Perhaps this article will seem strange to some, especially since it appears on a website about effective Bible study. However, I think it is important for those who teach and preach to know that you should and can draw inspiration and illustrations from a wide variety of sources.
Currently there is a movie available only through Apple TV+ starring Tom Hanks called Greyhound. It is a movie of historical fiction; in other words, it is a fictional story of events firmly rooted in history.
During World War II as America entered the war, vast numbers of ships in convoys began to cross the Atlantic for Europe. These ships were carrying fuel, food, armaments, troops and every other imaginable thing useful for the war effort. To protect their transatlantic crossing from German submarine attacks, allied warships were deployed for protection and escort.
Historians typically refer to this as the Battle of the Atlantic. It occurred primarily from 1942-1945. This huge transfer of men and materials allowed the Allied effort to finally win the war. But the cost was also incredibly high. Despite destroying many German and Italian U-boats, 3,500 merchant ships and 175 Allied warships ere sunk, and over 72,000 merchant and naval seamen lost their lives. In addition 783 U-boats and 47 German warships were destroyed.
The movie Greyhound is based on a 1955 novel The Good Shepherd by C. S. Forester and is a retelling of this epic battle through the experience of the fictional American warship captain, Ernest Krause.
So, why am I talking about this? Not because I am a big fan of war movies… I’m not. Rather, it is because of the image presented of Captain Krause in the movie. He is man of Christian faith called to serve his country. (Again, I am not here to defend war or to discuss whether Christians should or should not serve in the military.) At various times Krause prays alone in his cabin, gives thanks over his meals, quotes Scripture, and struggles with the consequences of having to take the lives of others. I greatly appreciate a movie willing to present a Christ follower in such a positive light. Of note is that Tom Hanks is not only the leading actor in this movie, but he also wrote the screenplay.
Perhaps the most touching moment in the movie for me is the burial at sea of three sailors killed on the Greyhound by enemy fire. Captain Krause conducts the brief ceremony following standard Naval protocols of the time. After he reads the prayer found in the Book of Common Prayer of the American Episcopal Church, the bodies are slipped overboard for their burial at sea. Watch the movie clip of this scene on YouTube here.
Now note the complete form of the prayer presented only in part in the movie for the burial:
“Unto Almighty God we commend the soul of our brother departed, and we commit his body to the deep; in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection unto eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ; at whose coming in glorious majesty to judge the world, the sea shall give up her dead; and the corruptible bodies of those who sleep in him shall be changed, and made like unto his glorious body; according to the mighty working whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself.”
What a moving prayer, whether all buried with it were actual believers or not! And I also really appreciate this movie review on a Roman Catholic media review website.
If you want to watch the movie, realize it is not really for children! Right now it is only available through Apple TV+ which can be found on smart TVs and streaming devices like Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire. Also Apple TV+ is a subscription service, but the first 7 days are free, long enough to watch the movie then cancel if you don’t want to continue the subscription. It will probably be released for purchase on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital streaming at some future time.
Our image is from the Greyhound film, showing Captain Krause saying the prayer for the burial at sea of three Navy seamen. Image is courtesy of AppleTV+.