Vision Forum and Titanic Worship

Vision Forum just sent out it’s 2012 catalog. (Sidenote: I find it incredibly insidious that Vision Forum is not simply a church or a theological organization, but rather ropes in adherents by selling them pretty toys and beautifully packaged books and CDs.) Here it is:

Titanic 2

So…cheery and uplifting!

Makes me think of this image from the front page of the Vision Forum website:

Because when I think of lions eating Christians, the first thing I think of is hope! Or not. 

Regardless, the cover of the 2012 catalog simply documents Vision Forum’s continuing Titanic worship. Doug Philips holds the Titanic up as the high point of Christian bravery and chivalry. Here, for example, is an excerpt from a blog post he wrote on the issue in 2005:

This April 15, Vision Forum Ministries will celebrate in Washington, D.C., the tenth anniversary of the Christian Boys’ & Men’s Titanic Society with a gala event. The Society is dedicated to advancing the biblical virtue of men sacrificing for women and children. In an age of androgeny-blessing preachers, an androgenous military, androgenous dress standards, and a general androgenous approach to culure, the horror of a world which does not embrace “women and children first” is becoming more evident. To see the consequences of abandoning biblical patriarchy, one need only look to the bed of Terri Schiavo, see the implications of the sexual liberation of women tallied in the death of unborn babies, watch the body bags of female soldiers carried back from Iraq, or observe an entire lost generation of promising young women who have exchanged their birthright as women of virtue and daughters of the King, for a mess of feminist pottage. All this on our watch.

In our view, the story of the Titanic is a helpful vehicle for contrasting the the imperfect, but largely Christian ethic of premodern world with the present. By setting the best stories before our sons and daughters, we hope to offer them a perspective they will never receive drinking from the morally-repugnant font of Hollywood media elites or the evolutionary values of the priests of government education.

Yes, Vision Forum has a Christian Boy’s & Men’s Titanic Society, and yes, they hold annual banquets to mark the date. Yes, they consider the Titanic one of the “best stories” to set “before our sons and daughters.” Which is funny, because I don’t tend to think of the Titanic as a “good story,” and when my daughter learns about it it will be as a tragedy and not something to be celebrated.

Furthermore, with its Titanic worship, Vision Forum once again whitewashes history. Gone is the nuance, gone is the context. Gone is the fact that 63% of first class passengers survived while only 25% of steerage passengers survived. Gone is the fact that while all but one of the first and second class children survived, 70% of steerage children (almost entirely poor immigrants) perished. Gone is the fact that while 97% and 86% of first and second class women survived, only 49% of steerage women survived. Gone is the fact that not all men honored the “women and children first” proclamation. Gone is the horror of the event, gone are the screams, gone are the painful partings, gone are the deaths. (source)

What remains in the place of all this is an event to be celebrated with annual galas, a monument to the hierarchical order of a bygone era.

But then, it’s not like the above picture shows anyone in steerage, does it? 

The Cold, Unforgiving World of Geoffrey Botkin
When Men Wax Poetic about My Womb
When Marriage Looks Like the Only Escape
What Courtship Was for Me
About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Lola

    But, but, the Titanic is a historical event from a time when women wore dresses and corsets and didn't get the uppity idea that they should do stuff like work! How can everything surrounding it not be ideal? Children didn't really die, that's evil liberal propaganda. Even for Vision Forum, this feels like a stretch. Also, maybe I'm just confused, but what does the Terri Schivo thing have to do AT all with women's sexuality?

  • Fina

    I am curious when they started to use this – did it coincide with the Titanic-movie?

  • Anonymous

    Lola: RE:Terri Schiavo:I think they're referring to the fact that Terri Schiavo's father's wishes weren't ultimately honored (in keeping Ms. Schiavo connected).

  • Young Mom

    They are so fetishizing the past, I love how you point out the major classism.

  • Leah

    The story behind the only child in first class to die, Lorraine Allison, is interesting. When the iceberg hit the ship, baby of the family, Trevor went missing with his nurse Alice Cleaver. The two were in a lifeboat, but Mr. and Mrs. Allison didn't know this. Naturally, the parents weren't going to leave the ship without knowing where their baby was, meaning that the remaining members of the Allison family all died. If Mr. and Mrs. Allison had known that Trevor was safe, they would have gotten in a lifeboat and been saved. Eyewitness reports noted that the family had ample opportunities to get in a lifeboat, but refused to give up the search for the missing baby. This stands in stark contrast to the third class passengers, many of whom were physically barred from even reaching the lifeboats. Reducing a tragedy like the Titanic into a culture wars talking point is ahistorical and disrespectful to the victims.

