This Week’s Thoughts 8.11.17
On Tuesday several CFC folks accompanied our Korean partners on their last day here with us and explored the Mystic Seaport. We heard from a guide on the Charles W. Morgan, the last wooden whaleship in the world! Realized how little I knew about the history of whaling in New England. Our guide shared that men would go out to sea for three to five years to hunt whales. Around one in seven whales spotted would actually be caught and six men would get into a smaller boat to hunt them with harpoons. Americans encountered Inuits up in Canada and realized their harpoon design was more effective, so eventually copied the Inuit design and had more success.
There was an article in The Atlantic about the whaling industry and it was charted from 1816-1905 that helped fill in some details. Of course, we know that the whaling industry in our country died out. Whales were overhunted and alternative sources of energy came onto the scene. Norway ended up taking over as the world leader of whale hunting and the U.S. focused on railroads, oil, and steel. (That’s the history I know better being from “the Rust Belt,” though fair warning I don’t like that term and you may see an epic eye roll if you mention “the Rust Belt” in front of me!)
Anyway, one can look at the history of whaling here in Connecticut and think about how times change and the effects of technology and innovation. I imagined what an old-time whaler must have thought when someone came back and said, “Hey, let’s redesign our harpoons because we’ve just discovered a better way from the Inuits!” And that old time whaler grumpily saying, “But we’ve always done it this way!” Or what must have happened when alternative sources of energy were becoming all the rage, and those whalers discovered their way of life was in effect dying out?
Change is necessary, and it’s hard. We encounter this reality all the time in church. Though some things (not everything!), but some things, become better over time. We can see that as we’ve moved from blubber for fuel to clean energy sources like wind and solar that are much better for us, for our environment, and most certainly for whales! Learning our history and what’s been helps us look forward to what can be, with God’s help.
(This Week’s Thoughts 8.11.17)
 Derek Thompson, “The Spectacular Rise and Fall of Whaling: An Innovation Story,” The Atlantic, February 22, 2012, https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/02/the-spectacular-rise-and-fall-of-us-whaling-an-innovation-story/253355/