Michael Moore, whose latest documentary—for lack of a better description—opens Oct. 2, is back in the news for “Capitalism: A Love Story.” My friends at Reel Stupid have some fun comparing “Capitalism” with “Fame,” and rightly take issue with Moore’s billing: “‘From Michael Moore, the most dangerous film maker of our time’—Yah ... If he sat on you.”
As much as Mr. Moore sometimes plays a comic-book version of class warrior—Left-Thing vs. the Republic of Fear!—his politics are not grounded in class as much as in Roman Catholicism. Growing up in Michigan, he attended parochial school and intended to go into the seminary, inspired by the priests and nuns who, at least until Pope John Paul II, inherited a long tradition of social justice and activism in the American church.
“The nuns always made a point to take us to the Jewish temple for Passover seders,” he said. “They wanted to make it clear that the Jews had nothing to do with putting Jesus up on the cross.”
Along with a moral imperative, Catholicism also gave a method. Mr. Moore idolized the Berrigan brothers, the radical priests who introduced street theater into their activism, for example, mixing their own napalm to burn government draft records. Their actions were a form of political spectacle that, conceptually, is Marxist—workers seizing means of production and all that—and it influenced some of Mr. Moore’s best-remembered stunts.
I’d really like to know what that means for Moore. I doubt he’s as Catholic as the pope, he might even get denied communion because of his political beliefs (though I don’t know his position on abortion)—so where does that leave him?
Rabey found this quote from a 2007 Seattle Times article:
I’m actually a fairly conservative person. I live a very conservative lifestyle. I try to go to church most Sundays. I was raised Catholic, so I’m Catholic—sometimes a recovering Catholic. I’ve been with the same woman for the past 26 years.
Well, I wouldn’t call going to church most Sundays “conservative.” I know plenty of liberally minded Christians who do that too. But it’s something.
P.S. Love that M.I.A. soundtrack from the trailer.