Game Over Man, Game Over (sob!)

A good friend sent me an article that’s not exactly a beach read, “Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene”:

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/11/10/learning-how-to-die-in-the-anthropocene/

It’s a grim meditation on climate change.  Let’s for the sake of argument say the future Mr. Scranton envisions is exactly the way it plays out (debatable of course: everyone was crying “Game over man, game over!” when Dr. Paul Erlich published “The Population Bomb”, but soylent green isn’t on supermarket shelves yet). When I read this article, it was almost punctuation that the typhoon devastated the Philippines that same day.  So granted that, your response after reading is most likely “So what am I supposed to do about it?”

More and more I am struck by the fact that in our national conversation turning to Christ never enters in as a solution to our problems.  My wife likes watching Dr. Phil, and it just occurs to me that to the endless parade of human wreckage he puts on stage (My mom was having an affair with my fiancé!!! 500 lbs. and still lives with his parents!!!), maybe an urging to repent and give themselves to Jesus would be their best bet.  Now, to be fair to Dr. Phil, that would probably be the end of his show if he did that.  The “tweet-sphere” would combust, the ladies on “The View” would be outraged (maybe not Sherri).  Dr. Phil would be crucified in the secular media for trying to impose his personal religious beliefs on others: Bill Maher would melt down.  But I digress…

So to me the answer to “What am I supposed to do about it?” is “Do the best you can.”  We do have a responsibility to be stewards of creation.  God created Adam and gave him work to do:

Genesis 2:15 The Lord God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it.

After the creation of Eve, she and Adam were given the subsidiary task of being fruitful and multiplying – great work if you can get it.  But my point is we are here for a purpose.  I love that line from “Gladiator”, that what we do in life echoes through Eternity.  We are not here to sit in in the next life’s waiting room reading the old magazines, but we have work to do.  Jesus said things would get dicey before His return – and they do seem pretty dicey today – but He also said to live without anxiety about these “wars and rumors of war.”  The three theological virtues – we must pray every day for their instillation and increase – point the way.  “Faith” that God has a plan and we are part of that plan.  Granted, our part in the plan may be to be crushed by a falling piano, but ultimately that will be something we’ll laugh about later.  To St. Ignatius of Antioch: “Eaten by lions?  Pfft!  You haven’t died until a Steinway falls on you!”  “Hope” gives us optimism and endurance, for we know ultimately that this world is not our home.  Finally “Charity” forms our actions and our responses: all the bad stuff that can arise from faithlessness and hopelessness – greed, selfishness, lust, hatred – is not an option.

Changing direction a bit, the article touched my interest in paleontology and the nature of time.  C. S. Lewis in “Mere Christianity” has a chapter on time, and the first thing he says that if thinking about time is perplexing, put it aside, it is not something you have to get your arms around.  But the statement that God is “outside of time” is an utterly ungraspable concept.  It infers that a Tyrannosaurus taking down prey in the Cretaceous as that proposed great and devastating comet hurtles toward Earth is just as “present moment” to God as I am sitting here typing this.  I think we talk somewhat cavalierly about “God’s plan”, and Biblical literalists have an impoverished idea of God’s plan.  About 275 million years ago 95% of all living things died in the Permian Extinction, affectionately known to paleontologists as “The Great Dying”: pretty stunning part of God’s plan.  There were creatures living on this planet before the Anthropocene that would make an adult Kodiak bear wet itself and run crying to its mommy.  I think in meditating on time and eternity we are offered two fruits: Christ extends to us the opportunity embrace humility; Satan would extend to us his gift of despair.

Choose wisely.

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2 Comments on “Game Over Man, Game Over (sob!)”


  1. Good use of the article. I have been in humble mode to everything that is outside of me for years and, as I have probably told you, I realize that there is SOMETHING/ONE bigger and better than all of us. My take-away from the article is that the people on earth, no matter what their belief system, are facing extinction at some future point in time BECAUSE OF US. To argue there is no climatic change is to ignore all the bad things that we have done to our planet earth. Name some good things that we have done!? Secondly, these same “dismissive-types” think that our wisdom will fix all these problems, like an iPhone ap. The reality is that we have a preponderance of problems that will doom the future. We need to be humble, to kneel, and to talk to the one responsible rather than ourselves. Amen


    • “I realize that there is SOMETHING/ONE bigger and better than all of us.” We seem to be on the same page Stan, but the ambiguity of your profession troubles me a bit. For you who is that SOMETHING/ONE? God? The Great Spirit? Gaia? The Force? There are radical environmentalists who actually believe the Earth would be a happier place if there were no people on it; they consider humanity the equivalent of a virus. Not saying that’s where your head and heart are at, but it feels from your comments that it wouldn’t take much to reach that tipping point. There is legitimate science that questions the Al Gore inconvenient truth scenario. For example, it is an established fact that the Arctic ice cap added a million square miles of ice the past year. I don’t want to get into a debate about the issue, because all I know is what I read and hear, and today there is so much “slick willying” going on that I find it hard to hang my hat on much of anything. All I can do is recycle, clean up after my dog, take shallower breaths so I exhale less carbon dioxide, and trust that Jesus has my back.


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