“WHO ARE THESE young people?” I asked repeatedly while reading Talitha Amadea Aho’s debut book, In Deep Waters: Spiritual Care for Young People in a Climate Crisis. The Presbyterian pastor writes of her adventures shepherding the youth of her Oakland, Calif., church through beach trash pickups, worsening fire seasons, the pandemic, and mundane youth group activities that lead to big conversations on God’s involvement and human response amid climate emergency.
Aho recounts driving a van full of youth near the 2018 wildfire that destroyed Paradise, Calif., to get to a retreat. “Whatever, we can deal with it. Breathing isn’t the only thing in life,” says one youth. Another, like a prophet, observes, “The Earth will survive; it’s a living organism, and we are the infection on it, and the Earth is cooking up a fever to kill us off.”
It may be that these West Coast youth are more clear-eyed in their diagnoses, living through an apocalyptic reality that we are all careening toward. I can imagine having similar talks with my own children, ages 3 through 8, in a few years. Already, my 8-year-old has said about climate change, “It’s too late.”