Posted in costa concordia, depraved, sin

What happens when we can no longer trust the mass transportation drivers who carry us?


Yesterday while on break I was speaking with the teacher with whom I share a classroom, about the Germanwings co-pilot who drove the passenger airliner into the ground. I have been mulling the sea-change his act ushers in.

We have seen hijackers, terrorists, and suicide bombers rush in to kill and destroy. That is horrific. Yet now, the stealthiness of one who is inside, trained to protect lives because they are precious, also killing and destroying, is even more heinous because of the trust that is broken. The very people into whose hands I place my life and assume they will regard it as worthy of protection, have become the ones who treat it as least and worthless. Being trapped on a rapidly moving mass transport and totally helpless to protect myself, get to safety, or help any other person, doesn’t bear thinking about.

I thought of the self-centeredness of the co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, wanting to take his own precious life that God gave him, but also 150 others’. I thought about the Costa Concordia, the largest cruise ship ever wrecked, (in 2012) and its Captain Francesco Schettino’s inattention and series of ridiculously amateur decisions and as a result stoving in his ship on a rock. As the vessel was sinking, the captain abandoned ship, leaving 4200 passengers and crew to their fates. He did not assist in the evacuation or the rescue in any way. The confusion caused by a 6-hour evacuation resulted in 32 deaths and trauma for the rest. Vanity Fair has an excellent article on the event.

“We’ve abandoned ship,” Schettino told him.
De Falco was startled. “You’ve abandoned ship?” he asked.
Schettino, no doubt sensing De Falco’s dismay, said, “I did not abandon the ship … we were thrown into the water.”
When De Falco put down the phone, he stared at the officers beside him in amazement. This violated every tenet of maritime tradition, not to mention Italian law. “The captain had abandoned ship with hundreds of people on board, people who trusted him,” says De Falco’s boss, Cosma Scaramella. “This is an extremely serious thing, not just because it’s a crime.” For a moment he struggles to find a word. “This,” he goes on, “is an infamy. To abandon women and children, it’s like a doctor who abandons his patients.”

Costa Concordia nestled on a rock, site of cowardice, bravery, and death

I thought about the Santiago de Compostela rail disaster in 2013 and the conductor driving the train at twice the posted speed, resulting in Spain’s worst rail disaster in 40 years, the deaths of 79 people and injuring scores of others. The driver had previously boasted of how fast “his” trains would go. The driver was later charged with homicide by professional recklessness and numerous counts of causing injury by professional recklessness.

Derailed cars at the site of a train accident near the city of Santiago de Compostela

Like the Dutch pilot who ‘predicted’ Germanwings crash in article about returning to a locked cockpit door weeks before disaster, saying, “I seriously sometimes wonder who’s sitting next to me in the cockpit. How can I be sure that I can trust him? Perhaps something terrible has just happened in his life and he’s unable to overcome it” I was also thinking about who I can trust with my life. There is a funny scene in Woody Allen’s 1977 movie Annie Hall that I never forgot. It shows Allen, Christopher Walken and then Diane Keaton in a car after Walken’s confession. It’s 1:27 minutes long.

I was thinking all these things and discussing them yesterday, deciding to write about it. But Tim Challies beat me to it.

And I’m glad he did. He wrote a piece called The Way The World Works and he discusses the things I’d been pondering: putting ourselves in the hands of others for our safety and our lives, life is precious, the broken trust. Challies did a very good job – much better than I would have done of course – and I commend the piece to you. Here is a taste:

And it is not just our own life that we regard as precious, but all life. Just as we make decisions to protect our own lives, we make decisions to protect others’. We tighten our children’s seatbelts. We put the knives up high. We pay the salaries of police officers. We stop and help when we spot even a stranger in distress.

Life is the most precious thing. The world only works when we maintain this tacit agreement that life is precious, that I will do all I can to preserve both mine and yours, that you will do all you can to protect both yours and mine. Both civilization and civility stand or fall on this simple agreement.

The alternative is unthinkable. The alternative is cars swerving to meet oncoming traffic, bicycles drifting out of the bike lane, toddlers roaming at will, hospitals empty and unstaffed. The alternative might even be a pilot setting his aircraft so that it gradually coasts straight into the ground.

The world reacted with horror—justified horror—when they learned that Andreas Lubitz had deliberately crashed Germanwings flight 9525, taking his own life and the lives of the other 149 passengers and crew members. The reason for our shock is that he violated the agreement. He chose to take life instead of preserve life.

Life is precious. We are made in His image. He formed us in the womb. God is intimately involved with us. Reckless, wanton abandonment of even the most basic precepts of our neighborly co-existence with one another, that we agree life is precious, is just so sad.

“You created every part of me; you knit me together in my mother‛s womb. When my bones were being formed, carefully put together in my mother‛s womb, when I was growing there in secret, you knew that I was there – you saw me before I was born. The days allotted to me had all been recorded in your book, before any of them ever began. Psalm 139:13-16

Posted in costa concordia, shipwreck, sin

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.

