ChiTrib's Eric Zorn Hails Earth Hour, Compares to Religious Fast

Chicago Tribune columnist/ blogger Eric Zorn is a liberal, but from what I'm familiar of his writing, he's not a cartoonishly goofy one. So at first I thought his post today -- Coming out of the dark on Earth Hour -- was a bit of an April Fool's joke. But reading and re-reading it, it became clear to me Zorn was being serious, even as he invoked quasi-religious language to describe his joy in observing the sanctimonious green gimmick (emphasis mine):

Earth Hour was so cool.

I was surprised.

During the buildup, it all sounded a bit earnest to me — reproachful and grim.


But I went along, open-minded guy that I am.

A little before 8 p.m. we went from the attic to the basement making sure all the lights — even the computer monitors — in our house were off. We lit the dining room with a veritable funeral parlor of candles and set out a dinner that my son Alex, 18, and a friend had prepared.

It was a feast for the senses. The lack of artificial light made us extra sensitive to everything — each other, the food, the aromas, the sounds. It also caused us to realize how many lights we routinely keep burning in unoccupied rooms while we eat.

The front hallway. The living room. The kitchen. Nothing indulgent or luxurious about that. Just wasteful.

Religions have long recognized the value of brief, symbolic privations such as fasts, temporary dietary restrictions and periods of silence and isolation.

Such acts are supposed to remind you of what you take for granted, not make you feel guilty. They’re to open your eyes, not rap your knuckles.


Maybe Saturday’s sense of energy consciousness will linger and we’ll start flicking off lights in empty rooms and shaming those who illuminate just for the sake of illumination.

But even if not, I hope this turns into an annual rite of spring, not just in volunteer cities, but everywhere.

I hope Earth Hour becomes a huge secular holiday, one when nearly all of us pause wherever we are to give thanks to Thomas Edison and to go on a little photon fast that sharpens our appreciation of the incandescent and fluorescent bounty of modern life.

How cool would that be?

Post your Earth Day memories below

Environment Religion Global Warming Chicago Tribune Online Media Blogs Eric Zorn