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Showing posts from June, 2017

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Obama's Vindication

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 …

Going Crazy From A Strange Brain

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.

One friend…

2016's Lessons

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. 

Everything started off seemingly well. We ha…

Introducing "The American Tradinista Network"

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.

Updates coming soon - this may i…

Eid Mubarak from Stefan Salinas!! (Exclusive Art)

More Material From Stefan Salinas!

Hello all,

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. 

Meeting Cornel West

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…

Wonder Woman Is A Winner

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…

Interview With Bay Area Catholic Author Stefan Salinas Part Two

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…

Interview With Bay Area Catholic Author Stefan Salinas Part One

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…

Five Reasons Marvel’s Daredevil Was Better than the Source Material

Something different - an entertainment post.

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 Enlightenment

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…

What Drives Putin?

Back in 2012, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney brought up Russia as a geopolitical threat to the United States, a testament that Barack Obama, then seeking re-election, put down pretty starkly, saying, “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”

Fast forward a little over four years and suddenly things have changed dramatically. With a wealth of business ties and possibly things a bit sketchier than that, Donald Trump stumbled his way in to America's presidency with the tacit support of Russian leader Vladimir Putin. While it's unclear how deep that relationship really goes, Putin's recent response to Trump's rejection of the Paris accords, something that he himself has affirmed his compliance with, shows that the former KGB intelligence officer wants Donald Trump to be president.

Why would this be? Let's look at it by trying to be third person observers, away from our own biases as mu…

When the World Catches Up With You

It's weird when the world catches up with you. While blogging for the progressive website Dagblog, I posted about what I saw as a growing and alarming "Alternative Right" movement. In the midst of that, while travelling abroad, I went through the hell of benzodiasepene withdrawal. Going through that and coming out the other end was somewhat superhuman - I'm not sure how I did. I posted on Dagblog incessantly during that with posts that alarmed most the readers and the founder. Alas I got through it. Again, not really sure how.

Both those things seemed weird and bizarre when they occurred, as if I had unique problems that were due to my own challenges or failings. Years on, however, pretty much all I wrote about occurred in the broader world - one recent Glenn Beck monologue on his radio show had him going through the modern American experience, which he called "chaotic," and not only talking about the appeal of the Alt Right through the primacy as a leader…

Radical Second Things Opposed Donald Trump from the Beginning

I wanted to remind readers, as Donald Trump is now experiencing a backlash from most the world for his rejection (or attempted rejection) of the Paris Climate Accord, that Radical Second Things was opposed to Donald Trump from the beginning. This video was made for this website by the creator a year ago:

Questions on the World with Mohamed Zeeshan

Hello all - so as you can see, I have been sparse on the content recently at Radical Second Things besides the Stars of Courage series. This is my second interview with Mohamed Zeeshan, a researcher and student from India who is currently studying International Relations at Columbia University. I originally met him through Rabbi Larry Bernard ( :P ). Zeeshan is whip smart with politics that lead politically and religiously conservative (albeit largely in an Indian context versus American) but he has such an analytical brain that his thoughts could go any direction. He was nice enough to answer a few questions for me. Enjoy and be sure to donate so that I can do more like this. 

A bomb blast at a major concert in the United Kingdom heightened the tension in Europe to the worst since World War II. On top of that, Rodrigo Duterte is now saying that ISIS has invaded the Phillipines. Are we seeing a global conflict?
I don't think we're in a "global conflict". Terrorism has …

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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.

© 2017 Radical Second Things