Posted in adler, assassinate obama article, cme, costa concordia, who is god

Incoming CME, ‘assassinate Obama’ brouhaha, good sermons, another Costa Concordia body

It is a rainy, eerily humid, storm-filled day here in north Georgia. We are under a tornado watch, which is unusual for January. The thunder is rumbling and it is dark out.

I am writing the weekly prophecy newsletter and brewing another pot of coffee. While I prepare, I often listen to a sermon or two. Today I am enjoying Don Green’s series. He began it last week, and its four sermons will explore some of the basics. He said that while it is important to acquire new knowledge of the truths contained in the bible, it is also important to go back to the basics. Don Green is one of the pastors who preach at Grace Community Church, John MacArthur’s church. The segments are under the umbrella of Grace Life Pulpit, being smaller bible study groups than the church-wide preaching MacArthur does on Sunday mornings at the regular gathering. Phil Johnson and Don Green alternate at the pulpit. Pastor green’s four sermons are titled:

  • Who is God?
  • Who are you?
  • What is sin?
  • What is salvation?

The first two are up on the website, here. I recommend them heartily. If you need a jolt to be reminded of Who God is, please listen to Pastor Green’s sermon. It is a blessing.

We are enduring thunderstorms and are under a tornado watch. This weather certainly is strange for January. But then again, all of the nation has endured strange weather. Anchorage, Alaska is laboring under the heaviest snowfall ever. Snow, ice and wind have grounded Alaska Airlines. Yet there has been little snow up until now in what they are calling an oddly warm winter. But that came to a halt in the lower forty as Seattle got hammered this week in a record-setting storm and those same storm winds are fueling the wildfires in Reno Nevada. The storm is also marching across the Midwest as Chicago deploys all its plows.

The Costa Concordia shipwreck continues to captivate the world. Just today, the 12th body was found. Sadly, it was a woman wearing a lifejacket on the fourth floor corridor evacuation point. It is haunting to think of those who obeyed directions to return to cabins, or who believed the lie for the first hour that all was under control. Worse, imagine being that women, waiting for rescue that never came. Last night marked the first week anniversary. Now the world’s attention is turning to the legal ramifications as the officials amass evidence about the captain’s behavior and the victims amass evidence for lawsuits. Christian Science Monitor has a retrospective article, “Costa Concordia wreck: What we know a week later.”

Professor Erik Klemetti has a blog entry on “Observing Volcanoes around the world” with photos and links to volcano observatories’ webcams. The Hawaii Volcano Observatory is celebrating its 100th year. Pretty cool.

We are awaiting the incoming Coronal Mass Ejection that was launched off the sun two days ago. A moderately strong M3 ejection, it is stated to be arriving today, sparking a geomagnetic storm. Certainly there will be gorgeous auroras at the poles. Cell phones will be affected. It is supposed to arrive about 5:30PM Eastern time.

The Publisher of the Atlanta Jewish Times suggested this week that Israel’s thought-process for protecting their people from a nuclear Iran may indeed include, or should include, assassinating Obama. Publisher Andrew Adler “argues that there are essentially only three options available to Israel: 1. attack Hezbollah and Hamas; 2. order the destruction of Iran’s nuclear facilities at all costs; 3. assassinate Obama. Yes, you read “three” correctly. Order a hit on a president in order to preserve Israel’s existence. Think about it. If I have thought of this Tom Clancy-type scenario, don’t you think that this almost unfathomable idea has been discussed in Israel’s most inner circles? Another way of putting “three” in perspective goes something like this: How far would you go to save a nation comprised of seven million lives … Jews, Christians and Arabs alike? You have got to believe, like I do, that all options are on the table.”

Though this opinion piece is not available online at the AJT, you can read the entire document as an uploaded .pdf here at Gawker

This stance caused an uproar. Adler has since made an apology for the piece.

From reading the Adler piece, I think he was trying to say that one wonders why it is an option by Israel to allegedly murder successive Iranian nuclear scientists but that they would not consider assassinating a high-level enemy on the other side of the ocean. That Adler was saying if Israeli officials authorize that moral crossing of the line in one way, why not another? That in truth, would it not ever, ever cross the mind of a nation’s highest level officials to consider it an option to employ in the protection of their 7 million people?

Time Magazine wrote about the latest Iranian nuclear scientist’s assassination, “after an assassin in a passing motorcycle attached a magnetized explosive to the side of his Peugeot 405. “Yeah, one more,” a senior Israeli official said with a smile. “I don’t feel sad for him.” Wednesday’s attack followed the pattern of previous operations planned by Mossad and carried out over the past two years by Iranians trained and paid by Israel’s spy agency, according to intelligence sources.”

Now, though Time Magazine is considered a mainstream, credible media outlet, they did not name the ‘Israeli Official’ nor did they name the ‘intelligence sources’. Additionally, they simply made a statement that the assassinations were carried out “obviously” by the Israel spy organization Mossad. Those are not facts. Those are conjectures. Alternately, Adler was also conjecturing as to the thought process of Israeli officials. How far would they go in this covert-almost-overt war? was the point of his article. It is stated by Adler to be a Kobayashi Maru moment. This is a famous no-win test from Star Trek, in that as Star Fleet cadets are being tested in an unsolvable problem, Kirk redefined the problem and thus found a solution. Someone experiencing a Kobayashi Maru can be said to be between a rock and a hard place. No matter what you think of Adler’s piece, Israel is certainly between a rock and a hard place.

