Preaching an Inconvenient Truth
I had two big takeaways from watching An Inconvenient Truth:
2) Al Gore is a very good preacher.
The second point came to me when I was leaving the film and my friend mentioned how good the film was and how she appreciated that Al Gore wasn't "too preachy." And I realized that while he wasn't preachy, he was, in fact, preaching in the best sense. The whole film has a sermonlike quality and structure to it.
First off, Al Gore has a message that many listeners are not ready to hear, and that is one of our sinful nature. We have pursued our own petty ends to the detriment of the world around us and have ignored or rationalized the consequences of our actions for too long. This is a classic staple of prophetic preaching. I am reminded of the Old Testament prophets who saw the ills of their society - oppression of the poor, the dependence of the powerful on wealth and military arms, the arrogance of power, etc. - and how they saw that there would be a reckoning for their ways.
Secondly, he deftly uses self effacing humor and personal anecdote to support his message. He lets his audience (congregation?) know that he stands convicted under the same judgment and he is preaching as much to his own salvation as theirs. He is not holier than thou. Particularly effective was his analogy about how his father was a tobacco farmer and, even in the face of mounting evidence of the health risks, he didn't stop until finally a good friend of the family died of lung cancer. Sometimes the abstract must be made concrete before we can change. In the same way, Al Gore connects the dots between global warming and increased hurricane activity in the gulf and other natural disasters in the wings. There are direct consequences for sin.
Third, he preaches repentance. If disaster is to be overted, we must repent of our sinful ways. If we don't, the path is clear. Repentance (metanoia), as dramatic as that word might sound, is simpy a change of heart or mind. It is turning our back on one way of life and following a new path. And certainly Al Gore is asking us to do that both on the corporate and individual level. In this he is following in the paths of the prophets who called for repentance of both kings and the people. It is not sufficient for the people to repent if the rulers do not, nor is it enough for the powers that be to change heart if their followers continue their wicked ways. And the threat of global climate change must be addressed on both the governmental and individual levels.
Fourth, he offers hope. There is a way out if we want it. If we truly repent and are willing to sacrifice (not a popular word these days) these disasters can be diverted. Our response is not irrelevant. It is not too late.
All of this is done, in my opinion, very effectively, and I would recommend this film to young preachers as a good communicative analysis if nothing else. As it is, I also agree with the message of the film and would hope that people would be persuaded by its message.
Watch the trailer: