Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Pride Cometh Before An Iceberg

Exactly 100 years ago a great tragedy occurred at sea that has both haunted and fascinated us ever since. Today I've got a very special guest-post by Elizabeth Rose from Living on Literary Lane. She is on a month-long blog tour promoting her new novel, Violets Are Blue. I haven't read her novel, yet, but I can assure you that I can't wait to do so! The novel is set in the context of the tragedy of the Titanic, so I asked Elizabeth to share with us what she learned from her research into this historical event which holds many lessons for us today as it did then.  

So, dear readers, I give you, Elizabeth Rose!

via Google Images
It is known as the greatest marine disaster in the world. Mention the name Titanic to anyone, and they will immediately think of the "unsinkable" ocean liner and her tragic end on April 14th, 1912. The film of the same name is one of the highest grossing movies in the world (though whether that has to do with the historical background [flawed though it may be] or the romance is a subject worth debating). Everyone knows about the Titanic.

Having reached the centennial of her infamous sinking just this April, the Titanic seems to be present in everyone's minds now more than ever. Why is that? What lures us to the heartbreaking story? Perhaps it is the courageous way in which men of all classes stood aside to let their beloved wives and children go first in the lifeboats, knowing full well that it meant perishing in the icy waves. Perhaps it is purely the drama and excitement of the night. Or perhaps it is the fact that this grand ocean liner whose makers claimed was unsinkable actually struck an iceberg and went down, causing the deaths of nearly fifteen hundred people.

It has always amazed me that the Mayflower — a tiny vessel only used for carrying wine across the Atlantic — managed to convey one hundred and twenty Pilgrims to the New World in the year 1620. They withstood tumutuous waves and horrid sickness, but by the power of the Living God, they arrived on the shores of Cape Cod relatively unharmed. Surely if the Mayflower can make it across the ocean in 1620, a fabulously outfitted ocean liner such as the Titanic can carry her twenty-two hundred passengers safely nearly three hundred years later. After all, if it was good in the "old days", it's sure to be better in modern times, right?

Well, whether that's true or not, it was the mindset that governed the makers of the Titanic and nearly everyone living in the early 1900s. Bigger is better. Size means everything. And if you aren't willing to match the grandeur of your new ship with your confidence, you may as well go home, because you'll never survive in this era. (A bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point.) Yet, when we study history, we see that such an opinion does not last forever, and all those who are not humble eventually will meet their end.

This isn't sounding good for the Titanic, is it?

Before we continue discussing this particular ocean liner, let us move backwards a few centuries. Good, good. You're looking at two ships docked in the harbor, but the vessels are much smaller than the one on which you previously laid your eyes. Yes, you are watching the aforementioned Mayflower, as well as her sister ship, the Speedwell, though the latter will not be making the journey across the ocean. You glance cautiously at those around you — a seemingly solemn group, but still cheerful. Some of the younger children are chasing each other around the cargo waiting to be loaded, but their mother silences them with a few quick words, pulling her little ones back to her side. You look up at the ship that is to carry you and your one-hundred and nineteen companions, and wonder if you'll ever make it.

You were right to worry — the journey alone was tumultuous. Seasickness, monotony, and the crowded place 'tween decks where all of the passengers are required to spend their hours. The worst part was probably during that terrible storm, when the main beam broke and needed to be secured with the large screw some of your companions had brought from England. Of course, Mistress Hopkins' expected child would choose that very moment to arrive, and John Howland would keep falling overboard and being blown back on again.

But somehow, despite all those troubles, you and your family and friends managed to travel across the cold ocean safely. Though you are landing at the barren Cape Cod, with little in the way of shelter and winter fast approaching, you kneel when your feet have finally touched the shore. You lift your face to Heaven, praising the Lord and thanking Him for His mercy on your small ship. By the hand of  Providence, you have made it to the New World.

