Michael Moore’s "Letter to God"

I’m not the fan of Michael Moore, the documentary film maker, that you might expect me to be. Egomania and sarcasm are simply not the mix that holds my attention for very long. And despite his great editing and data retrieval skills, Moore’s focus on himself soon becomes (for me) grating.

But he sometimes has a twisted way of revealing truth that is hard to ignore, and this prayer, published yesterday, is one such revelation:

Sunday, August 31st, 2008
An Open Letter to God, from Michael Moore

Dear God,

The other night, the Rev. James Dobson’s ministry asked all believers to pray for a storm on Thursday night so that the Obama acceptance speech outdoors in Denver would have to be canceled.

I see that You have answered Rev. Dobson’s prayers — except the storm You have sent to earth is not over Denver, but on its way to New Orleans! In fact, You have scheduled it to hit Louisiana at exactly the moment that George W. Bush is to deliver his speech at the Republican National Convention.

Now, heavenly Father, we all know You have a great sense of humor and impeccable timing. To send a hurricane on the third anniversary of the Katrina disaster AND right at the beginning of the Republican Convention was, at first blush, a stroke of divine irony. I don’t blame You, I know You’re angry that the Republicans tried to blame YOU for Katrina by calling it an “Act of God” — when the truth was that the hurricane itself caused few casualties in New Orleans. Over a thousand people died because of the mistakes and neglect caused by humans, not You.

Some of us tried to help after Katrina hit, while Bush ate cake with McCain and twiddled his thumbs. I closed my office in New York and sent my entire staff down to New Orleans to help. I asked people on my website to contribute to the relief effort I organized — and I ended up sending over two million dollars in donations, food, water, and supplies (collected from thousands of fans) to New Orleans while Bush’s FEMA ice trucks were still driving around Maine three weeks later.

But this past Thursday night, the Washington Post reported that the Republicans had begun making plans to possibly postpone the convention. The AP had reported that there were no shelters set up in New Orleans for this storm, and that the levee repairs have not been adequate. In other words, as the great Ronald Reagan would say, “There you go again!”

So the last thing John McCain and the Republicans needed was to have a split-screen on TVs across America: one side with Bush and McCain partying in St. Paul, and on the other side of the screen, live footage of their Republican administration screwing up once again while New Orleans drowns.

So, yes, You have scared the Jesus, Mary and Joseph out of them, and more than a few million of your followers tip their hats to You.

But now it appears that You haven’t been having just a little fun with Bush & Co. It appears that Hurricane Gustav is truly heading to New Orleans and the Gulf coast. We hear You, O Lord, loud and clear, just as we did when Rev. Falwell said You made 9/11 happen because of all those gays and abortions. We beseech You, O Merciful One, not to punish us again as Pat Robertson said You did by giving us Katrina because of America’s “wholesale slaughter of unborn children.” His sentiments were echoed by other Republicans in 2005.

So this is my plea to you: Don’t do this to Louisiana again. The Republicans got your message. They are scrambling and doing the best they can to get planes, trains and buses to New Orleans so that everyone can get out. They haven’t sent the entire Louisiana National Guard to Iraq this time — they are already patrolling the city streets. And, in a nod to I don’t know what, Bush’s head of FEMA has named a man to help manage the federal government’s response. His name is W. Michael Moore. I kid you not, heavenly Father. They have sent a man with both my name AND W’s to help save the Gulf Coast.

So please God, let the storm die out at sea. It’s done enough damage already. If you do this one favor for me, I promise not to invoke your name again. I’ll leave that to the followers of Rev. Dobson and to those gathering this week in St. Paul.

Your faithful servant and former seminarian,

Michael Moore
MMFlint@aol.com
MichaelMoore.com

The Pieta

Step 10 of the 12 Steps of AA:

“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”

We talked about this step last night at a meeting. Step 10 speaks of the necessity for the recovering addict (or anyone for that matter) to periodically step back from themselves, and examine which of the old habits, ideas, or self-misunderstandings which got them into trouble in the first place, may be re-forming themselves. Which of those old, easily-defaulted-to behaviors or thoughts might be ready to reach out and grab whatever weak link in one’s recovery might be revealing itself anew? It’s a good thing, obviously, to know about, and a group of like-minded others can help one to more ably do that.

