catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 6, Num 4 :: 2007.02.23 — 2007.03.09


Al Gore: American prophet of inconvenience

In the 6th Century B.C. the prophet Ezekiel had an all-you-can eat scroll buffet before heading to the house of Israel where he made drawings on clay tablets, pretended to besiege Jerusalem with an iron pan, laid down—tied with rope—on his left and right side for over 400 days during which he baked bread over cow manure (he refused to bake it over human excrement as God intended) in order to warn Israel of impending doom.

In the 21st Century A.D, Al Gore criss-crossed the earth with a multi-media power-point presentation warning about the consequences of global warming.  Armed with diagrams, statistics, quotations and quips, Gore attempted to remove the obstacles that stand in the way of people understanding the dangers he claims we face.  Frustrated with the small impact his life-long commitment seemed to be making, he agreed to put his glorified slide show on film in 2006.

Is Al Gore’s decision to take his warning to the masses the same as Ezekiel’s call from God?  Is Al Gore a true prophet, in the biblical sense?  Well, using the Bible’s standards, if Gore’s warnings about impending environmental disaster come true, he’s a bonafide prophet.  But in order for everyone to realize the truth of his prophecy, the coastal regions of Florida, California, the financial district of Manhattan, heavily populated areas of India and Asia would have to be under water.  And then it would be too late.

Calling such a scenario a “catastrophe of biblical proportions” would actually be an understatement since many of the so-called natural disasters befalling people in the Bible were limited to a particular region of the world.   And even though Israel’s exile was all part of God’s plan for salvation through Christ, which of course continues to have global consequences, the destruction of Jerusalem did not alter our climate for the remainder of history!

So if Gore is right, we face a challenge far beyond anything we’ve encountered before.  Gore dwells on this awesome reality at the beginning of An Inconvenient Truth when he shows pictures of earth taken from space in 1969.  The strange experience of looking at our planet from outside of it puts us in an awful position.  In this present age, human beings are now inconveniently faced with the entire globe.

The image of earth from space affirms what modern science had been proving for years: our environment is not just a mystery hidden in a cloud of unknowing that we are fated to.  Our world is indeed an object of study just like any other thing we come across and it is within our power to change the earth and its age-old systems.  Al Gore explores both the negative and positive side of this understanding.  Using charts and graphs to trace the earth’s changes over many centuries, Gore seeks to prove that human beings have had a measurable impact on the trend toward global warming.  That’s the negative side.  But Gore finds hope in this human power as well.  Drawing on changes America has made within its own society—abolishing slavery, granting rights to blacks and to women in the 20th Century—he puts a positive spin on our environmental predicament.  Yes, humans are to blame.  But humans can be relied upon for the solution as well.

Al Gore’s version of prophecy appeals to the American belief in innate human goodness.  Gore does not ask us to confess that our sinful nature continues to disrupt the proper relationship between humanity and the rest of God’s creation.  He knows that would not be a persuasive argument in America.  Americans need to be reminded just how good we are so that our shortcomings shame us into doing better.  We need a gentle-but-firm, light-heartedly laconic, entertainingly educational film that makes us aware of the problem so that we can make informative decisions about our future. 

Not quite the prophetic voice of biblical times, but marketing research shows that the average moviegoer responds negatively to human excrement.  Maybe human beings haven’t changed all that much since the days of Ezekiel. 

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