Roger Ebert and "Life Itself"

In the last few chapters of Life Itself, Ebert, a cradle Catholic who often invokes his childhood religious training and beliefs in his reviews – and who regularly and quite deftly writes about spiritual issues in film – turns his attention to eternal (or maybe not) matters…
“I have no interest in megachurches with jocular millionaire pastors,” he writes. “I think what happens in them is sociopolitical, not spiritual. I believe the prosperity gospel tries to pass through the eye of the needle. I believe it is easier for a Republican to pass through the eye of a needle than for a camel to get into heaven. I have no patience for churches that evangelize aggressively.”

“I have no interest in being instructed in what I must do to be saved. I prefer vertical prayers, directed up toward heaven, rather than horizontal prayers, directed sideways toward me,” he continued. “If we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, we must regard their beliefs with the same respect our own deserve.”

Bravo to him!
Thanks for posting!

Don’t be so congratulatory. Ebert is about as liberal as they come. As far as I know, he is very pro-choice, pro-gay rights, and bashes conservatives whenever he can.:blush::shrug:

He also gave a thumbs up to Mel Gibson’s “Passion of The Christ” and “Of Gods And Men” (both of which were recommended by Catholic groups) and continues to let people know about quality family movies that – surprise, surprise - tank at the box office because nobody goes to see them or/and they don’t get reviewed by the Bishops Conference or/and Decent Films Guide. Most recent example: “Dolphin Tale,” which despite having a pro-family message and pro-Catholic subtext (sorry to spoil a key scene), tanked at the box office. He also gave a thumbs-up to the recent Disney movie “Winnie The Pooh,” which nobody saw. **Time and time again, decent films get released - and time and time again, these decent films get good reviews (including from Ebert), only to end up on Netflix a week later because they were ignored by Catholic audiences. **

Ebert is a nasty, venom-spewing hatemonger; the entire career of Rush Limbaugh does not contain as much bile as a single Tweet by Roger Ebert. He also has utterly asinine ideas about video games.

That said, yes, he does tend not to snub family films the way too many other critics do. He is a terrible human being, but he’s not a terrible film critic.

This is a review his, bashing the 1995 film “Priest.”

All due respect, but I’ve been reading Roger Ebert’s reviews for years, and I think you’re drastically misrepresenting him. I don’t regularly follow his tweets, so I can’t attest to those in particular, but I’ve actually been astonished many times by the fundamentally moral and decent outlook from which he reviews movies. I can’t think of many examples off the top of my head, but for starters, you should read this essay he wrote about the portrayal of evil in movies. It’s one of the most beautiful things written about art that I’ve read in a long time:

I find it hard to believe that a “venom-spewing hatemonger” or a “terrible human being” could write something like that.

Now, Roger Ebert is by no means perfect–he does like to be sarcastic in his reviews and blogs, sometimes to the point of crossing the line, and though he’s often sympathetic to Catholicism, he’s not a (practicing, at least) Catholic and doesn’t hold to lots of articles of Catholic theology. But to conclude from a couple of sarcastic tweets that he’s a “horrible human being” is a gross misrepresentation of the man and his work.

I said he’s not a terrible film reviewer.

But the way he talks about Republicans, Sarah Palin, and the Tea Party is nasty, filthy, vile hatred—I’m not talking sarcasm, I’m talking foam-flecked hatred.

Don’t offer opinions about matters you yourself are admittedly ignorant of.

I enjoy his blog and his tweets. Some might find his tweets “nasty” but I for one find them more honest than not.

Ebert’s views here are just a more lucidly written version of the current leftist infatuation with nihilism. He has no taste for multimillionaire pastors of megachurches only because they tell him things he would rather not hear. He’s perfectly fine with multimillionaire directors spewing all sorts of nonsense as long as it flatters his already settled beliefs. Churches that aggressively prosletize are the churches he has no patience for because they throw the vapidity of his metaphysics into stark relief.

He wants vertical prayers directed to heaven, not out of any sense of personal piety or desire to be familiar with God but so that these prayers will be directed away from him. He wants to establish “respect” for all beliefs because, ultimately, he doesn’t have the conviction of his own and resents the idea that some beliefs are simply, flat-out wrong and destructive to the human person.

