On Sunday night I couldn’t sleep so I was browsing our TV when I came across a movie I hadn’t seen in a while called, K-19: The Widowmaker. I really like this movie because ever since I saw The Hunt for Red October when I was a kid, I have been hooked on Cold War submarine movies.
K-19 is a movie staring Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson loosely based on the true events of the Soviet submarine by the same name. It was thought to be a cursed ship because of the many deaths during manufacturing, the malfunctioning equipment due to hasty construction and the fact that the ceremonial christening champagne bottle didn’t break. Here’s the Wikipedia summary of what happened:
On its initial voyage on 4 July 1961, K-19 suffered a complete loss of coolant to its reactor. With no backup system, the captain ordered members of the engineering crew to find a solution to avoid a nuclear meltdown. Sacrificing their lives, the engineering crew jerry-rigged a secondary coolant system and kept the reactor from a meltdown. Twenty-two crewmembers died from radiation sickness during the following two years. The sub experienced several other accidents, including two fires and a collision. The series of accidents inspired crew members to nickname the sub Hiroshima.
The movie decided to call K-19 the Widowmaker instead of Hiroshima, but the emphasis is similarly ominous. The bulk of the movie centers on the nuclear reactor accident and about halfway through the movie I realized that I wanted to know more about fission reactors, so I spent a good hour researching nuclear fission, which of course lead to fusion and all of the other various chemistry rabbit holes nearby.
I then had to back the movie up to the part when I stopped paying attention to it and resumed watching, at which point I noticed something interesting. During the movie there are many points when teams of men have to decide to go into the nuclear reactor to make repairs. They all know that they will be exposed to fatal levels of radiation, but the alternative is a nuclear meltdown so what could they do? Well actually there was one reactor officer who got too scared at the last minute and refused to go into the reactor forcing one of the beloved characters to take his place.
This cowardly reactor officer later redeemed himself toward the end of the movie, proving to be a great hero, but his hesitation and fear made me think about what I would do in a similar situation. We all want to think that we would be heroic and rush into danger, but the truth is that we never truly know until we are put into such a situation.
I have never knowingly faced a life or death situation. The closest I ever came was a time in college when I rolled my truck through a ditch on the side of an icy country road. Thankfully I was unhurt, but it all happened so quickly that I never had the time to think before it was all over.
I don’t know that I will ever face a moment of life and death when I will have to make a conscious choice to risk my life. I certainly hope that I will never face such a moment, and yet I know that I face moments quite often when I must decide what I am going to do, and who I am going to be in that circumstance.
We never truly know who we are until we experience situations that require us to make choices. Over the next four weeks in worship we will be exploring these questions and many others in a new sermon series called “Who Am I?” Throughout this series Pastor Frank will be preaching at the 11:11am services and I will be preaching at the 9am services. I hope that you will join us as we explore who each of us truly are, and what it means to have our identity found in Christ.
Have a wonderful week my friends!