Don’t Look Up

You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; so that they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn—and I would heal them.”                                     Matthew 13 14-15

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently released its Synthesis Report of its sixth assessment (AR6)[i] It should have been at the top of the news everywhere, but it was not. The constant barrage of attention-grabbing news headlines with violent, distressing, or random content makes it almost impossible to grasp what’s most important. It makes it hard to “see the forest for the trees.” But if the forest is dying there will be no trees, as is happening here in the Zombie forests[ii] of California, due of course, to climate change.

In the movie “Don’t Look Up,” filmmaker Adam McKay uses the metaphor of a world-destroying comet to parody how policy-makers and the media downplay the imminent threat of climate catastrophe. Jennifer Lawrence plays a doctoral student who discovers a massive comet headed straight for Earth, and Leo Di Caprio plays the scientist who confirms her discovery. Together they do everything they can to awaken people to the threat. The response of the US president, played brilliantly by Meryl Streep, is to “sit tight and assess,” and finally to support a billionaire entrepreneur’s high-tech (market based) money-making scheme. They go directly to the press but the talk show host, played by Cate Blanchett, ignores the danger, trivializes the topic, and dismisses the Jennifer Lawrence character for desperately sounding the alarm.

Film maker Adam McKay describes his motivation for producing “Don’t Look Up” by pointing back through geological time to the asteroid that many scientists say is responsible for wiping out the dinosaurs and many other species.  He says, “[Climate change] is the biggest story in human history, and arguably the biggest threat since the Chicxulub comet 66 million years ago.”[iii]

Is this an exaggeration? Climate scientists today are sounding the alarm.  According to the IPCC’s AR6 report:

“Human-caused climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe. This has led to widespread adverse impacts and related losses and damages to nature and people. Vulnerable communities that have historically contributed the least to current climate change are disproportionately affected.”[iv]

“In this decade, accelerated action to adapt to climate change is essential to close the gap between existing adaptation and what is needed…Emissions should be decreasing by now and will need to be cut by almost half by 2030, if warming is to be limited to 1.5°C. [v]

According the IPCC’s press release, “There is a rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a livable and sustainable future for all…The choices and actions implemented in this decade will have impacts now and for thousands of years.”[vi]

Last November, in his opening plenary remarks at COP 27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterrez summed up our situation: “The clock is ticking. We are in the fight of our lives, and we are losing. Greenhouse gas emissions keep growing, global temperatures keep rising, and our planet is fast approaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible.” He added, ‘We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator.”[vii]

Many of us in the global North are privileged enough to be able to find ways to insulate ourselves (temporarily) from the reality and impacts of climate change on our lives and hope that the fires and floods don’t come for us. We might tell ourselves that there’s nothing that we can do, or we might feel we are doing our part because we recycle or don’t fly or are vegan or have an electric car, or we might hold out hope for the next technological fix or the next billionaire entrepreneur to save us.  But these responses are inadequate in light of the existential threat we face. These are all forms of denial, because they enable us to pretend that life will continue go on as is has before. They are ways of saying, “Don’t look up.”

In many parts of the world, people don’t have that luxury, because extreme weather is destroying their homes, their crops, their livelihoods, and even their very existence as a people (as with island nations).  Our young know that climate change is upon us and accelerating, and that they and their descendants will disproportionately bear its escalating burdens long after those who have presided over the current fossil-fuel intensive global system are gone.

Clearly, powers very much like the dominating powers of Jesus’s age, continue their death-dealing work today. Creation itself is being crucified. As William Stringfellow said, “The work of the powers in the Fall is the undoing of creation.” This becomes ever-harder to ignore as temperatures rise, weather extremes multiply, and ecosystems that sustain life are progressively unraveled, putting an ever-greater strain on our corporate-dominated capitalist global empire, leading to rising epidemics of poverty, violence, and misery.

This post is an invitation and a challenge to readers to come out of denial and face the extremity of our situation. The season of Lent is a fitting time for this, for it is God in Christ, immanent as well as transcendent, who suffers in and through us and all creation. We are approaching Holy Week, and we know that Easter is coming. Yet we cannot bypass the cross to get to resurrection.

