A ROUND TABLE DISCUSSION

(2004) Film Review

This page was created on June 19, 2004
This page was last updated on June 30, 2004


Overview
—HJ Roundtable Discussion
Review by Kevin Miller
Review by Mike Furches
Review by Darrel Manson
Trailers, Photos
About this Film
Spiritual Connections
Forum

SYNOPSIS
Click to enlarge

"Fahrenheit 9/11" is Michael Moore's reflections on the current state of America, including the powerful role oil and greed may have played after the 9/11 attacks. In this provocative exposé, Moore tells the one story no one has dared to tell as he reveals the events that led the US into that apocalyptic September 11th moment and why the country is now at war. The film won the Palme d'Or, the highest award of the Cannes film festival.

Click to enlargeA LOOK AT
FAHRENHEIT 9/11 and
AMERICA'S HEART AND SOUL

A Round Table Discussion of
Fahrenheit 9/11!
From Hollywood Jesus Reviewers

An Ongoing Conversation Between the Reviewers at HJ.com. Enjoy! --David Bruce

(Posted 2004 JUNE 20-22 -before the release of the film)

Darrel Manson:
So far all I know of the two movies is hearsay. I have a feeling that F9/11 is going to be preaching to the choir in that those who have been opposed to US policy in Iraq and the assault on civil rights in the name of security will be going to see the movie and applauding while those who support such things will be staying away in droves. That means that at one level, Moore has in a sense failed to communicate well, since so many people won't be listening.

Greg Wright: I don't think most of the churches I've been to have one of THOSE choirs. Odd, isn't it? The church I go to now, though, has no problem preaching a Christian response to beheadings in Iraq, rather than a purely American gospel.

As far as staying away from the film in droves, I'm not so sure. Moore's enough of a known quantity these days that a lot of people go see his stuff even though they disagree with him. Dunno, though.

Darrel Manson: A key issue in thinking about the Moore film is the nature of documentary film. Is it supposed to be just a laying out of facts or can it properly be used to offer opinion? Moore's films have certainly been opinionated. If he were a journalist, his work would be on the Op/Ed pages, not in the news section. Is he biased? Definitely. I expect that many of his editorial choices in what to include or exclude are based in his political outlook. But then, that is true of most (possibly all) documentaries.

Greg Wright: Moore himself has said, "All art, every piece of journalism manipulates sequence and things. Just the fact that you edit, that certain things get taken out or put back in… We’re not talking about objectivity. We’re talking about style.” He then refers to what he does as "a documentary told with a narrative style." He labors under no guise of objectivity.

Does anyone out there remember that the plot of Broadcast News turned on a bit of one-camera flim-flammery? Moore pulls the same stunt in Bowling for Columbine when Charlton Heston walks away -- and Moore does it knowingly.

Objectivity may be an ideal -- but Moore is right. It doesn't exist. It would be nice, though, if Moore didn't co-opt the tactics of his enemies so easily... It's hypocritical. But then, I like to refer to Moore as an "entertainer."

Benn Becker: This is from Roger Ebert's response to a reader's questioning of the nature of "documentary."
Full article here.

Roger Ebert:That's where you're wrong. Most documentaries, especially the best ones, have an opinion and argue for it. Even those that pretend to be objective reflect the filmmaker's point of view. Moviegoers should observe the bias, take it into account and decide if the film supports it or not.

Michael Moore is a liberal activist. He is the first to say so. He is alarmed by the prospect of a second term for George W. Bush, and made Fahrenheit 9/11 for the purpose of persuading people to vote against him.

That is all perfectly clear, and yet in the days before the film opens June 25, there'll be bountiful reports by commentators who are shocked! shocked! that Moore's film is partisan. "He doesn't tell both sides," we'll hear, especially on Fox News, which is so famous for telling both sides.

