The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


Are the heroes of Michael Moore’s new movie…priests?

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

You sorta get that impression, from this intriguing entry from Progressive Revival at Beliefnet: 

Roman Catholic Priests are the surprising voices of clarity and conviction in Michael Moore’s new film Capitalism: A Love Story.   The Priests in this documentary, one of whom married Mr. Moore and his wife, aren’t ambivalent – they characterize capitalism as evil.   This must be jarring for most moviegoers who have not had the pleasure of interacting with radical priests who, unfortunately, seem to be something of a dying breed these days.   Most of us are used to the recent steady stream of religious voices praising our free market system as part of God’s plan for prosperity.  In Moore’s opinion we have been hypnotized to believe that capitalism and Christianity must go hand in hand.

 

In one of the funnier segments of the film, Moore adapts one of the early Jesus movies by dubbing over foundational teachings of Jesus such as “You cannot worship God and wealth” (Luke 16:13); “Blessed are the poor and woe to the rich”(Luke 6); Let the oppressed go free (Luke 4), and changing them to pithy endorsements of such stock capitalist principles such as the profit motive.  One immediate classic is the scene of Jesus refusing to heal the sick man because of what this new improved capitalist Jesus describes as his “pre-existing condition.” 

 

While the views of the priests in this film may seem strange to some, Christians have been questioning Capitalism’s ethical compatibility with Jesus since the effects on the poor of capitalism and industrialization became tragically clear in the 1850′s.  


You can find out why, and much more, at the link.  




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Rudy

posted October 5, 2009 at 11:53 am


Mr. Moore is a millionaire that has benefited from capitalism very well. He owns a mansion and lives very well indeed, courtesy of a free market economy.
Let Mr. Moore sell all his posessions, share them with the poor and live in a cave, or at least in a shack and his pandering will be more beleivable.
Of all societies in the world, the Uniteds States is the most equal, the most prosperous of all. What are Mr. Moore’s models? China? Russia? Venezuela? Vietnam? Cuba?



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Madelon A.

posted October 5, 2009 at 2:57 pm


I’d like to paraphrase Michael Moore’s film title to “Social Justice–the Church’s Love/Hate Relationship.” I say this because of years and years of teaching about Social Justice and years and years of abuse and degradation in the workplace of the church, as a Catholic Educator and as a Pastoral Assistant/DRE. First, please don’t tell me that “our reward will be great in heaven…” Before that journey, I have to be able to afford to live life here on earth. This year, at nearly age 62, I am without work. 18+ years of experience and a Master’s Degree + in Theology mean nothing now. The school’s declining enrollment (it is now ack up to higher than last year…)meant no contract this year. I believe it is because of the teacher pay scales that (rightly) increase each year, just like public systems. Now my courses are being taught by a language teacher who “took some theology in college” and the drama teacher who has taught catechism. By the way, I am certified to teach drama and I could teach French if I had a teacher’s manual. There are no jobs for me in my diocese or three neighboring dioceses. I’ve never earned more than $36,000/year; I received no severance; I was given no warning; I was offered a “Cobra-like” insurance plan costing $792 per month when my unemployment is about $1400 per month. How can I live on that?? And now, if I take early SS, my retirement income will be reduced by a third for the rest of my life!!
Anyone out there care to share similar stories?? I’m going to see my bishop on Wednesday and I’d like to ask him the WWJD question…and show examples of how the Church doesn’t know how to “Walk the Talk.”



