Wrath of God


Mar 3, 1998
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I have nothing else to do at the moment, so I thought I'd freewheel a bit:

To use the vernacular found in other threads, why did God strike down the second ship of the Olympic class? Much has been made of the fact that the disaster occurred during Titanic's maiden voyage...if God truly wanted to give Mankind a message, why didn't He send an iceberg (or some other agent of Fate, seeing how the month of June is pushing things a bit to be having icebergs on the prowl) into Olympic's path the year before? Was it because Smith was destined to suffer the sins of Mail Boat captains before him? But Smith captained Olympic, too. I don't get it. If God truly intended to publically expose Mankind's arrogance, why was Olympic allowed to operate successfully?

Maybe God's message is more subtle. Maybe the real damnation lay in obscurity. Olympic was doomed to be obscured in the world's collective memory by Titanic's notorious legacy. The architect of the dream was forced to watch from the sidelines as his dream was crippled, the sole survivor of the three enjoying some hint of the success that he envisioned before ending up at the breakers. The dream, once envisioned, was never allowed to fully develop.

But why White Star? Why a British-flagged vessel? Why not the Imperator? Or was World War I a mopping-up operation...humbling the German liners for their arrogance?

Why were liners the symbol of man's arrogance? If you ask me, liners were "legacy technology" by 1912. Man was seeking heaven with more sophisticated machines by then.

Oh well, the point is that no matter the reasons behind God's selection of Titanic to make his point...Mankind didn't really listen, anyway. Mankind's confidence in his technology wasn't really all that shaken by the Titanic disaster, especially in the specialised area of war-making machinery. Sure, some safety rules were changed, but Man continued to push the technology to allow Man to reach faster, farther and higher. Ships, airships, planes, trains and automobiles continued to wreck, but technological progress accelerated nonetheless.

Well, my five minutes are up. Time for me to deaprt before the lightning bolt hits.

Parks
 
May 5, 2001
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-------------------- -------------------- -------------------- Encyclopedia Titanica Message Board: Collision / Sinking Theories: Wrath of God? -------------------- -------------------- --------------------

Here is my interpretation on what this whole wrath of god thing means.....I think Eva Hart's mom said it best when she said "To call a ship unsinkable is flying in the face of God", now please don't debate me on whether or not Eva's mom said it or not because I heard her say her mom said it in a couple of different interviews, which is kinda irrelevant whether she said it or not because I am using it in my conjecture to drive home a point.

NEVER and I MEAN NEVER, under ANY circumstances say anything like "God Himself could NOT sink this ship" (Eva's mom didn't say this so save your breath...
happy.gif
) because that is not flying in the face of God, that is LAUGHING in the face of God.....God shoved that Iceberg in the ship's path as punishment for thinking or even remotely thinking he couldn't sink her......just to prove a point:

DON'T TELL ME WHAT I CAN OR CANNOT DO!!!

Ok, so I have a flair for the dramatic but you get the point...once I heard that "God himself could not sink The ship" and then it sunk, it was the only plausible theory I could think of that fit without controversy. >
 
May 9, 2001
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I really must disagree. I simply don't see any involvement of God, or any other supernatural phenomenon regarding the fate of Titanic. IMHO, the entire disaster was the product of miscommunication, poor situational awarness, and unusual weather conditions. And top it off with some really bad luck that night.

My personal belief is that prior to the collision with an iceberg by Titanic, there were probably numerous 'near-misses' over the years that just went unreported, or overlooked. I mean how much attention does a near miss get compared to an actual accident? I think that there was an inherently dangerous situation in existence where ice flows drifted down from the north, unmonitored and randomly reported, into the shipping lanes with regularity. Ships would eventually come into close proximity to these ice flows. And I'm positive that there were many other nights just like 4/14/12, where there was complete darkness, calm conditions, and drifting ice in the path of ships. It just happened that Titanic drew the short straw that night.


No, I don't think Titanic should be seen as some larger lesson on the supremacy of God over man or his creations. Titanic was a tragic accident, brought forth by man, and the blame is to be born upon the shoulders of man alone.

Yuri
 

Adam Leet

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May 18, 2001
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I have to disagree, as well. As an atheist, I don't believe God or any deity had a "hand" in Titanic's demise. To me it was, as Yuri said, simply an accident, and no one was to blame except man.


Adam
 
Mar 3, 1998
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<font color="#006600">once I heard that "God himself could not sink The ship" and then it sunk, it was the only plausible theory I could think of that fit without controversy.