The wise French director Godard once said, "The way to criticize a film is to make another film." That there is not a pro-Bush documentary available right now I am powerless to explain. Surely, however, the Republican National Convention will open with such a documentary, which will position Bush comfortably between Ronald Reagan and God. The Democratic convention will have a wondrous film about John Kerry. Anyone who thinks one of these documentaries is "presenting facts objectively without editorializing" should look at the other one.

The pitfall for Moore is not subjectivity, but accuracy. We expect him to hold an opinion and argue it, but we also require his facts to be correct. I was an admirer of his previous doc, the Oscar-winning Bowling for Columbine, until I discovered that some of his "facts" were wrong, false or fudged.

In some cases, he was guilty of making a good story better, but in other cases (such as his ambush of Charlton Heston) he was unfair, and in still others (such as the wording on the plaque under the bomber at the Air Force Academy) he was just plain wrong, as anyone can see by going to look at the plaque.

Because I agree with Moore's politics, his inaccuracies pained me, and I wrote about them in my Answer Man column. Moore wrote me that he didn't expect such attacks "from you, of all people." But I cannot ignore flaws simply because I agree with the filmmaker. In hurting his cause, he wounds mine.

Now comes Fahrenheit 9/11, floating on an enormous wave of advance publicity. It inspired a battle of the titans between Disney's Michael Eisner and Miramax's Harvey Weinstein. It won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. It has been rated R by the MPAA, and former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo has signed up as Moore's lawyer, to challenge the rating. The conservative group Move America Forward, which successfully bounced the mildly critical biopic The Reagans off CBS and onto cable, has launched a campaign to discourage theaters from showing Fahrenheit 9/11.

The campaign will amount to nothing and disgraces Move America Forward by showing it trying to suppress disagreement instead of engaging it. The R rating may stand; there is a real beheading in the film, and only fictional beheadings get the PG-13. Disney and Miramax will survive.

Moore's real test will come on the issue of accuracy. He can say whatever he likes about Bush, as long as his facts are straight. Having seen the film twice, I saw nothing that raised a flag for me, and I haven't heard of any major inaccuracies. When Moore was questioned about his claim that Bush unwisely lingered for six or seven minutes in that Florida classroom after learning of the World Trade Center attacks, Moore was able to reply with a video of Bush doing exactly that.

I agree with Moore that the presidency of George W. Bush has been a disaster for America. In writing that, I expect to get the usual complaints that movie critics should keep their political opinions to themselves. But opinions are my stock in trade, and is it not more honest to declare my politics than to conceal them? I agree with Moore, and because I do, I hope Fahrenheit 9/11 proves to be as accurate as it seems.
Darrel Manson: I'm one who resonates fairly well with Moore's politics. (I'm hoping and expecting some of us are on the other side.) But I also want to see the film to judge whether he's strayed too far from objectivity to be taken seriously.

Greg Wright: I think that, in Moore's mind, being taken seriously is only possible by straying from objectivity. Eighty or so years ago, Shaw said that the cinema would become the shaper of the national conscience. I think Moore has just taken up that prophetic observation, and has run with it. He doesn't want to comment -- he wants to shape.

Darrel Manson: As to America's Heart and Soul, that too is just hearsay for me at this point. But what I've heard, from people whose opinions I appreciate, has been basically positive. (The Arts and Faith discussion of it is at http://artsandfaith.com//index.php?showtopic=2631). I expect it will be a bit more of the American myth (not a word I'm likely to use in a review).

Greg Wright: Absolutely -- and the connection is Disney. Both had distribution deals through Disney -- until the studio got to see them both. Disney knew -- in spite of the fact that Moore has an Oscar to his credit -- that it would be hard for them to credibly market two opposing views of America. That they dumped Farenheit and kept Heart and Soul is telling.

Darrel Manson: I agree with you here, but I wonder how you see it as telling? That Heart and Soul is more in line with the all important Disney image (I still have no idea why they backed Moore on this), or that they deemed F911 as an unworthy film?

