A while back I wrote an article on how substituting Gaia for God often worked fine when coming across God-focused billboards and truisms. Well, driving home through rural Connecticut the other day, I found the perfect counter example: “Seasons change… But God is Changeless.”
I’d never substitute Gaia into that quotation. After all, Gaia is ever changing. From star dust, to molten rock, to Gi’s constantly moving continents, to its cycles of liquid, solid, and gaseous water, nitrogen, and carbon. Gaia is never changeless. You could almost say Gaia is a verb—as Buckminster Fuller said about God (“God is a verb, not a noun.”) Gaia is constantly changing and becoming: becoming something different, not something necessarily more. Perhaps Gaia is progressing, as we progress through life stages, but not necessarily progressing toward some sort of end goal (as western civilization often imagines about itself).
Or like the narrator of the Parable of the Sower, Lauren Olamina says, perhaps one could say God (or Gaia) is Change. Life, societies, our specific lives, even our bodies (all of which are part of Gaia) are dynamic—in a state of constant change, turnover, renewal, aging, at least until we return back to Gaia (which itself is in a perpetual state of change).*
Do Christians Really Believe God is Changeless?
I’d guess that many Christians (if not the local priest in rural CT who put up that placard) would agree God is not changeless.** Look at His shift from the retributive Old Testament God to the kinder, rebranded New Testament God—now with a life-giving Son!
Of course, as in my karate class, it might not be polite to suggest that the elder is changing but that we are—“Kata doesn’t change,” is the mantra when our 85-year old Sensei makes an adjustment, “You change.” But in reality, everything changes, even God and Gaia. If not, the universe would still be an intense point of energy—or nothing at all. Earth wouldn’t even be a dream, and there’d be no people to praise God or to revel in the beauty and awe of Gaia.
Change is not a bad thing—it’s natural, inevitable, and therefore should be embraced, and even celebrated (hence why Gaians mark rituals around birth, adulthood, union and death as well as the turning of the wheel of the year). Of course, that’s easy to say, harder when so much of change is difficult. It’s easier to believe that things will stay the same (if they’re good) or get better if they’re not. A spiral of negative ecological, social, political, and economic change, as we’re currently experiencing (or declining health and death as we all eventually experience), is particularly hard to stomach.
But as Michael Dowd noted in a recent sermon (see below), and has noted often, by accepting that civilizational decline is coming, we can accept that, honor that, and serve as oases of calm in the storm ahead—celebrating life, recognizing the transience of life (ours, society’s and even Gaia’s), and inspiring and helping others to get through the tough times ahead and reclaim a healthy relationship with Gaia and with others.
Michael returned to Gaia not long after giving that sermon. And while Michael’s body may have returned to the greater “body of life” as he put it, I have no doubt that his energy, his calm, and his wisdom will continue to bloom for many years to come.
*Yes, there may be a point when Earth is a dead rock again—too hot to support any life at all. Then perhaps planetary changes will be minimal (at least until the planet is consumed by the sun). But Gaia—the holobiont made up of life on Earth and the geological and chemical systems of Earth—will be gone at that point. So to be clearer, perhaps Earth is not change, but Gaia is change.
**It seems that God is Change is attributed to Ecclesiastes 3. But reading that passage carefully, nothing really suggests that. No one can fathom what God has done—and he seems to act out of time—but he does not seem to be stagnant. Ironically, this passage also notes humans may simply cease to be at the end of their lives, like all other animals (a sentiment difficult for many modern Christians to accept):
“Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. 20 All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. 21”