“An Inconvenient Truth” is an hour and a half of preaching. That is, it is Al Gore preaching to us about the impending crisis of global warming. Mr. Gore has all the current statistics displayed by all the latest technologies, and he’s shown speaking before packed-to-overflowing houses of attentive and empathetic listeners, appealingly designed to emphasize youth and include several minorities. (This is the kind of congregation we would all love to have on Sunday mornings.) There’s no hymn singing, though, and no praying, just clear-eyed, somber warnings about the impending disasters, complete with dire predictions of floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, drought, and other natural disasters (see Matthew 24:7).
It’s clear that Mr. Gore has a “calling” to preach the urgency of the approaching catastrophe. It’s touted as non-political, but he does manage to get in his shots at the “current administration,” which he clearly wishes to have been himself. If the question is, “What must I do to be saved?” (see Acts 16:30), the answer is not so clear. (What are we supposed to do, quit driving?) Some of us have more access to mass transit than others. And some of us are more at home in the wild than others.
Speaking of being at home in the wild, “The Wild” is an animated Walt Disney kind of fable about animals from the New York Zoo being themselves more at home in the zoo than in the wild (they all compete in an improvised game of shuffleboard at night, when all the humans are gone). Through an improbable set of circumstances, several of them find themselves in the African jungle, and manage to save each other from all the danger around them. The teaching moments here are about the importance of family and friends, and sticking with one another in times of crisis. It’s a kind of lighthearted adventure that’s more comic than tragic, and can definitely be enjoyed by the entire family.
“Poseidon” is also about a small group thrown into unfamiliar and dangerous circumstances, trying to save each other from the danger all around them. But it’s almost entirely grim, much more tragic than comic. As in the Flood, all drown except a handful (see I Peter 3:20), and even they must be incredible underwater swimmers and be able to hold their breath a fantastic length of time as they athletically make their way up the vent shafts, elevator shafts, and propeller tubes of the upside-down cruise ship, which is constantly exploding and rapidly sinking.
There’s at least one great semi-Christological moment, when a man sacrifices his life in order to save the life of his daughter. The problem is that the only characters who are preserved are themselves something less than winsome (see Genesis 9:21), so we’re not sure if we’re all that moved even after witnessing the great tragedy.
None of these films will gather a wide audience. “An Inconvenient Truth” just might make an interesting DVD presentation to an adult or youth Sunday School class (two sessions required). “The Wild” would be an okay film to show in the nursery while the rest are in their class. But “Poseidon,” like the crying baby in the worship service, is best ignored.
Questions For Discussion:
1) What can do we do as individuals to reduce pollution to the environment? Do you feel that the crisis is urgent and demands immediate attention?
2) When have you not been truthful to your family about your past? Have there been consequences to your deception?
3) Have you ever relied on strangers to rescue you? Have you ever rescued any strangers? If so, was it worth the risk?
4) For whom would you sacrifice your own life?
Ron Salfen is pastor of the First Church, Terrell, Texas.