Shuck and Jive

Monday, September 13, 2010

Can You Say "Collapse"?


A helpful exercise is to the say the word. Hear yourself say it.

Collapse. Again.

Collapse. You can do this.


I am pleased that Robert Jensen can say it. I have written about Robert Jensen before especially in the context of Presbyterian mini-dramas. He is the atheist guy who joined the church. Those were good times.

Robert Jensen was interviewed by the New Left Project. The interview is entitled: A World in Collapse? Good for Robert Jensen. He is saying the "C" word. We need to be able to say it.

Industrial civilization is collapsing. We cannot stop it. However, we can creatively and consciously respond to it. We can only respond if we overcome denial. This is as much if not more a spiritual, emotional, social, and psychological challenge as it is a material and political one.

That is the task of clergy. I'm looking at you.

Obviously, it is not only the task of clergy. It is the task of all of us. However, clergy, given their role should be the ones to
  1. tell the truth
  2. provide opportunities for people to come to terms with grief
  3. encourage people to prepare and be conscious
But mostly we reinforce denial and engage in trivial skirmishes. Why is that? Jensen may have some insight:
I’ve had many left colleagues tell me that they agree with some or all of my analysis, but that “people aren’t ready to hear that yet.” I translate that to mean, “I’m not ready to hear that yet.” I think a lot of leftists displace their own fear of confronting these difficult realities onto “the masses,” when in fact they can’t face it.
I am trying to think of all the reasons that keep me from telling the truth regarding the collapse of industrial civilization to my church folks:
  1. They might believe it and stop giving to the church.
  2. They might take their anger out on the messenger.
  3. They might think I am an apocalyptic yahoo and leave.
  4. I may need to face my own anxieties and fears.
  5. I may not have the skills or strength to minister in time of collapse.
  6. I am still mostly in denial.
If I were truly honest, there are probably more reasons. But that is all I can handle today.

I am grateful today for Robert Jensen, Carolyn Baker, and Michael Ruppert.

I just realized that today is September 13th. On September 13th, 1992 I was ordained by the Presbytery of Utica (New York) and installed as minister at my first call, FPC Lowville, NY.

What a long strange trip it has been.

UPDATE: Here is the podcast of Mike Ruppert's first show on the Progressive Radio Network, The Lifeboat Hour.


  1. Happy anniversary, my friend. I'm so happy to be at least a point of interest on your trip!

  2. You are much more than a point of interest. You are a beloved traveling companion!

  3. Mike Ruppert's first broadcast on the Progressive Radio Network is here!

    Listen to The Lifeboat Hour.

  4. For the love of Pete, don't preach the hard truth! People want Joel Osteen happy-happy-joy-joy, mystical legerdemain, or a political/economic/social guilt trip to which they can respond with a simple dip in the old wallet and a few pious words on a sign at a comfortable protest. If you talk about the collapse, I can guarantee that you will face misunderstanding, shock, whispered wonderment, and opposition...the opposition probably from the folks you would most expect to support you. Do I sound like I know what I am talking about? lol.

  5. But there is another side. The side that represents people who get it. I have many lurkers on this blog. They may never say anything but can connect. Millions of people are already doing many things to build lifeboats. This is actually a joyful time as well.

  6. But why is there such a disconnect within congregations? Why is that such a different (and strange) world?

  7. My first guess is that congregations (as currently structured) are part of the landscape of industrial civilization, like fast food and strip malls.

  8. @Rulon

    Just after I made that comment I ran across this quote:

    "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."
    --Sinclair Lewis, 1935

  9. One of my favorite quotes. And "happy anniversary" John. As always, you are right on target. Sadly the church is so unprepared to deal with anything like this. My denomination literally spends millions of $$ on "social statememts" every few years. Most of them are gobbledy gook which quickly are shelved to collect dust. We can't see the forest for the trees.

    A practical question: Can you recommnend a book/resource usable for a typical congregation study group that raises these issues at a fairly basic level? This would seem to be a great way to get off our congregational and denominational survival anxieties to discuss something of genuine importance.

  10. I usually show documentaries.

    Some good ones are:

    End of Suburbia


    Here is a list of peak oil films..

    I haven't seen it, but I heard Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil is good.

    Of course, Mike Ruppert's Collapse is a must see.

    I would introduce these films as interesting documentaries on issues of energy and the environment. What do y'all think?

    This Sunday I am beginning a two week course on Mountain Top Removal Mining. We are watching Mountain Mourning

  11. Doug

    The PCUSA Board of Pensions has sent annual statements about pensions and SS each year that said how much I would receive yearly if I retire at age 67. THIS year it only told me about pension payments. It told me I could find out what I would receive from FICA if I went to their website. I suspect there is a message in there somewhere!