Monthly Post

The Twilight of Anthropolatry

During the last three months, while on hiatus from blogging, I’ve looked back over the eleven-year run of The Archdruid Report. As my regular readers know, the point of that prolonged experiment in online prose was my attempt to explore the primary historical fact of our time—the accelerating decline and impending fall of industrial civilization—from every angle I could think of, including some I never imagined addressing at all when I started blogging back in 2006.

Those changes of angle happened partly because it gets boring to talk about the same thing in the same way over and over again, of course, but there was a deeper factor as well. I started off discussing what I thought was the straightforward point that you can’t fuel infinite economic growth by drawing down a finite resource base. Sounds like basic common sense, doesn’t it? It did to me, too, but it nonetheless fielded a remarkable amount of pushback. A great many people seemed to be unable to get their minds around the fact that each ton of coal, barrel of petroleum, or cubic foot of natural gas burned to fuel their lifestyles really does go away forever.

So I began discussing that issue from different angles of approach, and over time the blog gathered an online community of people who found one or more of those angles interesting. We talked about systems ecology, economics, history and the cycles by which civilizations rise and fall; we hauled the appropriate-technology movement of the Seventies out of the memory hole to which it’s been consigned for the last thirty years, and unpacked some of the things it had to offer, now that we’re experiencing the future that the movement’s spokespeople warned about.

En route, we strayed into an assortment of strange byways, from faith in progress as an ersatz religion to the possibilities open to science fiction once it gets back to work discussing the kind of futures we’re actually going to get. Tolerably often, the results were interesting enough to be worth reprinting in book form—that’s where ten of my nonfiction books, three novels, and a newly released collection of short stories came from. In the process, the community around the blog grew to a degree I’d never anticipated, with up to a third of a million readers a month dropping in to check out the latest post.

All the while, though, the pushback continued—and the attitude behind it became more and more entrenched in the wider world. The rise and fall of climate change activism, for example, makes a good proxy measurement for the failure of industrial civilization as a whole to engage in basic reality testing. With each year that passes, the annual cost of weather-related disasters rises, the broader financial impacts of climate change take a bigger bite out of the global economy, and such unsubtle signs as seawater flooding the streets of Miami Beach, methane explosions blasting craters in the Siberian permafrost, and freighters steaming through the formerly impassable Northwest Passage sound nature’s equivalent of a warning klaxon.

Yet even among those people who think they take climate change seriously, you’ll have to look long and hard to find the very few who take it seriously enough to stop making the problem worse with their own actions. I had a pleasant email exchange with one of those few a couple of weeks ago. His name is Peter Kalmus; he’s a scientist who researches climate change; he decided, after careful assessment of the data, to give up air travel in order to cut back on his own contribution to the problem he studies; and he’s written a thoughtful book, Being the Change, which will be published later this year, and which talks in forthright terms about the way that change has to begin with our own lifestyles, if it’s going to begin at all.

Kalmus made a midsized splash in the sustainability end of the blogosphere a while back, when he published an essay suggesting that climate scientists might want to take the lead in giving up the carbon-intensive lifestyle habits that all of us are going to have to give up in order to keep the planetary climate from spinning hopelessly out of control. A few of his colleagues have taken up the gauntlet he threw down—last I heard, the number is up to half a dozen or so, out of the tens of thousands of scientists currently researching climate change. The rest keep on flying carbon-spewing jets to conferences where they talk learnedly about how we all have to stop spewing carbon, and then wonder why so few people take them seriously.

Think about that for a moment. If climate scientists—the people who have the most reason to understand what we’re doing to the Earth’s climate by using its atmosphere as a gaseous trash can for our wastes—aren’t willing to change their own behavior in response to that knowledge, how can they expect anyone else to do so? Again, this is basic common sense, but you’ll find any number of people doing their level best to evade it these days.

Check out any other issue where the survival of industrial society is at stake, and you’ll see the same thing. In case after case, it takes very little work to identify the habits and lifestyle choices that are dragging our civilization to ruin, and only a few moments of clear thinking to realize that the way to avert an ugly future has to begin with giving up those habits and lifestyle choices. Yet that last step is unthinkable to most people. It’s not just that they refuse to take it, for whatever reason; it’s that they don’t seem to be able to wrap their brains around the idea at all.

That incomprehension isn’t something that the movements to save industrial civilization from itself have yet really grappled with. Many activists still seem to think the difficulty is purely a matter of knowledge: if only they can explain what’s happening and what has to be done about it to enough people, they think, people will change their ways and everything will be fine. This approach hasn’t worked well, in case you haven’t noticed. If even climate scientists, who are as thoroughly informed as anyone about what their lifestyles are doing to the planet, aren’t able to take the very simple step from there to changing those lifestyles, knowledge is clearly not enough.

Among those activists who’ve grasped the failure of earnest explanation, the next step is usually to frame the discussion in ethical terms: if only they can get people to see that what they’re doing is wrong, they think, people will change their ways and everything will be fine. That hasn’t worked either. There are complex reasons for that, reaching back to the broader failure of ethics as currently understood to have much of an effect on human behavior—a theme we’ll be discussing at some length in later posts. Yet even those who have convinced themselves that the fate of the Earth is a moral issue of compelling importance seem, by and large, to be unable to go from that ethical realization to the obvious next step of giving up habits and lifestyle choices that actively harm the global ecosystem. Thus ethics are clearly not enough.

Among those few climate activists who have grasped the failure of knowledge and ethics, it’s common to hear the difficulty framed as a matter of will: if only they can find some way to motivate people to do what’s necessary, they think, people will change their ways and everything will be fine. That hasn’t worked any better than the other two notions. There are good reasons why it hasn’t worked; notably, most activists try to motivate people by threatening them with a really ugly future if they don’t change their ways, and this sort of rhetoric has been done to death for so long that it’s lost what clout it once had. Yet again, the issue of personal lifestyle choices casts a useful light: if activists who are perfectly willing to devote long hours on their own nickel to the cause can’t apply the same focused will to the task of changing their own lifestyles, will is clearly not enough.

It’s easy to dismiss all this as a matter of simple hypocrisy, but this doesn’t cover the territory either. We live in a hypocritical age, and one advantage that accrues from that fact is that most of my readers will be very familiar with the manifestations of hypocrisy in action. We’ve all seen hypocrites respond in plenty of different ways when they’re called on the mismatch between their words and their actions: the disarming smile, the sudden rage, the elaborate cover story, the sudden effort at distraction, and so on. A blank look like a cow staring at a passing train isn’t one of these—and yet that’s what I tend to get consistently when I bring up the failure of people to make the changes in their own lives their own rhetoric demands that others make.

The problem isn’t knowledge, then; it’s not ethics, and it’s not will. What remains?

Some decades ago, in a book far more often cited than read, historian of science Thomas Kuhn pointed out the role of paradigms in the process of scientific research. A paradigm, in Kuhn’s sense, is a particular scientific achievement that counts, in the eyes of scientists in one or more fields, as “good science.” For the scientific movement as a whole, for example, the research program carried out by Isaac Newton in the late seventeenth century, culminating in his epochal book Principia Mathematica, was for several centuries the paradigm par excellence, the epitome of good science; students in most sciences treated it as a model for imitation, not only in its procedures, but in the kinds of questions that it asked and the kinds of answers it got.

The difficulty with paradigm-driven science, though, is that no matter how good the procedures, questions, and answers mandated by any paradigm may be, sooner or later they stop yielding useful insights into nature. At this point whatever scientific field has relied on the paradigm in question slams facefirst into crisis; you see the endless circular debates, the frantic elaboration of existing theory, and all the other signs of a discipline that’s lost its way. In due time, somebody succeeds in solving some key problem the old paradigm couldn’t address, their achievement by and large becomes the new paradigm, and the cycle begins anew.

We’ll be discussing Kuhn and his book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, a great deal in posts to come, as it points out some of the crucial reasons why science remains stuck in so many unproductive ruts in our time. (Straightforward corruption by corporate and ideological interests accounts for most of the others.) The point I’d like to make here, though, is that Kuhn’s insight can be applied far beyond the boundaries of the sciences.

In every human society, every aspect of life is mapped out according to a paradigm of some kind, which defines what’s important, what’s relevant, what’s possible, and what’s unthinkable in that part of the world of human experience. This is by no means a wholly conscious process; it’s more akin to the habits of hearing by which most of us can tell when a musical note is out of tune, say, or the visceral discomfort most of us feel when some norm of our culture is violated. The more successfully a paradigm addresses its area of life, the less it’s likely to be noticed; it’s only when crisis comes, and the only way to deal with some pressing problem is ruled out by the paradigm of those who must confront that same problem, that the paradigm itself becomes fully conscious—and when it does, it generally loses its power to shape human behavior.

In every human society, in turn, all these subsidiary paradigms relate in one way or another to a more basic pattern—the society’s ur-paradigm, its concept of what it means to be a human being, which every member of that society either imitates or deliberately rejects. Concepts of this kind vary far more from culture to culture than most people ever quite grasp, and a good many of the failures in understanding between people of different cultures happen because each party tries to apply their own sense of what it means to be human to a person who doesn’t share that sense. Like scientific paradigms, though, these social ur-paradigms eventually stop yielding useful insights into the basic questions of existence; crisis comes, and a new paradigm has to be found.

We’re in the midst of exactly such a process in the industrial world today. Our core assumptions about what it means to be human, how we relate to the universe and how it relates to us, are well past their pull date; they no longer yield useful insights into the problems that beset us today. It’s because of that failure that the paradigm itself is becoming visible to us at last.

We could talk about that paradigm in a great many ways, but I’m going to suggest a deliberately edgy label for it: anthropolatry, the worship of humanity as a god.

Think about the blank looks I mentioned earlier in this post, the ones that show up on cue when I suggest the necessity of personal change to people—even to people who are well informed about the environmental crisis of our time, who grasp the moral issues involved, and who show in every other aspect of their lives the presence of adequate willpower to change their lives in response to a clearly recognized need. What lies behind those blank looks? A paradigm that insists that human beings are above nature—in the full literal sense of the word, supernatural—and therefore can’t possibly need to rethink their own choices for nature’s sake.

More broadly, think of the rhetoric that’s been lavished on our species over the years, especially back when you could get away with referring to the lot of us collectively as Man:  Man the measure of all things, Man the summit of creation, Man the conqueror of nature, and so on in an embarrassing parade of self-praise that lavishes on humanity pretty much all the characteristics that most other cultures have traditionally assigned to their gods.

The irony, and it’s a rich one, is that the scientific worldview that’s so often brandished by believers in the cult of anthropolatry contradicts this overblown image in every particular. Pay unbiased attention to the evidence from science, and it’s impossible to avoid realizing that humanity is simply a species of megafauna native to a single not very important planet. Like rats, crows, and feral swine, we’re invasive, omnivorous, and adaptable; we’ve evolved some unusual cognitive and behavioral tricks, but we’re not above or outside nature in any sense that matters. (Does that statement upset or offend you, dear reader? If so, why?)

We evolved from other species long after life emerged on this planet, and we’ll go extinct long before life dies out. However important we may be to ourselves and each other—just as rats are important to other rats, for good reason, and swine to other swine—in the greater scheme of things, we’re a temporary perturbation in the damp film that covers one small rocky world in an ordinary solar system on the fringes of an ordinary galaxy, and that’s all we will ever be. (Here again, dear reader, if that last statement upsets you, it may be worth asking yourself why.)

Most traditional religions embraced a similarly modest sense of our place in the cosmos, though the details differed for a range of reasons. The contemporary cult of anthropolatry, by contrast, insists that humanity is destined to bestride the stars, outlive the sun, give meaning and purpose to the cosmos, and so on. That enthusiastic embrace of the quality the ancient Greeks called “hubris” is its distinctive feature. It’s also its distinctive flaw, because—as an honest scientific assessment of our limited gifts and vast dependencies could have predicted a long time ago—the project of living like gods isn’t working too well for us these days. Despite the increasingly shrill claims of Man’s devout worshippers, what’s more, it shows no signs of working any better in the foreseeable future—quite the contrary, in fact.

The paradigm of anthropolatry thus faces a familiar crisis. Over the months to come, we’ll take a closer look at the way that humanity got assigned the dubious status of an ersatz god, explore the ongoing unraveling of that improbable ideology, and consider some of the possibilities for a new paradigm that fits our species with a less embarrassingly oversized role in the scheme of things.

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The three months just past have been extremely busy for me, not least because a flurry of book projects of mine have now seen print. All the short fiction from my previous blog, The Archdruid Report, has now been published in a single volume as An Archdruid’s Tales; fans of The Celtic Golden Dawn, and more generally those interested in Druidry, will want to have a look at my new book The Coelbren Alphabet; the second volume of my epic fantasy with tentacles, The Weird of Hali: Kingsport, has been published in hardback, and the first volume, The Weird of Hali: Innsmouth, is now available in trade paper. These and all my other books can be accessed from the menu bar at the top of this website. Thank you for considering them!

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Finally, it’s probably a good idea to sketch out my current notion of the way I’ll be handling this blog. At this point—and of course there’s every chance that this will change as we proceed—I plan on posting one substantive essay a month. I’m also planning, beginning two weeks from now, on posting a monthly summary of news stories, with links and acerbic commentary, tracking the ongoing decline of our civilization and the spiraling mess around us.

That covers, roughly speaking, two weeks out of every four. As it happens, I have something to suggest for the other two as well, and each of them is the product of reader requests. First of all, I’m considering hosting a monthly open post to field questions and encourage discussion, a little like the AMA (Ask Me Anything) sessions hosted on Reddit. Is that something that would be of interest? If so, we can do that next week.

Second, I’ve also fielded requests from readers of my books on nature spirituality and Druidry. They’re interested in having a regular opportunity to ask questions about, and discuss concepts from, my books in that field—one book that was repeatedly mentioned was Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth. It occurs to me that it might be entertaining, and possibly useful as well, to do something like a book club, in which those who are interested read or review a given chapter of one of my books, and then talk about the ideas it presents.

If that’s of interest, I’d encourage readers to read or review the first chapter of Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth over the next three weeks, and be prepared to discuss what it has to say. By “discuss,” of course, I don’t necessarily mean “agree with;” criticisms of the book and its ideas are welcome if they’re courteous and relevant. The same rules apply here as on my former blogs, though, and people who don’t abide by those rules will be shown the door.

With that caution—familiar to most of you—I welcome all my readers to the new blog!

301 Comments

  1. Anthropolatry has a nice evil ring to it. With shades of hubris and narcissism. Now that it has a name, we can start to fix it, heh.
    Minister of Future

  2. So glad you are back!!
    Your suggestion regarding free open questions on regular base is an excellent idea. I already have some.

  3. Nice start! I can see that a feeling of omnipotence can be a hindering factor when partaking in a discussion of how to adhere to limits! The connection to hubris is spot on! Our collective jetsetting is clearly melting our wax (carbon making our home less hospitable) . I gave up flying 2013, you can take credit. And re-reading the mystery teachings is another glove I can pick up! Love the suggestions of the structure of the blog.

  4. Off to a great start! One of my favorite takeaways from Kuhn’s book was that, apparently, it is next to impossible for individuals (and completely, for groups) to abandon a paradigm until another viable one appears, even if that existing paradigm is hopelessly riddled with holes and creaking on its foundation. A decent metaphor might be passengers clinging to a burning, sinking ship that hasn’t yet gone down, until the rescue boat appears. I see this same concept play out in dead end jobs, toxic relationships, and any number of other venues. It’s very interesting to me that we seem to prefer an obviously awful system to no system at all, but in a way, it makes sense that even a terrible way of relating to the world seems to have more appeal to people than a void of the unknown.

    Maybe that has something to do with the failure to abandon ship we’re experiencing. Here’s hoping this blog can help launch something worth swimming to.

  5. Evolutionary biology appears to have given us a wonderful skillset for monitoring for and responding to threats in real time, ie, lions trying to eat us, but absolutely no skills whatsoever to react to known future threats, ie, habitat destruction. Add the human proclivity towards “specialness”, ie, your anthropolatry, and well, here we are, in trouble and not “really” caring. When a congressman says climate change can’t be a problem, god will take care of it and us, he speaks for billions. Thus I can only suggest that species-wide adaptation in advance of catastrophic change is just not going to happen. For me, that pessimism has morphed into hopeless/helpless certainty. I am the outlier here in my world. Am I wrong?

  6. The Archdrought* is over! Cue the drums and whistles!

    I’m definitely interested in the AMA and I’ve ordered a copy of Mystery Teachings (I read it from a library before).

    Also, for all of the other readers, I happened to click the link to Being the Change above and notice that New Society Publishers is having a decent sale for the rest of June. They have a lot of good titles–including, of course, several by our host–so it’s worth checking out.

    *Thanks to Ruben from the old blog for the term.

  7. Will your decades of posts from the Archdruid Report be made available in an electronic and searchable format? I understand you said you will publish an e-book version of them but does this mean the body of text can be searched in a manner similar to what the Archdruid Report allowed in its search options?

  8. Welcome back! Great to see the new blog up and running. Looking forward to the exciting plan you outlined. And a terrific first post.

    There’s lots to discuss in what you’ve written here, but I have what I suspect is a really simple question that’s been bothering me for awhile now, and I’ve been waiting for your blog to restart to ask. It at least tangentially relates to the issue of activists not willing to alter their lives to achieve their goals, so I hope it’s OK to post.

    A consistent plank of the Left’s – or at least the Democratic party’s – platform to slow climate change is to close down coal mines, not open new drilling in Alaska, protest pipelines, etc. etc. I have never understood how any of that would slow climate change – I mean, not mining for coal in West Virginia and not drilling for oil in Alaska doesn’t, by itself, slow down the rate of consumption of these resources. And the consumption is the problem, right? I understand that not drilling for Alaskan oil protects the local environment, but how does it protect the global environment? Or do these policies not have any real connection to slowing global climate change, and we’re just looking at groups of voters volunteering members of the outgroup to suffer economically in the cause of virtue signalling?

    Again, welcome back!

  9. Guilty as charged. It is hard to want less, eat less, do less, be less, but that is the required paradigm for the immediate future. On an individual level, I prepare for society hitting the proverbial brick wall, not hitting it myself. Humanity will be something different in the end, but it may take twenty, thirty, or even fifty years – it has much in common with a slow moving train wreck, that started last week, last month, last decade or even a century ago. No complex psychohistory analysis required, the future is known, the path plotted – it just needs to unfold before I die to matter. Grab some popcorn and a comfortable seat. It is likely to be entertaining to the end. Then painful for a moment, then over. It is humanity’s destiny unless a workable new paradigm is found and injected into the worldwide cultural meme. Alas, the wreck will launch a meme into whatever is left living and humanity will start the cycle all over again.

  10. Coordinated Universal Time (= UTC = EST+5 = EDT+4): 20170621T165337Z

    Dear JMG,

    This so good. Many of us will particularly welcome your plan to comment once a month on current news. Your monthly commentaries will help us meet the challenge of sifting mainstream-media signal from mainstream-media noise, the so-sparse wheat from the so-abundant chaff.

    On paradigm shifts, I’d like to tell a small Soviet Estonian story.

    It was 1990 – the last year of the USSR occupation, though nobody knew it then. With the authority of the Red Bedsheet visibly unravelling, it was now considered okay for persons of even a conservative mindset to visit occupied Estonia from the Western Bloc. My parents had not the slightest objection to my going to Tallinn, at long last, and meeting up with, among others, Uncle “RST” and his very nice wife “QRP”. QRP, RST, and I, and perhaps others also, were sitting around the dinner table in a Tallinn suburb:

    ME: Well, yes, anti-Soviet stuff is cropping up everywhere these days.

    UNCLE RST AND AUNTIE QRP [showing how changing times were making it advisable to turn on a dime]: Yes, terrible, horrible, isn’t it, the way anti-Soviet stuff keeps popping up, utterly ghastly – that is to say, wonderful, yes, wonderful that everywhere around the world people are turning so anti-Soviet, simply **WONDERFUL**.

    I kept my mouth shut.

    Hoping that your writings, JMG, will continue facilitating eco-glasnost,

    Tom = http://toomaskarmo.blogspot.com
    (presently in Estonian diaspora, near Toronto in Canada)

  11. Greetings Mr. Greer on starting a new chapter in your blogging adventures. I hope to enter your proposed discussions on your books, though so far I have only read through (and tried to put into practice) the Art and Practice of Geomancy. I haven’t obtained any of your druidry titles (a big mistake on my part) but I have tried practising the sphere of protection as detailed on the AODA website.

    I am intrigued by the tentatively-ecological ur-paradigm you might elaborate in the future. Admittedly, a good deal of its appeal to me might be due to its (possible?) indifference to preaching morality.

    In any case, thank you for all your previous work and I hope EcoSophia will bend as many minds and rattle as many cages as your previous blogs.

    Lordyburd

  12. John, your description of the actions of climatologists and people’s reactions to them mimics religion. In particular the relationship between the preachers and the flock. There’s the, ‘Do as I say, not as I do,’ part. Then the, ‘If you only understood you’d stop sinning.’ Then the, ‘Do as I say or you’ll go to hell,’ only hell is a burning planet not a burning soul.

    People routinely ignore all of those and try to get away with as much as think they can without suffering the only thing that matters: ostracization from their immediate clan. This might explain a lot of the problems people have had since tribal organization gave way to cities and empires. We are just not evolved to live in anything larger than a local, village environment where our actions only affect our surroundings and the consequences only affect us. Anything larger is just incomprehensible to us.

    My MA dissertation was a computer simulation of the game theory game, the Prisoners’ Dilemma. I found some interesting things regarding group dynamics that is not at first obvious in the PD. You might find it interesting.

    Welcome back.
    Jon.

    http://philosopherspeashooter.blogspot.com/2010/08/prisoners-dilemma-evolutionary-approach.html

  13. Hi John,
    Thank you for starting your new blog!
    I reply by way of copying my comments from a recent blogpost on Resilience, ‘James Howard Kunstler: “We are living in a moment of unprecedented incoherence”’ by Rob Hopkins:

    “Kunstler’s “national incoherence” might also be described as our fragmentation stage. There is a great unraveling at foot with two diametrically opposed fractions representing divergent world views. One wishes to lean forward on the the manifestations of fragmentation. The other, the green fraction, is drawn toward saving the ark of the wild that got all of us here. The first is enamored with rocket building and jettisoning like spores … the hell out of here. The second is deciphering the meaning of what it would really take to live by “In wildness is the preservation of the world”. The first is propelled by the belief in salvation in a world after this one. The second in salvation by the preservation of eternal life on earth. The first believers in a sky god created in the image of man, hastening the ultimate sacrifice — earth itself. The second, the meek, believing in humbling ourselves, building of humus, finding place and discovering transcendence here. Somehow this all seems to have been foretold by some dude in the desert, resisting empire a couple thousand years ago. I choose to side with the ark and consider the birds of the field. Finding the saving grace of the wild. Rethinking the old stories and myths absconded for the dominance of separated man. Rethinking what it really means to be reborn.”

  14. Like so many, I’ve been visiting this under-construction website every day, eager to catch the opening post to get a feel for the road ahead. “Anthropolarity” strikes me as a perfect theme and frame for diagnosing Western civilization’s (and thus my personal) chronic and fatal disease…and for exploring how best to live and grapple with the malignant malady, and how we might envision what a healthier life would look like for those who come after us, after the fatal disease has run its course. I can’t wait to dig into all of this with JMG and his perceptive readers. Thank you, Archdruid, for continuing to share the workings of your creative, incisive mind and for engaging with us.

  15. Thanks for this necessary reminder of the role hubris plays in our current situation. In Frida Kahlo’s painting The Love Embrace of the Universe http://www.fridakahlo.org/the-love-embrace-of-the-universe.jsp you can see that so well. I saw that painting in Toronto years ago as part of an exhibition and it was very unsettling to me in the same way, I think, that people are afraid to accept how vast the universe is, and that even the love benevolence of Mama is a distant thing.

  16. It’s good to have you back, JMG. The time has come to take on “Man” himself, huh?

  17. First things first: welcome back to blogging, and I hope all is going well with the move!

    Now to the post:

    This is a somewhat timely theme for me. I’ve recently been delving into the work of Jordan Peterson, whom others have mentioned on your blogs in past. It’s been a fascinating ride. He strikes me as being a figure of similar historical import as what you attributed to yourself: a reinterpreter of religion and culture in the dying days of a civilization. He expounds a kind of Christian-flavored Jungian spirituality that heavily emphasizes moral responsibility, and he seems to have a sincere appreciation of the importance of limits.

    The biggest sticking point for me is that he falls heavily into the trap of anthropolatry. He has repeatedly stated that humans are the only self-conscious creatures (we don’t know enough to know this), and he has strongly implied that self-consciousness is the most valuable thing in the universe. He also seems to too easily dismiss anyone who questions human exceptionalism as misanthropic, but that seems to be related to what I see as his tendency to sloppy thinking (which isn’t a fatal flaw in a social scientist; most of the great clinical psychologists have been sloppy thinkers, while behaviorism and economics have certainly shown that rigor and precision don’t always produce anything useful).

    Certainly there’s a great deal of wiggle room between “humans are the pinnacle of creation” and “the world would be better off without humans.”

    One positive thing I’ve gotten from him is the meme/mantra of “clean your room,” which has actually gotten me to think about what my room says about the state of my own mind. One of those things is my inability to get rid of old things I haven’t used in forever and don’t even appreciate anymore because I might possibly, maybe, want them in the future.

    The other is just how much my TV and TV stand look like an altar. An altar to a god (video games) I increasingly find dissatisfying but keep worshiping because it’s a facilitator for socialization and frankly I’m afraid of what happens if I give it up. It’s like the slow, grinding crisis of faith I managed to largely skip when I gave up Mormonism.

  18. Hi JMG,

    Consider me very excited by this blog’s launch. I’ve been anticipating this first post and am extra excited about the prospect of weekly posts utilizing other approaches filling in via the monthly Ecosophia essays. (I have a feeling you’ll have no trouble filling out the bi-weekly post cataloging the accelerating decline around us; my, how fast it’s moving now!) I’m firmly in the pro camp on an AMA-type monthly post and I am further excited by the exploration of Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth. I love that text and have been meaning to return to it; this is a good motivation to do that.

    It’s funny, I firmly agree that humans are just another species on this planet, with no special place in the cosmos exclusive to us. And yet, your statements in the third and fourth to final paragraphs still cause me the smallest inner twitch, just the slightest upsetting. It’s not strong or visceral and the statements don’t offend me in the least (it may be helpful that I particularly like rats and crows and, really, most all living creatures; crows in particular I take great pride in being lumped in with) and yet they still make me internally cringe just the slightest. It’s a good reminder of just how deep the cultural belief in humans as unique and special pervades, even when it’s an idea that I explicitly reject.

    I’ll be pulling out Mystery Teachings in the next day or two to give the first chapter a careful reading and to spend some quiet time thinking on it in preparation for three weeks from now. I’m really excited to dive back into it with extra guidance from you and the community. And I’m excited, as well, to see where this blog goes. It’s like the return of an old friend with exciting new views and experiences to be imparted. What a pleasure!

  19. A person agrees that humans are polluting our environment yet does nothing personally to help fix the problem. Why not? Perhaps because the person believes that rape of the environment is inevitable, no matter what any individual may do. That it is human genetics to take a short term view and gobble everything within reach. And that human genetics — human nature — will not change, no matter how a few aberrant individuals behave. May as well “lay back and enjoy it”.

  20. Wow. This post was as great as it was grounding. I am very much looking forward to the journey of further exploration of these ideas and to having my internalized paradigms challenged from unexpected directions.

    I’m glad you are back. Much respect.

    -E

  21. Pearce, let’s start out by understanding it!

    Vesta, you’re welcome. Yes, things are wildly busy but fine.

    Nati, thank you and so noted!

    Alnus, delighted to hear it.

    Kyle, exactly. One of the other takeaways from Kuhn’s book that’s relevant here is that the people who are most invested in a given paradigm are usually those who benefit most from it, and they don’t abandon it; they get old and die, while younger scientists take up the new paradigm. The more pithy phrase, which I’ve heard more than once from scientists, is “science progresses by heart attacks.” We may see more than a bit of that as things proceed.

    John, you’re caught up in exactly the confusion I talked about in the post, taking the notion of human identity that happens to be paradigmatic in the modern industrial West, and insisting that it’s true of all human beings everywhere — which it’s not. What you’re calling human nature is simply a set of culturally conditioned habits, which include anthropolatry as a basic presupposition, Step outside the paradigm and humanity looks very different.

    Peter, many thanks!

    Yucca, heh. Drums and whistles? Nah, bagpipes… 😉

    Nick, the e-book version should be fully searchable.

    Oz, thanks for this — I’ll see if I agree with what Horgan has to say.

    Lasagna, ding — we have a winner! Exactly; the left has been impressively eager to pursue any kind of climate-change remediation that impacts other people’s lifestyles, especially if the other people are poor and powerless. Suggest that they change their own lifestyles — which, by and large, produce more carbon per year than an Appalachian coal miner’s does — and you’ll hear a very different tune.

    Kaloli, not at all. What I’ll be suggesting is that you and the planet will both benefit if you want different, not want less, and be more than the empty-headed couch potato modern industrial society wants you to be. More on this as we proceed!

  22. Toomas, thank you — that’s a great story. Eco-glasnost would be a very good thing, too.

    Lordyburd, my, my, your crystal ball is working very well today. “Preaching morality” — that is, if I may expand a bit on the notion, the concept of ethics that treats it as the art of bullying people into doing what you think they ought to do — is indeed something that needs to be chucked into the compost heap sooner rather than later, for reasons that are ecological among other things. More on this as we proceed!

    Jon, interesting. Thank you, and I’ll take a look at it as time permits.

    Lou, I find the radical dualism in Hopkins’ comment less than useful, but he’s got his hands on an important point. Thank you.

    Newtonfinn, you’re welcome and thank you. Welcome to the voyage!

    Aron, thank you for the link — I hadn’t seen that painting before, and it’s exquisite.

    Sven, after the battering I gave him in the previous blog, I’m eager for round two. 😉

    James, Peterson’s never really appealed to me, because of the points you’ve raised among others. When he insists that humans are the only self-conscious species on the planet, he’s babbling anthropolatrous nonsense; researchers have found, for example, that several species of cetaceans use personal names for their members, which you don’t get without self-consciousness, and there’s also ample evidence for varying degrees of self-consciousness among a range of other megafauna with suitably complex nervous systems.

