OPINIONSnMagna Mater, Full of Grace!nby Chilton Williamson, Jr.n”Nature, which is the time-vesture of God and reveals Him to the wise, hidesnHim from the fooUsh.”n— Thomas CarlylenThe Idea of Wilderness: FromnPrehistory to the Age of Ecologynby Max OelschlaegernNew Haven: Yale University Press;n488 pp., $29.95nThe River of the Mother ofnGod and Other Essaysnby Aldo LeopoldnEdited by Susan L. Flader andnJ. Baird CallicottnMadison: The University ofnWisconsin Press; 384 pp., $22.95nIdon’t believe I realized, until I begannreading up on the subject of DeepnEcology, how far the rot of despair andnself-loathing has penetrated the Westernnwodd. Multiculturalism as an expressionnof the West’s failure of nervenand of confidence in its own traditionsnseemed bad enough. In Deep Ecology,nWestern anomie is given scope to deplorentwelve thousand years of humanncivilization, which Deep Ecologists believenwas fatally misdirected aboutn10,000 B.C., when Paleolithic societiesnof hunter-gatherers became agriculturalistsnat the start of the Neolithic era.nYou’d think the Afrocentrists at Stanfordnwould be acting a little less smugnthese days.nIf the Heritage Foundation on thensubject of environmentalism makes menfeel like George Washington Haydukenin The Monkey Wrench Gang, EarthnFirst! on almost any topic brings outnmy Flem Snopes side. It is characteristicnof societies that have lost touch withntruth, which is single yet at the samentime complex, to think that somethingnChilton Williamson, jr. is seniorneditor for books at Chronicles.n30/CHRONICLESnin order to be anything must be everything;nfor people living in the modernnera, a thing is all or it is nothing. Thenearth is either sacred, or it is mere stuff.nIt is to be worshiped intact and inviolate,nor it is to be exploited as ancornucopia of resources for humannbeings to consume. Those are thenchoices acknowledged by the greatnmajority of contemporary writers, andnpeople who cannot or will not acceptnunequivocally one or the other of themnare dismissed as quislings, tergiversators,nand moderationists. “Conservatives,”nwith tongues thickened by ferventnrepetition of the liturgy, mumblennnthe Biblical injunction to be fruitfulnand multiply, to fill the earth andnsubdue it, and deny that there is or everncould be environmental catastrophenahead; radicals and liberals rant againstnanthropocentrism and speciesism andnprophesy an impending “ecocrisis.”nThe radicals would be more persuasivenwere it not for self-hatred and thenwell-grounded suspicion that they arenattempting to replace the failed economicnargument for the destruction ofncivilization with the ecological one,nwhile the “conservatives” would soundnmore plausible had they not provennthemselves in power to be as selfish andnirresponsible as the liberals, and asnfundamentally committed to merelyneconomic ends rather than to principle,ntradition, and sanity. “The evolutionarynparadigm,” Max Oelschlaegernwrites in The Idea of Wilderness, “(alternatively:norganism and not mechanism)nwill likely rule the postmodernnworld”; the 21st century, he believes,nwill be the century of ecology, as then20th was the age of economics. I thinknthat Mr. Oelschlaeger may well bencorrect in his prediction, which is whynit seems to me necessary for conservativesn(as dishnguished from “conservatives”)nto take the environmental argumentnseriously and debate it carefullynand conscientiously. It is crucial thatnsane people — Christians especially —nprovide it with a foundation as differentnas possible from that constructed fromnthe absurd premises and insane conclusionsnof Deep Ecology. That way,ncome the ecocrisis, we shall be preparednto meet it as the sons of Godnrather than as brothers to the grizzlynbear.nAlthough it carries the Yale Universitynimprint, The Idea of Wilderness isn