Did someone actually say this, or is it "urban legend?" I'm quite aware that Walter Lord quoted Mrs. Caldwell for this, but the entire scenario sounds too pat. But even if the story is true, how do we know the same thing wasn't said at some point about Olympic, but never recorded for posterity because Olympic never sank? Why is it that blasphemy was first rendered during the loading of Titanic, when Olympic had already been sailing for nearly a year? Do we seriously believe that no one proclaimed Olympic's invulnerability during the first year of her service? I certainly don't. Not when Captain Smith was quoted in newspapers.

And if the story is true, then why would God pay more attention to an offhand comment by an anonymous deck hand than to the hundreds who prayed to Him for safe passage each night? Yes, I am making an assumption, without proof, that people prayed to God for a safe passage in Titanic. Just because history doesn't record such a specific prayer doesn't mean that it didn't happen.

It doesn't matter if one believes in God (as I do) or not (evidently, Adam). My point is that all the talk about Titanic being God's lesson to, or vengence against, Mankind overlooks one basic fact...that Titanic was one liner among many and that even among her class, she was following in the footsteps of a twin sister. Not only was Titanic identical to Olympic for all practical purposes, the very same deck officers (with the exception of the Chief Officer) retraced the same route that had been travelled already.

I don't know...between "Futility," "God himself couldn't sink this ship," "Waking the Edwardian society out of their complacency," and "The end of the Gilded Age," I'm tired of all the obfuscation. It's hard enough to make sense of the testimony without having to deal with Titanic's status as a legend. The ship is interesting enough without making the ship out to be more than what she actually was.

A child died aboard Titanic. So also aboard Lusitania, Empress of Ireland, Dunbar, Lancastria, Estonia, Wilhelm Gustloff, Steuben, Cap Arcona, Dona Paz...the list is long. Which child was the more important? Peacetime accident or act of war, it doesn't matter...a child died and somebody asked God why. And if you don't want to restrict the dead to children, then substitute a "loved one." The list grows longer and Titanic becomes even smaller in comparison.

By the way, this is my view of the subject. No one has to agree with me. I just thought I'd speak my mind after having to listen to talk about Titanic-related omens/prophecy/mumbo -jumbo for the umpteenth time.

Parks
 
Dec 2, 2000
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I'm not one for placing "blame" on the Allmighty either Parks, and if you're trying to express some irritation at hearing this premise so often...on and off the list...I have to say that I understand completely and agree!

The Titanic didn't need anybody's help to screw this pooch. They mis-managed well enough on their own.

And surely, the Allmighty...if s/he exists has better things to do with his/her time then to micromanage the navigation of a single ship.
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Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Jul 10, 2005
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FREE WILL... God gave us all free will, the choices we make are ultimately the reasons that something does or does not happen.
As humans, we were given dominion over all the earth and everything opon it. I do believe in devine intervention though. I have seen, experienced and heard the miraculous more than once, and am expecting there will be much more. (I believe this to be Almighty God).
What a HUGE responsibility was given Capt. Smith, and I can't even begin to imagine what his thoughts were when he knew that Titanic would founder.
Titanic was an accident just waiting to happen, she was just one of all the ships that could have sunk in just that very way judging by the rule of the sea at that time. On the up side, every tragedy has it's triumph. Look at the good that came out of the loss of Titanic and her people;

The International Ice Patrol
The US Coast Guard
The Board of Trade had to change their regulations as well as the US and other countries to provide a lifeboat seat for everyone on board.
And other misc. new rules.
Marconi rules changed. ie: messages pertaining to the safety of the ship, her course and passengers became more important than sending a message to "have my car waiting".

Horrible as this tragedy was, it forced us humans to change the way we look at things and value human life a little better than we did before. How we treat each other as human beings is much more important to me than wondering why God allowed such a thing to happen. To me, God gave us a choice, we were slack, we suffered the dire consequences for it.

Dearest Michael,
Last time I heard that phrase was from my retired military teaching commrad. Boy does that bring back memories.
happy.gif


Ok, just my 2 cents worth.

All My Best,

Beverly
 
K

Kathy Savadel

Guest
Yuri,

Actually, after giving this considerable thought, I do agree with you. I got thinking about how many other modern disasters I would consider to be directly initiated by God as some form of vengeance. I couldn't think of any. That made me reassess the reasons why I heretofore thought this about Titanic. I won't ramble on about my early-morning thought processes, but I did thus change my opinion.