    As for the insistence that refusing to accept claims of humanity’s uniqueness is proof of misanthropy, to me, that’s all too reminiscent of the spoiled eight-year-old who responds to being told she can’t have the whole carton of ice cream herself by shrieking “You hate me!” To embrace a realistic view of humanity’s nature and role in the cosmos isn’t misanthropy, it’s sanity.

    With regard to the TV, all I can say is that getting rid of mine was among the most sensible decisions I’ve ever made. It’s because I don’t have that time-wasting and mind-numbing habit, in large part, that I’ve accomplished much of anything with my life. Give it a try!

  23. Joel, understood. Our entire culture pushes us to think of our species as unique, entitled, supernatural. It takes an effort to push back against that — but it’s an effort worth making. Many thanks for your enthusiasm for the new blog!

    Gary, you’re falling into precisely the trap that I outlined in the post — insisting that the socially constructed notion of human nature that’s current in the modern industrial West, and nowhere else, is human nature pure and simple. Not so; you’re just stuck in the failing ur-paradigm of our culture. Step outside and you’ll find the air is cleaner and there’s a lot more going on.

    Edward, thank you! I’ll do my level best.

  24. Dear JMG,

    Congratulations on your inaugural essay and a Blessed Solstice to you and Sarah. I hope you are doing well, and wish you success in all your endeavours.

  25. Excellent John–the same paradigm is at work with the denial of other life in the cosmos. The odds alone tell us that life abounds. Let’s hope it’s intelligent life unlike ours (although this little group gives me hope!)

  26. Hi JMG,

    It’s great to have you back in the blogosphere and I’m looking forward to your plans already – Mystery Teachings is my favourite book of yours and I’m on the fourth reading of it.

    As someone who views the world from an animist and panpsychist perspective I am not in the slightest bothered by your statements but I would be interested on your views on animism and its potential relevance to how we might start to change our mindsets (or not).

    Also, the god of progress and growth and the hubris you mention has always felt like a huge piece of magic that has got way out of hand, altering the consciousness of people to believe in it and even dragging those of us who worship other gods to fall prey to the spell from time to time.

    Stuart

  27. One way that pretty much every important issue gets deflected is that it will inevitably become a contested issue in the Left/Right culture war. As soon as anthropogenic climate change became broadly accepted by “progressives” then the Right were almost guaranteed to oppose it almost on a point of principle. I’m starting to suspect that both sides of the political spectrum are acting as a team to ensure that any really important debate gets smothered in incoherent fury.

  28. Wonderful essay! Okay, I am among the people who fly to scientific meetings (not climate science), though I try to minimize it. From my own consideration of this subject, I think most in my position rationalize it in a couple of ways:

    (1) We don’t see meeting (or field work) travel as being part of our “lifestyle”, as if we were on vacation. It is dull and often mandatory, as in, if you don’t do it you will be unable to discharge duties you’ve committed to or, often, find or keep a job, just like a corporate salesman who refused to travel to meet clients. We all feel personally responsible for the carbon we burn in our own home heating and transportation, but not for the carbon burned by our employers’ heating the office or driving a security van. Likewise, the carbon produced for our work travel is seen as “work carbon”, not as part of our personal carbon footprints.

    (2) We like to believe that what we are doing is important enough to justify a minuscule share of the world’s fuel consumption. Given that a huge amount of fuel will continue to be burned annually for quite some time, the carbon burned to run a city bus is easier to justify than the carbon to deliver children in SUVs to schools they could easily walk to. Many research projects and activities can’t be done without traveling. If we sincerely believe that the results will be useful in the future, we won’t want to sacrifice them so that a minutely greater proportion of consumption can be used for purposes, like tourism, that we see as less valuable.

    (3) Besides, if those who want to study climate change, conservation biology, ecology, traditional knowledge, etc. refrained from doing field work or participating in international science, those who seek to destroy the biosphere for their own profit would continue to push the world to consume full-throttle, but future generations would inherit less evidence of what had been lost and less knowledge of how the damage might be minimized.

    I am not saying that any of those rationalizations is ethically or logically correct – just that it’s how many of us convince ourselves that it is okay to continue to participate in a system that most of us have virtually no power to change.

  29. Fabulous inaugural post, John Michael!

    It’s fascinating to see how we are both exploring the contours of Ecosophia from different angles.

    As but one example: the working title of a book I’m currently writing is “Deep Sustainability: Ecology as Theology, Human-centeredness as Idolatry.”

    Connie and I are excited about your blog with special focus on ecosophy. We hope your move went smoothly.

    Best wishes,

    ~ Michael (and Connie)

  30. Congratulations on the new blog! I love the plan for it so far and have just ordered Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth. I’m very glad to see that you’re back to weekly blogging.

    For whatever reason I woke up thinking about cycles today. The other day I read an article an article that was very much party-line Social Justice Warrior. Reading it I had a sort of off, confused feeling that I couldn’t identify. Then I noticed the date on the article– it was from a year ago. And then I identified the feeling– It was the same as the feeling you get listening to a hit pop song from two years back. In my life I’ve seen a few authoritarian political movements like this come and go, and they follow a familiar pattern: First they gather steam on the fringes; then they burst into popular consciousness and for a while are unchallengeable except for a few lone dissenters; gradually more people become willing to challenge their basic assumptions and finally they wither away, except for a few lone voices. I’m thinking of the wave of political correctness in the early 90s; the Neoconservative movement in the early 2000s, the New Atheist movement from roughly 2005 onward, and now the SJW phenomenon. At the height of their power the catchphrases of these movements were everywhere and they were able to abuse and bully people into silence. Now no one takes the Neoconservatives seriously, the New Atheist movement still has its followers but has taken serious blows, and enormous cracks have opened in the armor of the Social Justice movement. I expect the Alt Right will replace it and end up dominating the political discourse through 2022 or so, before imploding in a similar fashion.

    I’m not sure where I’m going with this except that this thought obviously led me to think of your work and your discussion of the larger cycles of history. It occurred to me that the cycle of political movements follows exactly the structure of cycles in pop music. Neoconservatism rose and fell on roughly the same timeline as grunge in the early 90s, punk in the late 70s-early 80s, and so forth. The Social Justice movement is an unpleasant revival of an earlier fad in the same manner as third wave ska.

    From a more esoteric perspective, I wonder if it makes sense to think of decade-long phenomena like punk rock or New Atheism as mindstorms in the Noosphere, while much longer cycles lasting centuries or millennia (or longer, for all we know) originate in the deeper recesses of the Theosphere.

    The other day I re-read your Unicorn, the Phoenix and the Dragon essay from Galabes. Returning to this post, it occurs to me that Anthropolatry as a paradigm wouldn’t appear until sometime in the Phoenix phase– but I had the idea that the Unicorn, the Phoenix and the Dragon were all moments in the development of a particular society. From this perspective, it seems more the case that the previous paradigm and its society, that is Medieval Christiandom, was supplanted and replaced by a new Anthropolatrous society, which kept some of the veneer of Christendom like a Spenglerian pseudomorph. Do you have any thoughts on this?

  31. What a piece of work is Man!
    How noble in reason
    How infinite in faculties!
    In form and moving how express and admirable!
    In action how like an angel,
    in apprehension how like a god!
    The beauty of the world.
    The paragon of animals…..

    The best expression of anthropolatry in modern literature. And yet, was Hamlet happy?

  32. I think the ur-paradigm of our culture is growth. It appears that no one seems to get the concept of enough. When I broach your notion of LESS (less energy, stuff and stimulation) with my petit bourgeois friends and neighbors I get the cow staring at the passing train. My friends find it acceptable to put solar panels on their roof and then fly to Europe or South America to recreate. They’ll buy a Prius and then purchase fruits and vegetables out of season with mucho miles on them. Although seemingly more self aware, I’m no less a hypocrite, caught in the same paradigm of consumption I’ve been acculturated in. I may split by axe but I fall by chainsaw. It appears we are on a runaway train and we can do little but assuage our collective guilt by not increasing the train’s speed. So it goes.

  33. Well that was well worth the wait. It sounds as though you have planned a modern Guide for the Perplexed (and Frustrated), which I definitely am. I have cut my energy use by 90%, gone zero waste, don’t fly, don’t drive, don’t consume animal products and don’t have a TV. I find myself talking to a lot of desperate people who rail against the government and tremble before the changing climate, and do so whilst pushing a monster pram loaded with disposable diapers, juice boxes, water bottles and plastic toys into an SUV the size of a elephant. It’s clear their despair is genuine and I don’t know what to say to them, other than that we all have to stop feeding the monster you’re talking about with our dollars. And then I get the cow look. Gah.

    I am definitely interested in an AMA session and a discussion of Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth, which I own and have read. And I’m very happy you’re back.

  34. Excited to have you back.
    I am more interested in the book club than the AMA, but would probably be a fly on the wall for the AMA as well. As much forewarning as you can muster on what book will be discussed would be appreciated, I fear you might cause a bum rush for limited quantities of certain titles if it grows like some of your other projects…

    Question regarding Galabes – what’s to become of it? I found it the more important blog as time progressed, but much more difficult to move through. When I went forward in time today from where I had been, I found it, well, I didn’t find it. I should have taken the 30 minutes to copy and paste them out of their digital location to a hard drive, but I didn’t.

  35. I feel I should be popping a champagne* cork or something, as this feels like a ..errm … blogwarming party?

    Your theme of personal behaviour is one that I keep coming back to in my own, sporadic, writing. Back in 2015 I summed up all the reasons for moving towards ‘green behaviour’ and even though I have a very different authorial ‘voice’ from yourself, I was clearly influenced by you – not least in that I felt it was necessary to write it (rather than just going “hear hear” in the comments of one of your posts).

    *yeah ok, cider, or possibly mead,

  36. It is wonderful to be back among the gang. Thanks for opening it up for us to share in different ways.
    I have actually benefited from the pause and I did not realize what the change was in me until I started to read your words today. They hurt me in a deep personal way because the sense that I get is not one of compassion and love for living things. I “get” negativity and anger and even scorn at living things, especially people. Very sad.
    And I am very sad to see that you have swallowed the “Climate Chaos” pill. Big mistake.

  37. Congratulations on the new blog, and that’s an excellent start!

    I still believe that making the necessary changes and then showing how they improve your life is the way to lead the movement. I haven’t flown in over 10 years, (not even for environmental reasons, at first, but because road trips are so much better) and now flying has only gotten worse (well, if you believe the news, anyway). I garden and get rewarded with healthier, tastier food that never touched a poison. I downsized to a smaller car and I save SOOOO MUCH money!

    There’s always more to do, we can always do better. But every step in the process makes me feel happier and safer (no more toxic household chemicals, just vinegar, baling soda, and vodka, for example), and every change gives me more personal control over my own life, home, and immediate environment. I think we need to stop referring to it as “sacrifice”, because it’s giving up something toxic that makes you feel bad and replacing it with something healthy and empowering.

    Oh, but you do have to be brave enough to be different. I was so nervous the first time I brought reuseable bags to the grocery store! Now I get compliments on them all the time.

    Sincerely,
    Jessi Thompson
    anotheramethyst

  38. Happy solstice, everyone!
    I am very happy to see the community reforming here, and am looking forward to the new structure of the blog. The slower pace of the new conceptual posts will be good for me, as I often need more than a week chew over the essays and figure out what I think. I am also anticipating with pleasure digging deeper into the familiar topics in “Mystery Teachings” and getting monthly heads-up alerts towards current news, since I avoid most of the media blather. And the “Ask Me Anything” weeks promise some very interesting conversations. The ‘Archdrought’ (nice, Ruben and Yucca!) has also reminded me how very much I value JMG’s ongoing guidance, insight, and challenge. I’m headed straight to the tip jar to express my gratitude for his work, and hope I find a line of fellow readers and appreciators there.

  39. Ramon, thank you!

    Lars, true enough.

    Stuart, a lot depends on what exactly you mean by animism — it’s a term that covers a lot of ground. Still, that sounds like a very good theme for discussion on next week’s AMA post, if you’re game.

    Phil, I’m pretty sure that at the upper levels of the pyramid, the cooperation between the two sides is entirely deliberate. Watch the way the officials of the Democratic and Republican parties, or for that matter the Tories and the Labour establishment, rally to one another’s defense when someone tries to interfere with their gravy train…

    Dewey, nobody’s saying you should give up attending conferences or doing fieldwork — that’s exactly the sort of false duality that so often gets in the way of constructive change. Have you considered taking the train instead of flying? Rail travel uses a tiny fraction of the carbon consumed by air travel…

    Michael, fascinating. Great minds, cough cough cough. 😉

    Synthase, good.

  40. Good to have you back JMG. Does a new paradigm require a new set of animating mythologies or can the existing ones be repurposed? It seems like no small feat.

  41. Hello and welcome back, both to the Archdruid, and to some of the familiar and thoughtful commenters I had also been missing.

    I am moved to contrast the watchword of this post “anthropolatry” with the watchword of the new blog “ecosophia”… The Worship of Man vs the Wisdom of the Interconnected Living World.

    One thing I wonder is whether “worship” itself is any more necessary to a functioning religion than the preaching of morality. The kind of functioning religion that we could certainly build from learning to know our place in that interconnected living world.

    Our place being neither a place of debasement nor one of exaltedness, but a place right down in the midst of all the burgeoning bloomage that makes up this “thin film” into which we are born, when viewed up close.

  42. @JMG

    Good to hear. Now get gloved up for the next round while I get you a bucket of water, a towel and a fresh mouth guard. The self proclaimed master of the universe is already sobbing like a little girl in the opposite corner… 🙂

  43. Really excited for the new project! I love the AMA and book club idea, so a vote each for both those ideas.

  44. This is really exciting, JMG! I am a long time reader, books and both blogs, but put off by the complexity of responding on the old system. (Hey, I remember horse drawn farm equipment.)
    We had no TV, so it must have been college days (early 60’s) when I heard Billy Grahm declare that “our” responsibility, (meaning christians, uh, that’s us, right?) would be to travel to the stars and convert “them” to the ONE TRUE FAITH. (!)
    I have been raised in the church, but that was too much!
    What I didn’t see at the time, was that was, and is, all of a piece with with the dominant world/human world view.
    This is going to be a lot of fun.

  45. The Archdruidrepocalyspe has come and gone, like a thief in the night. Personally, I liked Shane’s idea for a proper send-off, but I will hoist a mug of beer in commemoration when I celebrate the Summer Solstice tonight.

    To paraphrase Jerry Garcia, it’s been a long, strange trip. Many moons ago, I came the realization that the universe we live in is cyclical, not linear. So we arrive at the end of one cycle and the beginning of another. Thank you for sharing all of your amazing insights with us. I look forward to the next stage of the journey.

  46. Anthropolatry may be encoded into systems of ethics and law as well as religions. Confucianism, for instance: Is it not Man-centered compared to spiritual guidance systems that are Gods-centered or Tao-centered? Corporate Man, Civil Man and the Reasonable Man are the chief actors on the stage of Law. There are no elected representatives of the Land, Air, and Water. Whereas Native Americans have spoken of rivers as Long Beings and of animals as our Relations. Like in-laws, but nicer. Their opinions count. Man made in the image of God – does that originate with Judeo-Christian-other desert sects? Or did it also appear in late-stage Greek and Roman Ages of Reason? If it were beer, wine, or spirits, anthropolatry might be skimpy on the gruit and heavily flavored with andro-idolatry (to be distinguished from modern-day android-olatry by careful hyphen placement). That would make it an epiphenomenon of more fundamental bodily functions, hence an aspect of political materialism, scientific or otherwise. Also, ‘Anthropolarity’ is a marvelously evocative neologic typo. Thanks, newtonfinn! “Depolarize, men. We’re about to head into the spiritual wilderness. You, too, ladies. We don’t know what memes are lurking out there. Set your mind-fazers to simian-neutral. And keep your noses peeled.”

  47. JMG – Despite bad experiences on Amtrak I do check the train map for domestic meetings, but the routes are limited and often very inefficient. Given a two-day-plus trip and the significant risk of a missed connection, if you must be present on day 1 of the meeting, you’d be wise to leave three days before it started. Before there was air travel, people would have done just that and been grateful for the relative convenience, and someday I expect they will do so again. Today, though, my boss would say: “Why are you going to be out ten days for a five-day meeting? And why should I pay for extra time in a hotel, and extra food?” Indeed, the train ticket alone often costs more than a plane ticket. In view of our budgetary constraints, I am not free to insist on train travel when a direct route isn’t available, because it does cost much more. (And this further encourages me to think of the carbon costs of the cheaper route as being my employer’s responsibility rather than mine.)

  48. Welcome back, and I look forward to the new blog.

    I still fly occasionally because I don’t have kids and there’s a limit to how many premature sacrifices I’m willing to make at a stage when 99% of the breeders aren’t willing to make any sacrifices at all. If 80% of climate scientists gave up flying I would indeed find that persuasive.

    And I’m so glad it is possible to comment without being validated by an online gatekeeper.

  49. That argument about climate scientists being hypocrites for jetting around from conference to conference doesn’t convince me. If they stopped doing that, the impact would be minuscule. Arguably, their positive impact by keeping up a lively community around the issue is larger.

  50. Steve, good! Yes, intellectual fads have a similar pattern to pop music, hula hoops, et al. As for anthropolatry and its roots in western European Christianity, we’ll be getting to that in due time.

    Pat, given the current meaning of the phrase “a piece of work,” that first line of Hamlet’s takes on a rather different meaning! Still, you’re square on target, of course.

    Vinoshon, that’s up to you. You can choose to get off the train, you know…

    Tantelili, I’ve had the same experience. Thank you for the encouragement!

    Stinkhorn, the book for next month’s book club will be Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth, and we’ll be starting with the foreword. How’s that for advance warning? 😉 As for Galabes, go to the menu bar at the top of this page, click on “Blogs and Essays,” and scroll down until you get to it; all the Galabes posts, plus comments, are archived there.

    Martin, champagne’s welcome too — a natural product of grapes, after all. Glad to hear about your blog post — the more people make that point in public, the more likely we are to get to the moment at which it actually sinks in.

    Mary, the negative feelings you experienced while reading the post weren’t mine, you know — they were yours. You’ll find it’s much healthier to own up to your own negativity, rather than trying to project it onto other people. I’m sorry to see that you’ve swallowed the climate denialist pill — at a time when rich people in Miami Beach are selling their beachfront property and moving to higher ground, that may be comforting for the moment but it’s not going to help you deal with the ugly future your own actions are helping to create.

    Jessi, no argument there! The real challenge, though, as you’ve noted, is having the courage to be different. Americans like to pretend that they’re bold individualists, but by and large they’re actually meek little conformists who would sooner be caught naked in public than risk the disapproval of their peers. Congrats for having the strength of character to push on through that.

    Heather, thank you, and a happy solstice to you and everyone!

    Dave, thank you for this! I’m going to want to read your essay and reference it, as it makes some crucial points.

    John, real mythologies aren’t made or repurposed — they grow organically out of human experience. As the paradigm shifts, appropriate stories will emerge from the new vision of what it means to be human, and those that express the new paradigm best will become the core myths of the new sensibility.

    Scotlyn, a lot depends on what you mean by “worship.” The word was originally “worth-ship,” the recognition of something having worth; its debasement into groveling came later on, and that latter can certainly be discarded. The ability to value something as having a higher worth than our own egos, though, is essential…

    Sven, hah! I’m lacing up my gloves. One thing, though — all the little girls I’ve met, when they get upset enough to cry, cry it out, pick themselves up, and get back on with life. if modern industrial humanity could learn to do the same thing, we’d be a lot better off!

    Marcu, both votes duly recorded!

  51. Hi JMG,

    Congratulations on the new books and blog. And you are very correct. Well done with establishing a dialogue too. It is a slow process but it does accelerate.

    Hey, you might be interested to know that I have been having considerable success with subtly emphasising the economic gains to be had for individuals if they reduce their waste (i.e. they’re basically paying for pollution but never quite understood that fact). But the success comes when I do a gentle contrast between their experiences and my own. People are curious. These are not online conversations, and the people look thoughtfully at me as it dawns on them that they are being had. If the dialogue has good outcomes for the environment – which it does – then that is an angle that seems to have traction.

    Cheers

    Chris

  52. Thomas Kuhn’s observation about scientific paradigms and the way they eventually fall prey to the law of diminishing returns reminds me a lot of Oswald Spengler’s thesis that every civilization is based on a set of ideas that are implied in that civilization’s underlying spiritual world-view from its earliest beginnings. When that civilization has actualized and exhausted the possibilities inherent in that set of ideas, it starts to falter, decline and fall.

  53. JMG,

    I have to admit your evaluation of Peterson is considerably more negative than I expected! Still, maybe I’m a bit too forgiving of his faults (e.g. he’s heavily projecting his Shadow onto the various groups he rails against) because I find some of his work quite relatable and useful (his mythological exegesis of Pinocchio highlighted some serious issues in my life that I’m now trying to work on).

    What’s really fascinating to me is the slew of comments on his latest series of videos — the Psychological Significance of the Biblical Stories — that essentially say, “Wow, I used to be such a hardcore atheist and now I can’t wait to hear you talk about the Bible. What happened?” As unfortunate as it is his appeal seems to be mostly due to his political polemics, it’s an interesting phenomenon, and it’s why I see him as a religious reinterpreter.

    Anyway. Please add me to the list of those who would love a monthly open thread and book club!

  54. I missed your regular posting schedule over at the Archdruid Report, and your blog exposed me to a variety of concepts that I did not realize I was hungry for — real conversations and discussions, and ones which require an ability to think clearly, intelligently, rationally, and logically — all sorely lacking in this modern world. (I’m very excited to hear you may be discussing more on the Druid perspective as well.) Welcome back!

  55. Hello JMG

    So good to have you back! Glad to hear you and Sara are well.

    Very much looking forward to the monthly essays and the monthly acerbic commentary.

    I like the AMA idea as well, I think many interesting discussions will develop.

    I also like the book club idea, but at the moment I’m acquiring books more quickly than I can read them, so I’ll probably just lurk on that one.

    SMJ

  56. @JMG

    Yeah, that last comment did seem in retrospect to be unfairly harsh on the little girls… That said, you’re off to a good start here, and those ideas for the various types of content on the blog seem promising. I look forward to where this is going.

  57. prxq,

    You’re thinking about this on a strictly rational, cost-benefit level. Almost nobody else is. You’ve got to deal with how people actually are, not how they should be.

    One of the things a moral cause needs is good role models, people whom other people want to emulate. Consider the impact George Takei–a childhood hero for many people and a generally likable guy–had on changing the public’s attitudes about gay people and gay rights.

    If, on the other hand, people see the activists not practicing what they preach, they think “hypocrite” and reason, “I don’t want to be like that.” Same if the activist is authoritarian, pushy, or just flat-out cruel. This is a huge problem for pretty much every social movement at the moment: their visible representative are not people most of us want to be like.

    It seems to me that right now a lot of social movements are waging a perverse war of attrition against their opponents, doing reprehensible things in an attempt to goad the other side into doing something even more reprehensible. I don’t mean that they’re necessarily doing this consciously, but seems to be how it works in practice. Eventually they’re going to have to relearn the old lesson of leading by example, or someone who does will steal their thunder.

  58. JMG, thanks for coming back. Got my ADR, err, “ES” fix today – as nice a Summer Solstice gift as I’ve ever received (except for the birth of my baby brother). Plus One for the AMA event.

    You hinted at this with the philosophy posts, and I’ve long held a dim view of organized religion (especially the Western mechanical variety), as it’s my opinion they are mechanisms for controlling people. I hadn’t fully pondered the negative impact of anthropolatry on the environment, and how it ties to one’s religious views, but it’s certain to become an even hotter topic as the Long Descent accelerates. Perhaps the future holds a decline in the mechanical religions of the West, and something a little more environmentally friendly can fill the vacuum…..

  59. Blessings of the Summer Solstice to you and yours, Archdruid!
    I’m looking forward to the blog’s outlined schedule. I’ll go grab my copy of Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth off the shelf…

  60. Glad to have you back, JMG. Getting right into it with an informative and thought provoking blog. Anthropolatry! Excellent. I guess the wind is in the sails. Thank You

    Mac

  61. Limits for the limits god!
    Blowback for the blowback throne!

    It’s the summer solstice, and although that means little to me other than the opportunity to drink a beer and watch the sunset on my balcony at 9 pm after a long day at work, I imagine it’s a more important day for you.

    I agree that doing an ama on Reddit or a similar platform once a month is a great idea.

  62. Michae, oh holy gods. I know the late Billy Graham said some clueless things, but that’s got to take the cake.

    Erik, by all means raise a mug! Bloggodammerung is over, and now everyone’s crawling out from under the tables… 😉

    Edde, it’s good to be blogging again.

    Gkb, good question — I’ll have to do some research into the origins of that hypothesis. It speaks well of the patience of gods that they put up with it.

    Dewey, fair enough. Sometimes we all have to deal with limited choice — but I’ll point out that whether the carbon in question is your responsibility or your boss’, you get to deal with the consequences…

    Albrt, exactly — if climate scientists aren’t taking it seriously enough to cut back on their own flying, why should other people?

    Prxq, now go back and read the post, and notice where I specifically said it’s not a matter of hypocrisy. Basic reading skills really are useful on this blog.

    Chris, that’s very good to hear! And of course they’re right — they are being had. That’s the fascinating thing about all this — people are defending, at the top of their lungs and with all their strength, a system that cons them into giving up everything of value in their lives so that they can be sold back shoddy substitutes at high prices.

    Erik, good! Yes, and in fact the parallel works on multiple levels.

    James, I may just have read the wrong things of his — or maybe it’s simply that I have a low threshold for anthropolatry.

    Starsbydesign, thank you! Yes, we’ll be talking a good deal more about Druidry from here on in.

    SMJ, fair enough! Thank you.

    Sven, little girls get a bad rap. One of these days I expect to see one little girl upbraid another with a comment like, “Cut it out. You’re crying like a spoiled baby boomer.”

    Drhooves, a bit of your phrasing — “the mechanical religions of the West” — has my mind spinning fast and hard. Did you mean it as a toss-off line, or did you intend the deeper implications? Either way, thank you.

    Brigyn, thank you! A blessed Alban Hefin to you and yours, and I’ll look forward to your comments and questions on the first chapter.

  63. Max and Mac, thank you.

    Justin, it’s a very important day, one of the four Alban Gates when certain influences link sun and earth. That said, lifting a beer to the sun is a grand old tradition on this day, so by all means do so!

  64. JMG, although I hardly grovel and scrape before scientific materialism these days, what books would you recommend so that I might gain some understanding of June 21 as anything other than “the day you can drink a beer and watch the sunset the latest”?

  65. JMG,

    Very excited for the new blog. Thanks for your continued effort.

    I’ve just come off of reading Schumacher’s “Guide for the Perplexed.” He comes from the viewpoint that Man has a z-factor that would indeed separate her from a cockroach. I’m grappling with Schumacher’s take on Man and your description in this post. Why would the Man you describe perform ritualistic magic other than because she can? Is it reasonable to consider that cockroaches may have their own form of ritualistic magic? This may be a question for the AMA forum (which I’m all for).

    Also, not too coincidentally I purchased “Mystery Teachings” last week and am looking forward to the discussion!

  66. Welcome back, JMG… another blog in my feed today offers a prayer written by Jane Austen https://renovare.org/articles/teach-us-almighty-father

    …which includes this line:
    “Incline us oh God! to think humbly of ourselves, to be severe only in the examination of our own conduct, to consider our fellow-creatures with kindness, and to judge of all they say and do with that charity which we would desire from them ourselves.”

    I share this, I suppose, because sharing it feels good and is easier than living it. I suppose that’s one source of hypocrisy.
    Would that being a Christian in Austen’s sense became something to aspire to!

  67. I am reminded of something here, and this comment will look totally off-topic at first, but please bear with me.
    At the main Kompira Shrine in Shikoku a little past the large Omon gate atop the 365th step of over 700 to the main shrine, and off to the right in the pleasant broad-leaf forest there is a boxy gray building dating back to Japan’s infatuation with European architecture, and if you go in and head up the stairs to the second floor, you will find a statue of the Buddhist god Fudo Myo-o. He is associated with the Shugendo sect of mouintain ascetics, and represents discernment and judgement. He looks like the devil, snaggle-toothed and snarling, with fierce eyes. (Here’s a nice description: http://www.japanese-buddhism.com/fudo-myo-o.html ) His Christian counterpart would be Saint Peter, but Fudo-sama has the advantage that you can approach him and ask to be judged now while you can still do something about it.
    (will have to split this post…)

  68. (continued…)
    I was lucky that my introduction to him was at this particular museum with this particular statue, which had survived the burning of Buddhist relics during the Meiji period, when Buddhist/Shinto shrine/temples were required by law to choose one or the other and destroy all items belonging to the other. The solid wood of this statue failed to burn, and some loving worshipper squirreled it away for safekeeping. I was also lucky that I had a wise Buddhist teacher with me, who told me to block off first the right side of his face and then the left. When I did that, first I saw a wise father or a doctor with an eye that penetrates your soul and sees your problem; but the expression on the right side of his face, with his sword upraised to strike, was that of ferociously focused fiery fury.
    I was reminded of him as I read your incisive, inslghtful post today. People will seek you out precisely for this sort of assessment of where we have gone wrong and advice on what we really ought to do about it.

  69. Hi JMG,

    Welcome back to regular blogging, and Happy Solstice as well. You’ve been missed!

    While you were gone I watched the following process unfold: a huge old oak that shades a good part of my land was eaten down to the nub by hungry gypsy moth caterpillars. The wet spring in the northeast slowed them down some, and then the Entomophaga maimaiga fungus dispatched many more of them. But it wasn’t until the entire tree was denuded that they all died off. So I got to see a mass die off unfolding in my own back yard. Now, fortunately, the tree is showing signs of refoliating – I just saw new leave buds this evening. I’m pretty sure gypsy moth caterpillars don’t think of themselves as the center of the universe – but they certainly act like it – just eating and eating and eating without regard for their host.

