Monday, October 12, 2009

Hannity vs. Moore: Politics, Capitalism and Jesus

Two Catholic celebrities on a mission from God?

Opinion in Politics — by Christine Lakatos — on Oct 11, 2009
This past week I caught glimpses of Michael Moore’s media promotion of his new film, Capitalism: A Love Story, and I heard Sean Hannity was going to interview Moore on his Fox News show. As I anticipated this interview, I thought I was going to get a boxing match with some shocking political blows, but instead of Evander Holyfield versus Mike Tyson I got the Blues Brothers, on a mission from who I don’t know. You know the story; Jake Blues (John Belushi) is just released from prison and he hooks up with his brother, Elwood (Dan Aykroyd), to reunite their band to raise money to save the Catholic orphanage where they were raised — they were on a mission from God.

What we learn from this interaction is that Hannity and Moore are both Catholic and Hannity lied about going to Mass on Sunday. Hannity pays 60% of his income to taxes and Moore doesn’t want to reveal his true net worth. Moore blames capitalism for the mortgage crisis, while Hannity thinks it is more complex and there is shared blame to go around. Whereas their political stance was quite obvious, one for capitalism and of course, Moore against, it wasn’t clear at what point they were going to see the light, put on their dark sunglasses, and together “save the Catholic orphanage”. In between all of the political hoopla there was plenty of discussion as to “what Jesus would do", of which I'm very grateful we haven’t yet come to “what would Obama do?"

As a Christian, who like Moore and Hannity was raised Catholic and went to Catholic school, I struggle with that question in my personal life and even when it comes to political policies. Is helping the poor and the sick a moral issue? Yes, but should this issue be dealt with entirely by the government where others are forced to pay, or is this something that our charities and faith-based organizations should be handling — maybe both? In my mind, this is a very complex issue that only generates more questions than answers; like what about our own individual responsibilities (and that of our family) to our finances and our health? And does capitalism harm or help the poor and sick?

Without turning this article into a sermon, the teachings of Jesus are rooted in love for God and others and we are called to care for the poor, sick, the fatherless and widowed. I couldn't help but notice when Moore tossed some scripture at Hannity, "...the first will be last, and the last will be first". Hannity hurled back with, "Well, you're rich, so you're going to be last." Moore's counter, “Well, if I don't do good with what blessings I've received on this earth, that's absolutely right. So...but we're going to be judged, you would agree with this, by how we treat the least among us." Hannity’s response, “I totally agree." And I too concur, but there is no place where Jesus taught that this was the role of the government — it is an individual responsibility and we, as believers, will be held accountable for how we treat the needy, sick and our neighbor. While Moore is also accurate in Jesus' cautions to the rich, he failed to remind us that Jesus was not “Robin Hood”; he worked, paid taxes and encouraged his followers to do the same. I wonder if Moore read the lessons in the Bible about work ethics and the perils of laziness as wells as lifestyle and dietary laws for good health. I don’t remember Jesus lobbying for government run programs, special interests groups, or big business; instead He came to "lobby" for God — to win hearts and minds, yet always with choice; free will.

Many, like Moore, the progressive movement, and this current administration, want to denounce capitalism and “redistribute the wealth." Is capitalism evil? Only if it lacks morality, integrity and restraints. But judging capitalism on morality alone is quite tricky because these days morality is relative. And yes, there are winners and losers in this system, as there are in sports and political races. I’m sure plenty of atrocities have been left in the “wake” of capitalism and greed abounds today, but does the good in this system outweigh the bad? Most definitely, yes, so why “throw the baby out with the bath water?" Shouldn’t we fix what is broken? And what is our option — Socialism? Safety nets and a "hand up" for those in need are one thing, but breeding an entitlement mentality is quite another. I have followed politics long enough to know that corruption, greed, and incompetence are running rampid in our government; thus an America controlled solely by government would truly be our demise.

I am no fan of Michael Moore and see his new target, capitalism, as somewhat hypocritical — didn’t he get ultra-rich using the capitalistic system? However, I did find this interview (viewed in two parts — ROUND ONE and ROUND TWO) entertaining as well as thought provoking. Moore did score quite a few good points and I look forward to seeing his film. But has Moore changed my heart and mind? Do I want to kill capitalism and promote socialism? Auhh, let me think...hell no!

Click here to go to Blogcritics and view the interview.

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