Life After Doom: Wisdom and Courage for a World Falling Apart

Former pastor and prolific author Brian D. McLaren's Life After Doom: Wisdom and Courage for a World Falling Apart, is an openhearted response to climate emergency. McLaren applies religious principles to real circumstances as he predicts hard times ahead and signposts a middle way between hope and despair.

McLaren (Faith After Doubt) doesn't sugarcoat: the human situation is critical, a result of ecological overshoot, unjust political systems, and the enshrinement of capitalism. Societal collapse appears inevitable; the question is when. McLaren begins by comparing the possibilities of four scenarios typically represented in dystopian fiction. "Collapse Avoidance" seems increasingly unlikely, which leaves "Collapse/Rebirth," "Collapse/Survival," or "Collapse/Extinction." Though McLaren often fears the worst, he maintains an attitude of defiance.

The book's four-part structure models a spiritual journey: "Letting Go" involves waking up to reality, guarding one's mental health, reckoning with eco-grief through poetry, and rejecting harmful ideologies. "Letting Be" seeks insight from Indigenous perspectives--and McLaren argues the Bible should be counted among "sacred indigenous literary artifacts." "Letting Come" explores parallels from historical civilizations and offers strategies for resilience. "Setting Free" ponders actions that show respect for future generations. The author insists that "ugliness is everywhere" but "beauty abounds."

McLaren illustrates his proposals through his own trajectory--away from prescriptive theology and toward an understanding of climate change, a love for nature, and a passion for social justice. Life After Doom is a conversational and interactive work combining everyday metaphors, family stories, scriptural exegesis, and mystical moments. McLaren quotes frequently from figures such as Audre Lorde and Richard Rohr. Comprehensive, practical, and philosophical, this is a necessary corrective to false optimism or unconstructive catastrophizing. --Rebecca Foster, freelance reviewer, proofreader and blogger at Bookish Beck

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