Greg Wright: An interesting thing happened the first week of March. The Return of the King had just won 11 Oscars; Pixar opted out of their distribution deal with Disney (can anyone say '$$Nemo'?); and Gibson's Passion opened to smash box office. Then, out of the blue, Disney signs a production and distribution deal with Walden Media, producers of the Narnia movies.

Any Southern Baptist (or my father) can tell you that the "Disney image" hasn't been so clean-cut for many years. In this polarized election year, I think the cobwebs are being swept out of the belfry at Disney, and the studio is waking up to a demographic that it left behind a long time ago. Ditching Moore is just part of that equation.

Now, I'm not saying that Disney or the SBC are RIGHT -- but Jesus and things "Christian" are hot market commodities right now. Isn't that a nice, warm fuzzy thought?

Darrel Manson: I do think a connection may be made between F911 and Heart (remember I'm saying this without having seen either yet) not so much from a pro- or anti-American p.o.v., but as two sides of a coin. We take great pride in our freedom and the myth of who we are as a nation. However, from time to time, we need to get under that myth, where things may not be as pretty. I think that is what Moore tries to do in his films.

Greg Wright:
Well, we've always got David Lynch for that, don't we? ;>)
BTW: I haven't seen either film yet...

Mike Smith
: I've seen America's Heart and Soul. There is probably very little to compare the two. Having not seen F9/11 but having no faith in anything Michael Moore bombasts about (at least politically), my guess is that America's Heart and Soul and F9/11 will be like comparing apples and hamburgers. There does not appear to be any political agenda in AH&S. It's more about individuals who live in America, simply living their lives. Granted, there is a camera in front of them. But the camera is not on the filmmaker.

Darrel Manson: Again, not having seen them yet, I can see a possible connection from what I've read of them. F9/11 certainly has anti-Bush agenda. I've seen H&S described as what a pro-Bush election film would be. I find it hard to think that a film that seems to be so much about the American myth would not have a political bias, even if it isn't pushed as vehemently as Moore does his. A subtle bias can be more difficult to deal with than an obvious one.

Maurice Broaddus: After having seen Roger & Me and Bowling for Columbine, I have become a fan of Michael Moore, despite the fact that our politics are diametrically opposed (although I think that even if I leaned liberal, our politics would still be opposed because Michael Moore is so far left, he's often out on his own). Part of the reason for this is because he's effective at his craft and hugely entertaining in the process. After his "brief history of America" segment in Bowling for Columbine, I was laughing so hard that I went out and bought the DVD.

I don't know if I would consider him either a documentarian or a journalist. Ostensibly, a journalist makes an attempt at being objective. He seems to approach a project with his conclusion already in mind, then frames his argument so that you are the idiot if you disagree with his (portrayal) of the evidence.

Mike Smith: Here is a good analysis of things Michael Moore and F/911 by Chris Hitchins. I only ask that whomever you think should be president, you should be praying for who actually is President.

Here is a precurser of curses to F/911: slate.msn.com/id/2102723/

Lyn Mellone: Interesting that you should bring this up. A friend had sent this to me, so I found it in the mix with all the messages flying back and forth. I can't join the discussion, really, but I just had wanted to throw out to you this one comment from that article: "[F9/11] is also a spectacle of abject political cowardice masking itself as a demonstration of 'dissenting' bravery."

It struck me that this author knows what he's talking about, and that's more than I can say for me! I pray -- and leave it to others to take a more active part. But I will say -- after watching a couple evangelical Christians enter into the political arena on a local level -- that once someone chooses that active part, it's very easy to become a "Martha" and be so busy and so distracted by the "works" that the real life of the Spirit seems to die away. (Sorry, off-topic really.)

Chris Utley: I agree with one point that he made in Bowling for Columbine: there is something fundamentally broken about our culture. He's asking the right questions, just looking for his answers in the wrong places. And that's what skews his conclusions.