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NightLad

posted October 5, 2009 at 3:31 pm


Michael Moore… meh. He is a little obnoxious, and he blatantly admits to selectively/creatively editing his movies. He isn’t so much documentarian in the truest sense as much as he is out to make a statement using other peoples carefully chosen quotes.
It is for that reason that I’ve soured on him since “Rodger and Me” and “Bowling for Columbine”.
Rudy:
I don’t blame him for making money. Good for him. He came from a town whose economy was torpedoed by shady business practices conducted under the name of capitalism. I think it’s an extremist view to suggest he should sell what he owns and live among the poor.
Although, if you are a Biblical Literalist, which I am certainly not, you may feel that way. Apparently the Bible supports Communism far more than it does any other type of social system; the story of the men who held back 100 dollars for themselves instead of giving everything to the community, and god killed them, for example.
“Of all societies in the world, the Uniteds States is the most equal, the most prosperous of all.”
Actually, according to several major international financial and social development centers, the US is ranked number 22 – far below Britain, 7th, and even below Canada.



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Dana MacKenzie

posted October 5, 2009 at 4:49 pm


A rather despicable move, trying to say “Jesus would like you to live in a socialist country.”
A response to that http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/theanchoress/2007/08/08/totalitarianism-incompatible-with-monasticism/
The thing is, communism works in very small enclaves, in monasteries, for example, where everyone involved is entering willingly, is voluntarily looking to be denuded, is eager to “give stuff up” in an effort to attain something quite different from worldy “stuff.” Communism does not work, though, in a large-scale national situation whereby people are expected to sublimate themselves, their instincts and their ambitions for the good of the party. Socialism does not work.
There is an enormous difference between a few dozen people voluntarily giving up their worldly goods for communal living, and forcing people to participate in such a society against their will. The first brings freedom for those who choose it. The second, historically, has brought tyranny, poverty, slaughter and the gulag.



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RJ

posted October 5, 2009 at 5:06 pm


If you guys are here talking about socialism or communism, you have missed the whole point of the movie. While he is talking about capitalism as being this evil and nasty beast, what he is really trying to show you is how people have used this as a vessel to do what they please. If people had a ethics and morals that involved treating other human beings with respect and fairness, then we wouldn’t have most of these problems. People need to wake up and hold people responsible for their actions. Yes the world is tough and your trying to make it on your own, but when you do this at the cost of other people’s lives and quality of life then you have no compassion and are nothing more than a shallow waist of a life. Looting to make more money for what? Now don’t get me wrong everyone will not make the right choices in life and will be financial free or comfortable but to take advantage of people for your personal gain is sick. All he is trying to do is change the world for the better but if you guys are happy with people being taken advantage of because you are doing fine then, all I can say is God help us all!



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Narodnik

posted October 5, 2009 at 10:26 pm


Mike’s film on health insurance would have been superb if he did NOT shoot himself in the foot and include Cuba. Doing that just gave the loons ammunition to KILL the “Medicare for All” single payer plan Obama wanted to give us. Obama messed up – he ROYALLY messed up – and now it’s finished unless people have a revolution here. What we are going to end up with, will be WORSE than what we have now, a “bj” to the health insurance companies.
Capitalism was fully explained, albeit in a turgid over-the-head manner, by Marx, long ago. He was prophetic about it. 100% on target. This is NOT to say that communism or totalitarianism is the answer. But Medicare for all would have been GOOD. NOBODY that has Medicare wants to give it up.



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Rudy

posted October 6, 2009 at 7:29 am


Americans have become whiny whimps. Good grief!



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Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

posted October 6, 2009 at 7:51 am


I have not seen the film, so I can’t comment on its content. I have seen almost every other Michael Moore film and yes, he is indeed one of the most obnoxious humans on the earth.
That said, prophets often are.
I know, gasp and shock, I just said that Moore is a prophet.
Without having seen the film, but having read a lot about it, I will say that there are elements of capitalism that have plenty of moral issues.
Now I don’t think that throwing the whole thing down the drain is the answer, but perhaps some necessary time in reflection is. We don’t typically sit in sackcloth and ashes unless called out to do so.
Might I also recommend the easily google-able The Market as God by Harvey Cox. Just something to consider.
Virtue stands in the middle – it is ok to criticize capitalism and it is ok to criticize communism and it is essential to consider our participation as Catholics first, as Americans, capitalists or whatever, second.



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