We will be leaving the 1600s for a while now and moving forward to 1912. Once again, you're standing on a dock and watching a ship (this is all becoming rather familiar and predictable, is it not? Just wait until 11:49 P.M. on the 14th, and you'll get enough adventure to last you your life). You watch as men, women, and children are loaded on to the ship. A young Irish mother, walking slowly because of the child she bears, clutches her toddler's hand as they cross the gangplank. You watch her turn back for a moment, a single tear caught in her blue eye like a gem, but then she enters and you can no longer see her in the bustle of people around you. Trying to catch a glimpse of the object of her attention, you see her husband standing a few yards behind you, his expression identical to hers.

A man's loud voice to your right shakes you and makes you turn curiously towards the noise. His wife is so covered in satin, fur, and pearls that you can barely tell where they leave off and she begins. Her hat, so enormous it could have its own staircase, threatens to be knocked off by the wind, were it not for the gloved hand she kept on it. The husband is the one you heard speaking, and he is dashing man in the clothes of the upper class. He is shaking his head at his wife as they stroll towards the gangplank.

"Nonsense, my dear, you speak utter nonsense." His voice is loud enough to carry through all of Southampton, but the speaker doesn't seem to notice.

"I only said that there was a slight chance—" she begins, but he cuts her voice off.

"A slight chance of what? Exactly." He knods his head confidently. "Nothing. Why, of all the ships in the world, you say this one will sink? The idea alone is positively preposterous. Come, Claire, I believed you were above such superstition."

"I am not being superstitious," his wife argues, a bit of fire in her tone.

"Good. Then we are agreed." He takes her arm once more, and they continue towards the gangplank.

I hardly need to continue this story, as we all know how it is going to end. At 11:49 P.M., the Titanic's hull was scraped by a large iceberg, and at exactly 2:29 A.M., she sank beneath the waves, leaving what little was left of her passenger stranded in lifeboats and clinging to other flotation devices. It would be several hours before the Carpathia would arrive to rescue them, and for many, that was several hours too late.

You may be wondering why I gave this little history lesson. (I assure you that boring my readers with dull facts they already know was not one of my motives.) In truth, it was not entirely to relay an old story of a famous marine tragedy, but to issue a warning. In Proverbs 16, verses 17 through 18, it says, "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." Though you have most likely heard the story of the Titanic too many times to count, you may still be in the dark as to the destructive effects of pride. Too much pride and self-confidence has been the downfall of many an ancient leader who thought himself indomitable, and now it has even caused the end of a ship thought so "unsinkable" she didn't need half her lifeboats. You see how ridiculous it is to argue against the sovereignty of God?

(Also, if you ever set foot on a ship and they say that lifeboats for all of the passengers is a waste of deck space, I suggest you find another way to get home.)

. . .

Elizabeth    Rose

Elizabeth Rose is a follower of the Most High who seeks to live every day of her life in accordance with 1 Corinthians 10:31. She loves all sorts of books (the thicker the better), is convinced that Irish Breakfast tea is the closest thing this world will get to heaven, dances until her feet ache, stays up until all hours writing, wears pearls at every opportunity, and obsesses over Les Misérables and The Scarlet Pimpernel. Her debut novel, Violets Are Blue, was published in May 2012. You can find her on Literary Lane, most likely with The Count of Monte Cristo in hand, and ink on her fingers. 


Shaz in Oz.CalligraphyCards said...

Hi there Sarah and Elizabeth Rose - thank you so much for sharing this wee narrative - it has been greatly enjoyed.
I did wonder when I saw the beginning of this if you were going to quote the proverb: " Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall" in its entirety as it is abbreviated so often. Thanks for being true to the LORD and His word,
Shaz in oz.x

Shaz in Oz.CalligraphyCards said...

Hi also tried five or six times to post a comment on Elizabeth's blog but it kept asking me to to prove I am not a robot (think it was locked on it no matter what I did) - maybe suggest she removes it Sarah, great post here though and will go back to her blog again love and God bless, Shaz.xx

Sarah said...

Hi Shaz,
I'm glad you enjoyed this post.
I'll certainly tell Elizabeth that you weren't able to post on her blog.

Miss you and wish you the best always:)
In Him,

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