As y'all have probably noticed, I've been silent in this discussion. I'm not well versed in politics and therefore I wouldn't add anything intelligent to the discussion.

I will say this:
-1. BUSH MUST GO!
-2. MICHAEL MOORE IS A LOUDMOUTH WEASEL!
Nuff said.

Mike Furches: Wow Chris, won't you just let us know how you really feel! I too have been silent but will admit there are things about Moore that I like and things that I don't like. Let me explain.

Years ago, I purchased Roger and Me, a wonderful little documentary about the Ford Pinto fiasco. Then I recently saw Bowling for Columbine, a movie that I thought was going to be extremely critical of the gun industry. I think I believed this in part because of all of the hype I had heard about this movie. Well, after seeing it I actually wondered where all of the hype came from. You see I didn't get that out of that particular movie. Instead I was challenged and forced to think, a concept which I actually appreciate. That in part is part of what I will address regarding Moore.

Here is the trouble I am having. I actually support much of what President Bush has done. I think a part of that for me has to do with the issues of extreme disappointment with our former President, especially regarding issues of morality. Now before I go on too far, understand that at one time I was a registered Democrat in the United States, and even ran for House Seat #23 in Greenville South Carolina when I lived there. As far as I know, I may very well be the only person who simultaneously received the endorsements of the State Nursing Board, State Education Board, The National Right to Life and the NAACP. I was, and did, vote primarily Democratic but I am strongly pro-life, and in many ways am a fundamentalist in my beliefs. I also struggle though with the fact that the Republican Party seems not to seriously address the needs of the poor (and especially the urban poor). These are issues that every Christian should struggle with, that there is not adequate representation for our beliefs. That is where I have to find assurance that, as Larry Norman used to say, “I am not a citizen of this country, I am only visiting this planet.”

Now one of the issues I have is that I don’t know who to believe. I haven’t seen the movie yet. I support our President, and our troops, especially since living in a town that has many men and women who are currently serving in Iraq. I also believe that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and am glad that he is no longer in power. I also hope for and long for honesty though, although I don’t know if we will ever get it from any nation that has other things at issue besides representing a risen savior who died for the sins of this planet, including the sins of ruthless leaders. Discovering within my own heart where justice and love starts and ends is a difficult journey and one that I am glad to know that at least I struggle with as opposed to just accepting blind statements.

Now as to my thoughts about Michael Moore. I have seen a number of interviews with him and have seen a good share of his work. We as an audience are forced to come to a conclusion about him; that is, why does he do what he does? To answer that question we really have to come to our own conclusions. I honestly believe that he does what he does because he has a passion for it that goes beyond just making money. In other words, I get the impression that he genuinely cares for the subject matter he addresses and wants to present what is right. For that reason, there is something to be said about sincerity and integrity. Now does he spin things to come to the conclusions he does? I am sure he does, as do most of us. That does not mean that he changes facts around though. It is one of the reasons I struggle with what I have heard about F911. You see I don’t want to believe what I have heard this movie portrays. If what it portrays is true then I am again disappointed in our political system by someone who I thought had a measure of integrity. If it is not accurate, it says something about a filmmaker that I have learned to appreciate to some level over the years. Neither result is something that I am looking forward to; however, the reality of it is that because in part of the controversy and the struggle I feel compelled to see this movie. It is not just a matter of “want to,” as much as it is now a matter of “have to.”

One last note as to the Disney struggle and decisions. Man, this is going to sound messed up, but I personally believe that Michael Moore has more integrity than does the current Disney Corporation. Somewhere along the line, I believe they have lost sight of what their original vision was and as a result, it is possible that their intentions are far more skewed, for whatever reason, than are those of Michael Moore.