Cheers,
Kathy
 
Mar 3, 1998
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OK, let me readjust here. My original premise was not to speculate on whether or not there is a God. That can be discussed elsewhere. I also did not intend to speculate on whether the Titanic disaster was merely an accident or the result of direct intervention by God. That also can be discussed elsewhere. Personally, I agree with those who say that the Titanic disaster was the result of human folly, but that's beside this particular point.

Of all the respondents, only William and Michael answered my intent. I'm addressing the oft-repeated mantra, found in numerous Titanic texts, that Titanic was some sort of Tower of Babel, a representation of the technological advancement and arrogance of Man that strove too close to Heaven for God's comfort. In order to address this, I have to make the underlying assumption, purely for the sake of carrying forth this particular discussion, that God exists and directly influenced events. Atheists and "accident"alists (I normally count myself among the latter), bear with me until after this discussion.

My intent is really not even to focus in on the "God's vengeance" aspect. I'm driving toward something deeper. Why is it that Titanic is considered so special by numerous authors? Why was Titanic selected by God to be a lesson to Mankind? Why is Titanic touted by some as being a technological marvel, a symbol of the age? Why does the sinking of this particular ship bring an end to an entire Age of Mankind? Why were there omens and prophecy involved?

I can take William's statement and use it to summarise my question. Why is it that, according to what you can read in numerous texts, Titanic is the only ship that was proclaimed to be unsinkable, impervious even to God's abilities? Are we to believe that God Himself reacted in such a dramatic fashion to a flippant remark made by a deck hand prior to sailing? This is the same attitude that causes people to look for prophecy in Robertson's novel (which, I believe, is not the intent that Walter Lord intended...I believe he used "Futility" only to set the stage for his story), or to declare everything from a head poking out of a funnel to the near-collision with the New York as being omens. Every action taken aboard Titanic takes on dreadful significance and we spend a lot of time debating the meaning of this, that and the other thing.

It's the knowledge that Titanic sank that causes these myths to flourish. But what were they, really? Was there any real significance (and I will use just one example here) in Smith giving Ismay the Baltic message at the time, or was that a routine act that only later would prove to have consequences (if it had any at all...I'm not sure that the crew would have changed their actions had the message been posted in the chart room all day)?

It's like those movies where we know the monster is behind the door and the sinister music is playing and we want to shout to the oblivious hero on the screen, "Don't go in there! Can't you hear the music? Can't you pick up on the clues?!?" We never quite understand why the hero opens that door. And when the hero gets attacked, we shake our heads and marvel at his stupidity.

Well, I for one would like to try and look past the myths and try to understand the reasons behind the decisions that caused Titanic to founder. "God's vengeance" is not good enough for me. I also want to see the disaster in the appropriate light...to assert that Titanic caused such a fundamental shift in Man's thinking overlooks a slew of historical events that followed. If anyone believes that the causal factors for World War I weren't already in place before the Titanic disaster, then I believe they've got another think coming.

Well, this is my rant. Maybe I shouldn't have brought it up in the first place. I was probably wrong to describe Titanic as a Tower of Babel, when the true Tower of Babel is really this list. We strove too close to the truth behind Titanic and God responded by causing us all to speak in different tongues.

Parks
 

James Smith

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Dec 5, 2001
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I know a lot of people here aren't fans of Charles Pellegreno, but in "Her Name, Titanic" he brings out an interesting point that goes along with what Parks was saying. Pellegreno spoke with an Alvin pilot (Ralph Hollis, maybe?) who observed that if you take a street corner in New York City where over 1,500 people have been run over or died in auto wrecks over the last eighty years, it really has no pull, no emotional power over you. There is just something about the Titanic . . . what it is, exactly, I don't know.

This doesn't really get us anywhere, but it is food for thought . . .
 
Dec 2, 2000
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G'Day Parks...can't say as I see the Titanic as a Tower of Babel, and I'm lost on why anyone else would. After all, what was all that remarkable about the ship herself?

Well...nothing really.

The Olympics were a cleaner design then what had come befor, but I don't think any of them went overboard on luxury. Compared to the gaudy appointments of the slightly larger German vessels being built, they were downright restrained. (Anyone notice that the German vessels survived long enough to be scrapped?)

