Mark Green's Atheopaganism Blog

Living an Earth-Honoring Path Rooted in Science

In Memoriam: Michael Dowd

After a life of convention-challenging thought and leadership, Michael Dowd has left us, quietly in his sleep last Saturday.

There is a lot to say about Rev. Dowd. He was certainly a big thinker and he, with his wife Connie Barlow, was a pioneer in the framing of the very story of the Universe and evolution themselves as a grand spiritual narrative.

He was also a “post-Doomer”, believing that climate change, ecological and civilizational collapse are inevitable and promoting a philosophical position that eschewed big-picture hope, but rather chose small acts of bettering the world immediately around us.

I disagreed with him on this, and we had a couple of go-rounds of debate. My position is that of chaos mathematics and emergent complexity themselves: that we cannot predict with any certainty the outcome of extremely complex processes, and it is therefore premature to simply take on faith that Doom is inevitable.

But he was certainly a worthy opponent in these discussions, and an interesting and thoughtful man. He didn’t exactly “give” us The Great Story, but he promoted it as an alternative to theological narratives like Sin and Salvation, and he was thus, though perhaps not an atheist himself, an early articulator, like Carl Sagan, of the idea of scientifically confirmed history as a religious text.

He left us too soon, and will be sorely missed.

3 Comments

  1. This man was a gem. At this time, I am working with an international online organization called Deep Adaptation Forum (DAF). Dr. Dowd was highly regarded inside this group. He was close to many of the original founders/administrators; losing his wisdom was a very hard blow. I give about 15 hours a week online to DAF principles: Connecting people, in all spheres of life, to foster mutual support and collaboration in the process of anticipating, observing, and experiencing societal disruption and collapse.

    My husband and I are Deep Ecologists. Since 1962 when “Silent Spring” was published, we have been devoted to protecting our Earth. For the last three years, I have worked with the Climate Psychology Alliance (CPA) also at an international level online. The main focus of CPA is helping those who are suffering “Climate Grief.” I completed my Ph.D. at the University of Arizona in 2010. The next two professors were both there studying Climate Change at the time I was studying Education. I have worked with Dr. Guy McPherson for a decade and Dr. John “Peck” Overpeck since late 2007. Both have recorded the work of themselves and others related to climate change. DAF takes a far wider view of what is going, in addition to climate change, on as did Michael Dowd.

    My Craft name is “Omi.” I am a co-founder of The Church of Iron Oak (1991), in Palm Bay Florida. I was the Aquarian Tabernacle Church Clergy for over 20 years. I am the past HPS of The Church of All Worlds. We lived in Central Mexico on leased land with indigenous people for nearly six years. We moved to Ecuador 10 years ago for health reasons. We again live on leased land near indigenous people. We built and live in an Eco0Hobbit House https://www.facebook.com/jacquelinezmackenzie in Vilcabamba, Loja, Ecuador, South America.

    1. Thanks for your comment!

      Michael was a potent voice. I didn’t agree with his “Post-Doomer” perspective, but he did a lot of good with promoting the idea of The Great Story as a spiritual origin story.

      My gateway to Paganism was actually CAW, btw. There were good things about it, but over time the narcissism and lack of ethics and boundaries of its founder drove me, like so many, away from it to seek higher-integrity Pagan contexts and, ultimately, to found my own.

      I will investigate DAF–it sounds interesting!

      Again, thanks for coming by to comment.

  2. Dr. Jacqueline Zaleski Mackenzie

    Mark,

    The pathway to the right way to reach Spirit is often filled with rocks to stumble over before we identify what we need, with whom, and why. You’ve done a terrific job of getting up, brushing off, and being the change you wanted to see in this world. Congrats!

    At this time, at age 83 and 76, we have taken a hard stand to fight capitalism in the public eye. Being with those who follow the DAF Charter https://www.deepadaptation.info/daf-charter/ is exactly what I needed to get though this period in my life. The facilitators are there to listen: not to fix, not to advise; not to critique; not to judge…simply to listen. It is a refreshing option in a time when it feels like the loss of power and control over our lives is at it’s highest!

    The following is at the bottom of my emails:

    If climate disruption & societal collapse concern you:
    https://www.deepadaptation.info/events/list/
    ā€œIā€™m so much more afraid of cruelty than I am of death, at how we treat one another when we fall down, what do we do? Do we hold each other or do we fight each other?ā€ Naomi Klein, Climate Activist. Climate Grief and Hope, May 4, 2023 interview: Othering & Belonging Institute

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