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Sabbath Day – A New Eaarth

November 15, 2013

Because I am a pastor and ‘work’ on Sundays, I attempt to observe the sabbath each Thursday.  Sabbath Day is my weekly record of what I did with this day.

I spent most of my day in front of a warm fire in the hearth with Bill McKibben’s 2011 Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet, now out in paperback with a new afterward. Barbara Kingsolver has written “Read it. Please. Straight through to the end. Whatever else you were planning to do next, nothing could be more important.”


McKibben crafts the neologism EAARTH to describe the planet on which we now live, which is a fundamentally different planet than the one on which life first emerged and thrived for so long. We have threatened our ecological life support systems and challenged the viability of contemporary human societies. And there is no going back. The environment no longer behaves the way it has over the eons during which life and civilization evolved.

“Our old familiar globe is suddenly melting, drying, acidifying, flooding, and burning in ways that no human has ever seen. We’ve created, in very short order, a new planet, still recognizable but fundamentally different. We may as well call it EAARTH.”

This is a planet where ” the wind blows harder and the lightning strikes more often and more rain falls and the sea rises.” Global warming is not a problem we will pass on to our grandchildren. It is now. And our  carbon footprint means that we are not currently sustainable as a species.

We’re like the guy who ate steak for dinner every night and let his cholesterol top 300 and had a heart attack. Now he dines on Lipitor and walks on the treadmill, but half his heart is dead tissue. We’re like the guy who smoked for forty years and then he had a stroke. He doesn’t smoke anymore, but the left side of his body doesn’t work either.

Damage has been done. The planet no longer follows the rules that have made life possible for millennia.

The first half of the book outlines the dire facts. No doomsday predictions. No fear-mongering. No descriptions of what will happen if we don’t change our ways. Just dire facts about what is happening NOW on our warming planet. The problems we will experience in the next hundred years – droughts, floods, famines, ocean dead-zones, disease, hunger and decline – are not eventualities but continuations of present reality.

We missed our opportunity to avoid this scenario.

The question now is whether we will take action to create a different future for ourselves in which we learn to live “lightly, carefully, and gracefully” on this NEW planet EAARTH.


Thursday is also Family Game Night for the Damico/Geary household. At 3:15 I picked August up at school and at 3:20 I picked Noelle up at the train station. We dined out at Smashburger, Noelle’s new favorite burger place, and then we went bowling. August is a new convert to the game, which he learned first from his cousins and recently during a friend’s birthday party. He beat his mom, but lost to his dad.

After homework, evening found he and I curled up before the still hot fire reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. (We read Sorcerer’s Stone last week). Reading HP is a full body experience – excitement and suspense in the story requires physical response: acting out every description of facial expressions or jumping/leaping/racing around the room to let out/express narrative tension. Reading together feels (and looks) like theater!

We camp out tonight before the fireplace.

Happy sabbath all.

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