Michael Moore solidified his role as the most effective Catholic in the United States with his spontaneous response to gun madness in the USA.
The irony here is that by far the USA is the “ most religious” country in the advanced industrial world. The truth is its brand of religion is cloying, sentimental, ahistorical and damn near irrelevant. Name me a Catholic bishop who would stand bravely and speak powerful truths to a bloated, self-important church and nation.You can’t.
The prophetic has died in the American hierarchy. Moore deserves the Biblical descriptor though I do not think he courts it.
One must always contextualize religion to truly understand its dynamic. Christianity lost its way with the Constantinian arrangement (4th century).The early Christians were called “Followers of the way”—and that meant Jesus invitation to pursue the reign of justice which at a minimum gets you into trouble. as Bonhoeffer said in Nazi Germany, “When Jesus calls you, he bids you come and die.” This powerful Christic movement descended ultimately into a religion of creeds and hierarchies, long on abstraction, mass attendance etc. The age of faith, active engagement became the age of belief. Add to this the supermarket culture of America where prophetic religion was overwhelmed by a consumer culture overlaid by a rancid American exceptionalism Often as A.N. Whitehead said “Religion is tending to degenerate into a decent formula wherewith to embellish a comfortable life.” Not so for Moore.
The prolific communicator amazingly challenged this religion of “cheap grace” His films were a direct assault to the religion of empire which America espoused. He, like Jesus, risked ridicule, death threats yet he persevered. He was forced to hire Navy Seals to protect him, so many death threats he received.
This is his latest unvarnished truth about the country he loves and challenges to be better.
Earlier today, a crazy man went to an elementary school and attacked 22 children in China. A few hours before Connecticut, an elementary school was attacked in China by an insane man, and 22 children were his victims. But all he had was a knife. Total number of dead in the Chinese elementary school? Zero.
I hope you don’t mind, but I’d like to just say a few words about what happened today, because I’ve been concerned about this issue for a long time. Yes, we need more gun control. Yes, we need free mental health services in this country. But I really believe that even if we had better gun control laws and better mental health, that we would still be the sort of sick and twisted, violent people that we’ve been for hundreds of years, that it’s something that’s just in our craw, just in our DNA. And to get that out of our DNA is going to take a lot more than passing a bill in Albany or D.C. That’s not going to do it.
And, you know, other countries, I mean, they have their crazy people, and they have people that—there have been shootings and killings in Norway, in France and in Germany. But there haven’t been 61 mass killings like there have been in this country just since Columbine. Sixty-one mass shootings in this country. I like to say that I sort of agree with the NRA when they say, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” except I would just modify that a bit and say, “Guns don’t kill people, Americans kill people,” because that’s what we do. We invade countries. We send drones in to kill civilians. We’ve got five wars going on right now where our soldiers are killing people—I mean, five that we know of.
We are on the short list of illustrious countries who have the death penalty. We believe it’s OK to kill you when you’ve committed a crime. And then we have all the other forms of violence in this country that we don’t really call violence, but they are acts of violence. When you—when you make sure that 50 million people don’t have health insurance in your country and that, according to the congressional study that was done, 44,000 people a year die in America for the simple reason that they don’t have health insurance, that’s a form of murder. That murder is being committed by the insurance companies. When you evict millions of peoples—millions of people from their homes, that’s an act of violence. That’s called a home invasion.All the wrong people are in prison in this country.
I can’t believe we’re just standing blocks away from the biggest criminal operation that this country has ever seen, right down that street, and not one of them has gone to prison for what they’ve done. When you have eliminated so many millions of jobs, when you’ve ruined communities like mine, Flint, Michigan, you have killed people, because—because having seen firsthand the effects of these corporate decisions—the alcoholism, the drug abuse, divorce, suicide, all the social problems that go along with this act of violence—but we don’t call it violence, and no one’s ever arrested for it—I think it’s a real shame. And frankly, as an American, this is not how I want to be remembered.