by Sarah Withrow King
Three years ago, almost to the day, I shared the following exchange with my son, who was then not-quite-eight years old.
Son: “Mommy? Can I tell you one thing I'm worried about? If people keep littering [begins to cry] the planet will get too hot and we will die!”
Me: “That's why we don't eat animals.”
I noted at the time that my first instinct was to say, "No, no, won't happen, no worries!" I desperately wanted my kid to believe that there was hope, that the world would be able to sustain him. Maybe all the climate change deniers are just flawed parents.
I struggle to maintain this hope myself, and it only gets more challenging as the years continue to wear on and the species continue to die off. I find myself in a frenetic race to produce work that will convince fellow Jesus-followers to take action to prevent suffering and foster flourishing, both present and future.
But there is hope. There is the cosmic hope we share of the full restoration of creation to the Creator, a world, “on earth, as it is in heaven.” And there’s the hope from stories of people who are daily following a call to resist the status quos of consumerism and despair. I heard many of those stories at “On Food and Faith: Ministry in the Time of Climate Change,” a conference hosted on the campus of Methodist Theological School in Ohio (MTSO) by MTSO, The Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation (InFACT), The Center for Earth Ethics, and The Climate Reality Project. Thanks to a few signs of hope, I came away from that event with a profound sense that we who care deeply are not alone in this work, that it’s possible for people with different drives to unite for a common cause, and that the more we work together, the more transformative our work will be.