Were it not for a lethal navigation error, I doubt history would have given Titanic a second glance. However, the error was made, people died, and the politicians, preachers and activists of the day jumped on it. People have been misunderstanding it ever since

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Adam Leet

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May 18, 2001
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I apologize for jumping ahead on that. I have to admit, I get a little uncomfortable when the "God" factor comes in as a cause of the sinking. I myself have trouble understanding the connection. I suppose if I were to have the answer, it could explain my obsession with her, which I can't.


Adam
 
May 12, 2005
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All,

I too think there's been a great deal of exaggeration regarding Titanic's historical importance but let's not forget a few things that ARE true in the mythology that has grown up:

1) Titanic for a few shining seconds WAS the great marvel of the time; despite the invention of flight, this was still a sea-going age. Luxury liners were not just the only form of international passenger transport but were integral facets of early 20th century culture.

2)she WAS the biggest liner in the world and certainly greater than the Olympic (I mean why make another one if not to improve over the first?). Of course there can be good arguments made that she was NOT greater than the Lusitania in anything but size.

3)She WAS carrying a large number of extraordinarily notable passengers, more so than normally made maiden voyages. Though these people are now forgotten for the most part,I do think that their presence had a lot to do with the original mystique that was cast on the event.

4) The premonitions, if you will, of Morgan Robertson and W.T. Stead as to the Titanic's fate DID occur. Whether we dismiss these as coincidences or true examples of prescience is up to the individual. But one can't ignore them totally. At the very least, the sheer number of alleged premonitions are interesting.

5) The Titanic WAS a lesson to mankind. Whether you believe in God or not it WAS a lesson. Beverly has outlined above the positive advancements in ocean-going safety that resulted from the Titanic's demise. I personally believe in God and I believe he is in touch with this world all the time. We ourselves are but 7 months into a new world born of a tremendous wake-up call to humanity - and for many of the same reasons that the world of 1912 was awakened. Complacency in technology and wealth and the Western world's all-around insular social conscience have been shaken since September 11, 2001. The same thing occured on April 15, 1912.

Having said this, I do not believe that the Titanic, while it WAS the first huge signal of upheaval, can historically be considered anywhere near as great as the horrors of the wars that ripped open much of the rest of the century. But as a peace-time event, there is no taking it away from Titanic. Arguably, some weightier peace-time events have occured since, but the romantic aura which literature, media, and the entertainment worlds have created around the Titanic story, whether we like it or not, makes almost everything else pale by comparison.

In the end, I do see the Titanic disaster as truly pivotal but not neccessarily as monumental as we are encouraged to believe.

But we are still talking about Titanic, aren't we? And we commemorate it and those whose lives were needlessly lost in it every time we sign on to ET. Any way you look at it, it was and is an unforgettable human tragedy. The story touched the world when it happened and is hasn't let up one bit.

Randy
 
May 12, 2005
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Following up here a bit on a point made by Parks. He is very right that the conflicts that were to culminate in war in 1914 were already taking place before Titanic sank. Few people think of this now but probably few people THEN did either. And that's my point. The Titanic tragedy in itself may not have created a new world order. My opinion is that it DID NOT. But it triggered a change in people's minds and feelings. It was a first jolt and can even be seen as a symbol of the brewing turbulence in the world that would eventually explode. So wheras the average American or European person in 1912 was not much concerned about the wars in the Balkans or other trouble-spots at the time, that same person WAS impacted by Titanic and its myriad ramifications. So in that sense, I think Titanic deserves credit for shaking people up and preparing them a bit for the greater calamity of world war.
 
L

lisagay harrod

Guest
Hello All,

This board never ceases to amaze...the places it goes! Whew!

I was raised on the notion (dogma if you so choose) that God is a just and jealous God. I just take it at face value; my personal choice.
Not preaching here, just a precursor to my point.

As far as the Titanic goes, I doubt that the world at large would have taken as much notice if her passenger list had not included some of the most famous and weathiest people of the time. That particular strata of the social order was not used to having its' fine china, gilt edged teacup upsot!

For me, her sinking heralded the end of the Ewardian era, irrevocably changed Maritime practices, and awakened the world's social conciousness.

Sometimes (historically speaking), great change comes at a great cost. Whether it was God or not remains a personal point of view.

Whatever ones' views on the subject I find it interesting that it struck a chord with so many of us.

Again, a fascinating thread..........

Regards to One and All,
Lisa Harrod
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Randy,

Now we're getting down to it, and the point I would like to make is becoming apparent. To address your points, in order:

1) Why was Titanic so much more a marvel than Olympic?

