Written by Connie Barlow

I am Michael’s wife of 22 years. Michael died unexpectedly of a massive heart attack the night of October 7. On October 12, I found solace and deep gratitude while creating this video tribute. I was motivated to get it onto youtube in time for the zoom gathering of Michael’s colleagues. I didn’t attend the zoom event. After editing, the event was posted on youtube: Michael Dowd Celebration of Life

It was a shock to all that Michael died in his sleep, away from home, just 3 days after having attended his father’s death under hospice care in Poughkeepsie.

PHOTOS THAT REPRESENT MICHAEL’S SHIFTS IN WORLDVIEW: This video entails a collection of photos, largely chronological, that colleagues will recognize. It begins with Michael’s early experience of the work of Thomas Berry, in what came to be known as the “epic of evolution.” Michael blended those learnings with his previous career as a Christian pastor, and thus was born his writing and speaking focus on what came to be called “evolutionary Christianity.” In December 2012, he woke up with horror to the speed and scale of the climate crisis. A philosophy major in college, but autodidact ever since, Michael devoured books and blogs on the science of climate change and what lay ahead. This rapidly shifted his attention from evolution as foreground to “ecology as the new theology.” (Thomas Berry, who had died in 2009, had emphasized both.) It was then that Michael donned a green clergy shirt and became “Reverend Reality” in his guest speaking around the country.

Michael’s emphasis shifted again when he encountered in 2015 a book written by William R. Catton in 1980. Now he understood that the climate crisis was a new, global manifestation of the human tendency to overshoot ecological limits whenever forms of society complexified such that Indigenous values were lost. By the spring of 2019, he had a name for this new understanding: postdoom.

Beyond the worldview shifts through time, there is something that has never changed. This is Michael’s sense of divinity within nature. Thus a sprinkling of photos of his joy in and worshipful responses to a stunning range of regional landscapes we were privileged to experience during our 18 years of living on the road.

BACK TO THE PRESENT: On hearing of Michael’s death, one of the leaders taking charge of the postdoom website and its online community expressed a beautiful interpretation of how Michael died. Karen Perry wrote, “I can’t think of a more fitting way to go out, for someone whose heart was filled with so much love for life, the earth, and all beings…it finally just burst.” Learn more about Karen’s contributions to the postdoom community by watching her conversation with Michael titled, “Post-doom BENEFITS of Collapse Acceptance.” You’ll find that video in the top row of some 90 recorded conversations that Michael had with others, accessible through the postdoom website. Or go directly here: Karen Perry: Post-doom BENEFITS of Collapse Acceptance

Michael delivered his final guest sermon less than two months before he he died. I (and others) think it his best: Being the Calm in the Storm Vicki Robin featured that sermon in “An Elegy in Prose for Michael Dowd”.

Dean Spillane-Walker, on hearing the news, posted the Death section video of a multi-day series Michael delivered in 2018: Michael Dowd – Impermanence and Death as Sacred “Death as Natural and Generative and no less sacred than life” is the webpage that aggregates both of our offerings on death produced during 18 years of itinerant ministry: Death Through Deep-Times Eyes

UPDATE: The best of Michael’s educational videos and live presentations can now be accessed here: Michael Dowd – Postdoom Founder Featured at the top are those during 2023, when he was at his postdoom peak.

Perhaps Michael’s greatest contribution is his making it easy for people new to the topics of ecological limits (“Grace limits”) and Post-doom to not only access those sources but to hear him read them aloud — and what a voice! Begin with his “RIP Homo colossus” playlist on SOUNDCLOUD: rip-homo-colossus

TO ALL OF MICHAEL’S COLLEAGUES, past and present: I give you my thanks for helping my husband shine in serving the human and the more-than-human world. I can speak for Michael in saying that his life was complete at age 64. If he had any inkling of dying, I know he agrees that it was indeed a good day to die. And for me today, October 14, it is a good day to live.