Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Late Roger Ebert's Thoughts on Catholicism

How fascinating that the eminent film critic, in one of his last pieces of writing, should have turned his thoughts towards his Catholic heritage. In an artice called How I am a Roman Catholic, he describes his attitudes and feelings towards the religion in which he was brought up.

Even before his last illness and death, I found myself curious about Ebert's religious opinions. I'm always curious about everybody's religious opinions, but with most people, you can make a pretty good guess at what they are. Ebert, however, intrigued me. His view of the world could probably best be described as "liberal-humanist". His view on homosexuality seemed entirely accepting. He wrote a review of a euthanasia-themed movie that accepted that euthanasia was a morally problematic issue, and praised the film for not simplifying it. He does not seem to have believed in the supernatural at all.

Ebert was my favourite movie critic because he tried to appreciate a movie on its own terms. He didn't write damning reviews of popcorn action flicks because they weren't comedies of manners or high drama. He steered clear of artistic snobbery.

In a similar way, he seemed to me the best sort of liberal-- the sort that is liberal enough to accept that liberalism has its own limits and pitfalls, and that there are other honourable ways of looking at the world than liberalism.

It seems to me that few people possessed of strong imaginations, and of any kind of sense of mystery and the sublime, are inclined to be dismissive of Catholicism, or of any kind of religious faith. Those who entirely scorn religion seem either wilfully blind to life's depths, or genuinely doomed to see only the surface of existence-- the bare physical facts. (Although, since I am a believer, I cannot believe that God has deprived anybody of the capacity to intuit His existence.)

Roger Ebert RIP.


  1. So from reading his article I take it that he's an agnostic? A humanistic agnostic to be exact, if there is such a thing.

  2. I think that was the essence of his beliefs. He said he would not call himself an atheist because that was to claim to know the unknowable.