This week's blog mourns the death of Michael Dowd,
creator of the resource-rich website postdoom.com, who died on 7 October 2023. Michael
was a writer, a lecturer, a preacher with the Unitarian Universalist church, and
an advocate of eco-theology. He is best known by many around the globe for his
extensive body of work related to post-doom.
Michael was surely one of the warriors of the Tibetan story of Shambhala.
This legend tells of how, when the Earth is in danger, the realm of Shambhala emerges. Shambhala is not a place; it exists in the hearts and minds of the Shambhala Warriors. You cannot identify these warriors by any external appearance. They wear no uniform, and they do not display insignia. The only way to recognise a Shambhala Warrior is by the two weapons (or implements) they wield. (Listen here to the legend retold by Joanna Macy, as it was told to her by a Tibetan monk.)
One of these weapons is compassion. The other is insight into the inter-being of all things.
Michael Dowd had a firm grasp on both these weapons. Just two weeks before his death he gave his final sermon to the Flint, Michigan congregation. Fortunately, for us, this sermon was recorded. It is a sermon in which, as you watch and listen, you notice that he wields both these weapons with highly trained skill.
Appropriately, this sermon is titled ‘Being theCalm in the Storm’ - no better label could epitomise how Michael lived his life and how he wished for all of us to be able to live in these troubled times. No matter whether you are a theist, an atheist, or a non-theist, this final address by Michael is one for all of us.
When you listen to his interviews with others, or watch his YouTube clips, his grace and wisdom are readily apparent. The range of people he interviewed (all available on his website) is staggering. As a resource and as a link to other people’s work, Michael Dowd’s website is possibly unsurpassed. It is a testament to his dedication, not only to his subject matter, but also to his endeavour to provide the best resources available for anyone wishing to find out more.
Michael Dowd coined the term post-doom, and in doing so opened up the possibility of living with compassion, joy, an appreciation of beauty, and love, even though understanding that the world as we know it has entered the global, and quite possibly final, collapse phase of an unsustainable boom-bust scenario. His website (postdoom.com) contains dozens of interviews with people from all over the world who understand the nature of the predicament we are in, yet who live their lives in a meaningful and joyful manner.
Michael too, understood this very well. It is telling that in his final sermon he offered us three tools for “being the calm in the storm” of these troubled, and disruptive times: 1. Nurture your personal intimacy with life, 2. Honour your and our mortality, and 3. Attend to what matters most.
Michael leaves us with a wealth of resources: interviews, podcasts, book readings, videos, talks, and documentaries. These resources cover everything you ever wanted to know (and a lot more besides) about the state of the world and how best to negotiate it.
Surely, Michael was, and remains, a Shambhala warrior.