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Faith Dialectic

Christopher Hitchens, one of the great intellectuals of our era (albeit misled on a few things), has been gone for six years. He succumbed to esophageal cancer in 2011. His reigning moment was in promotion of his anti-theist book god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.

That book, along with his memoir Hitch 22, ended up not being quite as atheist as he hoped. He opined about the discovery of his Jewish identity throughout both books, illustrating that it clearly meant something to him. A big part of why religion has not successfully absolved by any godless state is that it's not an artificial construct but the expression of the will of the communities and tribes that it rises from. Hitchens knew the Jewish roots of much of his thought process and in effect both his and Bill Maher's criticisms of religion weren't really what they advertised them as.

The videos of his anti-religion polemics show what a great soul we really did lose. There was a great clarity to his thinking, both when he was right and when he was misled. His thoughts on what exactly World War II was demonstrate something I long suspected, especially after studying both liberation theology and the rise of Islamism:

Hitchens stipulates that fascism and much of the Third Reich was the work of the Catholic Right. Much of the Reich were dedicated Christians and the model of fascism arose in Italy, the geographic home of the Vatican and, after World War II, was modeled in South America with regimes in Chile, Argentina and El Salvador (the latter where Oscar Romero was killed). The Mussolini model replicated throughout Catholic countries throughout the world.

Hitchens is not wrong about this but for there to be a right, there must also be a left. As institutions of community and resource allocation, religious institutions are going to have the dialectic between people who want to keep resources under control and to themselves (the right) and those who want to make them more liberally available (the left). Outside of religion, this same dialectic will arise in a secular democracy, a communist state or whatever.

The exact dialectic Hitchens portrays one side of has been portrayed in popular cinema. The film Padre Pio Die Pietrelcina, a hefty 3 and a half hour long film about the venerated Catholic saint Padre Pio, portrays a priest coming from the Vatican to interview him about his life. The priest harasses and berates him for false claims of having the stigmata and other "miracles," a shallow criticism for other personal dislikes.

It becomes clear after the retelling of his life that the priest has a personal vendetta. He cowardly failed to protect a boy who called for shelter, only to be killed by fascist police. The left/right dialectic has been a part of the Catholic church for some time - the church has Marxists who are more radical than many secular socialists, while also hosting fascists who would introduce a programme of eugenics if they ever got the chance.

So it is too with whatever our current conflict. Driven by the same need to control the world's resource, in this instance the world's petroleum supply. ISIS, in its brutality and claim to a world religion, does look alot like the fascists of old - however, Islam is as multi-layered as any global religion.

Every day, mosques redistribute supplies and help and feed communities throughout the United States. Malala Yousavzai and the Kurdish militias in Syria all consider themselves to still be Muslim. ISIS is the modern equivalent of the Nazis but, in their eventual defeat, which could get as far as a great power like China or Russia destroying them, the Islamic equivalents of liberation theology could arise again.

We all are brothers and we soon will see that again.


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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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