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The Night the Titanic Sank

Public interest in the drama surrounding the great ship Titanic never seems to wane. Last week, the movie "Titanic" won multiple Academy Awards. Lieutenant C. H. Lightoller, R. N. R., a Christian Scientist, who survived the ship's sinking, was portrayed in the film. We thought readers would be interested in his testimony regarding his real-life experience. It was first published in The Christian Science Journal in October 1912.

WHILE the Titanic was sinking, and during the whole time I was working at [loading passengers into] the [life]boats, I held to [God's] truth, thereby eliminating all fear. I do not pretend that any man can go down on a ship at midnight, in mid-Atlantic, and succeed in eliminating fear, without hard work. It was hard work, and yet the very conditions which existed on the port side were in themselves a demonstration of the workings of Truth, for not the slightest hitch occurred, and all boats were got away ....

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[I then called] for men to follow me up on top of the officers' quarters to cut adrift the last boat, which was stowed there. This boat we had not time even to open up, so just hove her down to the deck from which we had launched the others. As I saw her slide over the edge of the quarters I turned and ran across the deck to the other side of the ship to see if anything further could be done. Looking down I could see that all material work was finished, so from where I was on top of the quarters and above the bridge, I faced forward and walked into the water. The sudden immersion in this penetratingly cold water for a few seconds overcame all thought, and ... almost immediately I found myself drawn with great force against the grating covering the mouth of the forward blower. ... In this position I went below the surface with the ship.

... as soon as I collected my thoughts after taking to the water, I remember saying to myself, "Now, I'll see how much I have learned from Christian Science." A doubt never entered my mind as to the possibility of my surviving; in other words, of the ability of the divine power to save me. I think I can conscientiously say that with this thought all fear left me, and I commenced again to realize the truth of being.

... at this moment I was drawn into the water, still realizing the truth, and while I was below the surface these words from the 91st Psalm came to me so distinctly that I seemed to realize their full import: "He shall give his angels charge over thee." Immediately, I think, I was thrown away from the blower, and came up to find a piece of wood in my hand which seemed to be attached to the top of the funnel by a wire. I remained still, while the water rushed past me carrying the people with it away from me. A second time I went down, still holding fast to the truth, and again came to the surface. My piece of wood was gone, but alongside me was the flat-bottomed collapsible boat which I had thrown down on the other side of the ship. This I laid hold of, but made no attempt to board it.

... during this time in the water the fact came calmly and clearly that there was a divine power which could be utilized in a practical manner, and also it seemed perfectly natural to rely on this power with the spiritual understanding which is so often spoken of in the Bible, and which is explained in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy. Now, with the sinking of a great ship like the Titanic, there was also the fear of suction to overcome, and at this time the forward funnel fell, throwing the boat, myself, and other survivors about twenty feet clear of the ship, so that of suction we felt nothing.

About thirty of us floated the remainder of the night on the upturned boat .... At daybreak we found two life-boats floating nearby, into which we were taken. I was the last member of the Titanic to board the Carpathia, and after interviewing her captain, discarded my wet clothes in favor of a bunk, in which I remained for about half an hour, and was not in bunk or bed again till we arrived in New York. Reaction or effects from the immersion - which I was confidently assured would take place - there were none; and though surprise has been expressed by very many, it only goes to prove that "with God all things are possible."

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