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Oil spill ‘depressing,’ seminary dean says

BILOXI, Miss. (BP)–“Strong diesel-like smell outside now, everywhere. This is more depressing and distressing than I can convey,” Russell D. Moore wrote via Twitter from his hometown of Biloxi, Miss., over the weekend.

Moore, senior vice president for academic administration at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, later wrote of dead seagulls, turtles and pelicans starting to wash ashore as the federal government announced the closure of the federal waters off the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and part of Florida.

An estimated 200,000 gallons of crude oil is emanating daily from a sunken rig in the Gulf of Mexico, threatening an unprecedented environmental disaster. The rig, which is larger than a football field, exploded April 20, killing 11, and later sank to the ocean floor. Three separate oil leaks continue to push more gallons of oil into the ocean than it can handle, forming an oil slick about 50 miles wide and 80 miles long, looming just off a coastline where residents fear the devastation ahead.

“Some conservatives, and some conservative evangelicals, act as though ‘environmentalism’ is by definition ‘liberal’ or even just downright silly,” Moore wrote in a May 1 blog post at russellmoore.com. “… There’s nothing conservative though, and nothing ‘evangelical,’ about dismissing the conservation of the natural environment. And the accelerating Gulf crisis reminds us something of what’s at stake.”

The crisis could potentially destroy the ecosystem of birds, shrimp, oysters and other life forms, said Moore, who also is dean of the school of theology at Southern Seminary.

“Does God care about baby shrimp? I would argue, yes; God cares for the sparrow that falls to the ground (Matthew 10:29),” Moore wrote. “But, even if you disagree with me on that, consider how God loves those who are ‘of more value than many sparrows’ (Matthew 10:30).

“Shrimpers here in Biloxi are mourning the potential loss of more than just an industry but a way of life handed down, at least to some of them, from multiple generations before them.”

Moore said God knows humans need the natural creation, and people are designed to recognize God in creation.

“This is why the Scriptures speak of eternal life in the metaphor of a river that causes the waters to teem with life, with many kind of fish, and vegetation thriving on the banks (Ezekiel 47:9-12),” he wrote. “This is why one aspect of Jesus’ kingship is to make the waters teem with fish, right in the presence of his commercial fishermen disciples (John 21:3-8). And this is why the Scriptures consider it an apocalypse when the waters are poisoned, and the sea-life is gone (Revelation 8:8-9).

“We need the creation around us, including the waters and all they contain, because we are not gods,” Moore wrote. “We are creatures who thrive when we live as we were made to live. We exercise dominion over the creation not only when we use it, but also when we conserve it for the generations who will come after.

“So pray for the Gulf Coast, that the oil wouldn’t devastate a people and a land already devastated by so much. As you do, remember: real conservatives protect what God loves.”

President Obama visited the region May 2, meeting with officials and pledging assistance from the federal government.

“This is one of the richest and most beautiful ecosystems on the planet, and for centuries its residents have enjoyed and made a living off the fish that swim in these waters and the wildlife that inhabit these shores,” Obama said. “This is also the heartbeat of the region’s economic life. And we’re going to do everything in our power to protect our natural resources, compensate those who have been harmed, rebuild what has been damaged, and help this region persevere like it has done so many times before.”

Options for containing the leaks include drilling a relief well that would take the pressure off the leaking well, which could take three months, or trying to capture the oil with containment domes and then pumping the captured oil to a barge, an emergency response that has never been tried at such a depth.
Erin Roach is a Baptist Press staff writer.

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