Excessive confidence in humanity's creations has always posed a theological challenge. On April 14-15, 1912, the British luxury liner R.M.S. Titanic sank while en route from Southampton, England, to New York on its maiden voyage in one of history's most-storied tragedies. The great ship was fabled before its first sailing not only because it was the most luxurious afloat, but also because of its state-of-the-art construction. Built by William Pirrie's Belfast firm, Harland and Wolff, the ship had a double-bottomed hull divided into sixteen watertight compartments.
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Oscar Wilde penned a powerful story about behaviors and definitions and justice called The Picture of Dorian Gray. Dorian was a handsome young man, a model of physical beauty and moral virtue. People complimented him on his good graces. Parents pointed to him as an example to their youth. One artist even painted an exquisite portrait of him.
"Have you seen it?" whispered the Barbie doll to her next door neighbour.
The next Barbie doll in line was instantly alert. There were five different Barbie dolls, who lived jumbled together in the toy cupboard but who were so jealous of each other that they rarely spoke. "Seen what?" asked the second Barbie doll, blue eyes darting all round the room.
"The Princess," replied the first Barbie with glee. "Caitlin's done her hair and it looks terrible!"
These verses from Mark's gospel are a call to commitment, a call to sacrifice, and a call to give up everything of earthly value in life. To say these are difficult verses is truly an understatement. It is pretty clear that the disciples are not at all ready for what Jesus is saying. They are not ready for Jesus to die and they certainly are not ready to die themselves.