The Era of Aristocracy and Arrogance

Jim Kalafus

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Dec 3, 2000
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Yes. Exactly.

There is a strong subtext of masochism present in certain Christian sects, and an equally hearty dose of self-righteousness. The following, by Jonathan Edwards, captures A) the repulsiveness of the wrath of an angry god Titanic theory, and B) why it was so easy for me to abandon religion with no backwards look.

"The truth of this observation may appear by the following considerations.


There is no want of power in God to cast wicked men into hell at any moment. Men's hands cannot be strong when God rises up. The strongest have no power to resist him, nor can any deliver out of his hands.-He is not only able to cast wicked men into hell, but he can most easily do it. Sometimes an earthly prince meets with a great deal of difficulty to subdue a rebel, who has found means to fortify himself, and has made himself strong by the numbers of his followers. But it is not so with God. There is no fortress that is any defence from the power of God. Though hand join in hand, and vast multitudes of God's enemies combine and associate themselves, they are easily broken in pieces. They are as great heaps of light chaff before the whirlwind; or large quantities of dry stubble before devouring flames. We find it easy to tread on and crush a worm that we see crawling on the earth; so it is easy for us to cut or singe a slender thread that any thing hangs by: thus easy is it for God, when he pleases, to cast his enemies down to hell. What are we, that we should think to stand before him, at whose rebuke the earth trembles, and before whom the rocks are thrown down?

They deserve to be cast into hell; so that divine justice never stands in the way, it makes no objection against God's using his power at any moment to destroy them. Yea, on the contrary, justice calls aloud for an infinite punishment of their sins. Divine justice says of the tree that brings forth such grapes of Sodom, "Cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground?" Luke xiii. 7. The sword of divine justice is every moment brandished over their heads, and it is nothing but the hand of arbitrary mercy, and God's mere will, that holds it back.

They are already under a sentence of condemnation to hell. They do not only justly deserve to be cast down thither, but the sentence of the law of God, that eternal and immutable rule of righteousness that God has fixed between him and mankind, is gone out against them, and stands against them; so that they are bound over already to hell. John iii. 18. "He that believeth not is condemned already." So that every unconverted man properly belongs to hell; that is his place; from thence he is, John viii. 23. "Ye are from beneath." And thither be is bound; it is the place that justice, and God's word, and the sentence of his unchangeable law assign to him.

They are now the objects of that very same anger and wrath of God, that is expressed in the torments of hell. And the reason why they do not go down to hell at each moment, is not because God, in whose power they are, is not then very angry with them; as he is with many miserable creatures now tormented in hell, who there feel and bear the fierceness of his wrath. Yea, God is a great deal more angry with great numbers that are now on earth: yea, doubtless, with many that are now in this congregation, who it may be are at ease, than he is with many of those who are now in the flames of hell.

So that it is not because God is unmindful of their wickedness, and does not resent it, that he does not let loose his hand and cut them off. God is not altogether such an one as themselves, though they may imagine him to be so. The wrath of God burns against them, their damnation does not slumber; the pit is prepared, the fire is made ready, the furnace is now hot, ready to receive them; the flames do now rage and glow. The glittering sword is whet, and held over them, and the pit hath opened its mouth under them.


The devil stands ready to fall upon them, and seize them as his own, at what moment God shall permit him. They belong to him; he has their souls in his possession, and under his dominion. The scripture represents them as his goods, Luke xi. 12. The devils watch them; they are ever by them at their right hand; they stand waiting for them, like greedy hungry lions that see their prey, and expect to have it, but are for the present kept back. If God should withdraw his hand, by which they are restrained, they would in one moment fly upon their poor souls. The old serpent is gaping for them; hell opens its mouth wide to receive them; and if God should permit it, they would be hastily swallowed up and lost.