I tend to agree with the poster who commented that Mr. Ebert is a terrible human being. Based on these quotes alone, submitted by the OP, it seems that poster’s view is, sadly, accurate. We must therefore pray for Ebert’s conversion.

So you’re in favor of describing a movement for fiscal responsibility by a gay sex act?

You believe that deliberately misrepresenting the comments on a blog as being posts on the blog is “honest”?

How honest is it that he accused Palin of being greedy for her speaking fees, without mentioning her promise to donate those fees to charities and political non-profits?

I don’t know, I admit I have an old dictionary, but that’s not very honest to me, and it is pretty nasty.

I just don’t see it the way that you do I guess. I just enjoy his stuff and the food for thought it gives me. That doesn’t mean I always agree with him, but at least I’m thinking and formulating my own opinions in the process. I don’t enjoy reading people’s writings and commentaries if I always have to agree with them. I’d rather read people that challenge me in ways that I wouldn’t have been challenged if I had ignored them completely. I don’t see any deliberate misrepresentations like you have. But I do think you already have a skewed opinion on the guy and won’t see anyboy else seeing him otherwise.

Ebert habitually refers to the Tea Party as “teabaggers”—that is, as people who suck on others’ scrota.

He has either lied about Andrew Breitbart and Sarah Palin, or else repeated lies about them (or, just maybe, is so stupid as not to know the difference between comments and blog posts, or that many prominent speakers donate their speaker’s fees).

And that last thing is an ad hominem attack, and hilariously off the mark. I don’t acknowledge any human authority, and I am absolutely savage in the strictness of my definition of supernatural ones. There is no writer I can read with whom I will “always have to agree”, because I can’t read anything without picking every idea in it apart, with obsessive precision, to see what it is made of and if it will withstand analysis, and if it also jibes with every other idea presented.

I’m not. I wasn’t offering an opinion about Roger Ebert’s Tea Party-related tweets and blogging, because, as I said, I’m not familiar with them. I was offering an opinion about Roger Ebert himself, with whom I am familiar.

Therefore, because I’m not familiar with Roger Ebert’s writings about the Tea Party, Sarah Palin, and so on, I’m not going to defend them against the things you’ve said about them, because I can’t. But I can defend Roger Ebert in general, because even if every single thing you’ve said about him is true, I still don’t think it makes him a “horrible human being.” It makes him a very, very flawed one, to be sure, but human beings are complex and multi-faceted, and as I tried to argue before, I think he’s shown enough dimensions of himself in other writings to convince me that he has good and compassionate qualities, too. It’s very unfortunate that he hasn’t exercised these when writing about the Tea Party, but it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have them.

“Horrible human being” is a very, very strong descriptor, and in order to be charitable, I think we should try to be selective about when, if ever, we use them. Calling Roger Ebert a “horrible human being” puts him in the company of people like Osama bin Laden and Muammar Gaddafi, and a couple years’ worth of nasty tweets isn’t enough to base that claim on.

Fair enough. He’s just a willfully dishonest filth-spewing hate-monger. And, since, as you point out, he does acknowledge common human decency where his political fetishes are not involved, also too stupid or self-serving to understand that ethics apply equally to everyone.

I’d agree with that, and I hope he comes to realize this. Also, to backtrack a little, I think that “asinine” is absolutely the right word for his opinion on video games…but that’s a whole other issue.

I agree, it’s a gross misrepresentation, and I’m surprised the forum moderator has allowed it. The guy’s a cancer survivor who lost his vocal chords and can’t physically speak anymore. Wouldn’t it be a little charitable to cut the guy some slack? To reiterate, he was one of the first (and only) secular critics to give a Thumbs Up to Mel Gibson’s “Passion of The Christ.” Does it make sense to anyone else that a bitter, hate-filled old man would be so enthusiastic towards one of the most admired Catholic movies ever made? Seriously? :shrug:

Uh, since Catholics as such are not the targets of his hate, yes, it is entirely sensible.

And I was not aware that enduring suffering meant one is exempt from all civilized standards of behavior.

I had “liked” Ebert on Facebook but had no choice but to unlike him due to the content of his political posts and the pictures he was posting of scantily-clad actresses. My opinion of him dropped quite a bit due to that.

You all are aware he is now an atheist, right?

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