    I like the format of monthly essay and monthly news round-up. And the book club idea is great also – Mystery Teachings is my favorite book of yours and a great place to start. But I wonder whether we should forego the open thread session – maybe it would be good for you to get a break once a month and for us to experience a little withdrawal now and again?

    So glad that normal service has been resumed!

  70. It is wonderful to have you back and to read all of the interesting comments! I like the outline of the new blog.

    I have not been able to fully think through my reaction to the post. I keep ending up thinking about ideas from reading “Worm at the Core” (an attempt to look at E. Becker’s ideas through the social psychology scientific paradigm). So I feel that some of my failure to enact some of my goals toward reducing my carbon use is partly due to the discomfort of being too far outside the accepted norms in my community. An idea from that book being that being accepted in our social group is a way of warding off or recognition/fear of death. The desire to be special either individually or at least by affiliation with a group is also a way to ward off thoughts of mortality. So much of our progress enterprise seems to be geared to transcending the reality of death (uploading our consciousness into computers, humanity out-living the earth and sun). So I think the new story will have to encompass some method for helping people deal with fear of mortality.

    Glad the move went well, I personally hope I never have to move again. I’ve told my family that when I die, they should just leave me in the house and just cover the whole thing over with dirt. 😉

  71. Archdruid,

    Welcome back! I love this new direction already. Let us dive headlong into the future of ecological spirituality. I participated in the AMA on reddit, though not under my real name. I feel like given the current global crisis unfolding around us, it would be very useful to host a regular AMA.

    Also, a found greetings to all of you from ADR’s community. I’ve missed the intensity of your discussion!

    Regards,

    Varun

  72. It seems ironic to me that a species such as us, that first developed hunting tools and techniques to drive the megafauna to extinction, then developed agriculture that destroyed the soil, and finally turned to fossil fuels but unbalanced the atmosphere, might finally find a form of redemption in becoming an active agent in restoring the functioning of the ecosystems of the Earth. The religious pattern of original sin and redemption through good deeds and works might have enough of a rhyme to appeal to modern people reorganising their lives in a deindustrialised future.

    Or we could be like the trilobites. They were the first hard bodied animal that found success in chewing up almost all of the other soft bodied life forms from the Ediacaran explosion. That destruction drove the development of new types of organisms, and despite their dazzling success the trilobites themselves eventually vanished.

  73. JMG,

    Very nice to see you back and what a comeback!

    I raise both of my hands: one for AMA and one for the book club. Not sure how active I am going to be in AMA but I count on it being a very valuable read. “Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth” is definitely worth rereading and this time I will be joined by my wife to make it even more interesting.

    Also the monthly news digest sounds very interesting.

    May this new platform have a long and interesting life!

    Amen.

  74. Love the new format and longer essays. I must say though that the new word you suggested, anthropolatry, isn’t as good as Trump’s new word covfefe, which became an instant hit:

    http://www.gocomics.com/bloom-county/2017/06/11

    In regards to your questions at the bottom of two of your paragraphs, to paraphrase ‘Why does this bother you’, the answer is that people identify with these paradigms, and that identification causes suffering. In my personal journey into enlightenment, I’ve found that the problem of identification has been discussed and debated for centuries in Buddhist, and other Eastern Asian cultures. Many scholars have written books on why identification causes suffering, such figures as Jiddu Krishnamurti, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, and others have published major works on this issue.

    Great to have you back !

  75. Welcome back! “science progresses by heart attacks”. Not just science, the older I get the more I realize that all of humanity applies to that. Speaking as an atheist (who therefore doesn’t expect an afterlife), this has actually been a positive thing, as it has helped me come to terms with the fact that in the end we need to go away so our grandkids can improve on things and make their own mistakes. In fact it’s been an interesting thought experiment to think about what I personally think is fine will be considered utterly evil in 100 years (my current guess: I”m a carnivore). To quote Neil Gaimon: “You got what everyone got. You got a lifetime.”

  76. I’m glad you’re writing again. Your posts over the years have significantly affected how I think about many things. Here’s a recent interesting example:

    A recent article on a science/technology site discussed how the LHC at CERN was being fired up again. I referred to it in a comment as a “grand monument to diminishing returns in scientific discovery,” and received massive pushback.

    I wasn’t really surprised, of course, but I thought it was interesting that so many people who consider themselves scientifically literate couldn’t even face such an obvious fact.

  77. The flavor of anthopolatry that you mention seems like the secular, scientific version, and yet the current and past Christian culture is similar in some important ways, such as feeling above nature, not thinking realistically about our place in nature, and the assumption that wrecking a planet isn’t really unthinkable.

    There are other aspects of Christian theology which make man too important. The brief narrative of the world to be followed by the destruction of this one and the receiving of a new one, the thought that we humans are the only game in town and that God and Jesus have nothing to do but manage our story and how all of eternity hangs on a bunch of extremely brief and ignorant lives.

    The reason I mention Christianity is not to pick on it but rather because it is the underlying foundational myth of the west and I often find parallels with it and its subsequent: scientific materialism.

    Having said the above, though, I do not at all resonate to saying humans are just another species like rats and pigs. I just ain’t so. Maybe some people need to hear that, maybe it will do them some good, but I rather think that humans have got something wrong with them that holds them back from reaching their potential, and telling them they are swine is not necessarily the way to bring out the best in them.

    Another oddity that seems to hold true from Christianity to the new scientism, is a deep disrespect for animals. It does not logically follow from a belief in Darwinism, so I don’t quite understand it except to suppose that it is simply an inheritance.

    Nor is it necessarily true that our planet is somehow unimportant or that our galaxy is mediocre, nor even that such a concept is worth entertaining.

    As to why people don’t change their ways, I don’t pretend to know. For one thing, I am on the outside of much of these paradigms. I personally do not believe that CO2 is a problem and I don’t think the way other people think. Despite that, I’ve made as many of the changes that I can, for my own reasons, peak oil being the main one. I do use more electricity than I strictly have to, though.

    There is a momentum to our way of life and changing isn’t easy. It is all set up to run the way it runs, and it takes extraordinary effort to buck the tide and make a micro world for oneself and family. More importantly, I think most people don’t see any point in being a drop in the bucket. Frankly, I agree with that.

    So you are quite right to focus on those climate scientists. This whole current mess is a matter of a crisis of leadership and one thing I have certainly noticed is that most people need leaders and few have the courage to think for themselves. That is simply how the human animal functions. If you want to see change, there has to be leadership and groups of people going it together.

  78. Happy solstice, JMG! It’s good to be hearing from you again and I look forward to your new direction and focus.

    I’d be interested in participating in your two suggestions—the AMA style posts and book club style posts—as I have time.

    Maybe something is in the air, but my mind has been focused on the subject of “being the change” the past number of weeks. I’ve been reading Dmitry’s new book Shrinking the Technosphere, which may be part of it. But also just analyzing the way I live and how it meshes with my ethics, knowledge, and what I sense looms ahead. More than ever, I feel a responsibility to really reign in my choices in life to live like survival matters. I’ve been settling in to life here in the Blue Ridge Mountains the past 8 months, embarking on a new chapter, so I am sure lots is stirred up by that. Perhaps the approach of my Saturn return in a couple years, as well. Anyways, I am looking forward to hearing more from you on this subject as I find it helpful to get outside input.

    By the way, I wanted you to know that I devoured Star’s Reach this spring while also simultaneously being engrossed by Into the Ruins and it has all given me so much to think about, kick me in the rear end about, and just bring a very humbling perspective to life. I had a surreal experience this morning, repairing my old car: a news flash came over the radio, “California and other Western states are now building “Cooling Centers” to deal with the record high temperatures set this year…”. I felt like I was in someone’s Into the Ruins story. It’s already happening, we just choose to ignore it. I then was imagining this air conditioned warehouse that hundreds of people drive to so they don’t overheat. Is this a dark comedy or what?

  79. Sir and Druid,

    Welcome back! I hope your move is going well.

    It’s such a powerful thing to be able to name something. Anthropolatory seems like the evil twin of humanism. I’m really looking forward to see where this goes next.

    Can I take this opportunity to thank you for all your work with the Well of Galabes but most especially with the Archdruid Report. It’s not an overstatement to say that this has completely changed my worldview, following my initiation courtesy of the Oil Drum in 2005. I no longer believe or have any emotional investment in my culture’s dominant narratives. Not saying this is always a comfortable place to be, but there we are. It does help me understand what’s going on around me.

    Cheers,
    Graeme

  80. Thank you for your post today. It was a happy moment when I got the email reminder for the post .

    What drives human change? I think that was an interesting and important point discussed in the post. I believe human habits and primal drives have a great influence. No matter how much information or call to personal values in the name of change, I’ve observed human habit seems to be the ‘rate limiting step’. While habits are important for healthy defense mechanisms and everyday functioning, when they get ‘stuck’, I don’t think WWIII happening next door could stir some people to action. I’m of the frame of mind that people will believe what they wish to believe, do what they want (not necessarily need) to do. Where those collective choices and actions swing in any particular time or place will be telling for future of humanity.

  81. @Phil Knight
    ”One way that pretty much every important issue gets deflected is that it will inevitably become a contested issue in the Left/Right culture war. As soon as anthropogenic climate change became broadly accepted by “progressives” then the Right were almost guaranteed to oppose it almost on a point of principle. I’m starting to suspect that both sides of the political spectrum are acting as a team to ensure that any really important debate gets smothered in incoherent fury.”

    Perhaps its also due to the package deal that the Rightists perceives or that the leftists actually push like LGBT and other social arrangements that are in contradiction to their values. So they mistake the association with ecology with those other issues. And that therefore must be rejected wholesale.

    Its ironic because the original environmental movements were conservative and traditionalist.

  82. Bumblebee, to my mind, worshipping anything but yourself is a step in the right direction.

    Justin, well, my book The Druidry Handbook might be one option.

    Mike, that’s one of the places in A Guide for the Perplexed where, to my mind, Schumacher’s otherwise thoughtful analysis misses the turn. The mere fact that we’re not clever enough to communicate with other fully self-conscious living things here on Earth doesn’t mean they don’t exist! Still, you’re right that the question belongs on an AMA post, and quite possibly will get a monthly post of its own.

    John, it’s a worthy aspiration. Do you aspire to it?

    Patricia, thank you! If I were a Buddhist (or a yamabushi), I’d have an image of Fudo on my home altar — I encountered him many years back via my Japanese-American stepfamily, who are Shingon Buddhists, and found him instantly appealing. If my post made you think of him, I’m dong something right.

    Mark, that’s a good image of the mess we’re in. I bet the earth refoliates, too, once we’ve eaten everything and gotten much more sparse than we are now. As for the open thread, we’ll see how it goes; if it eats too much of my time, I’ll draw a line under it and do something else instead, like take a week off.

    Candace, you’re certainly right that the fear of mortality is deeply entwined with anthropolatry, but I’m not at all sure which is the chicken and which the egg. Hmm…

    Varun, thank you! It’s good to be back .

    Shane, remember that the trilobites survived for 270 million years, one of the longest spans of any family of living things, and only died out because the end-Permian mass extinction (the worst the planet has ever experienced) was too much for them, too. If we can manage anything along the same lines, we’ll have done very, very, very well!

    Val, thank you!

  83. I’m absolutely delighted you’re back! I’ve been a regular reader of ADR since 2010 and of Galabes since it’s inception, and I’ve missed your presence online.

    I used the hiatus to remove television and most social media from my life (I’m making an exception for texting with my best friend, who lives 100 miles away, with my daughter, who lives on another continent, and for Ecosophia on both platforms). I’ve noticed that I’m calmer without them, which I was expecting, and that I sleep better, which I wasn’t. (I decided not to replace my dying car several years ago, so that’s two big things down.)

    I also read some new-to-me works of yours and re-read some favorites (serendipitously, including Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth), researched wild-fermenting kombucha and mead, joined Green Wizards, put in tomatoes, and started seriously working through the first lesson of The Celtic Golden Dawn (I feel ridiculous doing the rite, but I every time I ask myself “Do you have something better to do with this time?,” the answer is always “No, I don’t,” so I keep on keeping on).

  84. Workdove, I sometimes wonder if Trump deliberately decided to throw a nonsense word into one of his tweets, knowing that the media and the privileged would spend the next few weeks babbling about nothing else — during which time he could advance his agenda without having to worry about them.

    Whomever, even granting the possibility of an afterlife of one kind or another, it’s still true; wherever geezers go, they’re not blockading change here. (And I say this as an incipient geezer.)

    Pygmycory, welcome to the voyage.

    Zachary, thank you. Of course they couldn’t deal with it; too often scientific literacy is paired with a blind faith in scientism.

    Onething, I’ll be discussing the roots of anthropolatry in Christian theology in due time, As for swine, though, did you think I was insulting human beings by comparing them to swine? All the pigs I’ve interacted with personally were intelligent, cleanly, resourceful animals; I’ve met plenty of humans who don’t measure up to their standard.

    Raymond, thank you.

    Mark, thank you! Yeah, drive-in cooling centers are about our culture’s speed — like the habit of driving to gyms, where you can get the exercise you didn’t get by walking to the gym…

    Graeme, you’re welcome and thank you. Helping people see the need for change, and then helping them make the changes, is the whole point of this project, after all.

    Elisa, good. Let’s take the next step: what establishes and reinforces habits? More on this as we proceed…

  85. Proserpine, delighted to hear it! You’re not the only person I’ve heard from whose sleep improved after ditching TV, for what it’s worth. As for the feeling of absurdity when practicing magic, that’s all but universal — and it can actually become a source of power and focus. Learn to revel in being absurd, and you open the door to a remarkable range of freedoms.

  86. Hi JohnMichael. From what you’ve said, to me, it seems developing and switching to a new ur- paradigm from Anthropolatry will require one’s ‘ego- death’ in order to see it, and the need to change. Like, Practical Magik?

    Minister of Future

  87. Does it upset me to know that “in the greater scheme of things, we’re a temporary perturbation in the damp film that covers one small rocky world in an ordinary solar system on the fringes of an ordinary galaxy, and that’s all we will ever be”? Funny thing, the last time you pointed this out, it really did upset me quite a bit, and I let you know about it. Today, eh, not so much I guess. I don’t really mind that exchange being flushed down the memory hole today, either, to be honest.

    Thanks a lot for your insights over the past few years. I feel you’ve really helped me along a lot in my personal growth, and I know I’m far from alone in that sentiment. Glad to have you back.

  88. Welcome back! Great to see the new site up and whirring. Progress, eh? 😀

    I’m reminded, re: antrhopolatry, of ‘The Heavenly City of the 18th century philosophers’ (I’m 99% sure I found it via comments on the Archdruid report). Becker describes how the philosophes smuggled in theist concepts, as a strictly materialistic worldview is too thin a gruel for anyone to live by.

    In place of ‘heaven’, they put ‘posterity’.

    Heavenly City, page 128-9

    The eighteenth-century Philosophers might therefore rewrite the story of man’s first state, relegating the Garden of Eden to the limbo of myths; they might discover a new revelation in the book of nature to displace the revelation in Holy Writ; they might demonstrate that reason, supported by the universal assent of mankind as recorded in history, was a more infallible authority than church and state—they might well do all this and yet find their task but half finished. No “return,” no “rebirth” of classical philosophy, however idealized and humanized, no worship of ancestors long since dead, or pale imitations of Greek pessimism would suffice for a society that had been so long and so well taught to look forward to another and better world to come. Without a new heaven to replace the old, a new way of salvation, of attaining perfection, the religion of humanity would appeal in vain to the common run of men.

    The new heaven had to be located somewhere within the confines of the earthly life, since it was an article of philosophical faith that the end of life is life itself, the perfected temporal life of man; and in the future, since the temporal life was not yet perfected. But if the celestial heaven was to be dismantled in order to be rebuilt on earth, it seemed that the salvation of mankind must be attained, not by some outside, miraculous, catastrophic agency (God or the philosopher-king), but by man himself, by the progressive improvement made by the efforts of successive generations of men; and in this coöperative enterprise posterity had its undeniable uses: posterity would complete what the past and the present had begun. “We have admired our ancestors less,” said Chastellux, “but we have loved our contemporaries better, and have expected more of our descendents.” Thus, the Philosophers called in posterity to exorcise the double illusion of the Christian paradise and the golden age of antiquity. For the love of God they substituted love of humanity; for the vicarious atonement the perfectibility of man through his own efforts; and for the hope of immortality in another world the hope of living in the memory of future generations.

    — and Utopia comes to be a part of the Progress narrative —

    It was more especially in France, where social discontent was most acute, that the doctrine of progress, of perfectibility, became an essential article of faith in the new religion of humanity. Fontanelle had thought of progress in terms of the gradual increase in knowledge and correct reasoning. It did not occur to him, or to many of his contemporaries, to look forward to any radical regeneration of morals or of social institutions. To play with the idea of utopia, as described by Plato or Thomas More or Bacon, was an engaging pastime no doubt; to project it, as something to be practically realized, into the future history of France, would have seemed to him scarcely less an illusion than the naïve dream of perfection in the Garden of Eden. Yet this is just what, under the pressure of social discontents, came to pass: the utopian dream of perfection, that necessary compensation for the limitations and frustrations of the present state, having been long identified with the golden age or the Garden of Eden or life eternal in the Heavenly City of God, and then by the sophisticated transferred to remote or imagined lands (the moon or Atlantis or Nowhere, Tahiti or Pennsylvania or Peking), was at last projected into the life of man on earth and identified with the desired and hoped-for regeneration of society.

  89. Hi JMG! I discovered The Archdruid Report a couple months ago during your blogging hiatus and am so excited to see that you’re blogging again. I’ve experienced a growing skepticism of the “religion of progress” in recent years and your writing has given me an entirely new perspective on it. Looking forward to the discussion here!

  90. I feel like humanity’s hubris is as often discussed a problem as climate change, and just as often ignored. How to live as a mere animal? But it’s the golden age of television…!

    Also, when I think hubris, I think Baby Boomers. Now, I know many boomers who are as down to earth, modest, charitable people as you can imagine, but as a class, the boomer generation seems to take the cake in terms of hubris. Do you see any generational disparities in degree of hubris?

  91. Oh where to begin…

    People are not the center of the universe. Such a simple statement yet so few seem to accept it…
    I’ll second those observations about climate change activists. Well ok, here in NZ its more like people blame the government (conveniently removing the need to examine their own lives) or Trump (despite Obama being no better and Clinton being unlikely to have…). “I’m just one person nothing I can do makes any difference” because of xxxx evil politician or xxxx evil corporation etc etc etc. Or as I heard one climate scientist here say (on a talk show) its all over for the human race by 2025 because were facing an extinction like the one pre dinosaurs… (despite their own climate science having examples of large scale shifts in climate in the lifetime of our species)

    Another issue I think (and you’ve talked about this too) is the lack of visions of the future that aren’t cyberpunk/computers space ships/robots etc on the one hand and mad max apocalypse on the other. This is where I’ve found Retrotopia especially helpful. When the future looks so streeful it can seem easier to stick ones head in the sand…

    I can’t help notice how much better I feel in my life in general since I’ve started taking steps towards sustainability. Its not easy sure, though definitely worth the effort. Plus it gives the people around you a life as well. Depression as I heard you (or someone on the old ADR say) is the difference between what you know and what you’re doing about it.

  92. It is a pleasure to be reading your insights again, I look forward to the AMA and will be re-studying the first chapter of Mystery Teachings.

  93. Anthropolatry; brilliant.
    I have come across the concept in books (for want of a better word) like ” the god species”, but always considered it part of the lunatic fringe.
    Seeing it at the core of our worldview explains a lot of things that otherwise make little sense..
    For one thing it becomes clear why the “new atheists” are so offended by any other form of belief. To them it is of course blasphemy to believe in gods other than man.

  94. It’s great to have you back! I doubt if it was part of your plan, but after ADR closed down I just had to have more JMG posts so I read all of your blogs on the Well. I even got the Celtic Golden Dawn book and hope to start studying it in the near future.

    I’m very excited about the focus of the new blog and look forward to reading more about the combination of ecology and religion. I’m not much for commenting but I’ll be interested to read some of the AMA posts. I will also be very interested in reading about nature spirituality.

    Thanks for all your fine work.

  95. Excellent post- thanks for sharing your thoughts. The Mythology that Man is all powerful, all good, and all knowing, the Mythology we think “primitive peoples” attribute to tribal gods but have no trouble attributing to ourselves. You do a great job of explicating this but I wanna focus for a moment on the omnibenevolence or “all good-ness” of Man. I think the Myth of Apocalypse holds a literally Religious faith in the omnibenevolence of Man far more than the Myth of Progress. True believers in the secular version of the Myth of Apocalypse hold that Man is naturally perfectly virtuous, generous, and tolerant and in the right noble savage conditions, there would be no war, famine, poverty, or hunger. It is simply that Man is not allowed to live his natural state as a hunting and gathering naked savage that we have all these pesky wars and famines and injustices around us today. Of course, nobody who pays lip service to the omnibenevolence of the noble savage will actually bother to strip naked, wander out into the woods, and forage for berries and endure dysentary from drinking unclean water to prove that Man will be driven to perfectly virtuous behavior if he is only allowed to lose modern conveniences. That’s because the omnibenevolence of Man has to be placed somewhere conveniently in the realm of the future to prevent the cognitive dissonance of actually having to see the results of that leap of faith. Maybe this unwillingness to take that leap stems from the same cause as the scientists unwilling to stop flying on international academic conferences.

  96. JMG & All
    It was probably a comment on ADR way back that prompted me to find myself a copy of CS Lewis little book The Abolition of Man (1943). To start with Lewis gives a gently done kicking to some commonplace bad teaching in an Eng. Lit. text book. While doing so he brings to mind useful witness from good literature. He puts the text book’s failings down to a system of values in vogue ‘between the wars’. He seems to have found one of those ‘paradigms’ that have cycled through our Anglophone world.

    At the end of his extended essay Lewis has constructed an Appendix:he calls ‘Illustrations of the Tao’. He is looking for common consent – a set of cross-civilisation independent testimonies from mostly ancient texts – of what he calls Natural Law(s). I found it thought provoking – one might try even these days to each construct a version of our own. (I still hope not to fall into 1950s American Readers Digest mode – lop-sided smile). Meanwhile he encourages us to give a rest to the unfortunate slogan ‘Man’s victory over Nature’.

    best
    Phil H .

  97. JMG
    I have just taken down your book Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth. I am reminded that you have set out Seven Laws. This is not exactly CS Lewis – well, he uses eight; smile – but we are invited to participate in similar new/old expression. Am looking forward to the discussion.
    best
    Phil

  98. Beautiful writing as ever John. On the issue of how a climate conscious etc. person should behave in a finite world full of irrational (hypocritical) people, one can actually make an argument supporting continued high levels of personal consumption (before limits make it impossible). Sounds crazy I know but I wrote a somewhat sarcastic essay explaining it almost a decade ago: http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=6998&page=0

  99. Hi JMG, thanks for taking my request about discussion of MTOTLE seriously! Really looking forward to getting into it.

    So, shattering the man-as-god myth. It’s a loooong way down. This is going to get brutal.

  100. Welcome back to blogging! It’s great to “hear” your voice again!

    I’m looking forward to coming along on this next leg of the journey.

  101. Great to have you back. Would very much like to get involved with the book club idea – ‘mystery teachings’ is actually my favourite of your numerous works so that would be a great exercise to get stuck into.

  102. @Michae Clark

    Good Lord, that was rather upside-down from Mr. Graham; as long as we’re talking heresies, not really my cup of tea. May I sell you on the idea that the one we know as the Christ may have been busily spreading his message over thousands of other worlds? It would be extremelly funny that, when (not if) we finally manage to achieve interstellar travel, we’d be contacted by aliens and told: “It took you a good long while to get out of your own rock, pal. You’re the ones who crucified Him, aren’t you? I assume you have worked out your own issues, but just in case… we wont be tolerating any of your **** over here. We are entitled to be less than perfectly forgiving, you know?”.

    Of course, if you really dare to think about it, it is just as possible that the God of Abrahan, Issac, Jacob, etc, has picked Humanity, – as in homo sapiens, – as his chosen people, and is not really concerned with what happens out of planet Earth. That would put under new light all those stories in the Old Testament about the distinction between the people of Israel vs the nations of the World.

  103. My concept of “mankind” as well as my “personhood”, has evolved over the last few years to recognize that the object that we recognize as a human being is not just the expression of its DNA, but a container for multitudes of other organisms with their own DNA codes. As my carpool driver put it, we’re like a coral reef, wrapped in a water-proof bag to protect ourselves from drying out.

    The real significance of this was brought into focus with this article: https://drjess.com/monsantos-round-now-linked-autism-alzheimers-gut-dysbiosis-pineal-gland-calcification/.

    In a nutshell, the thesis is that chemicals in our environment may be benign to OUR the cells which share “my DNA”, but still toxic to other inhabitants of my water-proof bag, inhabitants that I rely on!

    In Retrotopia, JMG imagines a bit of technology gone wrong which breaks the people’s faith in Business As Usual with violent finality. If Roundup were to be proven to be the cause of autism, alzheimer’s, etc., I’m thinking that gets us pretty close to the breaking point. “Dr. Jess” may be selling potions, but I think she’s on to something with this story.

    73 AD7VI DE AB3NA

  104. Dear John,
    Your concept of anthropolatry got me thinking of other contemporary paradigms that I believe also contribute to the rut we are in now, and how in fact they may all be related and have a single common source. It would seem to me that anthropolatry derives from the fact that we have, and have had over the last 150 years or so, a substantially increased control over our environment, or at least the impression of having such control. I believe this impression derives from the scientific revolution, its resulting technologies, and our increased efficiency in terms of plundering the Earth’s resources.

    It has not only lead to the sense that we are somehow above the fray, above nature (your anthropolatry), but also the sense that we need neither gods (and their real or imagined aid), nor even the help of a community of fellows. That we, as single individual gods, surrounded perhaps by a small family, is all that is required to permit our survival. In poorer areas of the world, this has of course never occurred, however the elite in those poor countries have also been bitten by the same alluring Western bug.

    In such a paradigm, individual sacrifice is simply not a subject, nor is the idea that a community should work together to achieve something. Everything is about one’s own individual godly comfort, and the beyond is only ever considered with great difficulty. Under such a paradigm, or group of paradigms, it is literally impossible to deal with a threat that essentially requires community action, individual sacrifice, and, as you mention, a sense that we are not the all-powerful wonder-beings we like to believe!

    Great to have you back in the blogosphere John, you have been missed!

  105. Hi JMG, glad you’re back. Paradigms are so hard to change. I am experiencing that right now with another paradigm you’ve pointed out before: the paradigm of the rescue game. It just is mind boggling and heart breaking for me what “the oppressed” are allowed to get away with because they can do no wrong in that role, especially if their violence is directed towards the “oppressors”. Or when people who are clearly non-patriarchal are being nasty to other people who have not hurt them, it contradicts the paradigm that patriarchy is the root of all evil. Or when archaeologists and anthropologists find evidence that many tribal people were/are very nasty to other tribes, it contradicts the paradigm of the “noble savage”. Or the anarchist paradigm that the state is unnecessary is contradicted when nobody else is willing to take on inter-tribal conflict. Or the rescue game paradigm is contradicted when somebody tries to actually help people, instead of just letting the oppressed vent. The left has had a spell cast over it. I can no longer identify with it.

  106. Wonderful to have you back writing blogs again! Just what I needed to cheer me up! Allow me to contribute my own recent experiences with climate change and the technosphere, I live in farming country in the upper midwest. Farmers are, by and large, somewhat more in touch with reality then city people. Few of them that I talk to are climate change deniers. Most over the age of 50 agree that summers have become much wetter and the storms much worse. The typical response, of course, is to apply more technology. Dig more ditches and lay down more drainage tile.

    The situation on my own farm this summer is rich with irony. I rent out my tilled acres. My new renter was concerned about pulling his planter thru the washouts on some highly erodible hill sides. We contracted a third party to come in with some excavating equipment and scoop up the nice loamy black soil that had washed down into the low ground and place it back up into the washouts. My renter then seeded these down with grass to limit future erosion. While watching the big diesel tractor moving tons of earth back up the hill I couldn’t help but reflect on the irony that burning diesel fuel in such extravagant ways was helping to fuel the storms that kept washing the soil away in the first place. Sure enough, a week, or so, later we had another severe storm with some 3″ of rain coming down in half an hour that washed much of the soil, and most of the grass seed, back down into the low ground. Nature laughs last!

    I also found it amusing, in a sad sort of way, that the farmers renting my land seem perplexed when they drive by and see me puttering in my garden. The whole idea of planting things with a spade and getting down on your hands and knees to pull weeds seems to strike them as rather odd, certainly grossly inefficient! They plant hundreds of acres of beans and corn in a day and then stop at the super market to buy food.

  107. Welcome back to the blogosphere, JMG! I, as many others are, am very glad to see your return. There ultimately is something very calming about the objective way you are able to sketch out the events, past, present, and likely to come in the future which makes it easier for myself to approach the daily appearances of more difficulties more objectively.

    In response to the book club idea, I love it. I’m not sure how easily I’ll be able to get/pay for the book(s) here in China but I’ll look hard for a way and if something manifests itself, then it was meant to be. Eventually I will catch up with the club!

    Knowing that this new blog is themed with the changing spirituality which results from the decline, I quickly noticed the parallel between climate-change scientists and Western Christianity. On a second read, I also noticed that paradigm could also apply to our current political situation. In a sense, politics has reached the point of a bunch of a demi-gods who are unwilling to make real discourse and compromise on situations so that real change can begin. I am left wondering if our current political system paradigm is a result of the anthropolatarian paradigm, and what sort of changes would best be made to deal with the coming difficulties.

    I also wonder, as you implied in some comments, that the coming spiritual movement will be a result developed basically by itself, what exactly do you hope to accomplish in discussing the possibilities of what may or may not result? Surely you are hoping to have some sort of impact on that resulting spiritual movement?