Some of us were remembering incidents in which we were confronted by someone or something outside ourselves in a way that was self-revealing, sometimes jarringly so. I remembered two pieces of art, both seen when I was only 17-18 years old, that did that for me in a way that I can still remember. Michaelangelo’s Pieta, and Picasso’s Guernica shook my understandings of how the world might be perceived in ways that I had not known it was possible to perceive the world. They were both doors of discovery that I could not stop myself from entering, nor that I could make practical sense of once I had entered.

pieta

The Pieta, Michaelangelo, 1498-99, St.Peter’s Basilica, Rome

I saw this in the Vatican with a tour group in 1967. I was one of a few teenagers in a group of adult construction company owners and their wives who had gotten free trips to Europe for buying backhoes from a particular implement dealer in Ohio. Since 1972, the Pieta has been on display behind bullet-proof glass and must be viewed from twenty feet away, because of a hammer attack that year by a crazed man, Laszlo Toth. But in 1967, there was no protective glass, and the Pieta was there- ten feet in front of us.

I saw it and forgot who I was. It was not a spiritual experience in the sense that I was overwhelmed by Mary’s sorrow or Jesus’ death. It was an experience of encountering Beauty in a form I had not known was possible. This was marble, caressed into fingernails and upper lips. This was rock, tapped gently into folds of cloth, and pressed-upon skin. This was cold stone, fashioned into eyes brimming with tears, freshly pierced wounds, and pulsing veins.

The tour group continued on to whatever-it-was that was next be seen. I stayed because I had no choice. I saw tonnage that was ethereal and floating. I traced the edges of Mary’s robe with my eyes until I could see the cloth moving in her shudders. My eyes filled with tears that I didn’t understand and knew I would not be able to explain or share with anyone. (Not that I wanted to, anyway; this was the kind of brand new emotional reaction that I worked to hide even as I could not.)

It was a personal inventory that was forced upon me- a realization of something about myself that I have never (thank God) stopped getting used to. I learned that it is not the tour group that needs kept up with, it is what I am seeing and experiencing, right here and right now, that is the most important thing. It’s taken me all of the forty years since then to put that revelation into words, and I could regret those decades of inarticulation. Instead, I choose to be thankful for finally being able to understand why, in retrospect, I always felt apart from the crowd up ahead, and wanting- all the time- to know more, more, more about (it seems) everything I ever saw that reminded me of the way Michalengelo was able to make marble sing.

Tomorrow: Guernica

The Virgin Mary Comes To Town!

Oh, happy day! The BVM has landed here, right here on the West Texas prairie, and here she is!

She left her mark this time in the scar of an old native pecan tree. You can see in the picture that the south fork of that tree split away from the trunk, and it was there that the BVM either immediately inscribed herself or was revealed to the world after being embedded within the tree for at least the past five or six decades.

I personally had a hard time seeing her at first, so I’m really just going on the word of those who have the God-given (?) power to see the Virgin in those many odd places she chooses to appear. Me? In my quest to see anything anthropomorphic in the tree, I could only vaguely see Bishop Sheen, as he would sweep from the doorway to the blackboard in his priestly cassock on his Sunday afternoon television show in the 1950s. But then, I kept looking and (what do I know?) I thought I could see Sister Kenny raising money to fight polio like she was also doing in the 1950s.

photo(3)

Then I made the mistake of continuing to look, wanting desperately to join the throngs (see them?) who’ve made a sacred grotto of the tree. I was able to see a virtual parade of personages, including but not limited to: Joan Baez, Soupy Sales, my Aunt Emma, Jimi Hendrix, and a substitute teacher in the fifth grade whose name I forget.

So there went another potential Epiphany, right out the always open window of my imagination!

Channel 5 out of Fort Worth and Telemundo out of Dallas have already given the tree their pandering-to-the-masses Seal of Approval by televising live reports on the perceived phenomena. Sorry I can’t lend much credibility to their fine reporting, but I’m kind of a stick-in-mud when it comes to sightings of the Divine. I get stuck on little stuff like wildflowers and ants, and dogs licking my face even when I’m feeling like crap. Those things tell me much more about God than the scar of a tree.

*****

And, for the record,here’s Sister Kenny and Bishop Sheen:

sister kenny  Bishop Sheen