I know I decided to dive into this conversation and I can’t think of an issue where those of us at HJ seem to have disagreed so much, especially over what is supposed to be a documentary movie. If anything, the lessons learned about the disagreements we face from those that disagree with our views about other movies should now be painted with a stroke of love and understanding. If we as a group can’t agree on a particular point of politics or filmmaking, it just goes to show that we shouldn’t expect that full measure of understanding of those that read our comments.

God bless all and I look forward to your responses.

Darrel Manson: Ah, that I think it where the real issue will be with F911 - will we want to believe it or not and will what we want mean we will or won't based on our support or lack thereof for the war and/or the President?

This is what makes me wonder about the potential effectiveness of the film. Will it only serve to fix people in their already detirmined positions? Will the buzz (which is a match for the pre-opening buzz of TPOC) about the film be such to pull in those who haven't made up their minds on these issues?

Benn Becker: As probably the least fundamental of all the reviewers on here I may have a different view ... I don't know. I'm sure it's not popular.

I never understood how Bush is/was able to corner the Christian market (and I firmly believe that's what he's doing/done). He has little to no regard for much other than business interests imho. I have done a lot of research on his life and the like and just cannot believe anything coming from the man (his administration). He's never been successful in his own business ventures and made most of his money taking advantage of his name as a means to foster deals for other investment groups. He bilked the taxpayers in Texas HEAVILY when it came to the new stadium issue.

I was and am against the war, yet behind the troops (who in the heck isn't behind the troops?). Bush sends them off to war ... and then cuts long-term benefits while they're gone. He made the Iraq connection with hazy logic out of convenience. He's installed 100 former lobbyists for corporations as heads of different industries for the Iraq war. War makes money. There were MANY other countries who harbored terrorists and MANY evil men that ran those countries. North Korea was jumping up and down saying they had WMD. Most of the people involved in 9-11 were Saudi Arabian, yet it's not convenient to go after them at this point ... the easy thing to do was make Iraq the extreme "bad guy".

Now IF, and I say IF, the reasoning for all this war was false or mostly false ... what's worse? Sending young, poorer men to die and to kill for older, rich men's business interests OR a blow job from an intern (yes, it was adultery)? I don't know the answer and don't know if it even really matters. Jesus himself refrained from politics it seems ... sometimes I just like to sit back and pull myself out of all the craziness and look at it for what it is on both sides ... utter craziness. You almost have to in order to maintain sanity at times. There's no unifying factors in the "world", but rather groups of people with interests (generally business related) fighting each other for their bigger piece of the pie. It's times like that where I truly realize the power of the idea of being "in the world but not of it".

Again, just my opinion and trying to keep the discussions going.

Greg Wright: Rather than weigh in on a whole lot of particulars, like I usually do, I'd like to address one issue only.

Benn and Mike both raise some good issues, and from very different perspectives. If we step outside the current political issues, however, we can objectively remind ourselves that our country's political survival is dependent on the two party system. In the "real world" of 1776, 1812, 1864, 1917, 1933, 1941, 1968, or 2004, it's easy to see why our wiser governing leaders are so loyal to the system. At its best, it prevents destructive dictatorial extremism during times of real crisis, and at its worst (which, in the "real world" is actually pretty good, considering the options) it distracts an unotherwise unruly, selfish and unmanagable populace from the things they REALLY should be scared about when times are "good."

But here's the kicker: THE MODEL HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE GOSPEL. We have One Lord, One faith, One hope, One Spirit, One Savior and One Church for which He died -- not two (or a quasi-one with a co-conspiratorial yin-yang thing going).

This world may not be our home, but it IS our mission field. We are ambassadors, and we need to take both God's Kingdom and our mission (and its attendant problems) seriously. The answers are primarily spiritual, however, and not to be found in our bifurcated, split-personality politics.

If we're called to this ministry at Hollywood Jesus, I have no doubt that we can be equally yoked in God's work in spite of differences over politics.

Thanks to you all for being a part of this work.

