Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Evil of Proselytization

Filmmaker Michael Moore, who just came out with a new film, “Capitalism: A Love Story,” wrote,

“I'm also against any proselytizing; I certainly don't want you to join anything I belong to. Also, as a Catholic, I have much to say about the Church as an institution, but I'll leave that for another day (or movie).” http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/mikes-letter/those-you-your-way-church-morning-note-michael-moore.

This is certainly strange coming from Moore’s pen. He seems to be doing quite a lot of proselytizing himself. In the same article, he wrote,

“I pose a simple question in the movie: "Is capitalism a sin?" I go on to ask, "Would Jesus be a capitalist?" Would he belong to a hedge fund? Would he sell short? Would he approve of a system that has allowed the richest 1% to have more financial wealth than the 95% under them combined? I have come to believe that there is no getting around the fact that capitalism is opposite everything that Jesus (and Moses and Mohammed and Buddha) taught. All the great religions are clear about one thing: It is evil to take the majority of the pie and leave what's left for everyone to fight over.”

I don’t think that there’s any question that Moore is one of us—a serious proselytizer! (And I’d also grant that he is raising an issue close to Jesus’ heart.)

I’m imagining what he might say if I suggested that he might be a bit hypocritical about this thing. Most likely, he would respond,

“Well, my issue is different. I’m not trying to sell a religion, but rather a moral concept about which, as human beings with a conscience, we should all be sensitive. We should all be indignant about the gross injustice of this growing disparity between ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots!’”

Of course, Moore would have an issue here, but I think that we can equally appeal to our common conscience regarding evangelism. It should be patently clear to us that we are all sinners, whose best deeds are filthy rags and who are in desperate need of a Savior. It is only denial that obscures this fact, just as it also is denial that prevents us from acknowledging our responsibility for the welfare of others.

If Moore can make films about our responsibilities to our fellow-humans, we should be able to scream out about our even-more-fundamental responsibility to the One who created and redeemed us!

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