As we walk with Jesus through the painful events that led to his death, in retrospect we can see, like the Gospel writers, God’s divine presence and providence in these events. But it’s important to look at these events in context, for it was not God but the rulers of his age who “crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Cor 2:8). In other words, it was the dominating powers of his day—the Roman Empire and the elite religious establishment that collaborated with the Roman occupation of Jerusalem who found Jesus to be subverting the existing establishment.  For that, he was killed.

In An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land, William Stringfellow speaks of the moral impoverishment  that afflicts us as we relinquish our human responsiblility to the powers. He says, “I mean by `moral impoverishment’ what the Bible often cites as hardness of the heart” or as the impairment or loss of moral discernment; the incapacity to hear, though one has ears; or to see, though one has eyes… I refer, thus, not so much to an evil mind as to a paralyzed onscience; not so much to either personal or corporate immorality as to a social pathology possessing persons and institutions; not so much to malevolence, however incarnate, as to the literla demoralization of human life in society.” It is not so much that there are evil people running things, but that things are running on automatic according to the institutional imperatives in a global system that is working against life. “Don’t look up,” encouraged by the dominating powers that benefit from the current system, is a way to avoid facing the truth or feeling the need to respond.

As people of faith and followers of Jesus, how do we collaborate with the rulers of this age, that is, the interlocking network of institutional powers that makes up today’s global empire? How can we withdraw our support?

First, we must open our eyes and look up—to see what the scientists are showing us. We must open our ears and hear the cries of people suffering on the front lines of climate change. We must open our hearts to understand, process, and grieve what is at stake:  the integrity and continuation of the interdependent community of life that has evolved here on Earth, life as we have known it, the creation that God calls “good.”

Second, we must recognize that the damage being done to creation is not the result of natural evolution or human history. Rather, it is the result of policies developed by wealthy and powerful individuals and the dominant institutions of our time, supported by those of us who tolerate and accept this system. We can break out of this complicity by naming, unmasking (exposing), and engaging these powers and by pointing in a new and life-sustaining way of being in the world.

Third, even as we reflect on and grieve the painful realities of our time, Christ’s risen Spirit is alive and active in our world today on behalf of life, and as we experience and recognize that activity we are invited to participate. The global movement for climate justice is one such expression of the Spirit’s power.  Bill McKibben said, “The best way to counter organized money is with organized people.” People who have the courage to look up.

This is the sixth post in a Lenten Series, “Creation, Cross, and The Powers.” The other posts are as follows:

  1. Creation, Cross, and The Powers
  2. Extraordinary Temptations
  3. The Spirituality of an Epoch
  4. Creation: Moving from Awe to Lament to Resistance
  5. Banking on Our Future as Demythologized Exorcism
  6. Don’t Look Up
  7. Care Enough to Weep
  8. The Death of Jesus in Context
  9. Resurrection and New Creation

Follow Sharon’s blog post by signing up at the “Follow” link to the right. Share with the Social Media buttons below. See also a previous Lenten series: A Lenten Call to Resist. Check out Sharon’s books.  Contact Sharon to request a complimentary digital chapter of one of her books, to request a presentation, or to order discounted bulk copies of her books. 

 [i] “AR6 Synthesis Report, Climate Change, 2023,” Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,

[ii] Mapping California’s ‘Zombie’ Forests,” Elena Shao, New York Times, March 6, 2023,

[iii] “Climate Scientist and Netflix ‘Don’t Look Up’ director talk comet metaphors and global warming,” Elizabeth Howell,, May 11, 2022,

[iv]  “Synthesis Report of the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report,” Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, March 20, 2023,

“Banking on Our Future” as Demythologized Exorcism

Ironic: Chase bank with the “C” obscured by tarp held by sand bags from recent extreme storms. “What will you do when the time runs out?” See more photos below.

Note: This post is intended for those who aspire to following Jesus in the context of today’s interlocking network of institutional “powers and principalities” that make up the global economy. I hope that by “demythologizing” some of these terms, people of other spiritual or secular traditions will also find value.

While writing this Lenten blog series on “Creation, Cross, and The Powers,” I was also working with others on Third Act’s Day of Action, as I write about below. It dawned on me as I was doing so that in Judeo-Christian terms, this action can be seen as a form of demythologized “exorcism.” Not spooky, but practical. Here’s how.

