Saturday, January 21, 2012

More Costa Concordia observations

It is now more than one week after the terrible shipwreck of the Italian passenger cruise liner Costa Concordia off the Tuscan coast. The tragedy has captured the world, as shipwrecks always do. I'm sorrowful for the families of the victims who are still missing and those who are dead. I am sad for the wrecked lives of those who are related to the Captain, and I'm sad for the captain himself. I wrote last week about the bravado he displayed in using the cruise ship as a personal yacht and maneuvering close to the shore for a personal reason. I'd thought about Paul's admonition to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 that in the last days certain emotional conditions would be driving humanity; selfishness, greed, disobedience, hatred, brutality, etc. The captain's behavior certainly illustrates several of the prophesied those conditions, and moreover, how the conditions of those who exhibit them affect all of us.

The UK Guardian has a retrospective piece called "An All-purpose symbol for our times" that is poetic at times and its tone the appropriate level of melancholy. In part, they wrote:

"A giant white ship lies on its side in the glittering Tyrr- henian Sea, the hi-tech wedding cake of its once-towering superstructure now food for thought and shellfish as it forms a man-made reef close to the dwarfed land. The wreck of the Costa Concordia is a grave to a still uncertain number of people, yet it is also a metaphor. Where other transport accidents might be discussed with muted horror and careful respect, a shipwreck brings out far more primitive and irrepressible responses."

"When you look at pictures of the fated ship, from the shore, or the air, or even from space, the size of it is staggering – seeing these cruise ships sailing in and out of Venice recently, it was astonishing how their towering decks loomed above churches and dwarfed palaces. But as with any maritime disaster, the shell of the ship is also a mystery, concealing stories of horror and courage.It is impossible not to imagine the invisible world inside, flooded cabins, inverted restaurants, corridors become watery tombs. The imagination of disaster fills in the unseen details. Nothing grips the imagination like a tragedy at sea. George Orwell was a child when the Titanic sank. As an adult he wrote decades afterwards that it meant more to him at that age than any single piece of news from the first world war, which broke out two years later. He remembered how every detail in the newspapers of the Titanic's sinking and the terrible struggles of the survivors haunted his young mind. Above all, he recollected imagining the last moment when the ship stood completely vertically in the water before plummeting into the depths, and the people still on board hung from railings high above the water."
One by one: Infra-red footage shows passengers of the Costa Concordia queuing up (on the right) and then slipping down one-by-one (on the left) the belly of the ship via a rope. Source
"The giant cruise ships of today reflect our own society just as exactly as the Titanic reflected the world of 1912. The moral questions that hover over exactly what happened on the Costa Concordia inevitably resonate far wider than the incident itself."

I agree. Though The Guardian remarked on the symbolism the global media is making about the shipwreck mirrored against the economic times, I'd like to make that observation balanced against our moral times. Courage, duty, man against creation, life, death all are part of the moral discussion and is relevant against what Paul prophesied in 2 Timothy 3. Cruise liners are called "floating pleasure palaces" for a reason. They are designed with an intent to offer the maximum relaxing, hedonistic, pleasure-filled time of carnality that anyone can indulge in. It is the most carnal vacation, practically, that anyone can experience on earth. Thus, part of the discussion is hedonism, and how God views it. (James 1:13-14; Gal 5:16-17)

Ecclesiastes is a book that reveals the depression & melancholy that invariably results from seeking happiness in worldly things. Just about every form of worldly pleasure is explored by the writer in the pages of that wise book, and none of it gives him a sense of meaning. For those who embark on a cruise with a hope that this vacation, this indulgence, will give long lasting satisfaction, will be sorely disappointed.

I am NOT saying that the shipwreck was a judgment of God. Ship happens. I am NOT saying that taking a cruise means a person is unGodly or wanton. For many people it is a safe, affordable way to take a vacation, simple as that. But it could be ungodly and wanton, and for many it is. For even more people, that is the point of the experience. For those people, you might as well call the ship a ship of sin, because any temptation can be found within the ship's halls. Everything about a cruise ship is designed with an intent to satisfy the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, the pride of life. (1 John 2:16). Gambling, drinking, sexual indulgence, gluttony, adultery, fornication, immodesty, carnal entertainment ... the list goes on. The News program 20/20 did a spot Friday night of the Costa, and also the cruise ship industry in general. I was shocked but not surprised to see video depicting the worst effects of sinful man in the cruise ship hallways, as drunkards stagger, vomit, fornicate, fight. The number of brawls amazed me, as the cruise industry admitted that free-flowing alcohol with no moral restraints inherent in such cruises invariably leads to more frequent brawling than the industry likes to admit.

Again, a cruise is and can be a wonderful thing. If you have gone on one and had a great time, then I am really happy for you. But they are also a carnal thing and even if you are steady in your moral compass you know you will be trapped on board a floating pleasure palace where others' decisions to succumb to temptations will affect you. As it did to those on Costa Concordia when the captain, in the company of a young woman not his wife, ordered dinner with her an hour after the ship had hit the rocks and some passengers were only minutes away from dying.

9 comments:

  1. "For those who embark on a cruise with a hope that this vacation, this indulgence, will give long lasting satisfaction, will be sorely disappointed." Amen to that Elizabeth! So many people are seeking the everlasting peace and joy that can only come from Christ. Instead they "island-hop" from pleasure to pleasure, with no end in sight. Below is blog entry I wrote for the "wanderer".

    http://teamdiaz33.blogspot.com/2011/06/open-letter-to-wanderer.html

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  2. Thanks Hog Ron and thank you Lydia. I read your piece Lydia and it is wonderful!

