Image source here.

For a while now I have held my tongue about the ongoing oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Two of the men who were killed in the initial explosion on the Deepwater Horizon were local, and I have spoken with their families, heard their grief and

promised my prayers. Before this was a national ecological tragedy, for me it was a local human tragedy, one that has been a repeat of accidents in days past.

I have had numerous people tell me of losing family members in similar accidents, and on a personal level for my in-laws oil well explosions are more than — as some have put it — just one of those risks you have to be willing to take when you work in oil: my wife’s grandfather was killed in an oilfield explosion, dying before his last child, the child who would eventually become my father-in-law, was even born. With the memories of their own losses now refreshed, and the deaths of two men they knew, went to high school and attended church with still fresh in their minds, people around here can’t talk about what is going on in the Gulf without talking about the loss of human life.

And now, due to the ecological disaster, there is a significant potential for a second wave of human tragedy. SBTS Professor and Biloxi native Russell Moore sums it up well, demolishing the logic behind BP Representative Randy Prescott’s flippant remark that there are places in the world other than Louisiana that have shrimp.

We’ve had an inadequate view of human life and culture.

What is being threatened in the Gulf states isn’t just seafood or tourism or beach views. What’s being threatened is a culture. As social conservatives, we understand…or we ought to understand…that human communities are formed by traditions and by mores, by the bond between the generations. Culture is, as Russell Kirk said, a compact reaching back to the dead and forward to the unborn. Liberalism wants to dissolve those traditions, and make every generation create itself anew; not conservatism.

Every human culture is formed in a tie with the natural environment. In my hometown, that’s the father passing down his shrimping boat to his son or the community gathering for the Blessing of the Fleet at the harbor every year. In a Midwestern town, it might be the apple festival. In a New England town, it might be the traditions of whalers or oystermen. The West is defined by the frontier and the mountains. And so on.

When the natural environment is used up, unsustainable for future generations, cultures die. When Gulfs are dead, when mountaintops are removed, when forests are razed with nothing left in their place, when deer populations disappear, cultures die too.

And what’s left in the place of these cultures and traditions is an individualism that is defined simply by the appetites for sex, violence, and piling up stuff. That’s not conservative, and it certainly isn’t Christian.

You can read the rest of Moore’s essay at The Christian Post.

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