There are in the souls of wicked men those hellish principles reigning, that would presently kindle and flame out into hell fire, if it were not for God's restraints. There is laid in the very nature of carnal men, a foundation for the torments of hell. There are those corrupt principles, in reigning power in them, and in full possession of them, that are seeds of hell fire. These principles are active and powerful, exceeding violent in their nature, and if it were not for the restraining hand of God upon them, they would soon break out, they would flame out after the same manner as the same corruptions, the same enmity does in the hearts of damned souls, and would beget the same torments as they do in them. The souls of the wicked are in scripture compared to the troubled sea, Isa. lvii. 20. For the present, God restrains their wickedness by his mighty power, as he does the raging waves of the troubled sea, saying, "Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further;" but if God should withdraw that restraining power, it would soon carry all before it. Sin is the ruin and misery of the soul; it is destructive in its nature; and if God should leave it without restraint, there would need nothing else to make the soul perfectly miserable. The corruption of the heart of man is immoderate and boundless in its fury; and while wicked men live here, it is like fire pent up by God's restraints, whereas if it were let loose, it would set on fire the course of nature; and as the heart is now a sink of sin, so if sin was not restrained, it would immediately turn the soul into a fiery oven, or a furnace of fire and brimstone.

It is no security to wicked men for one moment, that there are no visible means of death at hand. It is no security to a natural man, that he is now in health, and that he does not see which way he should now immediately go out of the world by any accident, and that there is no visible danger in any respect in his circumstances. The manifold and continual experience of the world in all ages, shows this is no evidence, that a man is not on the very brink of eternity, and that the next step will not be into another world. The unseen, unthought-of ways and means of persons going suddenly out of the world are innumerable and inconceivable. Unconverted men walk over the pit of hell on a rotten covering, and there are innumerable places in this covering so weak that they will not bear their weight, and these places are not seen. The arrows of death fly unseen at noon-day; the sharpest sight cannot discern them. God has so many different unsearchable ways of taking wicked men out of the world and sending them to hell, that there is nothing to make it appear, that God had need to be at the expense of a miracle, or go out of the ordinary course of his providence, to destroy any wicked man, at any moment. All the means that there are of sinners going out of the world, are so in God's hands, and so universally and absolutely subject to his power and determination, that it does not depend at all the less on the mere will of God, whether sinners shall at any moment go to hell, than if means were never made use of, or at all concerned in the case.

Natural men's prudence and care to preserve their own lives, or the care of others to preserve them, do not secure them a moment. To this, divine providence and universal experience do also bear testimony. There is this clear evidence that men's own wisdom is no security to them from death; that if it were otherwise we should see some difference between the wise and politic men of the world, and others, with regard to their liableness to early and unexpected death: but how is it in fact? Eccles. ii. 16. "How dieth the wise man? even as the fool."

All wicked men's pains and contrivance which they use to escape hell, while they continue to reject Christ, and so remain wicked men, do not secure them from hell one moment. Almost every natural man that hears of hell, flatters himself that he shall escape it; he depends upon himself for his own security; he flatters himself in what he has done, in what he is now doing, or what he intends to do. Every one lays out matters in his own mind how he shall avoid damnation, and flatters himself that he contrives well for himself, and that his schemes will not fail. They hear indeed that there are but few saved, and that the greater part of men that have died heretofore are gone to hell; but each one imagines that he lays out matters better for his own escape than others have done. He does not intend to come to that place of torment; he says within himself, that he intends to take effectual care, and to order matters so for himself as not to fail.
But the foolish children of men miserably delude themselves in their own schemes, and in confidence in their own strength and wisdom; they trust to nothing but a shadow. The greater part of those who heretofore have lived under the same means of grace, and are now dead, are undoubtedly gone to hell; and it was not because they were not as wise as those who are now alive: it was not because they did not lay out matters as well for themselves to secure their own escape. If we could speak with them, and inquire of them, one by one, whether they expected, when alive, and when they used to hear about hell ever to be the subjects of that misery: we doubtless, should hear one and another reply, "No, I never intended to come here: I had laid out matters otherwise in my mind; I thought I should contrive well for myself: I thought my scheme good. I intended to take effectual care; but it came upon me unexpected; I did not look for it at that time, and in that manner; it came as a thief: Death outwitted me: God's wrath was too quick for me. Oh, my cursed foolishness! I was flattering myself, and pleasing myself with vain dreams of what I would do hereafter; and when I was saying, Peace and safety, then suddenly destruction came upon me.


God has laid himself under no obligation, by any promise to keep any natural man out of hell one moment. God certainly has made no promises either of eternal life, or of any deliverance or preservation from eternal death, but what are contained in the covenant of grace, the promises that are given in Christ, in whom all the promises are yea and amen. But surely they have no interest in the promises of the covenant of grace who are not the children of the covenant, who do not believe in any of the promises, and have no interest in the Mediator of the covenant.
 

Jim Kalafus

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The "Yes. Exactly." was aimed at Bob's post.

>It looks as if Grant had seen the Cameron's movie only...

Well, his outlook can be reenforced by reading the Old Testament, in which god IS a spiteful creature capable of great and capricious evil.

And, in certain cases, if 1912 evidence is taken at face value (I dont, but for the sake of the discussion, I'll willingly suspend disbelief and take Titanic survivors at their word) in certain cases passengers DID prevent boats from going back. And, in at least once case , witnessed by Beesley (who WAS one of the better observers and less inclined to gild his account than most) second class female passengers WERE barred from progressing into first class, based specifically on their class and no other factors.

So, you can't really dismiss him as being Cameron influenced, since there are true theological and historical underpinnings to portions of his post.

[Moderator's note: A sentence has been removed from this message as originally written. MAB]
 

Mark Baber

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Dec 29, 2000
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Hello, all---

Discussion of God's role in Titanic's sinking in particular, and of His nature and qualities in general, is beyond the scope of what should be debated here. Please be guided accordingly.

Thanks.
 
Jan 28, 2003
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This Jonathan Edwards guy had way too much time on his hands. Must have been a rich, first-class passenger type to spend so long on such a simple message. "God loves me, not you. You will suffer through eternity. I won't."

I'm slightly puzzled by the concept of heaven and hell. Why do you need both? The prospect of eternity spent worshipping god sounds like sheer hell to me ... bring on oblivion.
 

Eric Longo

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Aug 13, 2004
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Hi All,

I just briefly say I am amazed at the idea that anything other than man was needed to get a big ship in trouble. We do quite well making a right mess of things on our own and we have for some time. Look around. To think anything else was needed other than the standard navigational practices of the day could be seen as arrogance in itself. A big ship headed more or less directly into an ice field at some speed, ran afoul of the odds and sank. I'll leave any other speculation to others, or none, as Mark has so correctly asked.

Best wishes,
Eric
 
May 1, 2004
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Re: God’s Character. With apologies to the moderator, let me recommend John Selby Spong's book "The Sins of Scripture: exposing the Bible's Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love." It’s an insightful book, by a concerned, though controversial bishop.

Now, my answer to Grant regarding the Titanic.

>I hate how people in the 1910's were so arrogant!

We are all arrogant or prejudiced about certain things and people. All humans are prone to believe their class, race, nation, region, religion, profession, honesty and / or moral fiber is superior to others’. We accept our ancestors’ beliefs or we question them and hopefully accept, change or reject them for better, truer or kinder ones. For example: Some folks still won’t accept that a person of a particular race /gender is as capable as a person of their own race / gender — which is the same attitude of a lot of people 1910. Even though that’s now against the laws in North America, ‘unaccepted’ people are still slighted and treated badly.

*J. Brute Ismay ordering the Titanic to go full speed ahead in an ice field (I'm glad he was later shunned for that!)

Mr. J. Bruce Ismay was 'shunned' because he, a) a man and b) a director of the White Star Line, the Titanic’s owner, saved his life by entering a lifeboat. Many men of all classes and crew - including notable men in First Class like Major Archibald Butt, close friend and aide to U.S. Presidents Taft and Theodore Roosevelt - refused to enter a lifeboat while women and children remained on board. Their self-sacrifice got into all the papers. They were practically canonized. That meant the other men who boarded lifeboats, such as Mr. Ismay, were called ‘coward’ by newspaper readers and snubbed in their hometowns. It didn’t matter to them that Mr. Ismay had encouraged and assisted women into the boats before he took a place in one. That he was ‘the owner’ on board and may have ordered the engineer to speed up the ship (and that was based on hearsay, was it not?) made him appear a ‘brute’ in the public eye.

*First Class segregating steerage leaving them to drown like rats in a trap while they got away in the lifeboats and refused to rescue people.

As said by others, it was the crew’s duty to inform the passengers to get into the boats and point out where the boats were. The First Class passengers had no responsibility to inform, allow or restrict anyone. If there was a conscious segregation of 3rd class passengers from the others, or restrictions to them accessing the boats, that was not the fault of the 1st class passengers but of the officers or certain of the crew.

IMO, there must have been some unconscious class attitudes. This was a British ship, and the Brits lived in a class layered society. Through many generations, they were used to thinking some folks were more worthy than others and thus should be treated better than others. And, as the most powerful nation in the world at that time, controling an empire of many races, the British saw themselves as better than other nations and races. Those in 3rd were either from the ‘working class’, like the stewards themselves, or they were ‘foreigners’ — called ‘Italians’ or ‘Chinese’ no matter where they were born. The stewards would have thought their passengers were, at best, no better than they were. The stewards themselves weren’t entitled to first place in the lifeboats. Why, they may have thought, should their working class peers in the steerage or their non-British inferiors expect a seat? They may have thought that, since the Titanic was ‘practically unsinkable’, she wouldn’t sink, or she’d sink slowly enough that the lifeboats could ferry the 1st and 2nd class passengers to rescue ships, then come back for the 3rd and themselves. They may have. I don’t know what they thought; but can imagine how I would have thought, had I been a Englishwoman and a stewardess on a new ship that was supposed to be the best afloat.
There was also the language barrier. Did anyone but the Armenian passengers speak Armenian, for example? Could the Armenians or Russians or Chinese in ‘working-class’ third understand printed or spoken English — and English in a Southhampton or Scots accent, spoken by a perhaps anxious and harried steward who didn’t know the ship was going down? Remember that most passengers and crew believed the ship was ‘practically unsinkable’. It seems that most third class passengers who got to, if not into, a lifeboat did not believe in the ship and had the gumption to find his or her own way to the boat deck. Others believed what they had been told — that the ship was safe - or didn’t understand and weren’t told in their own languages that it was not.
There was the ‘women and children first’ rule. Survivors who were interviewed spoke of ship’s officers and passengers like Major Butt pulling men out of lifeboats — even shooting them - because, in their worldview, it was cowardly to save one’s life while women and children were in peril, and cowards should not be allowed to live. Any man, although the women interviewed insisted the men pulled out were from steerage. In their view, those men could not have been from the same class as their dead husbands or heroes like the Major.

Those in the boats were afraid of being capsized by a rush of panic stricken people in the water, so they either rowed away to save themselves, or, like Officer Lowe, they waited until the mass of people thrashing in the water 'thinned out' before they went to rescue those who still lived. Be charitable. The women had seen the unthinkable horror. They had been thrust, confused, out of their beds and into the lifeboats without their husbands. They were terrified and their children were in the lifeboats with them. The last thing they wanted was to die, or to see their children die. Mr. Lowe did what he thought was both right as an officer (to save lives) and safe for the living in his charge (to wait a bit before going back, in case too many panic-stricken victims would overturn the boats).


*People saying "She's Unsinkable" and "This ship can't sink!" and "God himself can't sink this ship!" Because of that, God made the Titanic sink so humans wouldn't think they're better than God (just like the Tower of Babel).

Mark, I want so much to address the question of God’s role in the sinking that I feel a bit shackled. Let’s see if I can slant my reply to human beliefs in the ship and technology.

It seems that, at the turn of the 20th century, many Europeans and North Americans believed that their technology was advanced enough that their new ships were made ‘practically unsinkable’. At least the Titanic was touted as that in the press and through word of mouth.
There were other people, both devout and non-religious, who were very concerned that belief in Man’s achievements and in the unsinkability of modern ships was arrogance and hubris. They said “If those who captain the new ships think they need not fear sinking, they will think they need not take care to avoid accidents.” One passenger or survivor was quoted as saying that statements like “God himself can’t sink this ship” was ‘flying in the face of Providence’ — mocking God’s power and thus risking his wrath.
Charles M. Hays, a first class passenger who did not survive, predicted that a terrible accident would happen. I don’t know if he was religious, but he did not believe in the ‘practically unsinkable’ ship. A railroad owner, he was probably aware of the number of deaths on his line caused by disregarding safety measures. Trains run off the rails or collide. Ships collide and sink.
Eva Hart’s mother was reluctant to board the Titanic because, according to Eva’s later interviews, ‘that ship was too big’. Mrs. Hart therefore stayed awake at night, waiting for the calamity she was sure would occur.
Other people said after the sinking that they did not board the Titanic because they, like Mrs. Hart, had a premonition of disaster. Some may have really believed they had one. Others refused to go on new ships, believing maiden voyages were always ‘unlucky’. They were probably ‘uncomfortable’. There were always problems on new ships, which was a reason for the presence of the ship’s designer and the ‘guarantee men’ of engineers Harland and Wolff sent on board to solve them and recommend improvements. One I heard or read — I don’t recall if it was in a novel and thus fiction — called the Titanic ‘a malevolent ship’ or ‘an angry ship’; that he felt shivers when he was working on it in Belfast.

After the disaster, because of the ‘unsinkable’ publicity and because Thomas Andrews, the ship’s designer and so many wealthy men died (and that Mr. Ismay, the ‘owner’ had been on board), certain folks did say that God had punished mankind for its hubris (Ismay and Andrews) or the rich (Messrs. Astor, Guggenheim, etc.) for how they got or spent their wealth, and their disinclination of spending it on the poor. There were scads of sermons on that theme in the weeks after the sinking, and they may have fuelled the “Wrath of God” theory.
The disaster did shake people up about their lives and/or their attitudes and beliefs. A close call on the highway or seeing images of the Holocaust victims or the events of 9/11/01 would do the same for some of us today.


I'm glad the Titanic sank! It shows how humans are no better than God!

I would respond to that statement, but a private reply might be best.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>One passenger or survivor was quoted as saying that statements like “God himself can’t sink this ship”￾ was ‘flying in the face of Providence’ — mocking God’s power and thus risking his wrath. <<

If I recall correctly, it was Eva Hart who threw that one out. One of the problems here is that the claim itself is purely anecdotal andcan't even be reliably sourced. Be that as it may, if somebody said something like that, it was an overly optimistic and/or enthusiastic individual who threw that one out to a passenger.

White Star never made that claim. To do so would be to invite the wrath of the clergy in a day and age when the clergy had far more power and influance then they do today in the western world.
 
Jan 28, 2003
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Bishops over the western (and near-Eastern) world declaimed from their pulpits that the sinking of the Titanic proved God's wrath for various sins.

Doesn't seem very likely given the outbreak of WW1 inside just over 2 years, which was a much greater event. One does feel that God, if s(he) exists, is rather hampered by human stupidity, and has probably given up. Not to mention subsequent wars and outbreaks of violence. I'm only a human, but I'd do anything to protect children. Unlike God, it seems.
 
K

Kate Sen

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I hate when people think that God was the one who made Titanic sink, It`s much easier to think that it was God will, not human mistake.
I agree that there is/ are "beings" (for many it will be God/ gods for some it will be nature/force etc.) which are more powerful then us, but could we for sure said that none of Titanic crew made mistake? Could we said that none of the orders given in this 4 days and before weren`t a mistake? ( from ours, post disaster point of view)
Or could we said that she was build without any problems, wrong weak materials, or build the way that make her unsinkable? We can`t.
(I`m not discrediting Titanic crew, because I do believe they did their best, to first avoid the ice berg and second.. the help people on this ship)
So why adding God to this mess? For me this is arrogant thinking. Add some god to to disaster, make people believe that it was his/her/it decision... where it is clear human mistake.
Luckily many people don`t/didn`t think this way, because we would still be living in caves now.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>So why adding God to this mess?<<

Blame shifting...simply another way of saying "It's not our fault!" by making whatever deity one believes in the fall guy/gal for our silly mistakes.

In simpler terms, it's a cop out.