Sunday, April 15, 2012

Going down with the ship

Today is, among other things, the 100th anniversary of the Titanic's sinking on April 15, 1912 --- an anniversary that, because of all the coverage, would be hard to miss.

I liked The Register's story this morning, tracking down details about some of the approximately 40 passengers with Iowa ties who were aboard. And the following video featuring Eva Hart, one of the last of the 710 survivors.

The details of the disaster are widely known: The "unsinkable" liner, on her maiden voyage, hit an iceberg in the Atlantic and roughly two and a half hours later broke up and sank. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,200 passengers and crew were aboard; 710 survived; the rest died.


Since it's Sunday and someone pointed me toward an example, I'm wondering how many preachers will have Titanic themes this morning --- the "saved" in lifeboats, for example, watching those of us in steerage go down with the ship.

It's an analogy that would work well for a Calvinist, I suppose, who relishes the idea that only a limited number of the elect has been predestined to sail away to Jesus whilst the rest of us sink to eternal damnation and, rather than ice, hellfire.

But it could be problematic for others. Non-Calvinists would be troubled by the fact the Titanic's owners provided only enough lifeboats to save half aboard (a provision that actually exceeded requirements of the day), that first-class passengers were served first and that the third class was, for the most part, left to fend for itself and therefore died in disproportionate numbers.

On the other hand, it's entirely possible whilst analogizing to envision the Titanic as the institutional church, proud and arrogant, experiencing itself as unsinkable, breaking up and going down as --- lets say --- heretics and non-believers row away to avoid being sucked down with it.


I don't think it was significant that we had major hail --- small, but still enough to cover the ground, make streets slick and shred leaves and other vegetation --- last evening at roughly the same time (considering time zones) the Titanic struck its nemesis a century ago. There also was heavy rain and high winds.

Tornadoes touched down at Creston, damaging the hospital, and elsewhere in southern Iowa, including the tiny Fremont County town of Thurman, reportedly a 75 percent loss.  But apparently no one was killed. Five reportedly died in a tornado in northwest Oklahoma, part of the same storm system, and damage was substantial in Kansas, too.

So --- sailing the seas or the prairies then or now, one just never knows. "Carpe diem," as they used to say.

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