Timothy Buchanan
The weird and the wonderful
By Timothy Buchanan
May 1, 2019

Whenever a ship sinks during wartime or peace, the scope of the tragedy is measured according to the number of souls onboard. Few circumstances on earth demonstrate the insignificance of human life more profoundly than the struggle to survive on a ship during a storm at sea. One weird and horrifying true story was told by Gordon Lightfoot in his song about the Edmund Fitzgerald.

In 1958, when she was launched, the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald was the largest freighter operating on the Great Lakes. For over fifteen years, the Edmund Fitzgerald transported iron ore from Duluth, Minnesota to steel plants in the Midwest. She sank during an early seasonal storm on November 10, 1975. The bodies of the 29 souls were never recovered.

Ordinarily, when a ship sinks, the bodies of the dead become bloated and float to the surface where they can be retrieved. But not so when they drown in Lake Superior in the winter months. According to Lightfoot's haunting account, this unusual phenomenon is well known to the Chippewa tribes that inhabit the lands bordering the largest of the great lakes they call Gitche Gumee.

It would be difficult to conceive of a more terrifying end than being swallowed up by a storm and cast into the black abyss of death. Storms during the nighttime on a ship at sea mock and humiliate all of man's best effort and presumptuous industry. Trusting in the intelligence and ability of man in such a circumstances is spectacular hubris that proves itself to be utter foolishness again and again.

In our inanely godless culture, there is remarkably little mention or serious concern about the human soul or its destination. Americans spend billions of dollars and hundreds of millions of hours each day trying to prolong and preserve their physical lives, despite full knowledge and understanding that one day a certain end will come.

Materialism devalues human life at every stage by denying the fact of the eternal soul. But denial of truth does nothing to revoke or alter it. Denial of truth serves only makes stooges of men.

The great danger of any distraction is that it diverts our attention away from that which is eminently important. Neglect of the human soul is one lamentable way that our culture's priorities are backward. This was not always so.

The nineteenth century Scottish author, George MacDonald advised, "Never tell your child, 'You have a soul.' Teach him, you are a soul; you have a body." A soul without security is a victim without excuse; the soul that fails to plan is planning to fail without recourse.

Who can assign a soul's worth or determine its course other than the One who created it? Jesus asks, "What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" He thereby esteems the soul more precious than the world itself.

The prospect of drowning in the swirling dark abyss is a terrible spectre to ponder. Infinitely worse and unimaginably horrifying is the prospect of eternal death. Its sudden realization and inescapable terror must provoke a soul to revile its own existence and yet, that is the choice that many are making, willingly or by default. Therefore, seek the Lord while He may be found. Choose life in Christ that you may live. It truly is a no-brainer.

© Timothy Buchanan


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Timothy Buchanan

Timothy Buchanan is a US Navy veteran, a former defense contractor and broadcast engineer. He's the author of two published books and a regular contributor to BarbWire.com. Timothy and his wife live among the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia.


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