  108. Welcome back John, I’m looking forward to the continuing conversation.

    I’d just like to comment upon your response to James Jensen regarding Jordan Peterson, specifically your dismissal of him/his work because of a statement or two with which you disagree. One of the ills of our times is a summary dismissal of someone because of a disagreement with some views of the other. That you don’t agree with his views on the “specialness” of humanity is fair enough and I can follow your argument. Peterson’s work though is much broader than a couple of statements about humanity being special. Peterson seems to me to be one of the few public academics who is attempting to illuminate the false binary conflict between science and religion. He’s not there yet but he seems to me to be genuinely interested in formulating a new paradigm of science/religion.
    As well your argument that other mammals such as cetaceans are able to name each other signifies self-consciousness is not in itself a a sign of this in my view. That one whale called let’s say Bob calls another whale Tom does not signify self-consciousness, it signifies a sophisticated brain which is not the same thing. Self-consciousness arose at the moment that our brain became able to reflect upon itself, the step from non-duality to duality, being apart from and not part of the natural reality. Cetaceans do not display this misconception as far as I’m aware. This distinction is important as that is when separation arose and our troubles began. This separation is manifested in the world we created and in each apparent individual.

  109. Hooray!!! It is so wonderful to have you back in blog form! Yes to the AMA style post, I believe many people learn to accept what is occurring not by reading, but by asking the question and getting a response from you. It’s very human to read something and think “yeah, but….”. Also yes to the news updates and commentary. Your commentary will give the news context and be able to link it back in history, especially when the space bats thinking around energy begin again.

  110. JMG so delighted to see you back! I read Kuhn’s seminal work in the early 80s as part of a Phd course. A wonderful example of a paridigm shift is Evelyn Fox Keller’s account of the life work of Barbara McClintock in corn genetics. I highly recommend it.
    Kuhn’ s book hugely influenced the way I perceived not just science, but also culture, society, human behaviour and nature. I dropped out of the Phd program and seriously began composting and gardening. Best decision I ever made! Goes without saying your first post has me excited about all that follows! Thanks JMG.

  111. I think you gloss over a huge factor in lifestyle change, though there’s a cart/horse argument to be made. It’s hard. Not hard exactly. Like eating well. It’s not amazingly difficult, but eating crap is WAAAYYY easier. Society puts up roadblocks to individuals trying to step off the conveyor belt. There’s not clear path to getting away. Is that driven by the greater concerns and unconscious philosophies? Yeah, fair enough. Changing my mind doesn’t help me get out of suburbs. Not enough to make the difference anyway.
    Looking forward to the Nature Spirituality conversation.

  112. great post from a great mind of our time. but there is another factor driving behavior: in both ecosystems and economics those that are fitter channel through themselves the most energy. and so, it is a tragedy of the commons problem, since those that choose to conserve are disfavored. a simple example is, those that do not fly to conferences will have their efforts ignored.

    this is also why “growth” in the economy is accompanied by increases in energy consumption. the rule was first discovered in ecology, i believe, where it was found that success of a species or individual was related primarily to its energy flow and not its efficiency. increases in efficiency are used to improve energy flow.

  113. Hi JMG. Welcome back, 3 months is a long time to go without some druidical advice and commentary wizardry. 100 comments and its only the first day on the new blog. It looks like a lot of us have travelled with you.

    I like the concept, and indeed term, “Anthropolatory”.

    Watching climate (and non-climate) scientists, politicians and commentators preach on the perils of global warming while failing to change their own lifestyles has always had the tang of addiction for me. You can present an addict with all the information about their addiction, its perils and short comings and some will nod in agreement. (That is assuming that they acknowledge their addiction in the first place). They will often even know more about it than you, but they do not change. Knowledge isn’t sufficient to break the spell that addiction has for them. Until you can address the underlying psychology of the addiction, there is little chance of change. Some addicts are capable of making the change through simple knowledge and introspection, but for most they have to run face first into one of those shortcomings such that it affects them deeply.

    I don’t know what all those addictions are for those preachers, or the vast majority of we humans, its many layered involving convenience, prestige, comfort, and any number of things. But I do know from both your own writings, and my own conversations with some, that they are convinced that “they can fix it”, which has a lot of resonance with the addicts belief that “they can control it”. Anthropolatory, as you say, the belief, and I would argue, addiction to that belief, that humans are in control.

    I can’t even control my use of commas :).

    Gavin, looking forward to the new blog structure.

  114. Hi JMG. It’s good to see you blogging again! I’ve missed you over these past few months.

    Re “A paradigm that insists that human beings are above nature—in the full literal sense of the word, supernatural—and therefore can’t possibly need to rethink their own choices for nature’s sake.”

    This idea is more or less embedded in our belief system an was stated outright in Genesis 1:26: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” So not only are we god-like, but we are entitled — so we believe — to control the destiny of our physical world, or at least the fauna (and perhaps the flora also, depending on how you read “and over all the earth”) in it. Unfortunately, while we have taken this verse to heart, we have forgotten Jesus’s first great commandment: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.” It is hard for me to see how this does not enjoin us to take care of his creation.

    Regarding the statement “The problem isn’t knowledge, then; it’s not ethics, and it’s not will. What remains?” I think there’s another factor in addition to “anthropolatry”, although it is a related one: How to make one’s way in a world that one will be out of step with if one gets serious about living in a manner more harmonious with the Earth? When your peers are out of harmony any you aren’t, then you’re out of harmony with your peers. We’re an intensely social species and our infrastructure and physical environment have been shaped by humans operating under the beliefs you have so eloquently pointed out. This does create some vexatious issues for people trying to live in a more sustainable manner.

    Furthermore, I think most people view the steps needed to live in a more sustainable fashion as requiring a reduction in standard of living. Most people are unwilling to make such sacrifices, not only because of the loss of social status that it implies, but because of the perceived hardship that it entails.

    And then there’s one’s standing in society. There’s absolutely no doubt that lessening one’s footprint is antithetical to much that brings one respect and reward in our society. Just one more way of being out-of-step. I’m hoping our conversations here will touch on some of these issues.

    I have been wrestling with these issues for some time now — 44 years and counting — and have still not managed to do a very good job of it.

    All the best in your new endeavors, John!

  115. Before we begin, a reminder: profanity is not permitted on this blog, any more than it was on The Archdruid Report or Well of Galabes. I have the capacity to edit comments here, which I didn’t have back on Blogger, so can trim out the occasional slip by a regular commenter — but if it becomes a regular issue, I’m just going to start deleting comments.

    Also, if you’ve already been told by me that you’re being a broken record on a single issue, don’t keep on repeating the same screed on the same issue. Another thing I can do here, which I couldn’t do on Blogger, is ban commenters. I’ve already used it on a couple of people who annoyed me sufficiently on the older blogs. Don’t make me swing the hammer on you.

    Thank you, and we’ll now continue with our regularly scheduled monthly post!

    Pearce, it depends on how invested any given person’s ego is in the existing paradigm. For some, ditching the ill-fitting suit of Man the Conqueror of Nature results in a great sigh of relief!

    Hector, thank you! I appreciated the honesty with which you expressed your discomfort back on the other blog, btw, as I think it helped a lot of people come to grips with their own emotional commitment to anthropolatry.

    Dermot, it’s been way too long since I last read Becker. Thanks for the reminder; once the relocation process is over, I’ll find a library copy and delve into it. It’s highly relevant to the future direction of this blog.

    Lauren, delighted to hear it.

    JMC, two direct hits. First, granted, it’s very popular to chatter about human hubris, and most of the chatter expresses the very hubris it claims to be criticizing. Second, the historical tragedy of the Boomer generation is a huge issue just now, as that generation frantically clings to power — have you noticed how the average age of politicians in the US has risen steadily as Boomers refuse to step aside? — and we’ll have to discuss it at length in the posts to come.

    Tom, exactly! The best antidote to despair is practical action. On the other hand, the most effective way to avoid practical action, if you don’t happen to want to do anything, is to wallow in despair… 😉

    Rob, thank you.

    dropBear, clearly I’m going to have to continue my old habit of handing out gold stars, and you’ve just earned today’s. Exactly; the new atheists are a fine object lesson in the old proverb that what you hate, you imitate; they’ve copied nearly all the worst features of the religions they despise, and are busy shouting “There is no God but Man, and Darwin is his prophet!” at the top of their lungs, and doing their best to persecute anyone who doesn’t follow their creed.

  116. Hi John Michael, good to have you back.

    As far as I know, the notion of humans as smart animals has been already expounded most forcefully and effectively by Nietzsche, Darwin, Marx, Freud, and many lesser heads of the fin de ciècle. Yes, it was materialism more than anything else that fueled décadence instead of devotion and nihilism instead of humility. But how come anthropolatry could raise its head in a climate like that? The christian god followed the fate of the old gods, and then came the wars. Humanity as a god? A rather baneful god.

    And today? While corporate and scientific interests are ludicrously tainted by belief in infinite progress, the largest folk religion these days appears to be plain hedonism, where the revered idols aren’t in some golden age, past or future, but in the gleaming unreality of digitalia…… Pondered further, of course, hedonism seems less a religion and more an anesthesia of the religious, and even before the lights go out, the time has come to proclaim the Menschendämmerung.

    Now, I’m aware that you’re a religious man–I’m looking forward how you’ll reconcile the smart animals with the friends of the gods!

  117. Beginning to read this post was like sinking into a familiar armchair with a cat on my lap and going Ahhhh! I love this post, and am looking forward to where this new journey takes us. I see that it will be a deep and rich experience, quite different from merely looking at various religious traditions and trying to come up with a new one, which came as a great relief to me. Your three other ideas for the blog are all of great interest to me as well, however, I don’t want you to overload yourself, so please choose carefully. I recently read your book “The Secret of the Temple”, which I enjoyed greatly. I was happy that you discussed the work of Phil Callahan. I ran across his work in Acres, USA many years ago, and read a couple of his books, and found them most thought-provoking. I wonder if some of the material in the Temple book is germane to the discussion we are embarking on? I look forward to beginning the Mystery Teachings book soon. Welcome back!

  118. “As for swine, though, did you think I was insulting human beings by comparing them to swine? ”

    Yes and no. I have great respect and admiration for animals. I’m very open to their consciousness and their abilities. And to say that we are also animals is true enough in the bodily sense, but we are different in kind, we are a different order of being. I think that denying that is strange and counterproductive. I see clearly the error that you are addressing, and I am not sure what the corrective is, but we are called to a much higher understanding, a much higher existence, than animals are. How it works, what the end point is for the evolution of all species – the sky is the limit. And, I am very impressed with the new knowledge that dolphins (maybe whales too?) have names. There is also some evidence that dolphins may have language.

  119. Drhooves comment also got me thinking as well, but not just for the comment about the mechanical religions of the west, which is an interesting statement that requires further thought. What I would like to comment on is the belief that organized religions are mechanisms of control.

    When we talk about organized religion, it becomes necessary to make sure that phrase is truly understood in a meaningful context. We can all agree that when humans are around other humans, they will organize in some meaningful way in order to pursue a common purpose, being social animals by nature. The form and scale of that organization, of course, depends on the purpose being pursued as well as the size of the population, and there may be several forms and scales of organization within a given group depending on how many goals are being pursued, and these can and will interact with each other in different ways.

    We can then apply this to the nature of religious organization. A religious organization can be as sprawling, massive, and bureaucratic as the Catholic Church, or as small as eight people forming a bible study group that meets on a regular basis in someone’s living room. And although a religious organization can be used for control, I would argue that this is true of any way humans organize themselves, and a tendency to control, no matter how regular or irregular that tendency occurs, does not necessarily mean that tendency is all it ever does. Control also does not necessarily have to be coercive; control can also manifest itself in the control one enacts upon themselves in their daily lives in order to live according to particular spiritual ideals.

    Organized religion can be ultimately thought of as a mechanism for people of similar faith or spiritual need to come together for the common purpose of worship and ritual, at whatever form or scale that may take. It can also be seen as a self emergent community that forms during particular times and in particular places in history in order to meet the spiritual needs of the people of those times and places. This new blog, focusing on ecological spirituality, can definitely be seen as something that is attempting to meet the spiritual needs of at least a sizable portion of the readership in the long twilight of industrial civilization. What form that spirituality might ultimately take, and how expansive it might be, is still unknown, as this blog is contributing to a conversation already well underway. But we, all of us here, are organizing together for the common purpose of being part of the conversation.

    -Dan Mollo

  120. I love the idea of discussing some of your books. As well as the Ask Me Anything and other suggestions you proposed. I typically make it a point to buy as many of your books as my small budget will allow. Right down to having the first *and* second editions of Circles of Power. Does the new 3rd edition have anything new added or is the same as 2nd edition just from a new publisher and new cover? Of course I have Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth so I’ll definitely be participating in any book club.

    I did have two questions. I remember asking back over on The Archdruid Report if you might get a chance to give your thoughts on two topics. 1) The ongoing monkey-ing around with Zero and Negative Interest rates by various countries’ respective central banks and why they might decide to do these things (other than the obvious ones blog readers cited). And 2) the reasons for finding Peter Turchin’s Cliodynamics unconvincing. Either simply in the comments here or possibly as a topic that can be addressed somewhere else (like AMA or book club, etc)?

  121. Congratulations on this new project! I am very much looking forward to where it goes.

    As I examine my reaction to the “perturbation of damp film” bit, and note how some others are reacting, I think what leaps up is a sense of its similarity to rhetoric that is used within the paradigm to denigrate nature. Enthusiasts of scientism or economics or the Conqueror routinely reach for similar phrasing, because there’s a deep-channelled implicit claim attached that if something is small and green and Earth-shaped it is therefore worthless.

    So I have an angry and distrustful and intellectually combative reaction to words that usually carry that implication, even when you clearly mean not to imply it (you precisely stopped just a hair short of the belittling tone). Again, within the paradigm, someone who talks about human smallness in the scheme of things is typically selling a horrifying bigness.

    So maybe an important part of the work is to extricate the humanism that concerns itself with proportion and human nature (let us be ourselves, as swine are swine!) from the baggage of humanism-as-anthropolatry. “Relinquishing the Earth” is a Canadian poet’s phrase for this work. I’m reminded of your view that the Neoplatonists are better taken as describing the insides of a human cranium than as Explaining The Universe.

  122. Hello JMG and everyone,

    And away we go indeed…this is exciting; I mean the post itself and your Ask Me Anything idea.

    I have Mystery Teachings of the Living Earth and would love to use this opportunity to get into it at last. I had already found various gems in that one but hadn’t yet managed to read it through (having been stuck on the meditation portions I think, and not wanting to skip them so putting it off).

    Do you plan to go through your book selections chapter by chapter?

    A World Full of Gods is my favourite book of yours, and one that has had a pretty huge influence. That would be a fascinating one to get into with everybody also.

    As for TV…I’ve not had one at all since moving out of my parents’ 10 years ago (we have a small DVD-TV combo on which or kids watch their DVDs, but it isn’t connected to aerial).
    My parents always had theirs on and I found the adverts and programmes enervating as all heck.

    Having said that…maybe it’s a generational or a discipline thing but I find the Internet can be distracting and draining in a different but still comparable way. I’m not sure I’ve accrued the time-and-focus benefits that you mention from being TV-less. Or maybe it’s just having young kids without any help from grandparents…

    Anyway you have my attention sir as always; this should be an interesting summer.

    Happy Alban Hefin!

  123. Archdruid,

    I guess I’m stating the obvious here, but the worship of man as god is going to be a very short lived phenomenon. Hindus are kinda used to the ideas of Avatars, that is gods that manifest themselves as great figures throughout history. It’s not a very great leap to expand the concept to what is called nature by the modern world. The rivers, mountains, forests, deserts, and etc… are all the physical manifestations of the gods and goddesses. They may have a high tolerance for our nonsense, but that tolerance ain’t infinite. Man can worship himself all he wants, but that just means he’s going to have to respond to all the troubles of the world with his very finite capabilities. No outside intervention to save him from his own stupidity.

  124. Welcome back, sir, and congratulations on your recent print accomplishments and sundry other transitions!

    Anthropolatry sounds like a good descriptor for the current paradigm. I am reminded of Douglas Adams’s “Total Perspective Vortex” from his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, which shows a person exactly how insignificant they are in the scheme of the universe. In the books, the Vortex is used as a torture device, but I can’t imagine it having much of an effect on a non-anthropolatrist.

    (Virtual donuts to anyone who can say “non-anthropolatrist” three times fast!)

    Your statements on the humbleness of human beings do not upset or offend me. I find myself agreeing with them, but not without a cynical and slightly uncomfortable laugh. Perhaps that is because I have not fully integrated the new paradigm into my worldview? Ah well, these things take time, and usually some amount of grieving for the now-dead paradigm we all held so dear. I remember grieving for my love of space travel, and for my dream of being involved in it someday. I revisit it (the grief, more than the dream) every once in awhile by singing “Hope Eyrie” by Leslie Fish.

    I love the structure you’ve laid out for your new blog! I’m especially interested in the Mystery Teachings book club. A synchronicity: I’ve been considering using the book as the basis for a book club at my church (we’re Unitarian Universalists), which ideally would morph into a discussion group revolving around the themes of your new blog. I plan to propose it this fall.

  125. I know that some people here blame Christianity for Man the Conqueror of Nature and related destruction of the world we live on. Worship of Man the Conqueror of Nature is idolatrous, and really very un-Christian. We should not be worshiping Man. Not everything that western society has done is consonant with Christianity or motivated by it. This strikes me as something that happened in spite of Christianity, not because of it.

    On a more personal level, I’ve found that my belief in God fits very well with honoring his creation, in all its awe-inspiring beauty and infinite variety. And therefore, working to protect it.

    aka pygmycory

  126. I can’t think He’s likely to be pleased with how humans have handled ourselves towards the rest of the biosphere, and I don’t expect that he is going to rescue us from the consequences of our behavior on this one. Humanity had the knowledge for decades, and the power to fix things, and we have not changed course enough to save ourselves. It is possible that he will intervene, but what I ask for when I pray is for mercy on humanity in our folly, especially on those who have contributed little to the problem, yet who face terrible costs. Like those not yet born, or who or like poor people on low-lying islands in poor nations, whose individual impact is tiny, yet who are likely to see their entire country disappear due to sea-level rise.

    JMG, I am having trouble posting longer comments here. That’s why this is in two parts.

  127. Dear JMG,

    What a delightful new direction you are taking! I’m looking forward to watching it all develop. I’ll be following along as much as time will allow, with our first baby coming in August. I have observed plenty of old paradigms coming up for me regarding the very natural process of bringing a new person into the world, many of them not so useful. This is a grand opportunity in my own life to see some of them running and make adjustments as necessary, to be more closely in accord with what is actually going on. All my assumptions are being challenged, which I have come to see as quite helpful. It seems there’s nothing wrong with having a paradigm, unless it fails to accord with reality.

    Thank you for your excellent work!

  128. @ Michae Clark and CR Patiño-

    Interesting about the idea of humanity being shunned for being the killers of the Savior in the chorus of species.

    I recall years ago reading a short story where a Calvanist chaplain on an EU space station connected to a multi-world portal tried and seemingly failed to tell a world-spanning fungal civilization about Christ using chemical gradients in ooz packs, slipping into the muck and drowning in the attempt. The story then shifts to the prospective of the fungi who delight that they’ve finally been sent something worth discussing, debate the message (the chaplain’s RNAs and neurochemical memories) and at the end of the story send out biorockets to other worlds to tell other worlds of the Good News, strongly implying they consider the chaplain’s death a miracle and have given it an honored place in their evangelism. I can’t find the anthology or short story title or author’s name to save my life.

    Looking back now it strikes me as an unconscious elevation of Man via the chaplain to being second only to Christ since we are the conduit of Him to all the rest of Creation. I wonder if that has any bearing on the wider cultural shift from Christianity to anthropolatry. I also wonder, if one accepts a polytheistic view of the various Christs out there, which one the fungi got, or if the chaplain was merely the midwife for a unique fungal Christ.

  129. Hi JMG,

    “There are complex reasons for that, reaching back to the broader failure of ethics as currently understood to have much of an effect on human behavior—a theme we’ll be discussing at some length in later posts.”

    I am really looking forward to these posts. I am always amazed at your ability to share ideas and pull together all of these observations that really end up with ‘ah-ha’ moments. I will be buying the Archdruid Tales to catch up on what I have missed. Keep up the good work, as you know from everyone else it is appreciated.

    Bill

  130. Hi there,
    I hope your move went well, and that you and Sara are enjoying the settling in part. I dislike moving house more than just about any other life task.

    I am excited about the monthly book club sessions, and doubly happy that those will begin with “Mystery Teachings”. Cant wait to see what everyone has to say. The monthly AMA sessions will be nice, too, as that will be an opportunity to ask questions not necessarily relating to the blog posts or the book readings.

    Solstice blessings, and many thanks!
    Bonnie

  131. Nice to see you posting again, Mr. Greer.

    The grassroots environmentalism of the 1970’s died in 1987 with the publishing of the Brundtland report by the U.N. World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED). This report merged environmentalism with “sustainable development”. Suddenly, exponential mathematics became immaterial to the environmental debate, and the growth meme that we can overcome limits through substitution and progress became the norm. Conservation and preservation environmentalism was replaced by “bright green environmentalism”, which is now all we hear preached by governments and the media. Even dissent from academia is hard to find except in extraction (hard science) data and empirical based research which still says we’re heading for a cliff unless population and resource scarcity are addressed; however, this is antithetical to business interests and therefore not discussed publicly.

    Sadly, Rio 92, Johannesburg 2002, Rio +20, and all other recent U.N. environmental initiatives push the sustainable development agenda and bright green environmentalism. It is being sold as the cure for poverty and social inequity. Government adoption of this policy has been global and is now endorsed through environmental groups such as the Sierra Club. Fortunately, if you search the peer reviewed literature for material flow analysis and life cycle analysis, you will find data and mathematical refutation of the policies of the past 30 years. Infinite growth on a finite planet…..what could go wrong?

    I am a journeyman HVAC mechanic with my PhD in mechanical engineering with emphasis on renewable energy systems and teach renewable and sustainable energy courses. I can’t even discuss the massive shortcomings of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system without encountering rabid opposition to my obviously misinformed, misanthropic and socially destructive hate speech.

    Thanks for hosting a rational debate on what should be an obvious problem in an irrational world,
    Tom

    (sorry if you receive this message multiple times…..Firefox imploded when I tried to send it to you the first 3 times)

  132. I think Thomas Kuhn was basically right, but if a paradigm is is “powerful” enough, or the one it’s replacing, weak enough, most scientists will embrace it fairly quickly. Plate tectonics very rapidly overtook the mishmash of miogeonsynclines etc. once there was good evidence of a mechanism. Some old academicians maintained the “old way” but were politely ignored. Plate tectonics just worked to solve so many problems in geology. By the time I earned my degree, even the old codgers used plate tectonics as a working model with strong predictive value, even though they’d published numerous papers advocating geosynclines as the main operative mechanism back in the 40’s, 50’s and early 60’s.

    All that’s well and good, but it leads to this question: Perhaps we can use magic as a means to craft a particularly potent paradigm so we don’t have to wait for the old believers to die away? Or perhaps you’ve been doing that for the last decade and a half?

    Wonderful to have you back!

    Ed

  133. John Michael Greer wrote in the discussion thread for last month’s post.

    “Karim, some of it’s certainly Native American; Carl Jung, among many others, commented with amazement how few white Americans notice just how overwhelmingly shaped the deep places of their psyches are by Native American archetypes and patterns. Some of it is less easy to categorize, and may be the foreshadowing of something that will take shape in the future. More on this as we proceed!”

    Here is an essay about the observations by Jung and D.H. Lawrence on the subtle influences the land, Native American archetypes, even Afro-American archetypes have had on white Americans. There are some fascinating observations here. I look forward to reading your insights on this topic.

    http://ahistoryofthepresentananthology.blogspot.com/2012/10/excerpts-from-dh-lawrence-and-carl.html

    As you noted, many other thinkers have made similar observations. Oswald Spengler, Mircea Eliade, Joseph Campbell and John David Ebert come to mind. There is a scientific paper titled “Sustainable agrarian urbanism: The low-density cities of the Mayas and Aztecs”, which looks at Native American urban settlement patterns in North America. It used to be available as a free PDF and was also reprinted on the old Energy Bulletin, but is now behind a paywall. A summary and download link can be found here.

    http://www.cityfarmer.info/2013/04/17/urban-farming-is-nothing-new/

    After reading the paper, I have often wondered if the characteristic white American pattern of suburban sprawl is a reflection of traditional Native American urban patterns, but in a distorted and profoundly destructive fashion.

  134. “Worthship” *rolls the word slowly around her tongue*

    I like it. Sometimes you need a new word, even when it is an old word.

    As to: “The ability to value something as having a higher worth than our own egos, though, is essential…” – where to start? There are soooo many candidates.

    *Goes off to establish a programme of worthship*

  135. JMG,
    You touched on this in the essay, but it’s easier to do a 180 on your paradigm than just ignore it, isn’t it? It makes a great deal more sense now to see how some deep green types and neoprimitives act out their anthropolarty in Miltonic reverse. Having turned from progress, I too must fight against excessive nostalgia.

    It was The Archdruid Report that opened my eyes to the religion of progress, and the greater doom-o-sphere in which it sat that made me apostate. (That HURT. People need the Opiate of the People in one form or another; without it, the opiate of the poppy is far too seductive.) I used to comment under my real name on ADR, but stopped because of a frighteningly-worded social media policy my employer slipped into our contract. Your musings would not reflect well on their brand, and that would not reflect well on my continued employment. Now that we’re not locked into blogger, it’s easy to produce a psudoname, so I look forward to joining discussions. I already have questions about ethnogenisis and parallels between my region and the welsh for your next AMA. Unfortunately unless I can get Mystery Teachings by ILL, I’ll have to sit out the book club. I’ve no book budget at the moment.

  136. I am interesting in the monthly AMA session on Reddit and the book discussion club, so count me in for both. I ordered and read Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth when it first came out and was highly impressed. Looks like I need to dig it out and start re-reading it.

  137. Nature, as in wild spaces, has to become a part of a human being’s lived experience. If I hadn’t experienced nature as a child, through my senses, what importance would I place on it today?

    In the usual scheme of family, career and social status, what role does the natural world play for most people? Is it just one item on a list of items that vie for our time and attention?

    Nature is a place that offers me solitude and solace. It is high on my list of lived experiences because family and career are not on it. This is my choice and I do not regret it.

  138. JMG, Thank God, or should I say Thank Man you’re back. Another great post, it’s been a long 3 months of waiting in the intellectual void.

  139. Hi JMG, As usual you are on the leading edge of philosophy. As is my habit, after you teach something, I started researching Anthropolatry. On line there is nothing but entry after entry of DEFINITION. No articles, no books.

    And I had forgotten that Chapter 1 was Spirit of Ecology. On my shelf the whole time. Awareness is everything.

    Thanks,

    mac

  140. Re. California cooling centers: They are actually just public buildings, offices, churches, etc. which have set aside rooms where anyone is invited to come in to cool off. They are mostly intended for lower-income folks, many elderly, who don’t have or can’t afford to run air conditioning, and for the homeless. Obviously air conditioning is not an absolute necessity for life, but it has really been dangerously hot here- over 100 degrees for well over a week, topped 110 here in northern CA today, and it hasn’t been cooling down at night as much as it usually does during our hot summers. Lots of heat records broken. I have no issue with Mark or JMG’s larger points about our society, but to me the cooling centers- allowing heat-vulnerable folks to use empty space in buildings that are already being air-conditioned, not new construction or additional energy usage- actually are a good use of resources.

  141. @info – Re: “As soon as anthropogenic climate change became broadly accepted by “progressives” then the Right were almost guaranteed to oppose it almost on a point of principle. ”

    Perhaps, but I think the telling comment was made by Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) durning an interview by Rachael Maddow: “Do you realize I was actually on your side of this issue when I … first heard about this? I thought it must be true until I found out what it would cost.”

    What I get from this is that the science is not the real issue. It’s not even fundamentally a Left-vs-Right issue. The real issue is that living sustainably will entail a (perceived) painful retrenchment, which is not going to happen until it’s forced on people by either government mandate or by reality. Conservatives claim to abhor regulation, so they are more or less allergic to the idea that climate change, resource depletion, environmental degradation, etc. requires government action. However, admitting that there’s a problem that only government action can realistically address, and then saying that they are against the government doing anything about it, casts them is a rather pitiful light. It’s much more politically defensible to say that there isn’t a problem in the first place — that the whole thing is just a Liberal hoax.

    Liberals, on the other hand, are much more likely to see the government as potentially being a force for good, and that such regulations would benefit to society. So for Liberals, there’s no conflict between what the science says and what they see as the proper role of government.

    Between you and me, I’m pretty sure that we’re just going to deal with the consequences of climate change. Well, not us maybe, but certainly our children and grandchildren. People want to drive their cars to cool places. They want the lights to come on when they flip the switch, they want water at the tap, and let’s face it, refrigerators are fantastic appliances. People just aren’t going to give them up. The acceptable paradigm for most people is to find cleaner fuels that allow our current lifestyle to continue. Right now, the prospects don’t look that great. But one never knows…

  142. Mister Roboto, here. I figured I would adapt a new screen-moniker for the new blog, so I dug up an old one from when I was a relative newbie online. I’m glad to see that you will still be commenting on the madness of our age on a regular basis.

    Getting to the theme of this week’s post, I think I now have some insight as to why I felt the need to go through a neo-primitivist phase back in the mid-two-thousand-aughts. I think I recognized on a visceral level that anthropolatry was the mental virus of our age, so it made sense to me to ingest the strongest medicine I could find to purge it out. That the cure might be as bad as or worse than the disease probably didn’t occur to me because that narrative purported to explain so many things in one neat little package. Though it might have occurred to me if I would have allowed myself to notice how similar the mindset was to the apocalyptic New Age narrative of “Earth changes” to which I cleaved when I was a miserable and marginal twenty-something….

  143. As an adjunct to all the ‘Welcome Back’ (s) expressed, I thank you for providing a new space for further communication – as well as for providing what appears to be a new vector for discussion. I am curious about a couple of things; why the move from Cumberland and where have you resettled?

  144. John,

    I’m glad you’re back! I’ll admit reading your weekly blogs had become enough a part of my life’s rhythms that I was feeling a bit adrift. (Sorry for the mixed metaphor, I’m an engineer, not a poet…) I’ve especially missed Galabes, but I trust your good judgment on where we’re headed.

    I recall being in grad school and having my classmates dismiss Kuhn’s conclusions because they didn’t like their implications. 🙂

    I’m trying to become more courageous in my life and one of the ways I’d like to manifest that is by commenting more boldly on here. You’ve cultivated a fantastic community, which makes all the difference.

