This Sunday, I am preaching on “Inconvenient Men.” Unbeknownst to me, my husband Kit masterminded this development, beginning with his Christmas present in 2012: Ralph Nader’s newest book, The Seventeen Solutions – Bold Ideas for Our American Future. I was like, “Ralph Nader? Really?” And he said, “It got great reviews.” I kind of shrugged and thought to myself, “Ah well, my husband’s Canadian.”
Six months later it came to my attention that the excellent documentary about Ralph Nader, An Unreasonable Man, was co-written and directed by a good friend of Neighborhood Church, Steve Skrovan. His film brings up the rear of a three-part social justice film series featuring Neighborhood Church directors. (We showed Trans by Chris Arnold in May, and Preacher’s Sons by C Reed in September). The church will screen An Unreasonable Man Saturday, January 18th at 7 p.m. and Steve will answer questions afterward.
After we scheduled this screening I thought of the Ralph Nader book I had little interest (to be honest) in reading, and decided this would make me read it, if I featured a sermon about Ralph Nader and Al Gore (who also has a 2013 book) the Sunday before the screening, and titled it “Inconvenient Men.”
Al Gore’s book, The Future, is highly inconvenient to read – it raises excellent points but is long and meandering. Nader, who gets right to his points, has written a succinct description of our country’s problems and how they could be addressed by regular citizens. And then I watched the film about Nader (a few days ago), which floored me: it describes his career and his infamous bid for US President in the year 2000. I remember it well, don’t you?
Speaking to my husband last night, I expressed my astonishment of how thoroughly Ralph Nader has been villainized by . . . by . . . pretty much everyone, and yet, he remains one of the last vestiges of worthy, embodied civic participation. Everything he has always stood for continues to call out the most troubling aspects of our times. In other words, Ralph Nader is not so easily written off, once a fuller picture of his story is presented, as An Unreasonable Man manages to do.
Kit chuckled a little devilishly, and said, “That’s why I gave you that book. So you’d do a sermon about it.”
Well played, Canadian spouse. Well played.
-Rev. Hannah Petrie