The Alasdair MacIntyre quotation (the conclusion of 'After Virtue') that has haunted me since I first read it in 1990:
"What matters at this stage is the construction of local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral life can be sustained through the new dark ages which are already upon us. And if the tradition of the virtues was able to survive the horrors of the last dark ages, we are not entirely without grounds for hope. This time, however, the barbarians are not waiting beyond the frontiers; they have already been governing us for quite some time. And it is our lack of consciousness of this that constitutes part of our predicament. We are waiting not for a Godot, but for another – doubtless very different – St Benedict."Peak Oil is what has crystallised a number of strands in my thinking about these issues. I am moving more and more to the view that the core Christian task in these times may not be to prevent the catastrophe from coming - I do think we should do what we can, I just don't believe we have the capacity to control the process, or prevent a significant reduction in worldwide human population - but to ensure that the events are witnessed and chronicled, in order that whatever remains of our civilisation in the coming centuries can move to a more human future - doubtless never a perfect future, but one more step beyond where we are now.
What we will need to cultivate are our memories and our virtues. Perhaps a new monasticism, one which both embraces scientific processes (to preserve technology) and places that scientific capacity within the larger moral and human framework which enables our flourishing.
More on this as time permits.