The link is to a five-minute BBC video of our memorial service at the Titanic Wreck Site. This took place about 2 a.m. out on deck.
Now I’m going to vent, and hold onto your hats, because I may very well offend you.
I loved being on this cruise. I was thrilled and honored to be there. But there was one problem that came very close to spoiling the whole thing. You can see and hear examples of it in the video, which is only five minutes of two or more hours.
The problem was the overwhelmingly Christian service. I honestly did not go into this expecting them to provide a secular service, but I never considered they would do something so religious, and so obviously dismissive of religions other than Christianity. I realize 1912 was a different culture, but there were still several religions represented among the Titanic passengers. This memorial service was Christian Biblical readings, Christian hymns, and Christian prayers (in Jesus’ name!) from beginning to end.
We were in line to enter the lounge for the indoor part of the service when we were handed the “Order of Service” bulletin, which showed hymns, readings, prayers, etc. (There was also a sermon – a real, honest-to-ghod, Christian sermon, all provided by an Anglican priest.) We could not participate in that service. We didn’t even go into the lounge. Instead we waited outside the doors for the service to end, then went on deck with everyone.
I hope you can understand how much this upset me. I’d been waiting and planning for this moment for three years, and it was effectively pulled out from under me, just as it got started.
The service on deck was also highly religious in nature, as you’ll see in the video. I realize that most people will think it was all beautiful and solemn and correct, and that I have no right to be upset. But my feelings and thoughts are as valid as anybody’s. I will not say that their service completely ruined the event for me, because I know enough to ignore what doesn’t apply to me. I stood on deck and thought my own thoughts and didn’t listen to their prayers. But I should not have had to do that.
I know there were Jews on Balmoral. There were Muslims. There may have been other Pagans. I’m sure there were other atheists, and certainly lots of agnostics. We had just as much right to honor the Titanic dead in our own ways, without being forced to participate in some other religion’s service.
They should have done this with, and for, all the passengers on Balmoral. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that when you’ve got people from all over the world participating in something, that you can’t pick one religion to represent them all. And people need to start accepting that there are others in the world who don’t believe in any god at all, and who do not participate in any kind of religion. They need to stop excluding us from public events. We should not have had to stand on the sidelines, with no way to truly participate in a service for the Titanic.
Titanic was a human disaster, evoking a human response even one hundred years later. There were people at that service who were not, in any way, worshiping the Christian “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.” The people who arranged the service were wrong to do it the way they did. There’s no way to fix it, and I will not waste energy on a grudge or ill feelings. My hurt over the issue will fade.
But I do hope for a culture where public, non-religious events do not turn into religious services that keep part of the public from actually participating.