Michael Furches: This world may not be our home, but it IS our mission field. We are ambassadors, and we need to take both God's Kingdom and our mission (and its attendant problems) seriously. The answers are primarily spiritual, however, and not to be found in our bifurcated, split-personality politics."

Greg I couldn't agree more with the comments above. Regarding your first comment; This is exactly the struggle that many go through when trying to make political decisions. Neither party of the dual powers in the United States adequately represents the Gospel Message of Jesus we are to stand for it. I guess that says something though about putting our trust in political systems. I belong to a belief system of Anabaptists who suffered and died deaths of martyrdom because of their stand on the political system of their time and the expected, or lack thereof of Christians with it. I don't pretend to believe everything that the forefathers of Anabaptist thought believed on this issue, but do believe that any hope in a government is a false hope. We need to remember that as followers of Jesus there is only one hope, and he and our future because of him are our hope, not the United States, Canada or any other political system.

Regarding your second comment mentioned above, I totally agree, it is not only a mission field it is a mission field filled with people that Jesus loved and died for. He loved it enough to come here and then be identified as a human. It is the love for that mission field, (planet Earth) that brings about the inner struggle for myself, especially when considering the mission field we are called to reach, from the innocence of the unborn to the disadvantaged in the mountains of Tennessee. Moreover, of course, from the heat and humidity of Mexico to the barren dessert of Iraq, they are filled with people that Jesus loves and so should we. Unfortunately, I know that many Christians overlook issues and try to sweep them under the rug. Issues regarding justice to the poor and issues of life for the unborn, all issues that affect the very lives that Jesus loves.

Regarding Michael's comments; again, I could not agree more. We have many mandates in Scripture, including praying for our leaders, whether we like them or not. I will go as far as to say that includes praying God's best for them even though we may hate them. Jesus words and command to pray for our enemies as well as loving those who we don't get along with are strong words. Words that have to be done in love, despite what we may think of an individual’s politics.

Your comments regarding concerns of Moore also hit home and it is one of the problems I am having trouble with the concept of F/911. He has made it clear from the outset that there is an agenda; it is an agenda that should not sit well with our responsibilities as Christians. I conclude with this. I do believe that Jesus may have said more about politics than we realize, for example the comment to render to Caesar the things that are Caesars and to God the things that are God's is filled with political scenarios. The question then becomes on this and other issues, what does he mean? I believe it is to address life with an understanding that everything belongs to God and we are to make all of our decisions based on that, despite what the consequences may be.

Kevin Miller: I think this film is going to be used in media classes years from now to show how easily the public can be manipulated through sounds and images. And I'm not just talking about the content of this film. I'm also referring to the hurricane of rhetoric surrounding it. Unfortunately, no one will be able to walk into this film unbiased, because the media has been working overtime to pre-condition people one way or the other. Either they will already be deeply suspicious of George Bush and co. or they will be deeply suspicious of Michael Moore. Rather than change minds, I suspect viewing the film will only solidify their preconceptions, because most people will go into it looking to confirm their particular point of view. That said, this film would also provide an interesting basis for a discussion on the "culture of suspicion" that gives rise to cultural products like Fahrenheit 9/11 and artists like Michael Moore. Why are we always looking for the hidden agenda? What cultural forces, events, and individuals have brought us to this point? I suspect if you put your ear to the ground above the graves of Marx, Nietschze, and Freud, you would hear them chuckling....

Mike Smith: This is kinda fun. I first would like to add that all of us should be praying for whomever is President. Slate mag this morning has a fairly long article by Chris Hitchins regarding the accuracy of Michael Moore's films. Especially F/911, which he has seen. I believe Michael Moore has something to say. I'm not sure he's telling the truth by saying it this way. If he was truly honest he would make a film of himself telling us not to vote for Bush. That wouldn't be art, though, would it? Because Michael Moore makes no pretense of objectivity. I believe it's a little naieve to assume full truthfulness out of his film. He's already basically admitted to manipulating the information.