Third Act’s Banking on Our Future Campaign called for a Day of Action (for the climate) which was held on 3.21.23. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of people, gathered in cities, towns, and small rural communities like mine for public actions focused on the top four funders of fossil fuel projects: Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase, and Citibank. Many changed banks. They had opened accounts at local banks or credit unions in advance.  They went into their banks and closed their accounts on the Day of Action. Some publicly cut up their debit/credit cards outside the bank. On the weekend before the action, people gathered to make colorful signs, banners, and giant cardboard scissors that say, “Cut it out or we’ll cut them up.” Others prepared songs, chants, and performance arts.

As part of Third Act Faith (an interfaith working group of Third Act), I was part of a faith contingent in the larger Day of Action demonstration here in Grass Valley, California. It was an expression of our spiritual/faith commitment to protecting and preserving creation (including our human family). There was also a contingent of young people, including members of Nevada County Sunrise.

Why gather? As record-breaking snowfall has followed long-term drought and frequent wildfires here in Northern California, we are now living under an atmospheric river with seemingly endless rain. Does that mean that things are finally balancing out? Is the drought over? I would love that. My grandchildren have lived through record-breaking weather extremes their whole lives. I would love for them to get a break, to be able to get established and build lives for themselves without chaotic weather disruptions.

But these extremes of heat and cold, drought and precipitation, are exactly what climate scientists have predicted for decades.  Heat increases evaporation and moisture in the air, which must come down somewhere—just not always when and where it has historically. With the melting of sea ice, sea level rise, changes in patterns of the polar vortex and the jet stream, our young people and future generations are bound to experience more frequent and intense weather extremes rather than less. Such is the reality that we call “climate change,” which sounds so benign. It is really a “climate emergency.”

How does all this relate to the theme of this Lenten blog series or to today’s post on “Demythologizing Exorcism.”  Just this: If followers of Jesus are called to “cast out demons” (Mark: 14-15), we do not have to think in terms of spooky Hollywood portrayals of priests unsuccessfully attempting weird rituals to drive out some evil spirit that has taken possession of an innocent person, usually a child. Instead, let’s consider how to interpret what “casting out demons” might look like in contemporary terms that are relevant to the existential challenges facing humanity today, specifically climate change.

In previous posts in this series, and in many of my writings, I refer to William Stringfellow and other theological forebears and their practical understanding of what we call, in contemporary terms, “the Powers that Be.” These are the dominant principalities and powers that we read about in the Bible, “all rule and authority and power and dominion” (Ephesians 2:21),” against which we struggle “with all the armor of God” (Ephesians 6:10-17).  They are “the rulers of this age” who do not understand “the wisdom that comes from God” (1 Corinthians 2:6).

The institutional powers that dominate our world have outer and physical realities (a bank façade or the Capitol or the Pentagon), but also inner and spiritual (or psychic) realities that impact all of us who live under their authority. We tend to internalize their values. The most obvious expression today of the “rulers of this age” is the interlocking network of political, economic, ideological, and military institutions that make up the global “domination system” of today.

Part of the pain of facing the reality of our time is that we know we are complicit in climate change and other harms caused by this global system, in which we participate and from which many of us (especially white, middle-class, US-Christians) benefit. What can we do to remedy this situation? We can begin to “exorcise” the demon of complicity, and Banking on Our Future shows us a way to do just that.

By participating in this Day of Action at any level, including coming to show support, we renounce our complicity while “unmasking” the banks that promote the destruction of life and hope by funding the fossil fuel companies that continue to greenwash, promote doubt about climate change, and build new infrastructure to keep the fossil fuel party going indefinitely.  By refusing to invest in banks that do so, we free ourselves (by the power of the Spirit) from this form of (literal) “possession” by the fossil fuel economy. At the same time, we call (urge, demand, entreat) these banks to assume their rightful role in society: to provide financial security and stability for bank “customers” while investing in ways that enhance life and serve the common good—in this case, by rapidly divesting our money from fossil fuels and investing it in just and sustainable sources of energy that can carry us into a clean energy future.



