The Most Dangerous Story Ever Told: Environmental Collapse, Progress, and Human Destiny

What is our destiny as humans? From dust we come, and to dust we return. Yes, but what kind of dust is the question. The dust of the earth, life-giving humus (which shares its etymological origin with the word “human”)? Or star dust, the stuff of cosmic ovens? Of course, both are true, in a literal sense. But symbolically speaking, which one we choose to focus on has profound impacts on the course of human history.

Interstellar is actually just the latest version of a very old story, the most dangerous story ever told, the story of progress. Except in the older versions, instead of the stars (i.e., the “heavens”) being our destination, it was heaven. From ancient times to the present day, the dominant myth of civilization has taught us that our home is not the earth, that our destiny is to transcend our physical limitations, that those who would be heroes must reach beyond the here and now.

As time goes on, more and more of my daily news feed consists of reports of ecological collapse: fires, hurricanes, floods, droughts. It’s increasingly easy to believe the earth is telling us to leave. It’s increasingly tempting to believe that there might be hope among the stars. Especially when the same scientists who have warned us about climate change are also promoting missions to space. But this is just an extension of the pipe dream of progress which has brought us to this place. …


Published by John Halstead

John Halstead is the author of *Another End of the World is Possible*, in which he explores what it would really mean for our relationship with the natural world if we were to admit that we are doomed. John is a native of the southern Laurentian bioregion and lives in Northwest Indiana, near Chicago. He is a co-founder of 350 Indiana-Calumet, which worked to organize resistance to the fossil fuel industry in the Region. John was the principal facilitator of “A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment.” He strives to live up to the challenge posed by the Statement through his writing and activism. John has written for numerous online platforms, including Patheos, Huffington Post,, and Gods & Radicals. He is Editor-at-Large of John also facilitates climate grief support groups climate grief support groups affiliated with the Good Grief Network.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: