than "secular progressive" - the goal is to get everyone who would like to see policies rooted in solidarity with the poor implemented in America. I'm located in California and, with its proximity to Central America, this seems especially prescient.
I recently watched 2015's Fantastic Four, a Marvel movie that didn't do that great in the box office. I personally enjoyed it and thought it reflected the franchise well. One line really got to me, when Sue Storm declared that music was but "pattern recognition," wherein the musician lays out a series of patterns, building up and teasing the listener with recognition (usually in the form of a "hook.")
Reed Richards then asks Sue Storm if she sees any patterns in him, to which she says, "You want to be famous. People told you to do certain things, you ignored them and now you're here."
It's no secret that racism and prejudice is on the surge in the United States and likely throughout much of the world, especially in parts of the world dominated by a Western order that is fracturing. It's puzzling how people who didn't have these resentments, at least not on a paramount level, suddenly issue them compulsively and even uncomfortably.
As regular readers know, last week I profiled Stefan Salinas, a Bay Area Catholic author who I was fortunate enough to have met at the Bay Area Book Festival. Stefan was nice enough today to provide me to a link to his Facebook art page, where you can directly see alot of his material and even purchase his books. Check it out.
I've met a good amount of famous people of all kinds and who would almsot certainly not like one another - David Sedaris, Al Franken, Paul Ryan, etc. I even worked with Rabbi Michael Lerner. Nevertheless, meeting Cornel West yesterday, in 2017, really lit me up and got me motivated. He was clearly on his way to do something but I made sure to tell him it "was really, really good to see him around" and to keep going. He bowed toward me and said, "Thank you so much, my brother." He talks like that to everyone, I realize, but it was good to see that he appreciated the encouragement. I was busy tutoring while he was clearly on his way toward something, with a young student guiding him around. Nevertheless, seeing him made my day. West had his first ascent as an intellectual in the 1990s. He wrote books like Race Matters and Blacks and Jews, a favorite, with the aforementioned Rabbi Lerner. He has appeared on rap albums with guys like Brother Ali and The Roots. He st…
I watched Wonder Woman today. DC Comics not only broke its bad streak of superhero movies but made one of the best ones ever, up there with Thor or The Dark Knight. Like Thor, a literal god character, which also usually wasn't the most popular in comic books, is somehow made completely relateable to the audience. It's anyone's explanation why Hollywood writers were able to figure out the God of Thunder or Diana better than they could Superman.
The film could easily be shown in theological courses on the premise of "man's fallen nature" as it takes on the issue head on in very simple terms. The film also successfully depicts World War I, a much murkier conflict than WW2 that traditionally is forgotten by Hollywood. Then there is the gender thing - there are some conversations between Gal Gadot's Diana and Chris Pine's Steve Trevor that accurately depict how puerile and ridiculous the way we think of gender and sex is. The characters end up developing a r…
Read part one here. How did you become aware of the story of the Muslim craftsman who built a chair for the Pope? Through hours of Google searches! After determining that the silly peace narrative I made up about Muslims and Catholics was too preachy and bland, I looked to the internet for a true and recent inspirational story out there. Something kid-friendly. They hit the international news when the chair was only partially complete, and I caught up with it in April of 2015 (the chair was finished that June). The Lord sure knows how to engage us. As a lover of religious art, and a person who has been fortunate enough to have been able to make things to be installed in churches, finding this interfaith story about artists who make things for mosques and churches - well can you not see how it’s as if the Holy spirit thought, “Now this story needs to be told to younger generations to come, but who exactly shall I choose for the job?” Which churches were your favorite to depict in e…
I met Stefan unexpectedly last week while I was at the Bay Area Book Festival. I came across his two children's book - Catholic Churches Big and Small and A Muslim Family's Chair for the Pope - and instantly thought that both were a perfect match for Radical Second Things. I got copies of both and Stefan agreed to an interview. Hopefully it leads to more - he is perfect for this project! Check out the videos he made for this project:
You told me when we met that you originally sought publication through Ignatius Press, a generally conservative Catholic publisher. What made you decide on self-publishing? This was for my book on churches. They said, Hurray! They wanted to publish it, and they even sent me a long questionnaire to answer. I had a graphic novel for a much different audience out at the time, so I simply asked them if I could use a pseudonym for the kid’s book. The next day I received a cold rejection. “With the new information you provided to us regarding your other n…
In producing Marvel’s Daredevil for Netflix, creator Drew Goddard had quite a task for himself. Much like Christopher Nolan when he took on Batman in his back to basics trilogy, Goddard found himself tasked with making a character who had previously been depicted in what most fans and critics saw as a B-movie.
Goddard not only surpassed that threshold but may have surpassed the original material, making the general message set upon for decades by creators Stan Lee, Frank Miller, Kevin Smith, Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Waid all the more clear - by getting to the core ethos of each character and making it more pronounced. Here’s how:
Matt Murdock - When Matt Murdock was first designed by Stan Lee and artist Bill Everett in the 1960s, the character’s alter ego was lanky, muscular and blonde. This look often clashed with the vulnerability that was expressed when the character was revised in the 1970s. It almost seemed as if he was pretending t…
Monastic writing will seem abstract and even weird to secular senses. When you're bringing up children or working for a "slave wage" as people call it, the talk of monks will seem so strange that it seems like it's from an other time - which typically speaking, it is.
When the world gets too wicked and entrenched, however, is when the departure of the recluse really starts to make sense. I went through a horrible bout of drug withdrawal in 2011 and spent the next two years living quietly in an apartment in Seattle. Besides getting food, hanging out with friends and working freelance writing jobs, I didn't really do a whole lot.
There was no drama and I realize how much I perpetuated the drama as much as anyone else. Someone else may have started it but I ran with it and made it my own. The world moved on with all of its excess without me, thinking very little of my departure.
Again, in 2016, I had nowhere close to a drug withdrawal episode but I did attempt some…
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.