2) But Olympic was greater, without the benefit of precedent, the year before. How come Mankind was allowed to get away with that accomplishment without heavenly retribution?

3) Yes, but are we to learn a humbling message because of the notables aboard? What purpose then did the steerage serve? Much less, the Second Class?

4) I discount Robertson's novel as premonition, as I would Jules Verne's novels about air and space travel (there was a great programme on "futurists" last night on the History Channel that discussed "premonition" versus "imagination"). WT Stead and others, though, are a bit more interesting. However, to judge their premonitions fairly, someone needs to catalogue all the forgotten premonitions surrounding other voyages that didn't come to pass. Otherwise, you can never know if you're giving undue emphasis to the "premonitions" surrounding a known disaster.

5) What lessons were learned from the disaster? Yes, I'm aware of the IIP, SOLAS, etc., but those don't constitute lessons on a Mankind level. All the regulations inspired by the disaster allowed us to do was to continue with business as driven by the demands of the market. If Titanic was supposed to be a lesson about Mankind's complacency in his technological prowess, then why wasn't there a respite in technological development in the wake of the disaster? Wasn't WW1 fought because of the Great Powers' complacency in their war-making technology? Why did technological development accelerate after Titanic? How about complacency in seamanship? Were the shipping schedules relaxed after Titanic? Did the shipping/transportat ion industry place less reliance on making schedule, did anyone increase the amount of time expected to cross the Atlantic? Or did the transportation industry relay on ever-faster modes of travel and tighter schedules? As far as I can tell, after some quick fixes, cosmetic in nature, it was essentially back to business as usual, even before the Great War.

Why do I say quick fixes? Could Olympic launch all the lifeboats she was saddled with immediately after Titanic? Seems to me they were just for show (ask the mutineers). Britannic's davits certainly don't look like a permanent solution to the problem. The IIP was a good thing (still is), but the other half of the equation is to have the ships slow down. Here's a question...did the formation of the IIP make ship captains more complacent, now that they had a better idea of where the ice was? If Titanic truly was a lesson to Mankind, I'm not quite sure what lesson it is we learned. Of course, Mankind didn't seem to learn much from Sodom and Gomorrah, either.


<font color="#006600">Arguably, some weightier peace-time events have occured since, but the romantic aura which literature, media, and the entertainment worlds have created around the Titanic story, whether we like it or not, makes almost everything else pale by comparison.

Actually, I think you hit the nail squarely on the head there. There is no arguing that Titanic gave us all a most popular Greek tragedy for our times. The pathos generated by the disaster grabbed everyone's attention, creating a ready audience for anyone who had an agenda. Titanic has been, and will continue to be, re-incarnated as a metaphor for just about anything. In that sense, Titanic was not a lesson but a pliable stage that would accomodate any play, support any message.

I'm not arguing that the Titanic disaster or even the ship itself was unimportant. What I am asserting is that the popular myths that have been perpetuated through various media since the sinking have distorted the reality of the ship, the disaster and what we really have taken away from it all.

<font color="#006600">So in that sense, I think Titanic deserves credit for shaking people up and preparing them a bit for the greater calamity of world war.

Was anyone really prepared for the Great War, as it was eventually fought? How did a "shake-up" prepare the public for war? I maintain that the complacency exhibited by the ruling elite of the Western powers was not the least bit shaken by Titanic. If it had, maybe everyone wouldn't have dived so eagerly into war. If nothing else, World War I is a perfect example of technology outpacing the mindset of those who sought to control it. Napoleanic tactics against water-cooled machine guns? Saints preserve us.

I believe that the Gilded Age came to an end when the imperial houses of Europe were destroyed or scattered, not because a few millionaires were lost at sea. It was the common man that killed the kings, both literally and figuratively, as democracy, fascism and communism replaced autocracy by divine birthright. Titanic didn't really teach that, didn't even demonstrate that rich and poor can die alike. If anything, the disaster maintained the fable that the rich die a nobler or more worthy death than the poor.

Maybe God tried to teach Mankind a lesson about the equality of all humans by sinking Titanic, and ended up being disappointed by the weak response. So He threw the Great War our way. Just to get our attention.

Parks

Disclaimer: My personal belief, again stated, is that God exists but Titanic sank because of human error, not divine intervention. I am not trying to drive anyone to this conclusion, however.
 

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