“On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves.” (Zechariah 12:3)

I hope you have a wonderful day, doing His will as we await His blessed coming.

Posted in costa concordia, perilous times

Costa Concordia: Paul’s prediction of perilous times due to behavior finds an exemplar in the cruise liner tragedy

Paul advised Timothy that in the last days men would be exhibiting all sorts of negative behaviors. The plethora of these would be an indicator of the last days, making them very perilous.

“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”

You may be thinking, ‘It doesn’t matter to me what the guy down the street is doing. So what if he’s boasting. I’m not affected.” Yes you are. You most certainly are affected. Look what happened this weekend:

The captain of the world’s longest passenger vessel, a multi million dollar ship, decided to make a “bravura” move and sail close to shore and show off.

The ship crashed, and people died. The ship is foundered and thousands are traumatized. That’s what verses 1-5 in 2 Timothy look like!

Here is the story:
“The ship foundered after striking a rock as dinner was being served on Friday night. The owners say the captain swung inshore to “make a bow” to the islanders, who included a retired Italian admiral. Investigators say it was within 150 meters of shore.” Some reports say the Costa Concordia was taking a “bow” specifically to the house of the ship’s chief steward, the lone member of the crew to hail from the island of Giglio. “Captain Francesco Schettino has been allowed to leave jail but is under house arrest, blamed by his employer for risking thousands of lives and half a billion dollars of ship in a reckless display of bravado.”

WHAT?? Using a multi-million dollar vessel containing thousands of precious souls to make a show of bravado? How selfish is that? What a display of lack of self-control. Other reports coming out show that allegedly the captain displayed the height of cowardice. He was among the first to leave the ship.

The Costa Concordia tragedy was just that, a tragedy. The world is riveted, saddened at the apparently unnecessary loss of life. That this is all happened allegedly due to the captain’s inexplicable error makes it an even worse tragedy. Now, comes reports of his cowardice.

Italian cruise captain committed ‘mortal sin’ by disembarking early, American Maritime Officers Union official says
“The captain of a capsized cruise ship made repeated excuses as an Italian coast guard official repeatedly ordered him to get back on the vessel potentially still packed with thousands of frightened passengers and crew, a recording released Tuesday reveals.”

Italian coastguards pleaded angrily with the captain of a stricken super-liner to return to his ship, according to recordings released on Tuesday as divers found five more bodies in the half-submerged wreck of the Costa Concordia. … Captain Francesco Schettino has been allowed to leave jail but is under house arrest, blamed by his employer for risking thousands of lives and half a billion dollars of ship in a reckless display of bravado. … Schettino is accused of multiple manslaughter, causing a shipwreck by sailing too close to shore and abandoning ship before all his passengers and crew scrambled off.”

“Listen Schettino, perhaps you have saved yourself from the sea, but I will make you look very bad. I will make you pay for this. Dammit, go back on board!” one coastguard says. Speaking by radio from a lifeboat, Schettino pleads: “Do you realize that it is dark and we can’t see anything?” The coastguard shouts back: “So, what do you want to do, to go home, Schettino?! It’s dark and you want to go home? Go to the bow of the ship where the ladder is and tell me what needs to be done, how many people there are, and what they need! Now!”

How far we have descended since the Titanic’s ‘women and children first’ policy. “Women and children first” is a saying that asserts that the lives of women and children are to be saved first if the lives of a group of people are at stake. The saying is most famously associated with the sinking of RMS Titanic in 1912. The practice arose from the chivalrous actions of soldiers during sinking of HMS Birkenhead in 1852, though the phrase was not coined until 1860. Although never part of international maritime law, the phrase was popularised by its usage on the RMS Titanic, where, as a consequence of this practice, 74% of the women on board were saved and 52% of the children, but only 20% of the men.” (Source)

Yet in the Costa Concordia disaster, “Retired British cop tells how men pushed past women and children to reach lifeboats“.

Men showing off by swinging a multi-million dollar boat toward a rocky shore just because they feel like it, captain who violates the oldest moral law of the seas: captain stays with the ship. Bill Fowler, Maritime historian at Mystic Seaport, observed in another case, not the Costa Concordia, that “it’s very, very unusual for the captain to leave his vessel in a moment of crisis. He has to set the example of courage and moral standing.” Source: A Captain’s Duty on a sinking ship, Law at Washington University, By Craig Allen, Coast Guard Attorney, who concludes,  “A captain must remain in command at all times and do his best to ensure the safety of any passengers and crew are evacuated and accounted for.”

Selfish behavior, brutish pushing women and children aside, putting others in danger because of a whimsical decision by the captain on a lark, all point to the beginnings of the worst kind of behavior Paul said is going to be evident on a wider scale from then to now on until and through in the Tribulation.