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Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Sunday, April 15, 2012

"Guesses, of course, only guesses ...

... If they are not true, something better will be." - C.S. Lewis, writing about resurrection in Letters to Malcolm, Chiefly on Prayer

I've finally finished reading Passage by Connie Willis - the title of this post is the title of the last chapter of the book. One of the main elements of the story is the sinking of the RMS Titanic (BTW, there's a post about the Titanic at America magazine's blog). The main character, Joanna, who's been investigating other people's near death experiences (NDEs), has simulated NDEs of her own in which she's on the Titanic. Towards the end of the book, she's killed, and her research partner tries to figure out why she had so often seen the Titanic in her NDEs .....

*****

"There's a reason I'm seeing the Titanic," she'd told him, and she was right ...... It was about people who had, in the middle of the ocean, in the middle of the night, put forth a superhuman effort to save wives, sweethearts, friends, babies, children, dogs, and the first-class mail. To save something besides themselves.

Joanna had wanted to die like W.S. Gilbert [saving another's life], and the Titanic was full of Gilberts. Assistant Engineer Harvey and Edith Evans and Jay Yates. Daniel Buckley shepherding the girls he had promised to take care of up through the First-Class Dining Saloon, up the Grand Staircase, into the boats, Robert Norman giving his lifejacket to a woman and her child, John Jacob Astor plunking a flowered hat on a ten-tear-old boy and saying, "Now he's a girl and now he can go." Captain Smith, swimming toward one of the boats with a baby in his arms. And Jack Phillips. And the band. And firemen, stokers, engineers, trimmers working to keep the boilers going and the dynamos running and the wireless working, the lights on. So it wouldn't get dark. - Passage

***

The account of the sinking of the Titanic in the novel doesn't say much about the discrepancy in survival rate between the first, second, and third class passengers ....

49% of the children, 26% of the female passengers, 82% of the male passengers and 78% of the crew died. The figures show stark differences in the survival rates of the different classes aboard Titanic. Although only 3 percent of first-class women were lost, 54% of those in third class died. Similarly, five of six first-class and all second-class children survived, but 52 of the 79 in third class perished. - Wikipedia

It does, though, mention that there were some dogs on the Titanic and a French Bulldog on the ship appears in the novel. Of all the animals onboard, only three of the dogs survived.

I recommend the novel - it won the Locus Award for Best Novel in 2002, and as the Amazon review states: Passage masterfully blends tragedy, humor, and fear in an unforgettable meditation on humanity and death. Still, I found it both sad and super-grist for the problem of evil mill.


4 Comments:

Blogger William D. Lindsey said...

Another Connie Willis book you've made me want to read, Crystal. I just finished Lincoln's Dreams, and found it thought-provoking--since its themes in many ways echo the themes you mention running through this book about the Titanic.

Dreams, intimations of the future, the difficulty of putting all the pieces together and coming up with a neat theory to explain the problem of evil (or providence) . . . .

I also just finished her novella All Seated on the Ground. If you haven't read it (and you probably have), I highly recommend it. It's both great fun and has some sharp barbs aimed at the religious right, especially in her current state of residence, Colorado.

7:52 AM  
Anonymous Victor said...

Crystal, I don't know why Victor won't let U>S (usual sinners) take over and play dead cause between you, me and any other heavenly bodies who care to listen, Victor's been dead for a long time NOW but His so called "Jesus Cells" just can't find the heart to tell him. :(

Look, long story very short, we gods could tell humans that angels do exist cause we gods created them in the beginning but try and convince Victor of that, he would sooner believe certain religious right and/or left who don't know what they are talking bout.

In closing I'll just say that "IT" is woman and children first and between you and me that's how angels want their humans bodies to perform if ya know what I mean?

I hear ya! sinner vic, what do you think about "Molock", "Posthuman"?

Well as far as we gods are concerned, "I" want "IT" crystal clear that no Moe gets passed our lock doors and humans who post better know the difference between U>S gods and Victor's so called "JESUS' FAMILY" if ya get my drift? :)

Peace be with ya!

1:20 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi William,

I have read Lincoln's Dreams but I haven't read any of her other books besides Doomsday Book and Blackout and Passage, so thanks for recommending All Seated on the Ground - it sounds interesting :)

1:54 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Victor :)

1:56 PM  

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