Warren Beatty in Bulworth

Bulworth is an interesting film. Senator Bulworth makes a deal with an insurance industry lobbyist for a $10 million life insurance policy. And then he puts a hit out on himself.

How much more cynical can you get? Man in power exploiting power and who cares about the consequences. Because he doesn't really care anymore --- after all, he is going to die in a couple of days --- he begins to speak the truth at his fund-raisers. Of course he doesn't represent the African-American community; they don't give him as much money as the Insurance industry. Of course he'll do whatever the Entertainment industry wants, despite their violent and mediocre films, because they shower him with money. The movie also manages to take some jabs at the hypocricy of those politicians who cater to the Religious Right.

So, of course we love this movie --- it depicts the kind of politician that we want. It shows one who speaks truth despite the consequences. Really, though, it is no better than any other film. It is a giant piece of escapism, and it promotes the wrong goals.

The most telling line of the movie is when a young black woman tells the senator why she thinks there are no more black leaders and concludes with "But at heart, I'm a just a materialist."

It shows the truth of the movie. That the producers don't really care about matters deeper than ensuring economic equality for all. Certainly, that is a good goal. Who, after all, wouldn't want that?

And the line is born out at the end of the movie. The senator, no longer a hypocrite, dumps his wife (who, it must be said, is not faithful, either), to begin a relationship with this young woman.

So, while the movie encourages us to fight for economic equity, it also tells us not to worry about personal morality.

This, then is the problem with the film. Perhaps you think that I will turn around and begin to lambast the film because it didn't make personal morality a priority as well. No, I wouldn't expect that the film makers would consider it a priority. Especially given that those leaders who push morality as their agenda seem to be giving the message that they want they simply want good little consumers who kowtow to anything government or business tells them.

So, no, it isn't that morality is missing from the film. It is the purely materialistic outlook. One could be highly moral and still be extremely materialistic. In fact, I suspect many moral people are.

Morality without a center is nothing. There is much talk about giving people a moral center, or ensuring that people have a moral center in their lives, but, in fact, morality is not the center.

This is my point: Morality, be it personal or economic, without piety, without a devotion to God's service, is nothing.

Now, this will disturb some people. If we start to make God's priorities our priorities, we might find a lot fewer picketeers for abortion clinics; people might not rush down to the soup kitchen and try to help the homeless. Why not? Simply because when we begin to understand God and his will we see that the entire world needs him more than it needs food, more than it needs life.

Surely there can be no doubt that if the abortion provider were to begin to really attempt to live as God would have him, he would cease to provide abortions. But, is God calling me to bodily block women from going to him?

It is a tragedy that thousands of children die each day, and we should ask God for his intervention. But God also loves the homeless man on the street just as much as the unborn, so shouldn't we devote as much energy to his salvation as we do to the child's? What about that woman in "Bulworth" that said that she was a materialist? Doesn't God want us to care about people like her as well? Where do we begin?

I suppose what watching "Bulworth" really did for me was drive home how important it is for me to begin working on me, working towards the satisfaction that comes only from God before really worrying about others so much. We are told to love our neighbor as ourselves, but we are told to serve and love God most. Instead of really focussing in on serving God, we are in danger of serving issues.