    Yes to AMAs and yes to the book club. I burned through Mystery Teachings but would be happy to work through it again in a group setting.

    Lordyburd,

    I found the Druid Magic Handbook unexpectedly delightful, and that’s coming from someone who’s been following our host’s work near-religiously for the better part of a decade. (Still looking for a private space of my own to practice in.)

    James M. Jensen II,

    I too am a Jordan Petersen fan. Of course he has his blind spots (don’t we all) but he’s a bold and original thinker, which is always something precious, and he’s got certain of the pathologies of the contemporary left down cold.

  145. Somewhat off-topic but related to an earlier comment I posted: have you seen the latest archaeological news coming out of California? There is new evidence that North America has been inhabited far longer than previously believed, going back at least 130,000 years. I knew that human fossils had been discovered in South America that are believed to be considerably older than the earliest known Clovis sites, but this pushes the timeline for human inhabitation in the Americas much, much further back. I think it’s pretty safe to say the old Clovis-first dogma that has hamstrung North American archaeology for so many decades is dead and needs to be buried.

    http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-americas-first-humans-20170426-story.html

    Oh, and more interesting news concerning early human history. The latest fossil evidence suggests the first humans appeared 7.2 million years ago and originated in Eastern Europe rather than Africa.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2017/05/22/europe-birthplace-mankind-not-africa-scientists-find/

    Lots of orthodoxies being shattered, as previously unspeakable heresies claw their way to the surface…

  146. First, for the tech guru: Chrome, on Android, will not let me comment: I can enter name and email, so long as I do so before typing in the comment box, but as soon as I enter anything in the comment box, the post comment button vanishes, as does the name/email/website lines, and they don’t come back. The only not-out-of-the-box thing on my Chrome browser is that I have Duck Duck Go set as my search engine. Happy to test further if given instructions on what to test.

    Now, for my comments:

    I do believe Mary has called it: this is the age of Climate Chaos. Not only have we a political climate of chaos, a social climate of chaos, religious, cultural, etc, we also have the weather sort of climate in chaos. In spite of an unusually wet spring and early summer, I will be lucky to harvest two handfuls of fruit from the apple, pear, cherry, plum, apricot, and sand-cherry trees combined, some fifteen trees, due to a post-bloom frost.

    In considering Anthropolatry there is a well known close cousin, the worship of humans, in a subset of idolatry (using the definition of idolatry as ‘worship of that which should not be worshiped’ rather than “worship of image or statue”). Judaism and Islam forbade the human likeness in art in an attempt to eradicate this, and we have the Tower of Babel story to as a warning story. The Protestant Reformation and their close cousins descending from the CoE have abandoned iconography and asking for the intercession of saints to avoid it, but the LDS church has brought back a method to attempt human transformation to divinity. Likewise, the Greeks had stories of heroes attaining divinity. While this seems to be a common problem in cultures that draw a line between humanity and divinity, the methods of elimination have, so far, not succeeded.

    I’m not sure if, having not studied them much, that cultures which said: “Our Ruler is divine (or divinely descended), we will worship him as a god”, come out much better in the end. The examples I can think of off-hand, other than Japan, no longer have those lines of Rulers, and I’m not sure if any Japanese still believe that about their Emperor.

    It seems to be a besetting sin of humanity, and this collective divinity of all Mankind is merely a new twist on an old problem. It would be nice to consult with future generations to find out if any attempts we make at banning the practice turn out better than the previous tries, but, as all previous generations (saving those with prophets clear enough to . . . oh, heck, when were any prophets ever that clear?), we are flying blind into the future.

  147. @Heather, I am painfully aware of the reality you describe regarding the poor and elderly in cities where temperatures soar higher than in the countryside for several reasons, one being that air conditioning is so popular. Where I live now, in the countryside at an altitude of about 700 meters, we are okay without it. But the city below us can be downright dangerous. The Japanese were stoic even before Fukushima, eschewing “American luxuries,” but after Fukushima, it was an unspoken rule: thou shalt not waste energy. I attended an outdoor barbecue in Fuji city in summer and was literally floored by the heat. When the temperatures rise, lots of people die of heat stroke in Japan, mostly elderly, but also school children at sporting events. Strategies to cool down need to be considered, and as an interim strategy, offering spaces where people can cool down is not decadent–one large room cooled rather than 100 air conditioners pumping away–it is a medical necessity for some people.

  148. Definitely interested in the AMA idea and have just downloaded a copy of Mystery Teachings. Good to see you back.

  149. @escher

    Sir( or Madam, your name seems gender neutral), thank you for that input. In a fit of enthusiasm I bought the Celtic Golden Dawn, but balked a bit at its demanding practice, particularly so because I live in 3 bedroom apartment with my Muslim family in a thoroughly Islamic country (yes, I do sometimes wonder how in heck did I end up flirting with druidry). At the time I thought it might gel well with my geomancy practice. as recommended on the Well Of Galabes, I have been meditating, using the Sphere O’ Protection and geomancy more or less daily since January. But geomancy doesn’t seem to work for my personal predictions, (though I have had a good run with other people’s queries), I have been rather morose about it since then. I continue meditating and SoP’ing, though I have plenty of problems there as well. (Have real hard time visualising in general and spinning the rays in particular.

    Forgive me for this long agony-aunt column. As you can see, I have NO ONE to talk to about such things.

    I hope our host doesn’t consider this too off-topic, though admittedly it’s only tangentially related to the post.

    With gratitude
    lordyburd

  150. Patricia — at least Hamlet recognized we are animals! Few people get even that far now…

    Couple of notes about TV and the fractiousness of society.. one thing TV (and other mass media) does is let you quickly glance back at the pop culture zeitgeist of past decades. We recently watched some episodes of the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour from 1968 and 1969. The collective mind then seemed to feel that was a pretty fractious and dangerous time as well. We have not had anything really to compare to the almost back-to-back assasinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King in the current tumultuous time. Nor was either political convention imterrupted by massive floor demonstrations and violent police reprisals. College campuses are lobotomized zombies these days in comparison to the rioting and looting then. I am remined once again to be cautious of the narcissism of the present, the feeling that whatever I am living through now must surely be something unlike what others have lived through before.

    And to the main point, isn’t it ironic that the belief that we are unique and the world revolves around us, all other life forms are something lesser, is likely the one thing about us that makes us the most like other living things (at least those with central nervous systems that form thought in ways we might comprehend them)! I am sure a snail lives in a world populated by snails and lesser beings who are there only to provide food, or to create pointless havoc and danger to the snailkind for whose benefit the universe obviously exists.

    On a side note about climate change, interesting that the argument has changed from “It’s not happening” to “It’s just natural cycles” so quietly and smoothly that even those who parrot these beliefs have hardly noticed the shift. The next step is “It’s not a problem, we can handle it” or maybe “It’s actually good for us and our economy.” I expect to start hearing more of that in the very near future.

  151. Hello and welcome back! It occurs to me reading your post that I don’t run in a circle that would get offended by or feel uncomfortable with any of the scenarios you proposed – i.e., that humans are an unimportant species on a dull planet in a galactic backwater, etc. I was wondering why, and it occurred to me that those of us with a good, solid ecology, systems biology, or wildlife biology (among other life sciences) education tend to understand viscerally that humans are animals and not separate or “above” other living things. One of my ecologist friends, who was a middle school science teacher, and is now a school principal, told me that kids in my state don’t even have to pass their science classes to advance to the next grade. I find this horrifying. It seems clear that a grounding in biology (not to mention an understanding of basic chemistry and physics) is needed more than ever in this narcissistic and confused age.
    On a related note, restoration ecology is a booming field. Readers with the inclination to go (back) to school for a master’s in that area won’t ever get rich doing restoration, but can count on a lifetime of satisfying work. It seems to me the skills of restoration ecology are among those we will very much want to keep alive in the upcoming descent!

  152. Dear JMG,

    Welcome back. This post is a great start. I also feel that humans are not the Omnipotent Masters of the Universe; neither are we completely powerless, buffeted by the external factors like a ball. We are somewhere between these two extremes, There are finite limits on our abilities, but if used smartly, they can ensure survival for a very long time.

    In TADR there was a discussion a couple of years ago on the ‘Universe is a machine’ concept popular in our civilization. You remarked that the idea of ‘world as machine’ arose first, well before people started obsessing with studying and inventing machines. You hinted that you had figured out where this idea came from, but you did not reveal it then. Now considering the theme of this blog, will you think about telling what it is (Now or later)?

    Ramaraj

  153. Hi JMG

    Good to see you back. Duly bookmarked.

    Happy Solstice to one and all. My Southern Hemisphere friends can have the Sun back now, it’s way too hot up here.

    cheers

    Mustard

  154. Regarding the origin of ‘Universe as Machine’ concept, I would like to venture a guess:

    I think that this came out of the clash between established christian theological worldview and newly minted rational, reflective thinking that rose among educated men in the enlightenment era. The enlightenment thinkers inverted the ‘God created world’ creed into ‘Man can also create things’. Political struggles may also have contributed to these (Catholic-Protestant, Church-State, etc)

    And as man-created things (manufactured things?) began to occupy more and more of human habitats with industrial revolution and urbanisation, this view solidified into a belief that man is at the center of the world, reinforced by positive feedback.

    Ramaraj

  155. Anthropolatry is old paradigm in negative sense. New one will develop over time be a synthesis of older ones as was christianity for example, absorbing regional cults. Science should meld with religions of humanity and with new ecological consciousness. E.g. all life forms are open systems, as are stars. If religion is right then
    life is an external energy form which controls matter, i.e soul. Astrology makes planets,stars to gods. We biological forms have consciousness, connection to other energy-matter open systems like planets and each other through our energy body, soul.Life after death would be soul transfer similar to conservation of energy principle, laws of thermodynamics. Dust to dust, bodily decay feeding other species would also count at energy, soul level. If radio waves, etc. are transferable then soul as energy package is as well. Reincarnation as an ant is a joke punishment in stories. So we are all one. Avatars can dissolve to become one with energy of universe. Sci fi of ancients was spiritual sci fi, demons, angels, ghosts, avatars. Anthopolatry was a long time coming. We were part of nature. Ancients compared in verse everything to natural world. As we have withdrawn from it we have little experience of it for similes. Tipping point where nature was measure of man to man being measure of nature was when superstition, witchcraft became bad jokes and rationalisn the norm ca. 1600, 1700 perhaps in West. When nature is almost destroyed, we with our animals are 98% of biosphere, then we are self referencing, prone to collapse, like monoculture. That is happening. Without fossil fuels perhaps population could have stabilized or fallen at 18th century levels. Vaccination, hand washing, potatocultivation were not fossil fuel dependent. Alt history will be Alt sci fi of 22nd century. I feel animal energy just like humans as I develop my ‘magical self’ better recently. This makes more sensitive, cautious, circumspect. I am glad for your blog community, encourages reading, expanding world view. Now reading shakespeare through, satisfying. Keep up good work.

  156. @Bill Pulliam
    Re- previous challenging times in the USA.
    Much the same could be said of Britain 40 and 50 years ago. Although we did not have back to back assasination we did have insurrectionist terrorism. And though we stayed out of Vietnam there was the threat of nuclear annhilation cycling up and down. (We were/are on a small and densely packed aircraft carrier that would need to be taken out early in any nuclear war.)
    Having agreed with you about the good old days I reflect that this time actually might be different. We appear a much less resilient population, with less ability to stuff our ears and keep our eyes on sport & TV. The centre of gravity of an industrial population inured to enduring social differentials and taking its fun where it might, has gone. The post second world war ‘social settlement’, with modest but secure health care and continuing improvement in Victorian conditions for a majority working class, is like a disappearing dream, gone with the old industrial base.
    Immigration continues as if we are a secure island of prosperity but as JMG has remarked several times these recent years, Britain is in a bad place if America goes down. So I hope you are right that the fractious times your side of the pond do not portend any too sudden change.
    best
    Phil H

  157. While it is a good essay overall, I suggest you should be more careful with statements like this:

    “In every human society, every aspect of life is mapped out according to a paradigm of some kind, which defines what’s important, what’s relevant, what’s possible, and what’s unthinkable in that part of the world of human experience.”

    Many aspects of life aren’t mapped at all. Sex, personal tastes in food, leadership tendencies in maybe 10% of us, team/social bonding, aggressive behavior vs timidity, etc. Parameters are exerted on us by tribal/cultural norms, and that may be what you mean.

    and

    “Pay unbiased attention to the evidence from science, and it’s impossible to avoid realizing that humanity is simply a species of megafauna native to a single not very important planet.”

    The evaluation of “important planet” is not a scientific claim in my view. Earth is important to species *if it is your habitat!*

    Again, I agree with the general thrust of the piece.

    Steve

  158. Welcome back.

    There is a degree of anthrocentrism that makes sense to me, considering that humans are the prominent members of the tiny isle of mapped space I occupy, is an infinite ocean beyond my imagination. That trying to understand the ways of humanity, our potentials to be desired, to be feared, and to be bemused by, those being that I am a member of, the interactions with which define the most immediate concerns of life. Though a perturbation in a damp film on a vast mostly molten stone, this anomaly, densely packed with strangeness, is rich enough to over flood my petty appetite for wonder, and indeed to overfill the appetite for wonder of many lifetime traditions of the species most outwardly creative membership. As humanity is tiny before the greater mysteries it is nested with in, so too my capacity for wonder is tiny before the vast abundance of wonder which this cheeky ape inspires. So framed against the larger living world, or the cosmos humanity is a vanishingly small manifestation, but framed against what I am capable of studying, or being interested by, or acting deliberately toward, it is too vast to be bothered with measurement.

    So I defend a degree of focus on human affairs, for humans at least. What are those Puzzle Apes up to? Yet I grant that when it is forgotten that all the things of interest about our kind happens with in an extremely narrow range of conditions, and with in a very intelligently orchestrated, yet at times profoundly chaotic, inhuman order, then the focus on humanity become idolatry, as we forget that there is something above us.

    Indeed this is an issue with religions historically, even when successful in positing something beyond humanity, the positing is limited by our imagination and the nameless transcendental is always in danger of being forgotten. The opening lime of the Tao, and the first commandment both lament this perennial challenge. The Great Father, a focus of the Christians among others, does seem to be real, but I think it a mistake to identify that spirit with the highest, it violates the first commandment, the opening line of the Tao. It is about humanity and worthy of worthship, but in rising that ideal to the infinite, an image that is very Manish, Man is thereby places far too high on the chain of being, and the trap is set for idolitry. I can see no solution to this riddle, only a call for continued attempts of humility and reflection, into the horizon of future’s depth. The Earth Mother, and the (family) Tree of Life, I think might bring balance to this, to a degree. But no matter how far beyond ourself, and how unhuman our Gods become, they remain All to Human. But, we need not reach the unreachable depth of the unknown, it is sufficient to reach just far enough to find the worth while order in the chaos sufficient to guide us away from self destruction. Even a divinity Finitely far beyond the Human condition might very well be sufficent to Guide us along the way paths of life on Earth.

    Yet how cold it may feel to give up the blanket Humanity of an Infinite God, for the inhuman Gods that are still so so small, before the nameless abyss which rebukes even efforts toward worship, and claims those spirits which try to approach it away from manifestation.

  159. This is an interesting first entry on the new blog, I find it a résumé of much that was written on the ADR (in fact, the term anthropolatr* was used in a throw-away fashion three times on the ADR, as I confirmed by searching my complete downloaded version :-), and I am looking forward to where this new exploration goes.

    @Bumblebee: I experience nature more intensely because of my two-year old daughter, who is endlessly fascinated by ants, stars and flowers!

  160. corydalidae,

    It’s not so much that I blame Christianity for the rise of Anthropolatry, it’s more that I see the logical link between Christian theology and anthropolatry. Christianity (not necessarily all sects) believes that there is only one god and that god gave man domain over nature. All other forms of life are supposed to be subservient to the needs of man, and so the earth becomes little more than a product for us to use. The idea that other things may have life and spirit is always treated as a form of evil in Christian theology. I’ve heard plenty of Christians use the term “demonic” to describe earth and plant spirits.

    If every culture passes from it’s first religiosity into an age of reason, then it makes sense that Anthropolatry would develop from Christian theology. God gave man the earth, man stops believing in god, man still has the earth. All other life forms are subservient to man, for only man has the capacity to reason through the natural process of evolution. We god rid of god, but never god rid of the hierarchy that we built around god.

    Regards,

    Varun

  161. I think the AMA and the news weeks are great ideas. When reading TAR I always felt there were a lot of interesting conversations going on in the comments. The problem that I see is there is no thread feature in this blog – it was almost impossible to skip around trying to follow 5 different conversations in the comments. Do you have a solution for that?

    I also want to say how much I appreciate your positive view. Despite all the rationalizations used to explain our behavior (some of the comments above are a perfect example), you still believe there are ways to change our mindset from the consume/burn/reproduce. I disagree but I learned so much from you that I doubt my own conclusions. I hope I can put my thoughts in a clear form in one of the AMA sessions.

    Thanks!
    PS: I commented so rarely that I don’t remember the name I used. I will go ahead and create a new one for the new blog.

  162. I’m happy to say I was standing inside a community college sustainable project: a wooden cottage that was actually cooler, in its rough state with no doors installed, on the day Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement,

  163. JMG,

    Glad to see you back and as insightful as ever. I don’t understand your plan for conversation one week a month. in my world conversation implies people within eyesight of each other, and earshot, or at least hearing each other’s voices in real time, as in a conference call (provided there are not too many people on it)

    I would love to learn who else in my area is tuned in to your views, which have been inspiring me for a long time, and other folks who often don’t know your work personally. I’m at the moment exploring the possibility of a discussion — conversation –group to study Dark Age America…a number of my politically energetic friends, are I think, ready to hear its message, although they will need coaxing, hence the group.
    I would also be very interested in meeting others inspired by your blog in my area — roughly, Philadelphia. Including my email in this post in case anyone wants to get in touch. ajs805phila@verizon.net
    Cheers

  164. Greetings JMG,
    The announcement that your new blog would be stood up on June 21 has made this one of the most anticipated summer solstices that I can recall for a very long time, maybe even more than getting out of school for summer holidays. For my money your blog posts are among the best attributes of the world wide web (on that note I encourage all readers to tip John generously). The Arch Druid Report allowed me to sort through and make sense of the chaos of our current world condition. Having been a lifelong nature lover, your spiritual books have provided me with a more profound connection. All this is to say thank you for sharing your considerable intellect with us and providing a hub whereby people of like mind can calmly, intelligently and, no less importantly, respectfully ponder a more sustainable and fulfilling future. I enthusiastically look forward to future JMG offerings.

    Best Regards, Eric

  165. I’m not sure whether you’re looking for next week’s questions now or Wednesday, but I’ll ask now in case I miss the window next week. The best way I can phrase my question is, is Ecosophism compatible with Evolutionary Humanism?

    Evolution is of course a close cousin of your nemesis Progress. But many of the concepts around personal development have been deeply influenced by evolutionary theory, to the point that extricating them seems like a herculean and possibly destructive task.

    I’ve liked evolutionary philosophy since I first read Nietzsche, but it’s certainly had a deplorable showing in the last century and may have fatal flaws of which I’m ignorant. The answer may be longer than is appropriate for next week, but at some point I’d be very interested in your thoughts on the distinctions between Progress-as-fate and Betterment-through-tribulation, the place of self-improvement in Ecosophism, and why spiritual evolution is so darn hard to scale from the individual to the community level.

    Thanks!

  166. Hi JMG, glad to see you’re back!

    Ah yes, this exact thing has been responsible for a pretty big rift among polytheist practitioners in recent years, if that world is at all on your radar. There’s the anthropolatrist camp, which constitutes people who want to have their cake and eat it too, that is, worship ancient gods without giving up worship of themselves, and the “piety” camp, which asserts that humans tend toward the hubristic, that we need to take care of the world and our obligations to Powers before we can truly adequately take care of ourselves in any meaningful sense, and that the built human world is generally a cesspool of miasma that collects on us like dirt, rather than being the spoils of the Great Gift of Progress.

    It’s an interesting little microcosm of exactly the sorts of actions and reactions that you outline here – the rage, the hypocrisy, the blank bovine stares, it’s all there.

    The recent rise of polytheism as a different category of religion from the paganisms mirrors a lot of what’s going on in the broader world as well, and I think it’s providing a new spiritual paradigm, One, I personally think, that is -much- better equipped to help us through the hard times ahead instead of bolster our egos and promise us the actual moon.

  167. Great to have you back again. I like the idea od ask me anything. Keep up the great work.

  168. Happy Solstice to all–a bit late.

    Pat and JMG, re Hamlet–yes, what a piece of work is man–Shakespeare, I think, was in some ways the opposite of anthropolatrous since so much of his oevre is steeped in deep irony and examines closely the gap between human self-perception and reality. He skewers hubris in all its forms. My take at least.

    One can’t help loving one’s own species, I suppose, despite its deficiencies. I suppose that love must include acceptance of how we actually are, not in a cultural sense, but in a biological, ecological sense. And then work from there.

    Looking forward to more interesting writing and discussion.

  169. “…in the greater scheme of things, we’re a temporary perturbation in the damp film that covers one small rocky world in an ordinary solar system on the fringes of an ordinary galaxy, and that’s all we will ever be. (Here again, dear reader, if that last statement upsets you, it may be worth asking yourself why.)…”
    I completely concur, and am totally at peace with your point about the temporal insignificance of the human species, but I beg to take a small exception to this last remark about the Earth. I am not so sanguine as you and one or two commenters here about how commonplace a life sustaining planet might be, given the number of specific circumstances, presence of magnetic fields, presence of large moon, etc, which may have been essential to evolution of life here, and from the failure of exoplanet observation so far to find even a few candidates out of hundreds of discoveries – it would appear at the very least that such are not common.

    A small point and a bit of a tangent, I know.

    Please carry on, sir!

  170. So glad and grateful you are back, JMG! I am looking forward to new explorations, and especially to working with Mystery Teachings. All the best to you and Sara.

  171. Welcome back, JMG…this is a wonderful gift for the Summer Solstice! I’m highly enthused by all aspects of your plans in returning to the blogosphere. I’ve been engaged in a very deliberate practice of relinquishing belief in any/all “isms”, perhaps humanism more than any other. Cheers to all my fellow apostates of anthropolatry! Thanks, JMG, for all you contribute.

  172. JMG,

    I am certain you grow weary of going over the same things – over and over again. But, and I will speak only for myself, its not just that I am reading you to learn or understand what is happening. I’ve got that pretty well in hand. Its not that I am looking for clues as to what to do about our predicament. That is helpful but there are a number of resources for that besides you.

    I come here to “hear” your voice. To listen to wisdom. To be comforted by the words of someone I have grown to respect. I read your blogs (and your books) because I feel a sense of peace when I do.

    AV

  173. JMG,

    Will there be book discussions on your past works, such as Twilight’s Last Gleaming, Not the Future We Ordered, The Ecotechnic Future and The Long Descent?

    Being as these are the ones on my bookshelf…

    cheers

    Mustard

  174. My take is that the most significant paradigm related to anthropolatry is patriarchy. Both are paradigms of domination/subordination. Patriarchy prescribes domination of male over female, and is enshrined in ancient texts such as Genesis 3:16 (albeit presented as a corruption of the natural order of things). It is the most universal paradigm about human relations in that it pertains to 50% of humanity dominating the other 50%. It also seems to be ubiquitous in all cultures, although there is some evidence that pre-historical human communities were more egalitarian. My point is that the same kind of mindset extends to relations between humans and the human habitat, with humankind (“man,” male) dominating nature (female). I wonder if anthropolatry is actually a symptom of patriarchy in human ecology.

  175. Just a fast note — I’m going to have very limited internet access for the next day or so. Please do keep commenting, and I’ll put things through and respond to them once I have regular internet again! — JMG

  176. Hi JMG,

    A few of the commenters have already alluded to the modern paradigm of anthropolatry being a secularized version of medieval Western Christian conceptions of man. Of course, medieval Christian theologians understood very well that man was “like God” but not actually God, with the Fall and all being rooted in the confusion of “God-likeness” to “God-ness” itself.

    This reminded me of an old joke I heard before. A bunch of biologists, who managed to advance their skills enough to be able to engineer and manipulate living beings, challenged God to a contest. God accepts this challenge. The scientists begin by taking some dirt from the ground. God quickly smote the scientists, calling them out for cheating for not creating their own dirt.

    Creativity, as understood in Christian theology, is one of the God-like attributes that man possesses. Although only God can create “ex nihilo”, Man especially was chosen to participate in this creation. With God out of the picture and Man taking His place, Man is then attributed with creative powers instead of being mere participants. This is a farce – what Man ended up doing was going through the motions of creation while turning large amounts of the earth’s riches back into dirt (and in the case of topsoil, from a rich form of dirt to a barren form)!

    On another note, I’d like to move to the subject of air travel which was a topic that was brought up a few times on ADR. Another unsustainable technology which you used to discuss back in ADR is the Internet. Thinking about this (and consciously oversimplifying underlying issues such as the global supply chain), I wonder if it was possible to, say, make the Internet economically sustainable if we somehow gave up air travel. When I was a kid back in the 90’s, there was a lot of talk about how the “Information Superhighway” would make all the offices paperless. As we transitioned into the 2000’s, there was then a lot of hype about how the Internet was “flattening” the world: how every worker in the world becomes equal, and offices would become obsolete altogether, ushering a home-working utopia where no one has to commute since we’re now all neighbors.

    Well, a couple of decades in, and we are building even larger office complexes in Mumbai and Manila, to house the hundreds of thousands of outsourced workers. This has worsened congestion in third-world cities (and made commutes for the first-world working class obsolete… by making their jobs obsolete). With offices across the world, managers now “have to” go on long-haul flights at least quarterly to visit these office buildings enabled by the Internet. We are using even more paper than before, as computer-based printing allowed everybody to mass produce all the reports we did before. I remember when businesses used to print their receipts in small pieces of unbleached paper, now everyone regularly prints their receipts on thick, white copy stock in A4 size!

    Since taking on my current job I’ve been required to travel, annually, to a company-wide conference. This means an annual trans-Pacific round-trip. Which means, six days of air travel to attend a three-day event that I could have participated in via an Internet webinar. Which is absolutely ridiculous. As a tech-industry professional, I caution any rookies about how the industry is actually extremely conservative (in the sense of preserving the status quo) despite all the claims to innovation. As you pointed out a few times in ADR, nothing that we’re doing with the Internet is particularly new. In fact, the Internet just allowed us to do the same old things (use up paper, jet fuel, outsourcing, etc.) faster and in a bigger scale.

    This goes the same for any supposed “green-tech” innovations. PV Solar was supposed to increase the electricity supply, stabilize the grid, and decrease dependence on fossil fuel plants. Instead people use grid-tied PV so that they can run their airconditioner the entire day, messing up the grid base load, which means more complex on-demand power from fossil sources (especially natural gas). Ditto with hybrid cars, which become bigger, heavier, and less fuel-efficient with each generation. The best hybrid to date, fuel-economy wise (making it very popular with the “hypermiling” crowd) is still the 2000 Honda Insight.

    We might be able to have all these things if we applied them appropriately and used them judiciously. Well, we can’t have that. According to the current paradigm, Man is God. God creates at will and does not have to make trade-offs. Never mind that, aside from creativity, one of God’s attributes is Justice. As a practicing Catholic, I am wary of the final Judgment.

    More more more. Less is for losers, you see. Without a paradigm shift, no fancy tech could possibly be innovative in the proper sense.

  177. It’s so good to have you back, JMG, along with the colourful gang of thoughtful commentators. And I love the theme of this month’s blog and where it’s headed. The sooner we take “Man” down a whole lot of notches the better!

    Re: your comment “There is no God but Man, and Darwin is his prophet!” : sheer brilliance!

    The idea of a book club is very appealing to me. Funny you should suggest one of my favourites – Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth. I happened to read it to my kids back in February. Just the other day my daughter reminded me about it and compared some of the teachings to Aristotle (in particular, the teaching of moderation) who she’s been studying in school and admires greatly. Good to know that she was alert and awake while listening to your books being read aloud (I can’t say the same about Rowling – reading Harry Potter would put her to sleep in a matter of seconds!).

  178. I have no power over my masters, the politicians or the corporations behind them. People want so much yet still seem unhappy, wanting more, a hole never filled. Too many people who want too much and here we are at the brink of destruction. I want less, things are burdens, dead weight. The animals I see who never feel sorry for themselves and accept the grace of a new day, they’re my heroes, not the stuffed suits and smiling faces on the tv.

  179. I have an ornithologist friend that has spent her life studying and protecting a species of teal that lives only on low-lying atolls in the North Pacific. She has been told by the new administration that she can no longer use the term “climate change” in communications. Instead she must use euphemisms like “rising seas” to talk about the the shrinking habitat of these beautiful little birds.

  180. Hi Mr. Greer,
    After the final Archdruid Report, I read Well of Galabes, which prompted me to try the Sphere of Protection as described on the AODA website. I’ve been working my way up to that, adding an element roughly each week since May 2nd, but your writing has seriously eroded my belief in the idea of an unqualified “away”, which presents an obstacle to the banishing part at the very end of each element.
    So I have a question raised by the interaction of your to previous blogs, though I am happy to wait for an AMA week: Do you have any suggestions on how to approach the “garbage handling” steps of the Elemental Cross that aren’t just “moving the dirt around”, so to speak? I have tried some analogies to handling of various sorts of physical hazards, and settled on a systematic way of using one element to clean another, but it occurred to me that some informed advice might be worth seeking on this point.

  181. Dear Mr Greer,

    I’m just a french student amazed by your work, and I projected with some friends to start a translation team of some of your works. I know there was a translator up to 2006, but he deceased in the same year, sadly… I think it’s really important for my francophone fellow to discover your articles, stories and researchs about the rapidly coming world. Will you allow me to start? Of course, I can pass the translations to you before the releases, or everything you would think appropriate.

