If I had a patron saint, it would be Enheduanna, the first known author in all of history. The daughter of a Mesopotamian emperor, Enheduanna crafted an elaborate narrative in which she became an embodiment of her people’s moon goddess, a figure whose worship bound the empire together. The stories she told, brought to life through breathtaking pageantry and poetry, were the start of a mythology that reverberates through human history.
Enheduanna isn’t really a saint, but regardless, my father certainly wouldn’t approve of me praying to her. He’s an evangelical megachurch pastor who doesn’t believe in praying to saints, and certainly not to priestesses. But he’s under her power too: wielding stories to create his religious empire, to give himself and his followers meaning and purpose, to direct his flock and shape this country. Scripture and script come from the same root, after all; from the Latin word scribere, or “to write.”
Because of my religious upbringing, I realized early on the power of stories to change our world. My father’s congregation was shaped by the words he preached. The only other stories I ever saw have the same power over people are on the screen. And almost none of them are talking about the biggest story of our time: the climate crisis.
The climate crisis is a surreal, heartbreaking global horror show that’s happening in real life, right now. Why aren’t we talking about it? We need to talk about it in our stories so that we can talk about it in real life. We need to explore what it means to be human in the era of climate emergency. We need to envision some other ending than the apocalypse. We don’t need just one hero or savior: we need a billion saviors. We need all of us doing whatever the hell we can.
And what you can do is what you do best: tell stories. Which happens to be one of the things we need most.
No one story will save us any more than one savior will. There are no silver bullets when it comes to the climate crisis. But if we all try, if we all tell the climate stories we want to see in the world—those stories can help save it.
I started Good Energy because stories are vital to finding the courage to face the climate crisis. But I also started it for a much more personal reason. I’ve worked on climate my whole adult life, and have struggled at times with profound climate anxiety and anger and grief. The truth is, I need these stories. I need to see myself and my friends and my world on-screen. I need help making meaning of all this—and finding joy and beauty in the midst of it. I need you. And so do many millions of others.
I’m no longer an evangelical, but I still pray: Enheduanna, Patron Saint of Stories, please give us the stories we need to save ourselves.
Anna Jane Joyner