Michael Moore: For Those of You on Your Way to Church This Morning...
Now, let me just say right of the bat, I have not seen Michael Moore's latest movie "Capitalism: A Love Story" yet. When I see it I will post my thoughts. But he has posted an article on the Huffington Post posing the question what would Jesus think of current day capitalism. It is a fair question to ask. The issue that I struggle with is that it has taken a guy like Micheal Moore to ask this question.
In defense of the church, throughout history many schools, colleges, hospitals, shelters, and food pantries have been initiated in response to cultural issues where people needed help. There are many churches today who are doing amazing things to help the poor, feed the hungry and provide help and assistance to low income families.
In defense of Jesus I don't think he came to blast capitalism, socialism or imperial Rome. Regardless of that, Jesus was a threat to the political structures of his day. He came announcing that the kingdom of God is here. He came to reconcile people to God.
But the fact is that we as Christians NEED to be asking more critical questions of our culture, society, economy and dare I say Capitalism. I am not saying that socialism would be better. History has shown us that that system has also produced an economy where those in power grow wealthier while the others live in poverty. When I head off to my local Christian bookstore, what really bothers me is that I don't see much of anything that critiques or calls into question the institutions or structures that oppress people and enslave the poor. I don't see anything that advocates for illegal immigrants in our country that are used pretty much like slaves to keep our economy going but when it comes to the care and responsibility of looking out for these people I hear harsh statements leveled at a whole group of people as if it is all their fault that they are in our country and we bear no responsibility to them at all. Instead what I see on the bookshelves is a bunch of propaganda literature for politicians that cater to the mainstream Christian base. (How much do you want to bet that Sarah Palin's new book will be front and center at your local Christian bookstore). I see a bunch of Christian self-help books that inspire me to be a better me. I see a lot of wishy-washy, warm fussy, feel-good type books that seem to make the best sellers list again and again. (Thank God that at least Dave Ramsey is trying to help us gain a better view of stewardship when it comes to our finances. Also, Tony Campolo is one of those rare voices that do ask the tough questions.)
In fact, the most disturbing thing that I just saw, displayed as I walked right into a Beacon bookstore the other day was a new Bible called the "American Patriot's Bible". This is a Bible that tries to knit together the Word of God with American history. Might I add that there are many, many "God Bless America" paraphernalia displayed all throughout the bookstore also. Now I will admit that I do not know anyone who owns this Bible nor would I recommend it to anyone. I love to read the Bible and I love to read American history. But to knit the two together just reeks of nationalism. Instead of Christianity being a voice that stands above the modern day structures that make up America we seem to have fallen into the sin of nationalism. In fact the very title of this Bible seems so prideful and arrogant when you consider that Jesus died for the whole world, and he went out of his way many times to explain to the Jewish establishment that God's kingdom was for everybody.
It is bothersome to me that it takes rockstars like Bono (whom I absolutely love) to advocate for apartheid in the 80's, debt forgiveness at the turn of the century, and now currently AIDS. These are all issues that the church should have lead the way in calling out the social structures of our society to uphold justice, practice forgiveness and institute compassion. The church needs to be more vocal in social justice issues. It is good that we help the poor but at what point do we start asking questions as to why are there so many poor and can something within our social establishments be changed to help the least of these so that they don't have to stay at the bottom. Current day capitalism needs to be questioned, evaluated, critiqued and judged according to the ways in which Christ has called us to live.
So the question remains, "What would Jesus think of Capitalism?" I think Jesus would have established that we are not of this world (social structures of our day) but instead we are kingdom people. I know Jesus would have spoken out against greed, corruption, and enslavement. I believe that Jesus would teach us not to wait upon the government to help us but to live in community with other believers and look out and care for each other. I believe that Jesus would help us carry out His mission all around our world. Micheal Moore identified himself as a Catholic. I have to wonder if he has explored his denominations involvement in serving the poor, helping the needy and reaching out to those who need help. Does he know of what the Catholic church has been doing in order to live into being kingdom people here on earth? What kind of impact is his church having in the surrounding neighborhoods where they serve? Micheal Moore is good at uncovering the dark side of humanity but I wonder if he could possibly go in a different direction and explore the good thinks that have come out of the church in response to evil in the economic/social system in order to launch a movement of good or at least fan the flames so that the sparks the church is currently making would burn even stronger. Could Moore inspire us to live within community out of the goodness of our heart? That might not make for a controversial documentary which he likes to be known for.
I do love the fact that I grew up in America. I love this country. But this is not God's country. It is just another form of Babylon that will disappear from history when God establishes His eternal kingdom. It is up to us to live as kingdom people right now standing up for what is right, and exposing what is wrong within our country. We are stewards of God's creation. We need to bear that responsibility with integrity. If we do this correctly, we are going to have to ask some really difficult questions that critique capitalism, environmental issues, health care, and war. We can not accept the spoon-fed answers from the left or the right. But we must be open to the fact that God's ways do not fit into such easy categories. Instead of listening to those who demonize those who oppose their views we must be open to the fact that we might have something to learn by listening to others we may not normally listen to. Micheal Moore is one of those people.
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