In the 1970s Orbis Books was the U.S. cutting-edge publisher of books coming out of Latin America that heralded the phenomenon of liberation theology. Gustavo Gutiérrez, Leonardo Boff, and Jon Sobrino were among the authors boldly questioning the Church’s historical alignment with the rich and advocating the preferential option for the poor. A representative title was Jose Comblin’s The Church and the National Security State.
Perhaps it was the post-60s zeitgeist that accounts for a highly unusual book published in 1978: Raymond Whitehead’s Love and Struggle in Mao’s Thought. That is no typo—that’s Mao, as in Mao Zedong, Chinese revolutionary, Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party, and Evil Incarnate to the West (along with Stalin and Hitler). Just as Latin American liberation theologians and pastoral agents employed Marxist social analysis as part of their struggle against oppression, Whitehead retrieved from Mao’s thought challenges that the mainstream churches needed to confront head on. Here are some representative passages:
“Each person, whether proletarian or bourgeois, revolutionary or reactionary, can progress by struggling against selfishness, arrogance, laziness, fear, and timidity. If constant, vigilant struggle is not maintained, then one will regress.”  Read the rest of this entry »