Monday, March 26, 2012

The Songs They Could Not Sing

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

The Songs They Could Not Sing, by Quentin L. Cook
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

I was a new missionary when the film Titanic was released. I understand it was quite popular. I would often hear reports of the film in the interactions that missionaries have with others. More often than not (especially when Church member families invited us into their homes for dinner), we would be told, "I feel so sorry for you, elders; you have to wait to watch THE BEST MOVIE EVER!" We would then be told how many times each of the family members had seen the movie, with added acclaim going to those who had seen it the most.

Occasionally, we would talk with people who would essentially say, "You're serving the Lord during a needed time, elders; so many people are almost worshipping this popular film that portrays immorality as acceptable. I haven't seen the film myself, but from what I've heard others say, I know I don't want to ever see it."

I admit, I didn't really care about this film (or any others) because I had set my life aside in service to the Lord, beginning with the two years of full-time missionary work. But what I did care about was helping others come to Christ. And I didn't think a PG-13 film about sensational sensualized tragedy would do the trick, even if you went with a large group of friends from church to see it (which, unfortunately, we heard stories of).

My limited exposure to Titanic (speaking of the ship, the tragic event, and the film) is overshadowed heavily by the over-the-top reactions I saw as a missionary in Idaho. Because of this, I admit that I didn't fully connect with the stories and experiences shared by Elder Cook at first hearing.

That was when I heard it live, toward the end of conference, when my children were growing tired of trying to be reverent while listening to hours and hours of conference.

But now, alone in my office on a lunch break, I can feel the connection. Pain and tragedy happen more often than is portrayed on the big screen. Sometimes there are heroes available to alleviate suffering or aid in passing, who sometimes go down with the ship themselves. To paraphrase children everywhere, life's not fair. But as Elder Cook reminds:

Regardless of the trials we face in this life, the Savior's Atonement provides lifeboats for everyone. For those who think the trials they face are unfair, the Atonement covers all of the unfairness of life.

Similar to how some felt pity on me as a full-time missionary for not being able to indulge in the morally dangerous cinematic "masterpieces" of the late 90's, I feel sad for those whose lives are cut short through tragedy or "from the evil exercise of agency."

But I'm grateful for the Atonement that "will compensate for all the unfairness of life."

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