I don't follow politics too closely either but a lot of what is coming out here (regarding Bush) doesn't sound too much different than the evening news or the DNC. It's easy to accuse Bush or anyone else of collusion with Big Business. The unsaid part is that there appears to be an unfounded trust in Government and it's long-term employees and consumers. Government in this country last time I looked is made up of the same fallible human beings that make up businesses. In fact many government appointees move in and out of both throughout their careers. There are laws against bad businessmen, a la Enron. There are only lawmakers watching bad politicians. I can't vouch for Bush. I can't tell if he's lying. I'm not sure the people that make him look like a liar are not indeed liars themselves. We live in a media culture which limits everyone's ability to ferret out the truth.

Current political life appears to hinge on who or what you believe. Someone agreeing with you is not proof of veracity. This is where Christ comes in. The Bible tells us to pray for our leaders, that "the Government is on His shoulders." Our representative form of government is becoming increasingly corrupt, our press and entertainment equally so. The church...? Bless you all who try to buck the trend. Many of us offer generous comments about how Hollywood has a "point" in it's outsider appraisal of the church. But "Hollywood" itself is remarkably weak in self-examination. "Judgment begins with the house of God..." We should be open to criticism, but the church [also] has a mandate to self examination. Those opposed to the church don't have the moral authority to lay blame. The church aknowledges it is fallen. The world doesn't know that the church and itself is fallen. This is not to say we should ignore the world. After all, our actions are what should be drawing them in to the church. My point is: Hollywood, in this case, can only be so observant.

I'll stop here with this: The church has one mandate regarding politics. We are to pray for our leaders. Who knows what missteps may be avoided because our leaders are bathed in prayer rather than criticism? Don't expect any leader to be a better leader than you without God's help.

Melinda Ledman: Okay, I hate politics. I'll just say it. I'm one of those people who chooses not to get involved because I hate it SO VERY much. Anyone who IS politically active is probably getting an adrenaline rush right now from the sheer spite of hearing this opinion. You are probably saying, "It's people like you..." And you're probably right. But here is why I keep my hands out of that mess of snakes...

1. True - You can NEVER tell when someone is lying. Either the politician says it poorly, constituents hear it poorly or the media relays it poorly. Either way, everything is taken to an extreme and the nuggets of truth are buried under spin.

2. Men and women in politics are at the mercy of their constituents. Regardless of good intentions, people WILL change their votes from what their hearts tell them to do and from what they have previously promised less influential constituents.

3. Political partisanship is a battle that can't be won - and doesn't really need to be. In truth, the two parties balance each other by switching back and forth. One promotes businesses for a while (which we depend on desperately for jobs and revenues). The other promotes welfare, benefits to the poor, disabled and needy (which we depend on desperately for jobs and revenues). Get my point? I rarely care who is in office since in 4-8 years, a new agenda will be on the table. Both party lines are important to this nation's long term health.

4. Political conversations bring out the worst in people. If someone wants to talk politics with me (including my hubby who always has something to say about current events), I just listen quietly and acknowledge their viewpoints. Arguing politics (like arguing abortion and gay rights) just makes folks angry. And no one wants to hear my opinion anyway. About six years ago, I made a pact with myself to keep my opinions to myself on these three issues. I have had ONE person, yes, ONE only, ask my opinion about only ONE of these issues (and it was because she was having a personal struggle with it). In the end, she didn't choose my advice. This proves my point...people only want to tell what THEY think because their minds are already made up. (Much like those of you reading this will not likely renounce your interest in politics, but rather pick your jaws up from the ground and write a stern reply!) Therefore, I think as far as F911 is concerned, indeed, people will only be reinforced and reinvigorated in their own beliefs.

5. I have better things to do with my time. (I know you activists are choking right now! "What better could you do with your time than make a difference on a political scale??") Well, given that political powers, agendas, and leaders are so transient, it seems I should take my business elsewhere. How about something eternal that won't change direction during a windy election year?