  • attackfish

    Don't you know only white upperclass Christian people existed in the Victorian era?I don't even understand the fetishizing of a natural disaster where so many died at all. It just doesn't connect.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    "A mess of feminist pottage?" Yum, that sounds delicious! :-PAnd, um: "watch the body bags of female soldiers carried back from Iraq" Wow, MAJOR patriarchy-is-bad-for-men alert! We shouldn't feel horrified and sad when we watch the body bags of MALE soldiers carried back from Iraq? Because young men's lives are more expendable then young women's? Because men dying in war is natural and noble and righteous but women dying in war is a tragedy? How about this: WAR is a tragedy, one that shouldn't be dressed up in sanitized narratives of noble, male sacrifice. We should watch as the body bags of ALL soldiers are carried back from Iraq. Maybe it will make us think harder about where we send the ones lucky enough to not be in the bags!And re:Titanic-worship. Okay, so as a woman I will have no autonomy, no choices, no independence but if I'm ever on a sinking ocean liner with not enough lifeboats, I'll be more likely to survive.Thanks Doug, but I think I'll take my chances with being a full human being and just try to stay away from sinking ocean liners with not enough lifeboats.

  • Anonymous

    "Christians" on tangents have no idea the damage they cause. I am almost 60 and it has bothered me as long as I can remember the nonsense "Christians" can come up with. And then, do it in the name of "God". In my lifetime I have personally found only a handful of "Christians" who are genuine and truly trying to live out their faith and not be on a crazy tangent of some kind. Just learned last month about Vision Forum, Christian Patriarchy, Pearl's and Quiverful here on your blog Libby. It has been interesting and yet disturbing to hear of the situation in which you grew up in. It is all so extreme!! I would like to say not all conservative Christians behave nor believe in such tangents–myself being one. I enjoy your blog Libby, your articles are informative and I appreciate your research and the time it must take to put together your blogs.Beverly

  • Anonymous

    Last word should read "posts", in my comment.Beverly

  • Anonymous

    Why should I get on the lifeboat first? What makes my life more important than my husbands?

  • Liz Borino

    Last Anonymous: You can make more life, that's why you're more important

  • masagoroll

    Aside from being stupid, that Titanic blurb drives me crazy because of how they cannot spell "androgyny." "Androgeny" is not a word and would not mean the same thing. At least learn to spell and be accurate if you're going to be an obnoxious anti-feminist pig!

  • Carolyn

    Of course every woman can create new life, because no woman is infertile, too old to have more children, or without a partner! And losing a spouse isn't a big deal, you can easily find another male to take on you and your existing children. Priority to those with more remaining years of childbearing too! As a tween, I was obsessed with disaster stories, including the Titanic. I was fascinated with the capriciousness of death, and the stories we tell around it. It's what kids do to come to terms with our own mortality. (When I look for it, I see kids can be very morbid)Silly me, even then I thought the lesson of the Titanic was "Carry enough lifeboats, and go slow around icebergs". Follow that by a caution against overconfidence in our engineering. If the money was spent on more boats, the sacrifices of those who chose not to get on lifeboats wouldn't be necessary. A great Titanic society would be one that tries to improve engineering for safety, getting ahead of the "tombstone engineering" curve. This is just telling boys that throwing away their lives is good, without telling them to challenge the reasons their lives are being thrown away unnecessarily.

  • attackfish

    On further reflection, the lion picture freaks me out even more than the rest. I think the point they were going for was one of those miracle stories, where the lions refuse to eat the praying Christians, but um, wow, no. Not my first thought looking at that picture.

  • Discordia

    There's something very bizarre in those "Women and children first" pictures. It's like they are trying to make a horrible tragedy to look like some idyllic event.I recently read a very sad book about a mother and her five children who perished with Titanic. They were third class passengers and had very little hope to be rescued. The boys in their early or middle teens were considered adults and would have not let to the lifeboats, the mother did not want to leave her older sons. I just can't see how someone sees such a a tragic event as something to worship.

  • Sara

    Wow, talk about triggers. Vision Forum is so unbelievably fascist it's not funny. Mussolini would totally be right at home with these guys. Gender classism, the exaltation of the heroic male sacrificing himself, making uber machismo the ideal so that feminists had no other choice but to imitate it, thus the "androgyny", those were all tactics of the Fascist Party. If you want to protect women, stop denying them agency for a change. Evolution is on our side, as the disparity in strength and size between (cis) males and females has been gradually shrinking.

  • Ophelia Benson

    This is so loony it's funny. The Titanic! Doug Philips has some very odd obsessions. I know how that can be, I had lots of them myself when I was 10 and 11 and 12. I, on the other hand…got over it.

  • Samuel Martin post might be of interest to some in light of this post. Thanks Libby Anne,Sam Martin – &

  • yewnique

    I found your blog through No Longer Quivering.This blogpost is absolutely mind-blowing! I have been doing a review series on Vision Forum's Jonathan Park Audio Adventure Series. In Volume 3, Episode 30, the characters specifically cite the Titanic as an ungodly example of men coming together to make a name for themselves. God destroyed the Titanic just like He destroyed the Tower of Babel.