Life After Doom: A Journey of Hope Amid Climate Chaos

I want people to read this book, Life After Doom: A Journey of Hope Amid Climate Chaos by Brian McLaren. Here’s why.


HEAD: What’s one thing I’m thinking about from Life After Doom?
Contemplating our future.

Brian presents these four scenarios in the book:

1: Collapse Avoidance Scenario
This is the scenario we want, the one where governments, businesses, and citizens unite with urgency to stabilize our climate crisis.

2: Collapse/Rebirth Scenario
This scenario is a gradual decline with survivors who can rebuild communities and economies in new ways.

3: Collapse/Survival Scenario
This scenario is like the dystopian movies we’ve seen, where the few survivors face unimaginable conditions.

4: Collapse/Extinction Scenario
Well, you can figure this one out. We’re gone.

HEART: What’s one thing I’m feeling about this book?
Finding hope in despair.

One thing I’m feeling is more hope. I’m not necessarily hopeful we’ll quickly stop the damage we’re doing to our planet, but I’m cautiously hopeful we can maintain our values and humanity through the challenges. I appreciate Brian’s encouragement that we don’t have to resort to selfishness or despair. This is a much-needed message for people like me who can feel discouraged and disheartened by the vitriol and despair surrounding climate change.

HAND: What’s one thing I’ll do after reading this book?
Keep learning.

One thing I’ll do is continue learning about climate science from those more knowledgeable than me, then hopefully pass along something of use to others who want to know more.

“Voicing your concern matters, and voicing your commitment matters even more. Katharine Hayhoe says it well: the single most important thing you and I can do about our current situation is talk about it.”



Who should (and shouldn’t) read this book?

Life After Doom isn’t for everyone. Brian states early on that this book may NOT be for you . . .

  • If you’re already on edge because of personal challenges, save this book for another time.
  • If you dismiss climate change as a hoax, skip the book altogether.
  • If you are looking for statistical evidence and charts to convince you how bad things are, this book won’t satisfy you.

But if you are a human being looking to face head-on what is happening to our climate, with humility, resiliency, and responsibility, then please read this book.

The book is intellectually easy to read, but emotionally difficult at times. I teetered through a range of emotions as I read it. But it’s worth it. As Brian writes,

“We need to face what we know. And we need to face what we don’t know. Only what is faced can be changed. That is why I say, and I hope you will join me, welcome to reality.”


I have read several climate science books the past two years and each has brought me hope for different reasons (Not the End of the World is a great one for data). But none of these books went to a final scenario quite like Brian does in Life After Doom. I found it oddly hopeful to imagine that even if we don’t save Earth, we can still be courageous and loving human beings along the way.

If it comes to this:

“Standing on the brink of oblivion (to use Ernst Becker’s phrase) we feel arising within us this sustained declaration: We will live as beautifully, bravely, and kindly as we can as long as we can, no matter how ugly, scary, and mean the world becomes, even if failure and death seem inevitable.”

Brian occasionally draws from his own Christian tradition in the book, but also values insights from other religions, philosophies, and indigenous traditions. We all are neighbors on this planet, and we’ll need to be in solidarity on how to heal it.

“Do you see why I keep coming back to the Serenity Prayer? I do not know for certain whether our current doom trajectory can be changed with courage, or if it should be accepted with serenity. I do not yet have that wisdom. The only thing I know is that I want to set a moral course for myself, without judging others if they take another course.”


None of us can accurately predict which scenario will happen in this experiment we’re playing with Earth. But I do know it’s time we act now, before our options dwindle down further.

Brian includes lots and lots of resources throughout Life After Doom for wise actions we can take, for information we can read, for people we can listen to, and for support we can find.

I realize complacency is often our default option.

But I hope we won’t get stuck in complacency. Whether you are a poet, a scientist, a politician, a theologian, a businessman, a teacher—a human being with any gifts and skills!—there is something for you to do to ease our transition from climate destruction to climate rejuvenation.

“In times like these, many things become too late. For example, it is already too late to keep CO2 levels below 350 parts per million. If it is not too late already, it will very soon be too late to keep Earth’s temperatures below the 1.5 degrees Celsius limit proposed by scientists in Paris in 2015. It will be too late to save this coastline or that ecosystem, this city or that species, this democracy or that economy. But it is not too late to love, and it never will be. Love will count, no matter what.”

What we need most are people who care. Reading books like Life After Doom is a powerful way to nurture a caring spirit.

Be a person who cares.

Share your thoughts in the comments.

My thanks to NetGalley + St. Martin’s Press
for the review copy of Life After Doom

13 thoughts on “Life After Doom: A Journey of Hope Amid Climate Chaos

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I agree, Dianna. Loving others–regardless of what else is happening around us–is how I want to live, too. It’s not easy, and I fail often, but it is my goal.

  1. Lory @ Entering the Enchanted Castle

    I’m so glad you read this book, and thanks for the fantastic review. Now I know where to point people if they are thinking of reading it (or not). You put your finger on what it is that we can hope for: “to maintain our values and humanity through the challenges.” The main source of hope for me is connecting with other humans who share that desire.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      We share that main source of hope, Lory. This book really helped me focus in on that aspect of connection. While we all want a healthier world (in every way), we can set our intention on who we want to be in the world, regardless of what happens next. McLaren highlights that unique philosophical/spiritual perspective that I don’t often see discussed in books on climate change.

  2. Michele Morin

    What a fascinating perspective for a book! I get the sense that most books are out there to make us feel good about ourselves or our circumstances. Thank you for going broad and deep in your reading and serving us so well with your reviews!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, it was quite an unexpected and fascinating perspective in this book. I was anticipating it to be good (Brian McLaren never disappoints!), but I hadn’t known the angle he would pursue. I’m very glad I ventured out to read it (despite the ominous-sounding title).

  3. Jean Wise

    some of these book are gloom and doom. glad you found one with more hope in it. I’ll check this one out. Thanks Lisa. Your reviews are valuable to us.

  4. Ashley Rowland | HISsparrowBlog

    Thank you for bringing this book to my attention. I’ve been learning some things about my personality lately, and one of those things is avoidance of conflict. Whatever feels like conflict inside, and those things that seem so big I could never touch them also fall under that camp for me. Although I have made changes in my lifestyle to steward my part, I do tend to avoid what I feel is too big for me or too big of a change. I’m working on this part of myself, and this review was such a good reminder and especially this quote: “I do not know for certain whether our current doom trajectory can be changed with courage, or if it should be accepted with serenity. I do not yet have that wisdom. The only thing I know is that I want to set a moral course for myself, without judging others if they take another course.”

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I appreciate you sharing what you’re learning about yourself, Ashley. Things like the climate crisis can feel way too big for many of us, so I get what you’re saying. I actually had to dive into researching more about it to make it feel LESS overwhelming, oddly enough. ha. That quote really stands out to me, too, for so many reasons, and I find it applicable to so many things in my life.

  5. Harry Katz

    Thanks for this review, Lisa. I’m glad you found the book to be a source of hope. I tend to focus on the science and technology aspects of climate change as you know, but our values and connections are critical too.

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