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  3. Elizabeth,

    Check these out:

    http://parablesblog.blogspot.com/2012/01/costa-concordia-disaster-and-other-news.html

    http://parablesblog.blogspot.com/2012/01/affirmations-to-costa-concordia-parable.html

    Let me know what you think..

    Kim

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  4. Hi Kim,

    Thanks for asking for my opinion...but you might regret it...

    I'm no fan of parables kind of interpretation. I feel that too often, the authors veer into stretching the news events to fit their preconceived notions of what is happening based on improper extraction of meaning from snipped bible verses. They wind up in the worst cases in a form if divination, such as evidenced by adoration of and adherence to numerology doctrines from Bullinger. As GotQuestions says of biblical numerology,

    "Whether or not the numbers really do have a significance is still debated in many circles. The Bible definitely seems to use numbers in patterns or to teach a spiritual truth. However, many people put too much significance on “Biblical numerology,” trying to find a special meaning behind every number in the Bible. Often a number in the Bible is simply a number. God does not call us to search for secret meanings, hidden messages, and codes in the Bible. There is more than enough truth in the words and meanings of Scripture to meet all our needs and make us “complete and thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16)."

    One example is from one of the links:
    "It is interesting to note that the date of the report above (about one world currency) is 9/9/9, a number mentioned yesterday in the post on the Concordia disaster. The Concordia wreck occurred 99 years and 9 months after the wreck of the Titanic. In the same post it was mentioned that the number 9 in Scripture is “THE NUMBER OF FINALITY OR JUDGMENT.” Then he makes the link from the UN report to a coming global currency, tied to 9-9-9 and the Concordia. Sigh.

    To me, that is not only divination, it is ridiculous. I am not trying to disparage the people who write the essays like this nor the people who read them, but I reject them personally, because I prefer a more open kind of interpretive system. The first law of hermeneutics (systemic biblical interpretation) is that we are to interpret it literally, taking the normal, plain meaning. I don't like reading between the lines and inserting meanings that are not there, or worse, doing the same to worldly events and then overlaying scripture over those minutely extracted meanings, and calling it truth. Parables writers tend to use leaps of logic tying together disparate world events, random numbers, and then say that this validates the bible. In my opinion this approach is the opposite of a proper handling of the Word...

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  5. I say AMEN to Elizabeth's response. I have read "post's" from many who at the end of it seem to want to do nothing more than substantiate themselves. Our God has established an order and I am sure that there is a mathematical equation that will explain everything. That is why we see patterns in numerology. However to take numerology and try to "figure out" what is going to happen NEXT is divination period.
    What is going to happen that matters the most is Christ IS going to return, will you meet Him as Judge or Lord and Savior?

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  6. Great post. I have only been on a Disney Cruise, so I have a tamer experience. Yes I was pampered and we had a great family vacation with tons of wonderful memories--such as sitting on the balcony of our room, staring at the sun rising over the Atlantic, reading my One Year Bible and drinking coffee, and thanking the Lord for His amazing creation.

    And yet, I was also very much able to cater to my carnality (with the all you can eat buffet's and the Ice Cream Bar that was open 24 hours a day : )

    Even though it was a family cruise I was surprised at the number of families who would prefer to pawn their children off on the activity center, so that they can drink alcohol at the adults only pool. Some parents don't enjoy spending time with their children and making memories together. That made me sad.

    Still, a Disney Cruise is probably the MOST family friendly cruise you can take. And I would never take a different cruise EVER. My parents, after our Disney experience, booked a 3 day Mexico cruise. They said it was the most disgusting thing they have ever experienced (not because of the location). They said the ship was one big hedonistic hell. Women in thong bikinis so drunk they couldn't walk, strange men trying to get them back to their room. They said everyone was drunk, half naked, and looking to score. They spent most the time in their cabin, because as Christians, they were sickened by the sin that was unbridled on the ship. Can you imagine children on board watching that? What judgment is coming to a world with no shame?

    By the way, the cruise line that my parents innocently took was called "Carnival" -- what a fitting and disgusting way to sum it up.

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  7. No problem Elizabeth; we are all entitled to our opinions. I think it depends on what extent we are relying on numbers to explain things, and Joseph Herrin definitely does not do that. He is a very Biblically sound teacher and a man of God. I personally believe God is still speaking to us through the Word, the Holy Spirit and in events that are occurring. I think there were elements of the Concordia that were symbolic evidence of God using it to speak to any who would have ears to hear or eyes to see; for example, the day, the timing, the fact that each floor was named after a nation, etc.

    If you didn't read Joseph's blog, I think you would find it very interesting and encourage you to do so.

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  8. Hi Kim,

    I read the essays at the links you sent and the gentleman uses Bullinger as his basis for biblical numerology. I reject Bullinger's work. He also made some stretches regarding the 9-9-9 date of the UN report and tried to relate that to the Titanic's sinking 99 years/9 mos and also the fact that the UK has 999 for the emergency number...that kind of biblical exploration strays too far off the bible for me and stretches credulity a too far to make a doctrine out of it of imminent judgment like he did,in my opinion.

    Thank you for passing the links along, but after reading those two pieces I decided his work wasn't solid enough for me to pursue. But I DO thank you for thinking of me!!! :)

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