recién llegadosNo religion runs pure, free of human influence. But a cult of growing prominence in Venezuela takes syncretism to a whole new level of practicality, purpose, and paradox.

“One day the santos malandros help a desperate mother keep her child off drugs; the next day they help you score some cocaine. It’s the duality of life, but that’s the way real life functions. I also believe in the Virgin Mary and my other saints — it’s just that these saints understand the street better.”
~Judith Escalona

The video report above from Vice magazine takes you inside this bizarre world and gives you a taste of these “sainted,” now dead, street-level criminals and lets you see the hope they provide to the poor, who are living in the some of the most desperate conditions. An absolutely fascinating look into the way people make faith their own.

(photo: Ronald Rivas Casallas/Flickr)

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I'm not sure you should have used the word "paradox". Our history is a record of practical efforts to fill the void. It began when an ancestor first asked "Why am I?" and created the first answer. It didn't fill the void for it can't be filled, so someone else modified the original answer or added a new one. The process was repeated every generation since and we live with the consequences. Even the 'good' religions which began as a single answers have been modified and added to until there are for example a billion versions of Christianity. The Venezuelans have added to the open end of history. They have tried and failed to fill the void with the 'good'. Now they are trying the 'bad' and 'ugly'. 

Whether good, bad or ugly all efforts to fill the void are self-destructive. Currently the materialistic 'answer' dominates our effort to fill the void and by the look of it this is the one that could destroy us. Our only hope is that in the coming 'darkness' we will see the 'light'. We will accept that the void cannot be filled and begin to empty it until we are left with the "ideal".

Doug, I take your point and can see the danger of this use. Perhaps it's the even more complex messiness of adapting religious, in this case Roman Catholic, traditions and iconography that I find particularly intriguing. Thanks for the note.

Nice post.I like the way you start and then conclude your thoughts. Thanks for this information .I really appreciate your work, keep it up

I appreciate your kind words. It's something I have to work at and make sense of myself, and am obligated to work out for the reader. Cheers.