This is the fifth post in a Lenten Series, “Creation, Cross, and The Powers.” The other posts in the series are as follows: 





  1. Creation, Cross, and The Powers
  2. Extraordinary Temptations
  3. The Spirituality of an Epoch
  4. Creation: Moving from Awe to Lament to Resistance
  5. Banking on Our Future as Demythologized Exorcism
  6. Don’t Look Up
  7. Care Enough to Weep
  8. The Death of Jesus in Context
  9. Resurrection and New Creation

Follow Sharon’s blog post by signing up at the “Follow” link to the right. Share with the Social Media buttons below. See also a previous Lenten series: A Lenten Call to Resist. Check out Sharon’s books.  Contact Sharon to request a complimentary digital chapter of one of her books, to request a presentation, or to order discounted bulk copies of her books. 





The Climate and the Quadrilateral

May, 2022, A New Review by Wyatt Robinson .

The Climate and the Quadrilateral

“Looking for a book study for your church to talk about climate justice? Church and Society Theology Intern Wyatt Robinson explores a theological reflection on our climate crisis.”

While engaging in my work on issues of climate justice, I have been reflecting on different resources to help me better understand the theological foundations and implications of the work for justice that we do at Church and Society. One of those resources I have used to guide my theological reflection is a book called Love in a Time of Climate Change: Honoring Creation, Establishing Justice by Rev. Sharon Delgado. I had the privilege of hearing Rev. Delgado speak at our Climate & Community Webinar in December and was excited to dive deeper into theological reflection with her written work. What I found in her book was much more than an intellectual reflection on the theological implications of climate change, but a deep integration between Wesleyan theology and spiritual practice to meet the challenges of our climate crisis in practical, intersectional, just, and sustainable ways.

In Love in a Time of Climate Change, Rev. Delgado issues a call to faithfulness, as God’s people called Methodists who have inherited the Wesleyan tradition, and points to signs of hope for churches who embody our Wesleyan commitment to love and justice in the face of our current climate crisis.

Rev. Delgado asserts that the teachings and traditions of John Wesley, that have at their core a love for God’s creation and an emphasis on social justice and holiness, can serve as a useful framework to approach and transform our world as it faces the many climate related threats of our time. She uses one of the central teachings of the Wesleyan tradition, Albert Outler’s Wesleyan Quadrilateral, as a constructive framework for honoring creation and establishing justice, “in a mature way that is consistent with our faith and values.” (p. 9)

Through this framework of the Quadrilateral, Rev. Delgado recognizes the way that true transformation and salvation from the threats of climate change requires both ideological and systematic transformation.

Throughout the book, she acknowledges the simultaneous need for more climate education, changes in individual actions, and collective action to challenge the systems that carry the majority of the responsibility for creating and perpetuating our climate crisis. Most significantly, Rev. Delgado centralizes the stories and needs of frontline communities who are currently facing loss and damage due to climate change, discerning her suggested responses by individuals and churches from the experience and wisdom of the marginalized communities who are most at risk.

Delgado properly recognizes that, “It is time for prophetic words and courageous actions that demonstrate the extremity of our situation and the need for deep and lasting cultural, political, economic, and spiritual transformation.” Love in a Time of Climate Change is an approachable resource for any person, study group, or church that wants to learn how to faithfully engage in the fight against climate change while bringing the full power and witness of their Methodist tradition to the table.

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Contact Sharon to request a free PDF chapter of her new book, The Cross in the Midst of Creation, request a presentation, or to order bulk copies of her books.

Launch Event, June 14

Friends, finally my new book, The Cross in the Midst of Creation, is being released by Fortress Press. The Multi-Faith Climate Café will host a Launch Day event on June 14, the scheduled date for its release, at 11 am Pacific Time. Register here.

Because the Café focuses on faith perspectives on climate change, this conversation will center around Chapter 4, “Creation Crucified: The Passion of the Earth.” I will present some of the key themes of this chapter, including reconciliation of all creation (2 Corinthians 5:17-18), deep incarnation, the existential significance of our time, ecocide (“undoing creation”), the passion of the earth, why a theology of creation and a theology of the cross must go together, and new creation. I plan to present these ideas briefly so that we can enjoy an interactive discussion that will stimulate our ongoing growth in sensitivity, understanding, and motivation for action for our beloved creation (which includes our human family).

