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We are living in a time of unprecedented evil


Question & Answer

A Reader from the Internet asks:


What is the essence of your message? The most important thing you have to say?

Answer: The Rev. Michael Dowd
Dear Reader,

We are living in a time of unprecedented evil, yet we don’t see it; we can’t see it. Not only has industrial civilization lost the ability to distinguish good and evil, we typically confuse the two and casually treat things that are downright anti-future as good.

Q: Wow, that’s a bold claim. Can you give some examples of things that are accepted and standard today that you actually regard as evil?

As I said in my essay, it is not just immoral, it is evil to pursue one’s own short-term personal or institutional gain in ways that diminish or destroy the long-term future. Here are some examples…

It is evil to use renewable resources faster than they can be replenished.
It is evil to use nonrenewable resources in ways that harm and rob future generations.
It is evil to introduce substances into the environment that are not food for some other life form.
It is evil to alter the climate and devastate habitats in ways that drive millions of other species to extinction.

All these things, and more, are patently anti-future and thus evil. Yet religion — the one institution charged with the responsibility of naming as “good” that which promotes personal wholeness, social coherence, and ecological integrity, and as “evil” that which diminishes or destroys the same — is asleep at the wheel.

Why? Anthropocentric idolatry.

To speak religiously, if measuring progress and success in human-centered ways casts us out of the Garden, measuring progress and success in Gᴏᴅᴅᴇ-centered (bio-centric or eco-centric) ways is our way home.

My mentor Thomas Berry regularly reminded us that “The universe is primary; humans are derivative.” In mythic language, “Reality rules—i.e., Gᴏᴅ is Lord” That’s a fact, not a belief.

When we honor primary reality as primary — as more important than us — our species can thrive. But when human wellbeing is put ahead of the health of the air, water, soil, forests, and life, we ensure the condemnation not only of our grandchildren but of generations centuries to come. It turns out that the Judgment Day is real; it’s just not otherworldly.

Q: Can you offer any hope?

Surely! Those of us who sacrifice our privilege, power, and conveniences today for the sake of future generations will be revered not reviled. To my mind, that’s what being a Christ-ian means. It’s got nothing to do with “believing in” ancient miracles and supernatural entities so that I get to avoid everlasting torment and go to some special place when I die. It’s got everything to do with whether I continue living in an anti-future (anti-Christian) way, or whether I choose to follow Jesus and live with a commitment to save the future and thereby redeem humanity.

~ The Rev. Michael Dowd

This Q&A was originally published on Progressing Spirit – As a member of this online community, you’ll receive insightful weekly essays, access to all of the essay archives (including all of Bishop John Shelby Spong), and answers to your questions in our free weekly Q&A. Click here to see free sample essays.


Deep Sustainability Resources

Click here for links to text and audio files …

William R. Catton, Jr.: Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change

Tom Wessels: The Myth of Progress: Toward a Sustainable Future

William Ophuls: Immoderate Greatness: Why Civilizations Fail; Plato’s Revenge; Sane Polity

John Michael Greer: The Long Descent; Dark Age America; Not the Future We Ordered; The Retro Future; Collapse Now and Avoid the Rush; After Progress

Richard Heinberg: The End of Growth; Afterburn: Society Beyond Fossil Fuels; A New Covenant with Nature

Nate Hagens: Youtube — Blindspots and Superheroes; Guide to Being Human in the 21st Century

Thomas Berry: The Dream of the Earth; The Great Work; The Universe Story (w/ Swimme); The Christian Future and the Fate of Earth

Joanna Macy: Active Hope; Coming Back to Life; World as Lover, World as Self

Bron Taylor: Dark Green Religion: Nature Spirituality and the Planetary Future

James Howard Kunstler: The Long Emergency; Too Much Magic

Robin Wall Kimmerer: Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teaching of Plants

David Fleming: Surviving the Future; Lean Logic: A Dictionary for Surviving the Future

The Dark Mountain Project: Walking on Lava: Selected Works for Uncivilized Times

Richard Adrian Reese: Sustainable or Bust; Understanding Sustainability

Michael & Joyce Huesemann: Techno Fix: Why Technology Won’t Save Us or the Environment

Charles A.S. Hall: Energy Return on Investment; Energy and the Wealth of Nations (w/ Klitgaard)

About the Author

The Rev. Michael Dowd is a bestselling evolutionary storyteller, eco-theologian, and pro-future evangelist whose work has been featured in The New York Times, LA Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Newsweek, Discover, and on television nationally, including CNN, ABC News, and even FOX News. His book, Thank God for Evolution: How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will Transform Your Life and Our World, was endorsed by 6 Nobel Prize-winning scientists, noted skeptics and atheists, and by dozens of religious leaders across the theological spectrum. Michael and his science writer, evolutionary educator, and fellow climate activist wife, Connie Barlow, have spoken to more than 2,200 groups throughout North America since April 2002.

A former pastor and sustainable communities organizer, Rev. Dowd has delivered two TEDx talks and a program at the United Nations. His commitment to the legacy-work of his colleagues has resulted in two online conversation series: “The Advent of Evolutionary Christianity,” and “The Future Is Calling Us to Greatness,” and recording nearly 1,500 hours of, what he calls, “deep sustainability scripture.” Dowd’s passion for proclaiming a pro-science message of inspiration — what he calls “the gospel of right relationship to Reality” — has earned him the moniker Rev. Reality, as he speaks prophetically in secular and religious settings about our sacred responsibility to future generations. Videos of his most popular sermons and longer programs can be found here. His and Connie’s 2017-18 itinerary can be found here.

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