I suppose I could reach some lost soul for Christ by engaging in a political discussion, but I doubt it. For those of you who can, go for it! God gave each of us different talents and interests to be used to connect with like-minded people. I support you 100%. And for those who are involved in politics to make a difference, more power to you (no pun intended!). Maybe you can impact your local community or even your state. My personal activism will be on my knees.

Feel free to offer any opposition to these five points. I am willing to admit I'm wrong, and I'd love to hear any testimony supporting another line of reasoning.
-- Melinda

Greg Wright: Wow! The ramp-up on this topic was slow, but it has really gathered some momentum. It's impossible to reply to everyone, and to every point, so I'll focus on Melinda's five points.

1. True - You can NEVER tell when someone is lying.

There's a line that Kevin Kline has in Silverado that I love -- something like, "The way I see it, you can live your life trusting everyone, or trusting no one. Doesn't seem to make much difference." Where we've come to in the US, at least, is a point where mistrust is the first step. No one gets the benefit of the doubt, whether it's the President, your boss, your spouse, your elder or your kids. EVERYONE has apparently got secret, ill motives. It makes me sick. If a public figure is caught in an out-and-out lie, that's one thing. Being merely wrong, however, is not lying. We need to expect the best of each other, just as God expects the best of us. If we don't, maybe God should just go ahead and squash us all like bugs, as we deserve.

2. Men and women in politics are at the mercy of their constituents.

And this mirrors the dilemma for everyone who participates in a market economy. The Bible says that if you owe anybody anything, you are a slave. We are to owe debts to no one but God. And we've got a REALLY big debt there. But the time we devote to serving our other masters detracts from our devotion to God. Politicians are just regular folks who have managed to polish and perfect the charade -- no better or worse than us, just professionals at it. And we ARE nearly all in this boat.

3. Political partisanship is a battle that can't be won - and doesn't really need to be... Get my point? I rarely care who is in office since in 4-8 years, a new agenda will be on the table.

This was first brought home to me in 1992. NAFTA was Bush #1's baby, and was "big business" legislation that Democrats decried during the Presidential campaign as symptomatic of Reagan-era excesses. Clinton's first task in 1993? Passing NAFTA, strong-arming every Dem he could and cashing in every political debt he was owed. Dems? Reps? Economics makes the world go around, and the President is just another pawn.

4. Political conversations bring out the worst in people.

Well, they certainly can. I do believe it's POSSIBLE to conduct the conversation under the influence of the Holy Spirit. But we all too often let ourselves get in the way. Pray for us all...

5. I have better things to do with my time... How about something eternal that won't change direction during a windy election year?

Amen, sister! There's the crux of the matter, isn't it? I can't count how many times Gandalf's line was repeated in the three LOTR movies: "All that matters is what we do with the time that is given us." And again, it always comes down to calling. What has God called each of us to do? It's fruitless to spend God's precious time on someone else's calling. And if we don't KNOW what our calling is, we'd best be spending our time figuring that out.

My personal activism will be on my knees.

Melinda, yours and Mike Smith's advocacy of prayer really hits the mark. (Ya'll should know that Mike is the prayer deacon at his church. THERE'S calling for you.) Bush deserves our prayers as much as Clinton did, and I can imagine there are precious few of us that have doled out our prayers equitably on that score. When the Bible asks us to prayer for leaders, we need to remember: who were the leaders that the BIBLE was talking about? Nero? Herod? Pilate? Caiaphas? Note well that Christians in THOSE days were NOT instructed to pray for a change of administration! We need to pray for today's leaders, as we work today to show love around us as God calls us (thank you, Melinda!) -- not sowing acrimony, rancor, dissatisfaction and rebellion.

And in case anyone's wondering, I'm NOT saying this because I'm pro-Bush, because I'm not. I'm saying this because I'm pro-God.

Love to you all, Greg

Mike Smith: Amen, ...click.

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