Overall, this book addresses the multiple challenges facing our world today from a progressive Christian perspective.  It explores confusion and disagreement among Christians about the meaning of the cross, the primary symbol of Christian faith. It links a theology of creation with a theology of the cross and argues that for Christians these two aspects of faith need to be integrated into the heart of the Christian gospel. The book makes the case that the crucifixion is ongoing as institutionalized powers like the ones that put Jesus to death are still at work today in the violence and injustice perpetrated against our human family and creation itself. At the same time, the resurrection is ongoing as people from varied spiritual and philosophical perspectives rise in courage and move in the direction of God’s intended world. Other themes include: a critique of Christian nationalism and the “theological cruelty” that makes it possible, a survey of biblically based views of the cross that focus on the God of love who was revealed in Jesus (not just in his death and resurrection but also in his life and teachings), what it means to live in the presence of the Risen Christ today and to follow Jesus into the heart of the struggle for a transformed world.

Several other book launch events will follow the one on June 14, as well as book studies and action opportunities. To stay connected, follow me on Facebook or sign up to follow my blog. You can contact me here to order signed or bulk copies of my books, to ask me a question, or to just say “hi.”

The Struggle to Stop Line 3

Hello Friends,

It has been a long time since I have written a blog post, but I’m happy to report that I recently turned in a manuscript for a book that I have been working on all year, so here I am. I’ll tell you more about it when it gets closer to time for publication.

Next up: now that I am fully vaccinated, I am getting ready to take a train trip to Minnesota with three friends to join about 25 other members of 1000 Grandmothers for Future Generations. We will be joining members of the Anishinaabe tribe who are resisting the construction of the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline that would go through their territory. We are going at their ,invitation. While we are there we will support their efforts however we can, when we get back we will share their story and how it ties in to the larger struggle for a livable future. 

Climate activists and others are joining together to support the Anishinaabe in their attempts to defeat Line 3. Public pressure led by Indigenous people and supported by environmental groups led to the defeat of the Keystone XL Pipeline, helped along by creative coalitions such as the “Cowboy and Indian Alliance” that included ranchers along the pipeline route. Likewise, public action drew international attention to the Standing Rock Sioux’s struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline, which a judge recently ruled as being illegal. Similar coalitions are now at work to stop Enbridge Line 3.

Where does stopping construction of new oil and gas pipelines fit into the overall struggle for a livable future? Long-lasting oil and gas infrastructure such as pipelines not only vastly increase the capacity of fossil fuel development but lock in the extraction, transport, processing, sale, and burning of such fuels over decades, accelerating climate change into the future. Pipelines pollute lands and waters along their routes through their frequent spills.

The very definition of climate justice is that we need to listen to and serve as allies to those who are on the front lines and at most risk of harm related to fossil-fuel extraction and climate change: people in sacrifice zones where fossil fuels are extracted, transported, and processed, usually communities of color; people in poor countries and communities (often communities of color) where the impacts of climate change are often first and worst; children and young people whose futures will be made much harder because of policy choices made today; and yes, species that are struggling to survive as ecosystems are degraded and destroyed.

On Earth Day this year, the organization I work with, Earth Justice Ministries, published a commentary about The Rights of Indigenous People and the Rights of Mother Earth. Acknowledging the rights of Indigenous people and centering their voices about caring for creation is critical if our work to create a livable future is to bear fruit. This awareness is essential for anyone concerned about climate change and other environmental damage, for simply changing our lifestyles or working piecemeal on individual policies will not bring about the overall systemic change that is needed. It will also require a change of worldview and frontline communities taking nonviolent action to keep polluting fossil fuels in the ground.

To contribute to our travels, you can donate to the Go Fund Me account Send Grandmothers to Help Stop Line 3.

To find out more about the effort to halt construction on Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline, see the resources at Honor the Earth, Stop Line 3. Stay tuned for more!

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Other blog postings about climate change can be found here.  A previous post that speaks more about Indigenous worldviews and front line community actions is at Conflicting Worldviews at the Global Climate Summit.