    Avec tout mon respect,

    Thomas Gaudaire-Thore

  182. JMG,
    Nice to have you back blogging.
    It has also become apparent to me that too few educated, environmentally conscious people who take climate change seriously are willing to make changes in their lifestyle. There are educated younger and less wealthy Americans that express an interest in sustainable living but can’t afford to make the changes: i.e. buy the energy efficient home, add the solar panels, or purchase farm land on which to live sustainably or grow marketable food. Yes, there are the affluent and not so affluent Republicans who deny climate change or deny that it is caused by humans. They want to “grow” the economy and maintain the status quo, because it benefits them and their children. There are the under-educated, underemployed Americans that believe fake news, voted for Trump, eat nutritionally poor food, smoke, drink too much, and have terrible health. They will suffer from climate change but have the least understanding about what is happening and how it will affect them. It seems that there are very few families educated, affluent, environmentally conscious, and willing to change their lifestyle; to be frugal, simple, and less carbon consuming/polluting.
    I am not convinced that the reason is because humanity suffers from anthropolatry, the worship of humans as God. Scientists that study human evolution and neurobiology suggest that Homo sapien sapien replaced all other species of humanoids because we had a new and different brain structure. This evolutionary change might be responsible for our ability to imagine or dream, and our desire to share or communicate our imaginings with other Sapiens. Because of our neurobiology we developed better ways of communicating, more elaborate forms of culture, and eventually our current civilization.
    The development of agriculture led to human population expansion and urbanization. Urbanization led to the industrial revolution; intensive exploitation of resources due to the invention of machines powered by fossil fuels. The age of reason led to the age of science. Science, technology, and the multitude of follow on technical inventions led from the industrial revolution to the computer and information revolution. And here we are…rapidly developing self-driving cars, artificial intelligent machines, the network connected world of things, and cyber warfare. Will humanity survive the collapse of our civilization due to climate change and resource depletion? Will we survive the coming battles over resources? The jury is still out.
    I think the reason humanity isn’t changing our lifestyle in ways that counter climate change is because of an inability to recognize our dependence on the world we’ve created. Like an anteater that evolved a specialized nose making them totally dependent on eating ants (thus as the ants go so goes the anteater), humans have become adept at using and depending on technology. Humans are increasingly moving into urban centers, dependent on importation of food, energy, and all the other resources needed for survival. We depend on jobs to acquire money to buy goods and services. We are totally dependent on the culture we’ve created, and our culture is totally dependent on the technology that maintains it. The humans who consume the most carbon have lost the ability to make or fix the homes we live in. We live in buildings that are climate controlled, drive about in climate controlled automobiles, and buy the food and supplies in climate controlled stores (or increasingly shop on line). Our lifestyle is supported by a system of which we have little understanding. Without our culture and technology we can no longer survive. I think this is the paradigm that controls our behavior.
    I am willing to concede that humans imagine themselves to be at the top of the food chain; the highest evolutionary species, influenced by Judeo-Christian beliefs that God wants us to dominate and exploit the earth. But I also see that humans are out of touch with the natural world we depend upon. We don’t understanding how food is grown, processed, or shipped. We don’t understand the connection between soil, water, organic matter, microbes, and food. We don’t understand the connection between food and health. We don’t understand how our furnace and air conditioner work. We don’t understand how or where the energy comes from to run our furnace or air conditioner. We don’t understand what affects the resources we depend upon. We don’t understand how our political choices affect the government we get, one that is increasingly hostile to the very people that voted the current government into office.
    It isn’t a god-like worship of humanity that prevents us from changing; it is ignorance of how our world and our civilization work. And to make matters worse, science and technology has spawned an information industry that is profiting by selling us a constant barrage of electronic mental stimulus that is making us dumber and dumber, while collecting vast amounts of information about us. Perhaps like the anteater our evolutionary path has led us down a dead end. Our neural networks, imagination, and social connections have turned into the path of hyper connectivity, imaginary worlds, and fake news that will keep us enthralled and addicted 24/7 and unable to see the bus before it runs us over.
    cheers,
    Soilmaker

  183. Tom spoke of the Brundtland Commission’s Report – the first thing we were given to read in Sustainability Studies 101 – and its commitment to “bright green ‘environmentalism.'” This explains the horrible, eye-searing Day-Glo Lime Green you see everywhere people are being fashionably environmentalist, and its muted cousins. Nowhere is there a true green or a forest green to be seen and the Day-Glo Lime you see on bicycles and baby bike seats and the shopping carts at the Co-op is industrial-enough looking to have only come out of a plastic paint factory.

    I finally realize – thank you, Tom – that this is clear-cut color-coding for “But we don’t really MEAN it!” A very neat piece of color-magic, it is, too.

    Though I have acquired a few items in true or forest green at thrift shops, and combined with a goddess pendant, I think they carry an equally clear and subversive message. One hopes.

  184. CR Patino,

    “Of course, if you really dare to think about it, it is just as possible that the God of Abrahan, Issac, Jacob, etc, has picked Humanity, – as in homo sapiens, – as his chosen people, and is not really concerned with what happens out of planet Earth. That would put under new light all those stories in the Old Testament about the distinction between the people of Israel vs the nations of the World.”

    That just didn’t compute.

  185. Regarding Earth Christians being called upon to evangelize distant planets, I am absolutely gobsmacked that anyone would entertain such an idea. As if it weren’t bad enough, a big enough gaping hole in the idea that the Old Testament god were the real universal God for humanity that he ignored large chunks of humanity entirely, but to think that we would be in charge of evangelizing distant planets! that Christ would not go individually to them! that they would have the same need for the exact same salvation plan which after all comes of our unique little Adam and Eve! to think that the whole universe is filled with planets with human like beings all created for hell unless intervened upon by the likes of Billy Graham!

  186. More fundamentally to the system he is working in, Graham’s tradition of crusading/culture-overwriting evangelism seems to deeply miss the point of the Great Commission as I read it.

    We’re tasked with offering technical instruction to other peoples, not with bleaching out all varieties of foreignness to replace it with some cargo-cult copy of our own lifestyle. Paul’s letters and especially the vision at Joppa make the point about not trying to spread one’s own cultural norms, but few Christians seem to notice those parts. (For that matter, it’s seldom recognized how many of the techniques we’re to teach were borrowed from mystery cults, but that’s another story).

    I’m glad real-world space travel limits will never allow a repeat of the sort of genocide Spain repeatedly perpetrated, but it would be interesting to correspond, Star’s Reach style, about methods. I am certain we could learn a lot by comparing notes, assuming both cultures have experienced analogous phenomena and built systems to engage with them.

  187. Hi JMG

    Many thanks for your return with another thought provoking essay

    In fact all the old societies or civilizations, have some myths that teach the destiny of some who decide to be or to play as “God”, the price of the “Hubris”:

    + The myth of the Babel Tower where people decided they want to reach “The Heaven” using their tools and machines (like Elon Musk), and at the end they became confused and taken each others as “foreigners”, because “The Heaven” was always around them, as is our case as civilization now

    + The Expelling of Paradaise when Adan & Eve take the fruit “from the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil”. That myth would explain the pass from Nature to Civilization, with a painfully wake-up to a world of forced work and sweat

    + The myth of Prometeus, when the Hero gives to the Humanity the “gift” of the Fire, the technology that allows The Man dominate Nature through its destruction, and then the Gods give Prometeus the “gift” of eternal suffering. In fact Prometeus “is” Science

    + The myth of King Midas, that convert in gold all what he touch. In the first money-based society (in Greece) only “gold”, the abstract mean of self- aggrandizement, is important, but then the King Midas cannot smell nothing, cannot eat nothing, cannot hug nothing, and his beloved beings are converted in gold if they try to touch them. Our civilization is built as a “King Midas Machine” that destroy all in order to conver all the “qualities” in “quantities”, which is the way we see the world in the second money-based society we live in, who generate something called “Science” following the Pitagorean (who also lived in the first money-base society) dream that the “all the essence of things are the Numbers” (Galileo said “all that cannot be measured does not exist” which is the essence of the Science), but in the meantime we are cut-off from ourselves, from the others and from nature

    + The myth of Icarus which is similar to the Babel Tower myth when the people forget their situation in the world and try to change drastically the nature of things to achieve more and more power (for exactly what?)

    + Tha Pandora Box and the infinit/morbid curiosity of the Humanity, as for example the opening of the Nuclear Pandora Box in the first half of the XX century that could easily mean, one day, the end of the human specie. But curiosity guided by the desire of “conquer”

    But we do not have myths, they are pure manifestation of superstition, they are irrational ways of thinking of the past where the Man was in a age of fear, obscurantism, brutality and violence (as Hobbes said the man in his natural state has a life nasty, brutish and short) ; but now we have Science, and thanks to Science we know The Truth and the real Fabric of the World, and them we can march trustfully to our destiny as Masters and Possessors of Nature (Francis Bacon)

    The source of all “Hubris”, of all “Anthropolatry” is Science, the modern Demiurge, the Big Myth

    PD: sorry for my english

  188. AMA? American Medical Assn? The ones responsible for destroying healthcare in America? I’m not sure what you all mean by AMA…

  189. I’ve been musing on the implications of anthropolatry (a new word to me) in regards to our idea of a soul and karma, and I realized that I am guilty, as others, of seeing our journey through many lives as a progression from lower beings in past lives to human, as if that was an achievement, and beyond, as if it was the further development of the human. It smacks of progress, and our reference point remains the human.

    I realized that we are not humans who have had, in the past, an amoeba moment, a tree moment, or dog moment, on our way up (or down) the evolutionary ladder of the soul/spirit, but rather something else entirely at present having a human moment, and getting confused about what we are as a result. Why do we consider being human a step higher than, say, being a cat? Why can’t a god have an amoeba moment? Humans are, as JMG says, just a “temporary perturbation in the damp film that covers one small rocky world in an ordinary solar system on the fringes of an ordinary galaxy, and that’s all we will ever be”. This is not a problem if I accept that who I really am is not human.

    So I asked myself what unique lessons must I learn as a human? What is it about humanity specifically that presents a valuable lesson (apart from my own personal issues)? The one that really struck me was the human urge (at least of a good number of us) to dominate, subjugate, and control well beyond our needs (unlike some creatures that do use control of other creatures/nature to meet their needs). There are so many variations I see daily: men towards women, whites towards blacks, rich towards poor, upper class towards a lower class, colonizers vs the colonized (there is a native reserve nearby), bullies vs. the vulnerable, the educated vs the uneducated, humans towards animals and nature, ourselves vs. our bodies, etc., and the pushback and consequences of that. Either as perpetrators or victims, playing along or refusing to, or caving in in response, we seem plagued as humans with that problem, none of us untouched by it in some way. (Before anyone objects, all of the above could just as well go the other way.)

    So in that light, and in response to the idea of anthropolatry (thanks, JMG), I’ve taken the generous liberty of rewriting the 10 commandments (plus one to take into account the variations) as a bit of a guide to being human:
    1. You are not god. (I am God)
    2. You don’t have the power to decide who is god. (You can’t have other gods.)
    3. You don’t have the power to create any gods. (Don’t make any graven images.)
    4. You are not in control of god. (You can’t use my name to swear about things.)
    5. Remember that there are bigger things than your little concerns. (Keep the Sabbath holy)
    6. Life created you. Sorry, you can’t take credit for what you are. (Honour thy father and thy mother.)
    7. You can’t control the life of another. (Don’t kill.)
    8. You can’t control the body of another for sexual gratification. (Don’t commit adultery.)
    9. You can’t control other people’s stuff. (Don’t steal.)
    10. You can’t control other people’s reality. (Don’t bear false witness.)
    11. Deal with your urges to take other people’s houses, wives, servants, animals, and anything else you want to control. (Don’t covet the various things mentioned in various versions of the commandments.)

    Some of you might not like the theology behind the ten commandments, but I do like this version much better.

  190. John Michael:

    Good to see you back in the saddle.

    I was wondering, (and if I am overstepping bounds here please feel free to correct me), would it be possible to have a “reply” function under each of the comments so that one could respond directly on an individual comment, rather than having the response to the original comment placed down at the bottom of the overall thread?

    I have seen this done on my other “favorite” blog “Sic Semper Tyrannis” which is written by a neighbor of yours. I feel that it really aids in comprehending the discussions which are elicited by your original post.

    John

  191. It strikes me that humanity’s apparent inability to leave our own solar system and our failure to find and contact any sentient extrasolar species suggests that we aren’t expected to evangelise aliens. It isn’t as if there aren’t plenty of our own species, right here, who might need and want to hear Christ’s message.

    Even if it were possible to travel to distant stars, we’re making such a hash of handling the Earth’s biosphere that the idea of us roaming loose doesn’t seem like a good idea to me.

  192. It seems to me that behaving like the worst of teenagers throwing a housing-wrecking party while their parents are away isn’t inherent in Christianity, and I very much doubt that it is what God wants from us. Just because He values us does not mean that he does not value all of the other species He made (especially the beetles;) ). The idea of stewardship of the rest of the natural world could just as easily flow from the Genesis passage mentioned. I’ve seen it used this way by other individuals, groups, and from clergy up to and including pope Francis, so this isn’t just me taking it this way.

    I stick the ‘God gave us the earth so let’s trash it and expect Him to give us a new one the second we ask’ in the same category as the prosperity gospel or justifications of racially-based slavery: distortions of God’s message that people have made to justify acting on their own desires when those desires don’t match God’s intent. That said, I’m no authority on the bible, just a christian who has been thinking about this for most of my life.

  193. JMG,

    Long time reader, first time commenter. Thank you for all of your writings – as a 20-something working through how to get by in the current society without destroying the non-human world (and preferably enhancing it), they have been a great help (and I imagine they will continue to be). Many people in my peer group have gone down the bright-green rabbit hole, and I appreciate the extent to which the ADR has kept me appropriately skeptical and thinking along a different path.

    I am also a practicing civil engineer, and your works have also kept me skeptical of that field – the whole industry is deep in the religion of progress, and I can see how I would get swept up in it without a frequent dose of an alternate perspective.

    The subject of this new blog seems like an excellent direction, and I am excited to see where it goes. I am also excited to be an active participant in the conversation, instead of just being a “lurker” as I have been these past years.

    With Gratitude,
    DutyBound

  194. @Soilmaker

    Bravo!
    And yet, JMG is not wrong. Anthropolatrist ideology actively prevents us from seeing clearly and realizing how deadly our ignorance is. In fact, many urbanites are proud of their ignorance. My daughter does 4-H projects and we sometimes take livestock to farm fairs in the city. We listen to the comments of people walking by and are astounded. There are people who cannot tell a pig from a sheep without consulting the signage!

  195. James M Jensen III:

    I think that the social justice movement is already having its thunder stolen by people who are more likeable and aren’t succeptible to the “war of attrition” tactics, because they don’t do reprehensible things, and aren’t authoritarian or pushy, instead relying on the strength of their arguments to convince people. I’m thinking here of center left wing figures such as Dave Rubin and Sargon of Akkad, who aren’t willing to let a small number of authoritarian/moral busybodies take over the left.

  196. Dear JMG,
    Congratulations on your new blog (though it would have been nice if there were more time for Archdruid Report). I hope my post on the first day of Eid will be many of our conversations. Now some thoughts on your essay.

    ” We could talk about that paradigm in a great many ways, but I’m going to suggest a deliberately edgy label for it: anthropolatry, the worship of humanity as a god.”
    A very fitting name, it is also interesting to ask where it collides and differs with the faith of progress.

    “Yet that last step is unthinkable to most people. It’s not just that they refuse to take it, for whatever reason; it’s that they don’t seem to be able to wrap their brains around the idea at all.”
    Could it have something to do with the fact that the same people need seatbelt laws to survive?

    “Like rats, crows, and feral swine, we’re invasive, omnivorous, and adaptable; we’ve evolved some unusual cognitive and behavioral tricks, but we’re not above or outside nature in any sense that matters. (Does that statement upset or offend you, dear reader? If so, why?)”

    I am neither got upset nor offended but your statement is simply far from being enough. We humans are a hyperpredator possesing many technologies, and civilizations capable of escaping gravity well. We are now affecting evolution in big way.
     https://theconversation.com/humans-now-drive-evolution-on-earth-both-creating-and-destroying-species-61892?sa=pg1&sq=Evolution&sr=55

    In fact we have been affecting for a long time.

     https://theconversation.com/pristine-landscapes-havent-existed-for-thousands-of-years-says-new-study-60583

    This isnt to oppose that Man the conquerer is false, but that Man the feeble Dodo is equally false.

    ” However important we may be to ourselves and each other—just as rats are important to other rats, for good reason, and swine to other swine—in the greater scheme of things, we’re a temporary perturbation in the damp film that covers one small rocky world in an ordinary solar system on the fringes of an ordinary galaxy, and that’s all we will ever be. ”
    That is a very certain and thus very shaky claim.

    ” It’s also its distinctive flaw, because—as an honest scientific assessment of our limited gifts and vast dependencies could have predicted a long time ago—the project of living like gods isn’t working too well for us these days.”
    Is it the project of living like gods or living better than previous generations? As there is a very big difference.

    I hope my ramblings doesnt seem hostile.

    Best regards

    Berke

  197. JMG, I’d really like to see an exploration of the ideas that Jung and others had about North Americans of European origin becoming more like Native Americans via a subtle spiritual process. You mentioned this several years ago on the old blog, but I hadn’t been able to find the quotes by Jung etc about the phenomenon until Erik the Red linked to it. I’m not entirely convinced but at the same time, I am related to and friends with quite a lot of white liberals, and I have to wonder if their fascination with aboriginal issues is more than just the usual rescue game. Its also worth pointing out that both the far right and far left are likely to be equally butthurt by the idea, which pleases Crom.

  198. Re: Ask Me Anything — What is the appropriate role of music in religious practice? Some practices include chanting and singing by all present, others focus on musical performers, while others regard it with suspicion and skepticism in general. (This question is not concerned with the response of the faithful to secular popular music.)

  199. Hello JMG, Like so many here, I’m mighty happy to see you writing your essays again.

    “Anthropolatry” is clever coinage; I gather you came up with it. A few years ago, I took notice of the use of the word “creative” in so many contexts. Everyone who loves or works with kids, for example, is always commenting on how creative they are (then I think of Miss Manners asking acerbically, “If kids are so creative, why does all their art like alike?”). Creativity, AKA “they’ll think of something”, supposedly will solve or moot the peak oil phenomenon. Artists are esteemed for their creativity; nowadays, if you don’t understand or appreciate art, especially abstract contemporary art, you’re a Philistine. Everybody wants to be creative in their occupation. I remember when I first was struck by all this creativity talk, and thinking how Creativity was once considered to abide in the realm of the divine; but now quite a few, if not all, people have it, and it seems sacrosanct if not sacred. I never did quite know what to make of this, but when I read your essay, I thought WHAM! THAT’S IT!

  200. JMG

    An article that left me with some difficult self-reflection. As usual you ask the important questions.

    While reading about some of the reasons for the short-comings in personal change, I was struck by the omission of a critical factor that influences lifestyle change, that of the system. I personally believe that the structure of the systems that we live in powerfully shape the way that we live. In essence, our societal systems are the riverbeds that direct and determine the direction that we as a society flow. Expecting personal change in a system that will not support that change is expecting a river to somehow leap out of its bed and change course through it’s own volition.

    This is also why I think focusing on personal change as the way to address issues of sustainability is a waste of very precious time. We will never be able to convince people to all voluntarily change their behavior if we cannot offer them any viable alternatives. It would be much more effective to change the structural system, which will then lead to personal change.

  201. @Varun

    I believe much of Christianity has been misrepresented by human hubris. Yes, we were given ‘dominion over the animals’ but that was to provide stewardship and care. We need to remember Jesus’ message that ‘those who lead must serve’ and Christ modelled leadership promotes all those it leads rather than exploiting them for personal gain. Us humans have just mucked it up…badly! I get the sense that ecological spirituality is much more in line with this version of Christianity then maybe those represented in big media.

    @JMG

    I’m really enjoying this new direction and look forward to more thought provoking idea! Thank you!

  202. Greetings, John Michael,

    I, too, take issue with those who propose actions for others to take to combat environmental destruction while doing little or nothing themselves that negatively impacts their own lifestyles. That said, a small nit to pick:

    @Lasagna
    “…A consistent plank of the Left’s – or at least the Democratic party’s – platform to slow climate change is to close down coal mines, not open new drilling in Alaska, protest pipelines, etc. etc. I have never understood how any of that would slow climate change …”

    Those of us who work on environmental issues are NOT single issue. Yes, we advocate for slowing climate change but also advocate for many other things, as well. Here in Florida, USA, it is often WATER. We attempt to protect our natural springs, support restoration of natural water flow through the Everglades, oppose pipelines, etc. These are not primary causes of climate change, though all impact it, to some degree.

    AND, coal mining – currently “mountaintop removal” massively destroys forests, soils, streams and life on mountain slopes and valleys. Science shows that forests and the soil, itself, absorb carbon, reducing carbon concentration in the atmosphere. Similar arguments can be made (though usually aren’t) for pipelines’ massive destruction of everything in their path, not to mention their pollution from spills. Miles of soil and forest destruction. Sabal Trail Pipeline here in Florida give a clue to this destruction.

    These “straw men” are threadbare supporters of your arguments.

    And yes, ecosystem restoration & ecoagriculture will generate future jobs. I have a university degree yet spent my earning years as house builder and bicycle mechanic. If I were looking for “retraining” I’d opt for work to restore natural systems…

    Best regards,
    edde

  203. @ Michelle
    “Anthropolatrist ideology actively prevents us from seeing clearly and realizing how deadly our ignorance is. In fact, many urbanites are proud of their ignorance.”

    Yes, and it would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. Too many people are unaware of the level of their ignorance. A woman told me that her family was now using renewable energy because they had a geothermal furnace installed. I asked what powered her heat pump. She proudly answered “the earth’s energy”, which told me she had no idea how the system worked. Too few people take the time to understand the amount of electricity they use in their homes, which appliances use it, and how much. When you want to have solar PV energy installed that is the first thing you need to understand. Does changing light bulbs and recycling cans really do much for the environment? When questioned about these things too many people simply shrug as if “who cares?” If we are going to reduce our use of carbon emitting fuels we need to care about the answers. And you might also care if you had a power outage for a week or longer because a tornado took out a substation on your part of the grid.

    Yes, people are proud, or perhaps unconcerned about the level of their ignorance. It is becoming increasingly obvious that while the information age has given humanity access to an abundance of information, it has also reduced our ability (or desire) to care about the accuracy or veracity of the information we consume. And consume is an odd way to think about information, but to the companies selling us the gadgets that connect us to the internet, information is a product. But what good is information if you don’t use it to do something? A recipe for making bread is great, unless you have no flour, water, yeast or working oven. People love to watch cooking shows, but don’t actually want to cook. There was a time when we held experts (people who were informed and knew how to use the information) in high esteem. But that time has passed because now we are all “experts” simply by going on line.

    So, the questions we might be asking are ‘where is our ignorance a danger to our survival’ and ‘how do we develop the knowledge and skills to be more resilient?’ Raising children that understand how to raise sheep and cattle is a good start.

    cheers,
    Soilmaker

  204. …and I’m back online and settling into the new place. (It’s a pleasant, sunny, and spacious little apartment in East Providence, Rhode Island, in case you were wondering.) Thanks to all for keeping the discussion civil and interesting while Sara and I were chucking boxes out of one place and into another! I have, ahem, a few comments to catch up on.

    First things first — to everyone who expressed their enthusiasm for the new blog or sent their best wishes, please consider yourself thanked personally.

    Rahul, good. Yes, the mythology of primitivism stresses the omnibenevolence of Man (when not influence by civilization), while most current forms of the mythology of progress stress his supposed omnipotence. Notice how this parallels one of the standard oddities of western culture, which thinks of goodness as wholly passive, meek, and powerless, while evil is active and powerful.

    Phil H., I find “The Abolition of Man” a profoundly frustrating work, in that it combines some very good insights with some very slipshod thinking. Still, thanks for bringing it up — not least because responding to its thoughts on morality may be a useful springboard for my owh discussion of ethics in upcoming posts.

    Michael, sure, but you can make an argument justifying anything, including eating the babies of the poor. It’s very comforting to insist that everyone else is irrational or hypocritical; what if many of them are simply waiting for someone else to do the right thing first, and show them that it’s an option?

    Lathechuck, true enough. Given the number of people I know who’ve given up completely on mainstream medicine because they or people they love have been harmed rather than helped by it, and assume (from hard experience) that if a guy in a lab coat says something it’s best to assume he’s just shilling for a corporation, that breaking point may not be far off.

    Mark, good. Very good. Yes, and the great crisis of our time is the mismatch between fantasies of omnipotence fostered by our temporary glut of cheap energy, and the reality of hard limits biting down as that glut runs down…

    Iuval, if you’ve succeeded in breaking out of the Rescue Game, you’re way ahead of the curve. Congratulations.

    Mark, thanks for the update! There’s going to be a lot of that in farm country as the impacts of climate change hit harder and harder.

    Prizm, I suspect you’re quite correct that anthropolatry — and more generally, the wildly overinflated sense of entitlement common in the US today — has a lot to do with the mess that our politics have become. As for what I hope to accomplish by discussing the new religious sensibility, why, roughly the same thing a midwife does. She doesn’t make the child happen, but she can make the process a lot easier for the child as well as the mother…

    Philip, you’ve misunderstood my comments about Jordan Peterson.It’s not a matter of a few statements, but — as I noted in my earlier comment — the fact that the pieces of his that I’ve read don’t appeal to me. His anthropocentrism is only one aspect of that, though it was the relevant aspect. Mind you, as I also said, I may simply have been in a bad mood, or read some of his less impressive pieces; what’s more, your mileage may vary — the mere fact that I don’t find a writer useful doesn’t mean others can’t benefit from reading him.

    With regard to self-consciousness, though, there you’re quite mistaken. You don’t get names until you have a concept of personal identity, and you don’t get a concept of personal identity without self-consciousness, since the notion of identity is always modeled on the experience of personal identity. Here again, though, I’d encourage you to reflect on why it is that the thought of animals with self-consciousness is so uncomfortable for so many (human) people…

  205. I know, “Thou shalt not tinker.” But…

    On pages 20-21 of the Learning Ritual Magic book, there is an exercise called “Daily Recollection”.
    Would it be compatible with the Celtic Golden Dawn practice?

    Now on something that may be a real problem, page 27 of The Celtic Golden Dawn book provides a table of elemental correspondences. I am from the southern hemisphere, and “South” matching “Noon” is bothering me, since by that time the Sun here is at north. I am stuck on chapter one because I would not like to start from a problematic foundation if this needs to be fixed. Should I use south-noon and north-midnight or not?

    Short version, do aspirants need to use a different elemental correspondence table for the Celtic Golden Dawn if they dwell in the southern hemisphere?

  206. I would suggest establishing a http://www.patreon.com relationship where we, your readers, could send you automatic monthly payments for the privilege of reading your excellent writings. You could set it up the way Charles Hugh Smith set up his patreon account, completely voluntary with writings available to everyone or the way Dimitry Orlov did it, by restricting the bulk of the blog to paying customers only. I prefer the first method but you have full discretion.
    I’ve enjoyed your writings for many years and I think thought and ideas should be free, but you have mouths to feed and possibly need to have your beard trimmed by a professional once a year, so why not ask for a little help from your friends.

  207. First, welcome back JMG. It’s an interesting direction you’ll be taking us.

    I’ve noticed some interest in Christianity in the comments, so I want to put a stake in the ground. There’s a question between authenticity and effectiveness as a spiritual path. In early Christianity, there was a vigorous, in some cases rather nasty, discussion about the status of the Jewish scriptures. Some people simply wanted to ditch them and make a new start, others wanted them to be canon. We know who won, but it’s interesting to contemplate what Christianity would be like if the Infinite Soul had chosen to manifest through, for example, Apollonius of Tyana rather than Joshua the Nazarite. Would we be concerned today arguing about the sacred stories in Genesis or would we be more concerned with the Greek philosophical schools?

    I’ve always been a bit bemused by the whole “dominion over the Earth” thing. That we have that is blatantly obvious; the question I contemplate is how we exercise it. How can we, as a species, exercise enough self-control to nurture our environment rather than burn our house down around us?

  208. Tangentially related to the theme of this post, i.e. the inevitable improvement of mankind, it’s worth taking a look at this jaw dropping paper on public health during the mid-Victorian period:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2672390/

    It turns out that infant mortality aside, Britons living between the 1850’s and 1870’s were substantially healthier and stronger than their modern day equivalents, such that:

    “Analysis of the mid-Victorian period in the U.K. reveals that life expectancy at age 5 was as good or better than exists today, and the incidence of degenerative disease was 10% of ours. Their levels of physical activity and hence calorific intakes were approximately twice ours.”

    I particularly liked this excerpt:

    “With the exception of family planning and antibiotics, the vast edifice of twentieth century healthcare has generated little more than tools to suppress symptoms of the degenerative diseases which have emerged due to our failure to maintain mid-Victorian nutritional standards.”

  209. Hi JMG,

    Your response to Philip left me wondering how many people who push back strongly against the idea of self-consciousness amongst other species here on earth simultaneously find the idea of eventual contact with aliens a thrilling idea. Personally, every time I read of indications of self-consciousness within some species or another (I’m reading a great book on corvids right now that points up some of the more fascinating research and observations in regards to their behavior, culture, communication, etc) I find the idea incredibly exciting. I gain a similar sort of excitement when it comes to exploration of the deeper reaches of oceanic environments and the increasing realization of just how little we know about them.

    All of this, to my mind, is the on-earth equivalent to space exploration. As an added benefit, it’s something that actually can, does, and will continue to occur, unlike the myth of journeying to other planets. It seems like quite an indictment of our culture that we gloss over the explorations and discoveries right here on our own home planet–vehemently deny them, even, when the discoveries conflict with our own sense of self-importance and superiority–while openly yearning for some imaginary future in which we’ll be hobnobbing in intergalactic parliaments. What’s wrong with finding “advanced” intelligence right here under our own noses?

    Of course, the fact that we are intent not to notice it right under our own noses likely answers the question.

