Yet another question about Christopher Hitchens' god is not Great.

Indeed, within Castro’s periphery there evolved a bizarre mutation known oxymoronically as “liberation theology,” where priests and even some bishops adopted “alternative” liturgies enshrining the ludicrous notion that Jesus of Nazareth was really a dues-paying socialist. For a combination of good and bad reasons (Archbishop Romero of El Salvador was a man of courage and principle, in the way that some Nicaraguan “base community” clerics were not), the papacy put this down as a heresy.

What should I consider dues-paying here?

Should I take it as in dictionaryreference.com:

  • gaining experience, especially by hard and often unpleasant or uncongenial work.

Or should I take it as in "dues-paying member"? I know, it sounds non-sensical Jesus paying a membership or legal fee, but the passage says it actually is ludicrous.

To sum up, I can't chose between these two.

Any help would be appreciated.

Thank you very much.

  • 3
    I'm not so sure it sounds nonsensical. We can use terms like card-carrying or dues-paying in a figurative sense, even to apply modern adjectives to historical figures.
    – J.R.
    Jul 27, 2015 at 19:39

2 Answers 2


Dues-paying in this sense means that the person is an all-in member of a group, not just sympathetic to the cause.

I believe here Hitchens is trying to point out that the priests and bishops claimed not just that Jesus taught socialistic ideals, but that he was an actual adherent to a modern socialist system or ideology.

  • Thank you very much for you answer. I think you're right.
    – A.K.
    Jul 29, 2015 at 4:54

To metaphorically pay your dues could be considered to mean to have been consistently committed to a cause through one's actions or words. Hitchens in this case appears to be drawing attention to the idea being mistaken, so the anachronistic choice of words may have been partly chosen to emphasize that.

  • Thank you very much. I think these two answers confirm one another, which makes me even surer about the meaning of the word.
    – A.K.
    Jul 29, 2015 at 4:56

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