  210. To me, the thought that animals have some form of self-consciousness is not only a happy thought, but an obvious one. My home is with a colony of rescue cats. They have torn up every piece of decent furniture in the house, yet given the rest of our family so much love and meaning that, frankly, I couldn’t care less about the property damage. The cats probably got more enjoyment from scratching the couches and chairs all to hell than my wife, adult son, or I would ever have gotten from plopping on them (which, of course, we still do). My intention in contributing to this exciting new blog is to punctuate the conversation with the ideas of my late-found mentor, Albert Schweitzer, who anticipated contemporary environmental consciousness with his elemental precept of reverence for life, and then went on to elaborate a form of practical mysticism based upon bonding with all individual living things. He thought and wrote before the time of ecology, and his principal fear about the end of civilization was focused on nuclear war, not climate change and ecocide. But I hope I can show that at least some of his ideas remain relevant to the journey into Ecosophia you are inviting us to take with you. By the way, this retired public interest attorney/unorthodox American Baptist minister (a strange duck, I grant you), LOVED Retrotopia and Star’s Reach and found much food for thought in Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth. Having been an avid reader of all things “historical Jesus,” I hope it also would be acceptable if, from time to time, I alluded to an arguably authentic saying or parable to illustrate a Schweitzer-related point. No theological or christological trip intended here, just some bits and pieces from an old and terribly distorted tradition to spruce up and put on the table.

  211. @ Lathechuck and @ JMG
    Re the discussion of medical issues the following may interest you. All the quackwatch type organisations are up in arms about a recent EU ruling which has shifted the burden of evidence slightly in favour of people claiming harm caused by vaccines. See http://www.courthousenews.com/eu-relaxes-evidence-standard-vaccine-liability-case/
    (I’ve linked to the article with the least incendiary headline I could find. But if you google “EU Ruling” with “Vaccines” you will see a lot of corporate shills losing their compostibles over it).

  212. Dear JMG, more on topic than my last comment, do you think the Judaeo-Christian (and lately secular) tradition of humanism has any redeeming features? For example the idea that it is good to care not just about your own tribe, but other tribes? Yes, it only goes as far as the human species, but still, isn’t it better to extend justice to other tribes (not just one’s own) than be xenophobic, warlike or silencing them? To me that is the main value of humanism that I cherish. I think people thrive better in small tribes than one global tribe, but I also think we would all do better if we treated other tribes with at least respect and did not rape, pillage and silence them. What do you think? Does this value fall under anthropolatry? Because also, if we are to hold this value as dear, we are going against million of years of evolution that produced xenophobia and aggression towards other tribe. The same evolutionary forces that produced cooperation and altruism within the tribe produced this nasty behavior towards other tribes….

  213. I’ve also been struggling somewhat with the idea of names necessarily arising from self-consciousness, so I hope you won’t mind a bit more discussion on that. I don’t believe that I’m uncomfortable with the idea of animals with self-consciousness; I’ve been questioning myself and haven’t found a hidden discomfort yet, and, if anything, I think I’m rather pleased by the idea. Rather, I’m confused about questions relating to names being a sure indication of it.

    The confusion basically started with computer networks. A machine may have a name, a specific sequence of signals identifying it to other machines and associating it with properties and characteristics that the other machines have recorded; that, I assume, does not indicate that any of these machines are self-aware, since they could potentially be as simple as a set of random letters to provide a property to identify and the bare minimum additional components to run and communicate. My confusion briefly receded when I made a comparison to a human naming a much simpler tool, a screwdriver, say; that doesn’t say anything about the screwdriver, which will not use its name itself, being self-aware, but is a reflection on the namer.

    Then I thought, though, that the name of a computer in a network could be assigned by a random number generator checked against a list of already-issued names. This system could be contained in a machine named the same way by a similar setup in a different machine, and so on for many layers. The thought that perhaps this still all traced back to the humans who had set up the system was followed by the thought that that’s dependent on the system’s origin; if someone examining the computers naming each other somehow had no knowledge of the origin, they’d have to work based only on the system as they saw it, and it’s not impossible that random noise could eventually settle into the naming program.

    Anyway, I’m hoping that you can clear up my confusion here, and thank you in advance if you do.
    Might be a little early to say that I like the new blog as a whole, but I’ve liked the single post so far and would be surprised if it didn’t maintain the same quality as all of the other things of yours I’ve read.

    (Oh, though I do note that the sidebar still says that you’re living in Cumberland, MD. Are you planning to change that, or move back soon enough that it doesn’t need to be changed?)

  214. Welcome to Rhode Island, JMG and Sara! Holler if you need a translator. 😉

    I’m excited to see the new blog up and running. I think the plan you’ve sketched out sounds terrific and my copy of Mystery Teachings From the Living Earth is on order.

    Regarding television, I can tell my fellow readers that in addition to sleeping better, I found migraine management much easier when I stopped watching TV. I have theories about why this is but I don’t know how much science is behind them. Suffice it to say, it’s worth trying.

  215. In regards to the reference to us as ‘hyperpredators’. That just seems a little pretentious to me.
    I think it would be more accurate to call us hyper-omnivores. We eat anything that doesnt eat us
    first or make us sick to our stomachs or break out in a nasty rash. Fire was a big help in
    expanding our diet once we figured out how to make it and probably expanded our egos along with it.

    Our current stubborn refusal to recognize we’re only about half way up the food chain (if that) gets
    frequently undermined by the remaining few great cats (lions, tigers, and leopards) who periodically ambush the unwary, bears who snag the occasional hapless long distance runner, the alligators
    and crocodiles who cheerfully chow down on us when the opportunity presents itself, the sharks who take a bite out of us, the reticulated pythons who reach a large enough size to swallow us… I wont bother to mention the parasites, bacteria and viruses who use us as raw material for making a living.

    Any religion of the future, whether its a new one taking the place of the old or the old ones that
    have managed to do an extreme makeover on themselves will need to emphasize our true place in the
    world and help us reconcile ourselves to our modest position in Nature. Maybe once we clearly see we’re not at the top, we’ll also notice we’re not exactly at the bottom either.

  216. @Onething,

    I meant to say that the way Christianity end up spreading through the outer world, – that’s the world beyond the Mediterranean basin where it was native from, – is not so much as the spread of the Good News as it is described in the scripture. Rather, it seems more like if the Christians of the late Roman Empire, picked up the project of the construction of the Nation of Israel out of history’s recycle bin, and set it in motion again with a revamped scope of planet Earth as the promised land.

    Under that interpretation, Earthlings are not meant to go out there to spread any news, and contact with aliens would be taboo. Even a project as mild and apparently harmless as the one tackled at the end of the Star’s Reach novel would be seen with extreme suspiction.

    Of course, that would contradict the idea that the Christian God is the creator of the whole Universe, at least under the standard definition of “universe” as the totality that exists, and a superset that contains the multiple galaxies that are visible from planet Earth. Either that, or you have to explain why the rest of the Universe is not quite as interesting to Him (it might be as simple as considering that Mankind’s whole history plays in merely the blink of an eye for Him, so it’s simply our turn to get his attention now).

  217. Blinky,

    I agree, the stewardship theology of Christianity is probably closer to what Christ intended, but that isn’t the theology that had the greatest influence on the habits and hierarchies of relation of mainstream Christianity. I don’t know if the most influential theology even has a name, but we can call it domination theology for the sake of discussion. The worst of anthropolatry’s habits and perspectives on hierarchies of relation can be traced pretty definitely back to the worst habits the domination theology. The patterns of interaction of the age of reason are often the same patterns of interaction of the first religiosity.

    At least that’s my opinion.

    Regards,

    Varun

  218. With respect to modern life, religion, ecology, and lifestyle changes, consider for example Pope Francis’ 2015 letter Laudato Si’, subtitled “On The Care For Our Common Home”.

    A personal comment: compared to his predecessors’ writings, Francis’ Laudato Si’ is not particularly theological, nor does it particularly teach anything new. As JMG stated in a post in ADR, the amazing thing is that it’s necessary at all, but that’s more of a sign of the times. Laudato Si’ is at the same time conservative – basically, extending Social Doctrine (Rerum Novarum et. al) from “fellow men” to “rest of creation” – and radical – in the sense that it gets to the root of the ills of the modern world.

    It’s been two years since the document was released, and by this time it’s stopped becoming news, with the media going back to the usual Vatican politics beat. As far as I can tell, among folks who have made articles and editorials about it:

    Made the usual partisan noises: either criticized the Pope for “not being an expert” in climate and economics, or praising him for “confirming” their own pet policies: 80%
    May have actually read the document, or at least written more in-depth commentary than the usual “[woohoo/boohoo] a climate encyclical” 15%
    Made pledges to donate and or change their behavior: 5%
    People who have actually turned off their air conditioner: *crickets*

    Incidentally, there was a “yuuuuge” amount of hair splitting about what the Pope actually meant in that single sentence in paragraph 55 referencing aircons. I saw very few commentaries about how cooling and heating being for domestic energy consumption what air travel is for transport, and how we basically architect our houses to be extremely inefficient in taking advantage of natural climate and terrain, practically requiring lots of energy for HVAC.

    The most ridiculous thing (for me) about the contemporary climate movement: Earth Hour. Everyone turns off their lights for one hour a year. Prior to that, weeks of marketing for the event, including apparently non-ironic huge, _floodlit_ black billboards all over the city. Lots of warm gooshies but no (or rather, negative) actual impact. Turn off your darned aircons people.

    Though, I don’t think you can market sacrifice very well to a bunch of Gods. We don’t make sacrifices, we’re to be sacrified to y’know (reminds me of the wage class vs. salary class discussions on ADR)!

  219. @newtonfinn: I think you would appreciate a book called “Jesus Through Pagan Eyes,” edited by Mark Townsend.

  220. Robyn, thanks for the heads up! I’ll have a look at Keller’s book as time permits.

    Kenneth, society puts up obstacles in the way of every change. Successful movements overcome those obstacles all the time. (Cough, cough, same sex marriage, cough, cough.) The question in my mind is why so few people even make the attempt when it comes to environmental issues these days.

    Dave, that’s a massive oversimplification of ecology. It simply isn’t true that success always equals maximizing energy use — au contraire, many species thrive by using energy more efficiently and thus spreading through niches where the energy gluttons can’t compete. As a general rule, when somebody tells you that the laws of nature justify the bad habits of the society in which you live, it’s safe to ignore them…

    Gavin, hmm! That’s not a comparison that occurred to me before, but you have a good point. Energy use as addiction — hmm and hmm again.

    Helix, of course peer pressure and social status are among the things that have to be bucked in order to make change. People pursuing social change buck them all the time, To return to my favorite example, peer pressure and social status didn’t keep same-sex couples from pursuing the right to marry. They were willing to make the required sacrifices; why aren’t people who claim to love the planet?

    HR, notice that you’re assuming that equating humans and animals requires degrading humans to the status of “smart animals.” What if it goes the other way, and requires recognizing that at least some animals share our status?

    Lydia, glad you liked The Secret of the Temple! I’m not sure if we’ll be discussing that here or not, though it’s at least possible.

    Onething, you say, “we are called to a much higher understanding, a much higher existence, than animals are.” How do you know that? Can you provide me with evidence for that grandiose claim? Or is it simply a matter of (anthropolatrous) faith?

    Dan, I tend to agree. Organized religions have their problems; so do disorganized ones; and organized irreligion tends to go toxic about as often as organized religion. We are social primates, after all.

    Panda, bring those up in the next “Ask Me Anything” open post and I’ll offer an answer; on this post, they’re off topic.

    Stuart, good. In fact, I borrowed exactly that rhetoric, with the change in tone you mention, because I wanted to turn the arguments of the transhumanists, singularitarians, etc. on themselves, and elicit a reaction from them. 😉

    Morfran, oh, granted, the internet is also a timewasting technology. Its one virtue is that its content isn’t entirely controlled by mindless corporate greed.

  221. Sigh, must have been from commenting on another wordpress site. The comment tagged as “Holly” should be by “BoysMom.” Sorry about that!

  222. JMG: Thank you for returning to blogging!

    And welcome to the great state of Rhode Island! I observe your relocations with interest, imputing a great deal of consideration into your selections. I hope you will share your and Sara’s thoughts this time, after you’ve settled in.

    Townsfolk: until we hear otherwise, I suggest that we shouldn’t let our imaginations get the better of us. Many people choose, for perfectly ordinary reasons, to live across the murky river from Lovecraft’s final resting place. 🙂

  223. A standard way of assessing whether an animal is self-conscious is whether it can recognise itself in a mirror. If it recognises the image in a mirror as an image of itself, then plainly it has a concept of itself. The usual way to test this is to mark the animal’s face in a place that is not normally visible to it but which can be seen in the mirror, for example on the forehead. If, while looking in the mirror, the animal makes a purposive move towards the mark on its own body, for example to wipe it off, then the animal is self-conscious.
    Animals that have demonstrated self-consciousness according to this test include several marine mammals, several great apes (including humans but not very young babies), elephants, and among birds several corvids and parrots. There may well be others I have left out. The idea that humans are the only creatures with self-consciousness has long been known to be false.

  224. Varun, I ain’t arguing. Anthropolatry never did work very well even when our species had pretty much all the cheap energy and resources it could use, and as that stops being the case — well, it may have been a wild party but the hangover’s going to be a doozy.

    Laura, thanks for the reminder about the Total Perspective Vortex! I may just use that as a theme for an upcoming post — with the traditional hat tip, of course. Glad to hear you’re considering Mystery Teachings for a book club; it was partly designed with that use in mind, for whatever that’s worth.

    Corydalidae, no argument there. Traditional Christianity strikes a very elegant balance, but also a very difficult one, where it comes to human nature — at one moment stressing our creaturely status and the effects of the Fall, at another moment stressing our status as the children of God for whom Christ died. What happened as Christianity lost its grip on the educated classes was that intellectuals discarded one side of the balance and found excuses to embrace the other. More on this as we proceed!

    Erica, congratulations on the upcoming arrival! I’ve met a lot of first-time parents who’ve found the arrival of a new child upended their settled ideas about things, so you’re in good company.

    Tom, got it in one. Mainstream environmentalism these days is a dispiriting sight: privilege bunnies driving their SUVs to protest marches, corporate flacks spewing press releases, and just about everyone eager to watch somebody else sacrifice their all to save the Earth. To my mind, it’s way past time to see a resurgence of an older model, which starts with living the change you want others to make.

    Ed, sshhh! 😉

    Erik, hmm! Thank you for the links; that’s definitely food for thought.

    Scotlyn, it does really redefine things usefully, doesn’t it? “Reverence” is another word that can be applied here, if that helps.

    Dusk Shine, give ILL a try — that book of mine has had a fair number of library sales, and you might also be able to request your local library to add a copy to its collection.

    Bumblebee, yes, but also nature as in the nature that surrounds us even in the city, and the nature that we carry around us at every moment — your body is an ecosystem, remember. I’m sitting right now by a window in a comfortably down-at-the-heels East Coast urban neighborhood; there are birds chattering outside, the trees rise taller than the houses, and clouds, wind, and the slow turning of the planet toward the sun remind me moment by moment that we can’t go “back to nature” because we never left.

  225. I find it interesting to go back and reread older posts that I might have gone past too quickly. Here are two that I would like to comment on because I think it relates to the heart of JMG’s post.

    Tom says:
    June 22, 2017 at 8:52 pm
    “Sadly, Rio 92, Johannesburg 2002, Rio +20, and all other recent U.N. environmental initiatives push the sustainable development agenda and bright green environmentalism…if you search the peer reviewed literature for material flow analysis and life cycle analysis, you will find data and mathematical refutation of the policies of the past 30 years. Infinite growth on a finite planet…..what could go wrong? I am a journeyman HVAC mechanic with my PhD in mechanical engineering with emphasis on renewable energy systems and teach renewable and sustainable energy courses.”

    Bravo Tom! The world needs more experts like you. Sustainability is poorly understood and has gotten high-jacked by businesses that want to profit from selling us something whether or not it solves any problems, and governments that are determined to maintain the current economic system.

    Helix says:
    June 22, 2017 at 11:31 pm
    “Between you and me, I’m pretty sure that we’re just going to deal with the consequences of climate change. Well, not us maybe, but certainly our children and grandchildren. People want to drive their cars to cool places. They want the lights to come on when they flip the switch, they want water at the tap, and let’s face it, refrigerators are fantastic appliances. People just aren’t going to give them up.”

    I’m pretty sure you’re right, we are going to deal with the consequences of climate change and yes, that includes us, not just future generations. If we are fortunate enough to own an air conditioned home, drive an air conditioned car, and have a refrigerator in which to put our organic produce we have the luxury of feeling compassion for those less fortunate and providing them with a “cool space” to go when the heat gets too high. But how will we feel when there isn’t enough cool space and tens of thousands of people die from heat related illness? This already happened in Europe almost 15 years ago. [“Setting the Record Straight: More than 52,000 Europeans Died from Heat in Summer 2003”, Earth Policy Institute, http://www.earth-policy.org/plan_b_updates/2006/update56%5D.

    As JMG pointed out in this post, we are already suffering from climate related problems.
    “With each year that passes, the annual cost of weather-related disasters rises, the broader financial impacts of climate change take a bigger bite out of the global economy…Yet even among those people who think they take climate change seriously, you’ll have to look long and hard to find the very few who take it seriously enough to stop making the problem worse with their own actions…”

    The Oroville Dam crisis in California this past spring is a good example. Five years of drought followed by a winter and spring of extremely heavy precipitation events (ie climate change), the reservoir overflowed, the concrete spillway failed catastrophically, the emergency spillway (which had never been needed thus never tested) was found to not to be designed properly and failed, there was a chance the dam would fail. What followed was an emergency evacuation of 200,000 people (which made the national and international news cycle for a few days), a tense month for the people living downstream of the dam as the California Water Board employees struggled to deal with the ongoing emergency (which no longer made the national or international news because it was just an engineering problem), and finally a large very expensive infrastructure repair that will take at least a year maybe two. And this was just one of many large infrastructure repairs California faces as a result of this years rainy season (one of which was the landslide across scenic Highway 1 and access to Big Sur). Paying for the repairs is only one part of the problem. There is also the problem of dealing with future water control during droughts and floods. How does California control seasonal runoff and water supply for the San Joaquin Valley and much of the state’s agriculture if their reservoir system fails? Who gets the water, the people or the farms?

    Yes, Californians are “just going to deal with the consequences of climate change”. Every country (unless they are already a failed state) will have to deal with questions of paying for necessary infrastructure repairs. Will we be able to fix what needs fixing and provide relief for those in need, or will we just have to abandon certain roads and bridges cutting off access to services for many poorer outlying communities? Will we have to watch in horror as people die from floods, wildfires, droughts, and heatwaves because we don’t have the ability to help them? This is not future question for our children and grandchildren, this is a reality today.

    I am reminded of the fable about the frog in the pot of water. If you put a frog in a pot of boiling water it will jump out. If you put it in a pot of cold water and turn on the heat it will boil to death. As long as we remain only slightly discomforted we adapt right up until we die. Now I’m not convinced that frogs are that dumb, but the fable does seem appropriate when I look at how the majority of Americans are dealing with climate change.

    So here is a suggestion for anyone living in a single family home and wanting to make a difference…attic insulation. Sixty percent of the energy most homes use is to control the “climate” indoors. Properly installed attic insulation and ventilation can significantly reduce heat loss in the winter and gain in the summer, thus reducing our energy consumption. And the return on the investment is paid back within a few years because of lower energy bills. Eventually we will probably build more energy efficient buildings that utilize passive solar energy better, but in the meantime there is solution that isn’t that difficult or expensive to apply. Like most journey’s it just takes the first step.

    Just a thought,
    Soilmaker

  226. @ JMG,

    “To my mind, it’s way past time to see a resurgence of an older model, which starts with living the change you want others to make. ”

    Not according to ol’ Derrick Jensen – no, you must be out protesting and otherwise getting political! None of that individual stuff matters according to him…

    https://orionmagazine.org/article/forget-shorter-showers/

    Great to see you back on the circuit, as it were, though you were never really gone. E. Providence, eh? I can’t wait to hear how you settled on RI. I’m a bit north of you, in rural NH – you’d like it here 🙂

  227. Another thought about the narcissism of the present… to the queer communities and the urban underclass, the 1980s and 1990s were a time that felt profoundly rent and apocalyptic, with the AIDS pandemic causing mass mortality and the only response from Washington being absolute silence combined with the mass encarcerations of the War on Drugs criminalizing addiction. Indeed the Broadway Play “Rent” from the 1990s took its title as a double entendre of what you pay the landlord and the torn fabric of society. A reminder that your perspective on the collapse of civilization depends a very great deal on where you stand in the complex socioeconomic web.

  228. @Doug Manners:
    And the standard mark-the-animal mirror test may even produce false negatives, as proposed [url=https://critter.cloudns.org/blog/cats-pass-the-mirror-test.html]here[/url] for cats. I’m not sure if that’s right (I’d want to compare data with, say, a cat encountering a television screen displaying a live image of another cat), but it seems possible, at least.

    (Sorry if this appears twice; I had technical difficulties the first time I tried to post.)

  229. @JMG, @Gavin:

    Smaller-scale energy/convenience addiction has been pretty extensively studied in recent years re: internet, smartphones, and other entertainment technology. I personally see it as a very viable, and otherwise well-established way of framing the cognitive dissonance happening en masse. Addiction studies would have a lot to say about what we’re doing.

    For instance, take an addicted parent to a dependent child – ask them any day of the week, and the odds are that they’d tell you that they love their child to pieces, that they’d do anything for them, that they want to see them grow up to live a good life, and they would probably not be lying to you. However, their addiction compels them to act in ways that very obviously run counter to those feelings of love and nurturing, and likely do active harm to the child, whether financially, emotionally, or otherwise. The parent is usually aware of this, but their thinking is so compartmentalized that it often takes no less than a crisis to make those compartmentalized worlds one thing again, and after not a little tragedy or trauma for everyone involved. Sometimes the crisis does not successfully merge the compartmentalization – sometimes it only makes it worse, and they take that fractionalization with them to the grave. (I speak from much second-hand experience here.)

    I’ve spoken to people who are not especially anthropolatrous – people who are not lying when they tell you they believe that humankind isn’t the greatest thing to happen to the planet, that we are doing more harm than good – but they continue with the damaging behaviors anyway. I use the addiction metaphor with myself, even. I know for a fact that quitting is exceptionally difficult when you’re still surrounded by “users”, when you don’t know anyone else who’s “clean”.

  230. Hi John, just to clarify; I’m not uncomfortable with the idea of other animals being self-conscious, that’s fine by me.
    It seems to me though that the definition of self-consciousness first has to be agreed upon. The notion of self-consciousness being defined by a concept of personal identity is in my view to limited. I would suggest that the moment self-consciousness arose in the human animal was the moment we experienced ourselves as separate from the natural reality, as I said in my earlier comment. Self-consciousness is thus defined by the creation of a separate “I”, a person that experiences itself as separate from the other. This was a momentous event in our evolution and as far as I’m aware no other creature appears to have made this step.
    This doesn’t make humans better or worse than other animals, but it has given us an extraordinary evolutionary advantage, witness our current ephemeral domination of the planet. That this idea of separation is a misconception seems to be a given as we are continuously searching for a return to oneness in all our endeavours. Dolphins and whales do not seem to be troubled by this misconception of feeling separate, even though they may have a concept of personal identity. I’ll leave it at that as I could elaborate much further, but that’s for another time and place. Thanks for creating the opportunity for this public exchange of ideas.

  231. JMG,

    What I meant by the “mechanical religions of the West” is that they are simply process/event/recipe-based methods of practicing faith, and relatively simple to implement, versus the individual soul-searching relative to the rest of the universe involved in the Eastern religions, which tend to be more difficult to obtain the same level of “salvation”.

    With the Long Descent as a backdrop, it seems to me at least one of the deeper implications of the conflict of Western faiths versus reality will be using religion as a controlling mechanism, since it’s easier to manipulate the masses who’ve had critical thinking skills suppressed (also a side effect of leftist political methods).

    I agree with your prediction of an increased interest/practice of religion(s) to help cope with the stress of the Long Descent, and am looking forward to your exploration of the topic on this blog. While I’m hopeful of the possibility of a new age of reason being more environmentally pragmatic, I’m still quite wary of the lessons from history which demonstrate the negative aspects of humanity usually win out in eras of decline.

  232. Mac, I’ve got a secret for staying on the cutting edge: I mostly read books by dead people, which keeps me from falling into the latest fashionable groupthink.

    Heather, so noted. Thanks for the details.

    Mister N., that makes a lot of sense. Apocalyptic dreams have a lot of appeal when you’re young and marginal!

    Martin, we’ll get to that in a later post.

    Escher, no question, Kuhn is a bitter pill to swallow if you’ve bought wholesale into faith in the omnipotence and omnibenevolence of progress!

    Erik, yep. It’ll be entertaining to watch the efforts to dodge around the implications.

    Holly aka BoysMom, the Japanese emperor is a special case, because the Japanese word “kami” (which is the term for what the emperor was considered to be) doesn’t actually translate as “god;” it’s exasperatingly hard to translate into English at all, but my understanding is that the closest way of phrasing it in our language would be “hierophany” — that is, a manifestation of the Holy, not otherwise specified. (The Latin word numen, oddly enough, translates it exactly.) Thus a sword can be a kami, so can a stone at which strange events have occurred, and so can a living human being. That doesn’t put them on the same plane of being as one of the out-and-out deities of Shinto faith, such as the sun goddess Amaterasu-no-Omikami; it means that something numinous manifests through them.

    That aside, though, you’ve made a valid point; I may mess with Hegel (how fun!) in an upcoming post in discussing the democratization of idolatry in modern times.

    Bill, I’ve noticed that shift too. I wonder what the next dodge will be.

    Environmentalist, I’d second the suggestion, and hope that restoration ecologists get to work publicizing what they can do and how ordinary citizens can work with them to help dig us out of our current mess. The more people grasp that, the better.

    Ramaraj, that’s definitely a subject we’ll be getting to in due time. My take on the origins of the myth of the machine is a little different from yours; still, we’ll see where the discussion leads!

    Gandalf, nicely summarized. Welcome to the journey!

  233. Observer, thank you for directing my attention to “Jesus Through Pagan Eyes.” I’ve read the book sample, which spoke to me, and will be ordering and reading the entire work. Let me return the favor by providing a link to a rather well-done explication of some key Schweitzerian concepts relevant to the focus of this blog.

    JMG, is there any way to easily amend the format of this blog to allow replies to individual comments to follow immediately after them? Don’t want to add the hassle of setting up a new format, but the ability to respond to another’s comment in an adjacent fashion would seem to be helpful to facilitate dialogue.

    http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=1799

  234. Welcome back!

    A while back, a young friend who is deeply into the search for meaning, loaned me a copy of the Hermetica. More recently, an older friend with no knowledge of the earlier book, loaned me his copy of Tom Harpur’s “The Pagan Christ”. Now I’m searching for copies of books by Kuhn, Massey, and others. It is amazing to me that so much of what we consider religion today in the western world is tied totally to early mystery religious thoughts and myths. It is the myth that holds the eternal truth, not the religion.

    I, too, am still searching for meaning. The deeper I get into this the further my “soul” seems to sink into the warm embrace of mother earth and father sun. Everything seems tied into everything else; to be wasteful or harmful to one is to do damage to all. To care for one is to care for all. As a retired scientist all this just makes more sense as time goes by.

    Consider me another faithful future reader. Watching you knocking down the religion of Man the almighty should be great fun.

  235. One point, perhaps missed, that I have seen in my small town, dominated by a big university. None are so obsessed with hierarchy as those close to, but not at, the top, and those close to (but not at) the bottom. And there is no faster or better method to produce petty tyrants than to provide professors with guaranteed funding, as most of the ‘promising’ environmental researchers enjoy.

  236. JMG – Great to have you back! I had the opportunity to spend a day at Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson, a few weeks back. What struck me was the contradiction between the man who wrote, “…all men are created equal.” and the slaveholder Jefferson. I see an analogy between him and our current inability to make changes to our own lives (@SoilMaker).

    While Jefferson knew that slavery was “abhorrent” and he even pushed the bill through Congress that banned the further importation of slaves in the early 1800’s, he still couldn’t give it up himself. He owned 600+ slaves in his lifetime, had 6 children with one and still had 200+ upon his death. But he was what we now call an early adopter, he loved his gadgets and new paints and all the other trappings that left him deeply in debt at his death. I surmise that he could have given up his slaves and property but the loss of status and plunge into relative poverty were untenable.

    It reminded me that the knowledge that industrial civilization cannot go on forever doesn’t mean it will be easy to break free of the system once you’re in it. That doesn’t preclude us from trying, but knowledge of a problem doesn’t necessarily ease the transition.

  237. The remedy for anthropolatry being a reconnection with nature? I’ve found Bill Plotkin’s book, “Soulcraft”, an enlightening primer.

    On a more frivolous note, I was reminded, like Laura above, of Douglas Adams’ Total Perspective Vortex, which is supposed to make your head explode when you realise how insignificant you and your planet really are : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBo-exrbKsQ

  238. Dear JMG
    Thank you for providing the term anthropolatry. This is an important tool and I am excited to see where this new blog goes. Also I look forward to your monthly summary of news.Best regards. Mots

  239. Fantastic post for a return debut, and the proposed format sounds exciting! Know a bit about E. Providence as my best friend of 50 years has lived there for the past 20, his wife having just retired from working at Brown… interesting choice! We’d be intrigued to know the underlying rationale, apart from the proximity to Lovecraft of course… welcome back and Mazeltov!

  240. Another point in defense of Jordan Peterson:

    Jordan Peterson makes an argument that religion is a manifestation of the social patterns and instincts that evolution put in us. It’s at once an argument for the importance of religion and a stake in the heart of the argument that we’re particularly special. So add “also we’re part of the biosphere” to that and I think you have a pretty good understanding of what humans are.

  241. Kurtzs, in both cases, not so. Your cultural background provides a map against which you make choices regarding sex, food, and the other things you cited. You may react against that background, but it’s still always there. As for the importance or lack of same of this planet, I think it was fairly clear from the context of my comment that I was speaking of Earth’s importance from a cosmic point of view, not from the specific, narrow interests of a single species that happens to inhabit that planet just now!

    Ray, of course it’s reasonable for humans to be concerned with the doings of humans, just as it’s reasonable for rats to be concerned with the doings of rats and swine with the doings of swine. The lie sneaks in with the assumption that the rest of the cosmos is as interested in us as we are. As for the religious issues you’ve raised, those are a major can of worms, and will have to be opened in posts to come.

    Matthias, good to see you’ve been paying attention! 😉

    Omnia, fair enough. We’ll have that discussion as things proceed.

    Jennifer, that is to say, you were actually involved in doing something that mattered, which is more than can be said for the Paris Agreement.

    Jerry, the first open post is up, so we’ll see!

    Christopher, the open post is up, so I’ll ask you to post the question there.

    Keen, I’ve watched the polytheist scene with some interest, but from a distance — a lot of the current crop of polytheists are acutely uncomfortable with the Druid Revival spirituality I practice, and not all of them are polite about that discomfort, I’m sorry to say. That said, my sympathies are wholly on the side of what you’ve called the piety camp, and I’d agree with you wholeheartedly on the value of a vision of religion that doesn’t feed the collective human ego.

    Vernon, oh, granted, every little lump of rock in the cosmos is unique in one way or another. My working guess is that there are plenty of other inhabited planets, but very, very few of them would be habitable by us — just as the jellyfish-things who drift through the atmosphere of Delta Pavonis IV in my novel Star’s Reach look out on a cosmos that’s very poorly provided with gas giants with the right temperature and atmospheric composition for them to inhabit.

    Anthony, so noted!

    Mustard, once we’ve worked through Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth, I’m open to suggestions on what book to discuss next.

    Luis, to my mind, that’s like saying that all crimes are forms of arson, or that every disease is some variation on influenza. Privilege in human societies — all human societies — is always intersectional; it depends on a galaxy of different factors, of which class, race, and gender are the most influential; and any attempt to reduce that complexity to a single factor, to my mind, falsifies more than it clarifies.

  242. I’d like to throw in my two cents here regarding Dr. Jordan Peterson. I’ve encountered his videos in the past but did not really pay close attention until his name was brought up here by multiple commenters.

    Firstly, he appears to be a critic of the Left (which he is), but he actually goes much deeper. He’s a critic of the modern West in general, much like JMG. His focus is very different, obviously, but he gets a lot of truths out there to a large audiences that you wouldn’t think would be paying attention to him. He’s certainly expressed his own surprise at the demographic composition his supporters – late teens/early 20’s young men!

    Secondly, I don’t find him anthropolatrous at all. I viewed the first three lectures on his current Psychological Significance of the Bible series (best 8 hours I’ve spent on the Internet all year) and he’s very clear that: a) Humans are not God, and b) you can’t bend the fabric of reality, and it will snap back if you try. In the Q&A section of the third lecture, he states that what he finds very frightening is that, as a clinical psychologist, he has never ever seen anyone get away with anything (which, although the focus is different, parallels a recurring theme in The Archdruid Report). In the same series he’s also spoken very favorably of lobsters, chimps, and rats, and identified several lessons that we can learn from them. Although he thinks that only humans have consciousness, he’s very much aware of the mystery of what consciousness is and points out that it took several thousand years before we even identified the concept. I don’t see how, with a bit more refinement in definitions, he could extend consciousness towards animals as well.

    Finally, as JMG points out, he may or may not be your cup of tea. But in so far as being a “critic of modern civilization” is concerned, he’s certainly a great complement to JMG. Anyone who can draw a crowd of young men away from porn, ISIS recruiters, religious and political flame wars, et. al, towards watching a 100-minute psychology lecture is a Good Guy ™ in my book.

    And going back to our esteemed host, JMG, thank you and keep up the good work. Please keep churning out these highly relevant, thought-provoking 3,000+ word essays and demonstrating (along with folks like Peterson) that the Internet is more than stupid cat videos and that netizens have a longer attention span than we give them credit for.

  243. At the thriftshop I just saw a framed, intricate Chinese-style papercut scene of a boy and a duck perched on a split rail fence amidst a tangle of leaves, trees, grass, and vines — very organic and in a medium as old as paper itself. Then I started reading the truism cut into picture… it read “Your job is to break the world apart/ and then put it back together/ but better than before.” What a frightening little bit of anthropolotrous indoctrination. What unlucky child had to try to process the incongruity of that image with that message every day as he gazed into a magical realm carved out of someone’s imagination?

  244. “… any attempt to reduce that complexity to a single factor, to my mind, falsifies more than it clarifies.” On the other hand, giving a name (e.g., “anthropolatry”) to complexity is not helpful to elucidate what is the root cause of social/ecological injustice. My working hypothesis is that patriarchy is the most universal form of domination/subordination in human relations (50% of humanity dominating the other 50%) and all the other forms of privilege are derivatives. If so, it could turn out to be that “the twilight of anthropolatry” is actually the twilight of patriarchy as the prevailing human culture, and there is hope for a better future.

  245. Thanks for the midwifing the coming spiritual age analogy! I really liked it. Although I do still expect, as any midwife would do, for some charms, incantations, and rituals to be performed in order to help influence the direction of the coming spiritual age. Hopefully it will be more eco-friendly 🙂 May I assume we’ll be discussing ways in which we can help encourage the coming spiritual movement to be more eco-friendly?

  246. Keen — I’d be more impressed by the potential for polytheistic shift from anhtropolatry if more of their gods were not so human. I feel animism is a better antidote, especially if you do not force the need to assign humanoid avatars to the spirits.

  247. @Bill Pulliam:

    A lot of the anthropolatrous polytheist types anthropomorphize the gods a lot, and to their own detriment – there is so much more to gain once you give up trying to fit them into human-shaped boxes. The “piety” folk are much better about knowing this. I’m devoted to a storm god, for instance, who often appears in the guise of animals, rocks, axes, hurricanes, entire mountains, colors, and moments of pure wordless emotion. And I’ve only scratched the surface of understanding, here. And this is not to even touch on the strangeness of divine individuation and autonomy from an immanence standpoint. When the gods all begin to bleed into one another, to use a phrase we’re all familiar with, “where’s your god now?”. There is much we will never be able to know about them, and that’s all part of the beauty of it.

    Myself and a small handful of other bloggers have been trying to hash out the “uncomfortableness” inherent to a truly polytheistic understanding of divinity – that is, one that incompatible with anthropolatry. I’ve written about it on a few occasions (to toot my own horn):

    https://rotwork.wordpress.com/2017/01/29/what-the-gods-owe-us/
    https://rotwork.wordpress.com/2017/05/11/gods-volcanoes-and-ai/

    And some others have done similarly as well:

    https://krasskova.wordpress.com/2017/01/29/6532/
    https://sarenth.wordpress.com/2015/08/25/if-your-paganism-is-anthropocentric-i-dont-want-your-paganism/

    That said, I am a little wary of polytheists who are open about not also being animist – to me, the two go hand in hand, and without the latter, you run the risk of recreating another promissory religion.

  248. I love your coinage (“anthropolatry”) and agree it’s one of the deepest drivers, or at least enablers, of western civ’s self-destructive course. And I look forward to your future writings on the topic.

    However, your idea that this is at the core of why, say, climate scientists still use planes doesn’t ring psychologically true to me. I suspect most climate scientists would fully agree that humans are just another invasive, adaptable species, in no way above or outside of nature.

    I suspect it has a lot more to do with a sense that individual altrustic changes actually make no difference. This could be based on serious study and thought (ideas like the Jevons paradox and others), or just intuitive awareness.

    Think of someone who believes it’s essential to (1) maintain the current level of government spending because they believe it’s all essential and (2) reduce the national debt because it results in wasting lots of tax money on interest payments.

    It’s entirely reasonable for such a person to both (1) pay no more taxes than they’re required to and (2) work hard and vote for and spend lots of their own money to promote increasing taxes on people like themselves. Your thinking would say they should send all their savings to the US treasury and they don’t only because they feel a godlike entitlement to thrive at the expense of their country.

    I’m happy the climate scientists continue flying to their conferences. Those efforts might result in far larger reductions in carbon emissions than their abstaining from air travel would.

    You wrote to Lasagna, “the left has been impressively eager to pursue any kind of climate-change remediation that impacts other people’s lifestyles, especially if the other people are poor and powerless.” I agree that reducing consumption would be a more effective way to reduce carbon emissions than blocking production, which just results in more production elsewhere unless you can block it everywhere. (I’m a carbon fee & dividend fan.)

    But what I see the left doing is not simply wanting other people to make the hard changes, but working for whatever kinds of *systemic* policy change rather than thinking that voluntary individual changes will make a significant difference.

  249. JMG & All
    Good start for the nascent religious sensibility, wherever you are, and lots to come next month, that’s great!
    I am missing the ‘collapse comments’ facility and cannot find again some of the interesting comments, but just to say I am encouraged by the person whose daughter connects Mystery Teachings with the Aristotle she learns about at school. Likewise, the commenter whose little girl finds flowers (I think it was), ants and stars endlessly fascinating. Some things are as they should be.
    If I can put theology to one side, my take on religion is mostly poetic. A guess from my own experience, suggests ‘place’ can communicate both for itself – or whatever – or in some way for those who have gone before . There are places that if I had been told:‘here is where you stay’, I would have been content. Though I am not a believer I guess this comes through from the inevitable Christian background. It is just that I belong here, at least for typically brief moments in the normal chaos.
    And thanks to Ray Wharton as usual for turning things over. I wonder if it is just possible the universe has evolved a point of view? How this might communicate seems beyond speculation, but relative scale might not be so important?

    best
    Phil H

  250. To plagiarize from others: I am glad the Archdrought is over… (I can get off the meth now)

    My one disappointment is the lack of avatars in the comments, so I can scroll to your responses.

    Please keep writing you wordsmith, you.

  251. I think a tremendous amount of disconnect exists between what we call “civilization” today and what it was before the advent of the oil age. There are people who have no idea where their food comes from (a ‘pork chop factory’ was what my grandkids told me last year – and we cured that already). Few understand that plastic is mostly an oil product or that it is the number one source of pollution – far worse than air pollution, which clears up quickly when you cease polluting. Heaven forbid that the Iphone generation actually experience life rather than watch the video about it.

    As to humans being the center of their universe, this isn’t new or else we would have realized (sorry – RE-realized) that our Sun does not rotate about the Earth much earlier. Thinking that humans are the only conscious creatures just tells me how disconnected from the rest of the species on this blue marble we have become. Look in a horses eye and tell me there isn’t anyone home. Same for a cat or a dog or a deer or a raccoon.

    I am quite sure some version of this massive disconnect exists within science, as in a certain sciences are “established” and never repeat the basic research. Instead, they “stand on the shoulders of giants” and write papers based on those same giants without ever questioning if they were right. This is hugely true in certain fields like archeology, geology, anthropology and medicine.

    So, there’s my little thoughts based on your piece. And I do enjoy a lot of your essays – glad you didn’t spool it up completely.

  252. Dear JMG,

    I am glad to see Ecosophia taking off and your writing once again.

    “If even climate scientists, who are as thoroughly informed as anyone about what their lifestyles are doing to the planet, aren’t able to take the very simple step from there to changing those lifestyles, knowledge is clearly not enough.”

    This really is the point I think a lot of activists and would-be activists completely miss in regards to climate change and peak oil. It was something that made me happy to see when In first encountered Transition Towns.

    Rather than radical activism, whatever that means these days, what is deeply and powerfully needed is lived change. Growing Hope, Strawbale Studios, and the Amachee Center are three I can name that live their words.

    I think part of the antidote to anthropolatry is found here as well. It’s rather hard to keep believing humans are the most high when one understands through lived experience and understanding how much one depends on the animals and plants around us to live. Having grown plants in my family garden for years, there’s an understanding that I myself control only a few factors. Living that Gebo (gift for a gift) relationship, to know ourselves to be each planting, care, and harvest in our partnership, is a powerful thing.

  253. JMG, you argue, that we humans, included our elite’s researches do lack godlike abilities and intelligence, despite them feeling alike. So reason has not opened the way to a more enduring ecological life. That’s so despite that huge amount of facts collected in the areas concerned. This goes with my own studies and personal experiences.

    Most of all we humans are a social creature in as such, that we compulsory sheeple behind leading personalities. As long as the consumerist lifestyle is so alluring mainstream flows in the wasteful direction. Finally collapse will shift course.

    Yet as the collapse drags along, personally, each of us has its manoeuvring room to do whatever to change now and set a example for others to follow. In as far as we are able to use our free will.

  254. I have read several comments that refer to the mirror test for self-awareness. My thought is that this test works great for brains that have primate wiring, and apparently for certain birds, etc. However, since we cannot get inside the consciousness of other species and understand how they perceive the world, I would not consider mirror recognition alone to be dispositive. It may be simply not applicable. Another example of anthropocentrism??

  255. Dear John Michael:

    I ask your permission for translate some of your posts to the spanish in the “Foro Crash Oil” that is a web forum about Peak Oil aimed principally to discuss the post of Crash Oil (Antonio Turiel). In this forum there are translations to the spanish of many of your posts in Arch Druid Report..

    I must add that many of your spanish readers, including me, admire and consider astounding your genial and inspired creativity.

  256. Hello, Archdruid. Sad to say I only discovered your Archdruid Report this past spring, but I found it overflowing with good prose, spot on with its intriguing analyses, full of ideas that I had either had myself or was happy to find further elaboration on. This is my first comment on one of your posts, and I am not sure if you check week old comments, so I hope I am not too late to the party. I vote a resounding yes to your book club idea, and in fact just ordered Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth so I can participate in the discussion.

    I am still digesting your years of writings on the Archdruid Report, but may I say my most profound compliment about your writings is that you are the ONLY author I can find writing about neopaganism who does not come off as at least something of a liar. I cannot overstate how much I appreciate your upfront honesty that yes, most all of modern druidry has been created in the past century because no druids have existed for over a thousand years. No one else will say this! Your gambit worked; by being forthright and honest you have convinced me you are selling no snake oil, that your intent is honest, and I can actually trust what you have to say about topics, ideas, and authors. It is a huge relief to find a trustworthy voice after years of sifting for pieces of truth in the refuse-laden trash heaps of wuwu new age nature spirituality.

  257. @Ed,

    The problem with the behavior of the climate scientists and the Left (distinct, if somewhat overlapping groups, I might add) have been addressed by JMG in quite a few posts in his old Archdruid Report blog. I’d like to go back to some of those ideas in addressing a few of the points that you raise.
    First, you seem to imply that the best, if not exactly the only way that climate scientists can do their jobs is to travel by air. This is obviously not the case, and they can take plenty of steps themselves to cut down. They can travel by land – bus or train. They can go by ocean. Obviously, this might mean longer travel time, but it might also mean more quiet time during travel when they can get their laptop (or pen and paper) out to iron out their presentations on the way to the conference, something that you cannot do in today’s modern day air travel hell with the long security lines, cramped seats, and so on.
    Second, “working for systemic policy change” is exactly the reason that the Left is soooo unproductive. More precisely, the Left falls into a top-down, all-or-nothing fallacy when considering systemic issues, and does not seem or flat out refuses to understand that “The System” exists in multiple layers. There’s nothing at all stopping leftist scientists (I’m overlapping the groups in this example), for example, from organizing guerilla conferences where you can present and publish for free if you (say) show up riding a bicycle. Of course, that might mean staying in motels and having the conference in a warehouse. But hey, their job is to do research and exchange knowledge, and fancy hotels and dinners aren’t necessary for that, right? If climate scientists can’t make systemic policy changes and change collective behavior at their level, where there are only a few hundred of them, it would be utterly ridiculous to think that they could affect such changes at a national or global level. Mind you, the Right falls into this trap as well – with the anti-abortion movement for instance – but it’s the Left in the US that has recently lost a huge amount of ground in local and state politics.
    Finally, whether an individual scientist or activist can “change the world” by changing is own behavior is completely missing the point. Have you ever considered the question of who benefits from, say, a carbon tax and dividend scheme? The problem is that they (both the scientists and the left activists) are advocating for such changes where it’s mostly other people (the working class, the Third World) who bear the burdens while they have the gall to ask for more privileges in terms of favorable laws, research grants, tax subsidies, etc. “Close the coal mines and I will give up air travel!”, said no protest placard ever. JMG calls out scientists and leftists on their godlike self-righteous entitlement precisely because they have godlike self-righteous entitlement.
    Try replacing “climate scientist” with “coal miner” in your argument. Is coal mining important? Well, it keeps rural folks off the streets, and keeps their youth off drugs and crime. China and India are burning more coal than ever, and keeping another coal mine operating is a pretty small thing overall, according to your logic. The problem here, is that the activists are preaching based on values, while simultaneously trying to guard their interests. If I ask everyone else to take one for the team, while not making any sacrifices themselves, because there are more of you and only one of me but I’m also more important than all of you, would you take anything I say seriously?

  258. @Carlos M, You seem to have the impression that the poor would not benefit form a carbon fee and dividend program as much as the rich. The opposite is true. See: https://youtu.be/pDTzD9QH8T4

    First, under a carbon fee & dividend, a substantial majority — those with modest carbon usage (i.e., pretty much all of the poor and the working class, who can’t afford 3000 square foot air conditioned houses, plane travel, and SUVs, as well as much of the middle class) — would receive more cash dividends than the increased costs they’d experience due to the carbon fees. Much more, in the case of the poor! The carbon fees would only be a burden to the wealthier minority whose usage is high. The poor and working class would be the primary immediate beneficiaries of such a program, and most of the middle class would benefit somewhat as well.

    This is one of the major advantages of a carbon fee & dividend over typical left-wing proposals that would use carbon tax revenues to fund green programs, because those would leave the poor with no way to pay their increased carbon costs.

    Second, as the carbon fee increased, there would be greatly increased demand for greener buildings, greener technology, etc, and this would create millions of jobs, which would also benefit the unemployed and the working class.

    Third, as carbon emissions fell, air quality would improve, which would improve health for the poorer people who have to live in industrial areas.

    Fourth, in the long term, the more drastic climate chaos averted by the resulting dramatic drop in carbon emissions would massively reduce the suffering experienced by the global poor — suffering that the rich and middle class could largely avoid.

    I’m not saying climate scientists *should* go to conferences by plane, just that if that’s how they need to get there, I’m glad they’re getting there.

    JMG makes good points about hypocritical ideas on the left, especially cases of recommending changes that would be harder on the working class than on the people recommending them, e.g., opposing drilling for oil in the arctic, when what’s really needed is to reduce demand for oil so that companies would no longer want to drill.

    But I don’t think JMG has specifically addressed the carbon fee & dividend idea (anyone know otherwise?), so I’d love to hear his take on it.

  259. @Ed,

    You seem to have the impression that I have an impression that the poor wouldn’t benefit as much from the carbon fee program that you propose. Your impression is largely correct. 🙂

    “Who benefits?” I raised the question as such. It’s somewhat rhetorical, but not entirely. And the obvious answer would be “the poor, at least more than the rich” of course. That may be the case in certain specific circumstances, but the devil is in the details.

    The carbon fee and dividend scheme, fundamentally, is a redistributive mechanism in which “carbon” is taxed and “green” stuff is subsidized. I personally like the idea that people can spend their dividend wherever they like, as opposed to a bunch of leftists bureaucrats making that decision. However, it suffers the same flaws, or rather limitations, as every other redistributive financial scheme.

    Let’s start with administration. How do we get to decide what the carbon fee is? How do we decide what “green” is and what goods/services/technology fall under that category? That is to say, *who* gets to decide? Policies, after all, don’t exist in a vacuum, and they don’t implement themselves. We’d have to have managers and other forms of bureaucratic fauna to actually put this system in place. How do we select these administrators and hold them accountable? Is [whatever hot new technology here] “green”? We thought that corn ethanol was the solution in the early 2000’s, but what that mostly did was jack up food and fuel prices and ended up being a net negative, carbon-wise.

    Then, there’s “the rich”. You might not think that rich individuals and large corporations would be able to game this rather simple system, but consider how they are gaming the system now as it is. Consultancy firms would pop up, offering “carbon rationalization” and “green retooling” plans as add ons to their tax-preparation services. This is not a bad thing by itself, assuming that such arrangements would actually incentivise wealthy people and corporations to cut down their carbon. But it would certainly decrease the actual benefits gained by the poor as the rich move to decrease their “carbon footprint”, tax-wise.

    Going back to the original question – who benefits? The poor, maybe, as in maaaaaaybe. The rich, more than you’d think. Most likely, the bureaucrats, and folks cunning enough to study the system and provide “consultancy services”!

    Not that my initial impression implies I think it’s a bad idea, necessarily, just that you can color me skeptical. I see you’ve raised the same question in the Open Post, it should get JMG’s attention over there. I’d also like to hear what he has to say – this is his turf after all.

  260. @Carlos M,

    Again, you’re talking about some other proposal that you’ve conjured in your imagination.

    Please watch the video I linked to before you respond again.

    The carbon fee & dividend doesn’t “subsidize green stuff.” So there’s no bureaucracy to decide what “green” is because there’s nothing being subsidized. It simply passes on the dividend to the public, who are then free to use that increased buying power in the marketplace to seek ways to reduce their carbon consumption, which is completely voluntary. If you’d prefer, you can spend your dividend on massages.

    Or, you can become an entrepreneur and develop a technology to improve, say, the insulation in people’s houses, thereby lowering their heating costs, which will start to rise as the carbon fee rises. The dividend means that people will have the money to pay you for your technology, and the increasing carbon fee means more and more of them will be motivated to do so. You’ll make a fortune, which you can use on more massages. Or to buy other green tech to reduce your own costs from carbon.

    Eventually, as other people reduce their carbon usage while the carbon fee steadily increases and the market responds to the increased demand for reducing or replacing carbon consumption with more and more cheap, simple, and effective solutions, the people who didn’t initially decide to reduce their usage will face increasing financial pressure and reduced barriers to doing so.

    Regarding “redistribution,” you can characterize it however you like, but I see it as simply requiring companies to pay the public for using up our limited supply of natural resources when they take them.

    Looks like JMG, by the way, says he regards a carbon fee & dividend as one of various good ideas that he believes will never be implemented because the rich would block them. I’d have to agree he’s probably right, but I feel less fatalistic about it and believe that since this is a proposal that both progressives and conservatives can get behind, it has at least a chance of becoming so popular that politicians would have to support it no matter what their wealthier donors would like.

  261. I share Carlos M’s reservations about carbon trading.

    My impression is that virtually every substantial financial mechanism ends up being gamed eventually, that larger arrangements are gamed sooner and more opaquely, and that the wealthy and insiders always end up benefiting at the expense of those less wealthy and connected. Since a carbon trading system would necessarily be a huge financial mechanism, I think it is pretty nearly guaranteed that it would be corrupted quickly, probably right out of the box.

    I understand the theoretical attraction of carbon trading, and I agree that in principal it ought to work great. I just don’t believe it would work out in the real world.

    To anyone who thinks this is incorrect, a question: Can you identify any existing large system of financial redistribution that has not been corrupted in this way?

  262. To expand on my previous post, I’d like to suggest a different approach might work better. How about we just stop all the direct and indirect subsidies of the fossil fuel industry? This would immediately increase the price of fossil fuels and reduce consumption, and simultaneously reduce everyone’s tax burden, freeing precious financial resources for better purposes (such as improving how fossil C gets used).

    And following the example of marriage equality that JMG cites, it also has the great advantage of being a simple message, easily understood, that almost everyone would agree with. The pitch could be something like “Stop giving your tax dollars to Exxon/Mobil”.

  263. JMG, good to see the new blog, and thanks for the shout-out. Thanks also for your kind endorsement of my book.

    Speaking as a climate scientist, I think we should distinguish between the climate scientists and the climate activists. The scientists signed up to do science, and they noticed a problem. The activists are the ones who claim to be fixing it. If I’m throwing down any gauntlet, it’s really to the activists.

    That said, I’m nonetheless surprised that so few climate scientists are making dramatic cuts to fossil fuel use in their own lives. The main reason I’ve reduced is simply because it feels icky to me to burn the stuff. I know too much about what our emissions are doing to the Earth system, and how much suffering they’re causing (and will continue to cause) to both humans and nonhumans. Knowing that, how could I do anything but reduce? I get plenty of feedback that I’m doing good science, even without flying around all over the place. The occasional flight to a conference would be useful, sure, but not useful enough to overcome the ickiness. (And anyway, do we really need more science in order to act? It’s already overwhelmingly clear that burning fossil fuels is causing global warming, and that global warming, on balance, is extremely undesirable for humans.)

    There are two other reasons for my reductions. First, I’ve found that using less fossil fuel allows me to slow down and to connect to the land and to my community. It’s the difference between using a chainsaw vs. a two-man crosscut. One is fast, noisy, and unpleasant; the other brings exercise, good conversation, and a sense of accomplishment. Faster isn’t necessarily better; there’s more to life than convenience. And second, changing myself has increased my ability to effect collective change. It’s given me a platform, and I think it’s important to demonstrate that life without fossil fuel is possible. With all the gas stations, freeways, and airports everywhere, it can be hard to remember we used to live another way. Global warming is a massive failure of our collective imagination.

    I’m also a fan of a gradually increasing national carbon fee and dividend. In addition to the reasons Ed O. gives, there’s this big one, that few realize yet: it bakes in global cooperation. Here’s why. To make it work, you need to have border adjustments based on the carbon price differential of embodied fossil fuel in goods crossing borders. A factory in a “clean” nation with a carbon fee and dividend obviously has a strong incentive to innovate and reduce the fossil fuel intensity of its widget. A factory making equivalent widgets in a “dirty” nation without a carbon price has no such incentive to innovate, and indeed may lose domestic market share by making its widget “green” (because domestic competitors can undersell with their dirty widgets). But then it will soon lose market share in the “clean” nation, because after the border adjustment, its widget there is now more expensive than the innovate reduced-fuel widget. So they lobby their own government for a similar carbon price.

  264. Sounds like a great topic for the next few months. Anthropolatry nicely captures the claim to human’s unique role in the universe. The relationship of traditional religions to the concept is quite complex. In Christianity and Judaism, humans are placed at the top of creation, “a little lower than the angels”, but are punished for trying to be like God and are warned about replacing worship of God with worship of creation or themselves. I tend to view the common anthropolartry as a coping mechanism for humans who live it a world that is too complex for them to comprehend. Clearly humans and human thriving matters to us, and so people create simple paradigms in which humans are at the center. I am not sure this can be substantially modified given the constraints of human biology and social needs. More likely a new version of humanism will emerge that maintains the celebration of the human mind’s comprehension of the simple basics of how the universe works that we call science while placing more emphasis on the vast range of human and ecological issues about which we don’t have predictive understanding.

  265. @Vesta, yes, carbon trading schemes such as cap & trade are subject to various forms of gaming and subversion. The carbon fee & dividend proposal has nothing to trade, so nothing to game. (I suspect JMG would say that this is why it hasn’t passed, whereas some cap & trade systems have been allowed to take effect. By those omnipotent overlords who decide what to allow, I guess.) See https://youtu.be/pDTzD9QH8T4 for more details on how it would work.

    @Peter Kalmus, yes, that’s an important aspect of the proposal: once implemented in one large country, it would automatically “go viral” (not just by being inspirational, but by economic necessity) and would soon be implemented globally. I just wish there was a good way to explain how that would work in 50 words or less.

    This is one reason it might eventually happen even if US politics prevent us from starting it. If any major economy implements it, pretty soon after that we’d have to do it too or suffer major losses.

  266. Peter: thank you very much for your comments re. the difference between “climate scientists and the climate activists.” This distinction is extremely important in understanding anything from the internet. My impression is that most internet chit chat and emotionalism comes from “climate activists” who generally do not understand the science. I am a scientist in a different field, and have given up trying to talk to non-scientists about my area because when I do so, they scream advertising slogans at me and tell me I am stupid, because of the publications and infomercials from “activists” in my field who seem to be directed by large corporations. (I am a nutritional biochemist)

    I wonder if there is some rubric or formula to help a non-scientist in a field sort out the difference between activism and science (ie. quickly figure out who to believe). During the last dark ages, we developed a monastic education system culminating in the “University” which distinguished more objective intellectuals from subjective activists via competitive and in depth study culminating with pedigrees such as PhD degrees. That system has broken down in many respects and we could use some tool or system to help sort through the nonsense…………………………

  267. As a recipient of the blank stares that you mention, I just wanted to say thanks for all of your writings. I’m happy to see you blogging again. I look forward to your discussion of ecological spirituality!

  268. Ed O,

    Thanks for linking the Youtube video on C fee and dividend. It does not allay my reservations.

    The scheme described is fairly straightforward, and I expect the outcome would be as claimed in an ideal world. But it’s just a framework. In the process of implementing it in the real world the usual compromises and political adjustments would likely be made, and I see no evidence that the actual legislation that emerged would not be subject to the usual shennanigans.

    Nothing I can discern offers unusual protection from gaming by special interests. The presenter essentially admits as much at 4:58 in the first video, when he says he “just assumes” that complicated legal issues related to border adjustments would somehow “make their way to a happy resolution” within the WTO.

    Can you identify existing large systems of financial redistribution not corrupted to benefit the wealthy and well-connected? Why should we expect anything different here?

  269. JMG and all:
    I attempted to find a less expensive “Weird” edition by Google search and the prominent item led to what I am almost certain is a phishing site. Very smooth and polished, but none of the company names/identifiers could be found in Google searches. Wanted my credit card info for a month of free access (“We will not use your card information until you desire to extend…”). Names I could not find anywhere else were Bestbooks Library, Booksco.co, Nowily. (Booksco.com and Wily did return legit sites.)

    Well, I did finally find the paperback, using search at Booksco.com. Said “Arcane Wisdom, publisher”, so I’ll look there first, as I think I remember that JMG gets a better share there?

    Dave Babcock

  270. @Matthias Gralle: Children are fascinated by nature, aren’t they! I wish I had memories from when I was 2. When I’m in the woods, and get the scent of pine sap on my fingers, I’m struck by how much I’ve forgotten.

  271. Pingback: URL

Courteous, concise comments relevant to the topic of the current post are welcome, whether or not they agree with the views expressed here, and I try to respond to each comment as time permits. Long screeds proclaiming the infallibility of some ideology or other, however, will be deleted; so will repeated attempts to hammer on a point already addressed; so will comments containing profanity, abusive language, flamebaiting and the like -- I filled up my supply of Troll Bingo cards years ago and have no interest in adding any more to my collection; and so will sales spam and offers of "guest posts" pitching products. I'm quite aware that the concept of polite discourse is hopelessly dowdy and out of date, but then some people would say the same thing about the traditions this blog is meant to discuss . Thank you for reading Ecosophia! -- JMG

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