How the Pirate Brotherhood is Like the Church

Theology Thursday
On Thursdays I go to work and go to class, and since work is at church and class is at seminary, a whole lot of theology goes on today, but not any that I have time to blog about. Therefore, since I reblogged the Captain Jack Sparrow post from my old blog last week, I think it makes sense to reblog the sequel this week. Right? 

Keep in mind once again that this was written about six years ago. The Readership has changed significantly. My views are mainly the same, although I daresay I'd express some of them a little differently now. Or maybe I wouldn't.

This post goes with the Captain Jack Sparrow one, in spite of the fact that that one apparently scared the comments right out of everybody. I have no reason to reword the title this time, but I do have another disclaimer:

  • I love the Church. I doubt I love her well enough, but once again, with this post, I mean no disrespect. It is difficult for me to hear of Christians who do not take the Church of our Saviour seriously. But even I can see that she is often more than a little dysfunctional.

So, to the Pirate Brotherhood. In At World’s End, after two other movies where we watch Jack Sparrow and crew dealing more or less adeptly with otherworldly and interpersonal difficulties, we suddenly meet a host of other pirates we never imagined, not all of whom are “of the Caribbean.” It turns out that they all have to band together to triumph over their archnemesis, the East India Trading Company. You would think that a bunch of pirates couldn’t really be all that different from each other. They have one Pirate Code which they more or less try to follow, and they all seem to want essentially the same things. You would also think that any differences they had would be set aside in the face of a common enemy.

You would think.

As it turns out, though, not only is there individual bickering and jealousy and misunderstanding between individual pirates, but there is also a lot of deepseated mistrust and envy between pirate cultures. Each pirate captain wants to lord it over all the others, and they are hard-pressed to find an arbiter of peace. Sometimes even the Code doesn’t help, because there are so many ways to interpret it.

I think you can infer the similarities to which I am alluding. There are beautiful things about the Church–no doubt about it. There are instances where different denominations, while still acknowledging their distinctives, are working together because they recognise we do have a common enemy and it isn’t each other, and that demonstrating the love of Jesus is better than trying to lord it over people.

But let’s face it, there’s still a lot of division out there. And in here. Before I went to Wheaton the other week [for the one writer’s conference I have ever attended, in 2007], I had an accidental run-in with some good friends because of a miscommunication around some of our specific theological differences. Sometimes even when both sides try to reach out and band together, it backfires like a cannon full of forks. Then we wonder why people who are not part of the “brotherhood” (or the “priesthood of believers“) aren’t that enthusiastic about becoming pirates–I mean Christians–too. I think it’s worth it for them. I just kind of understand why sometimes they might not agree.

The pirates at World’s End seem to get in each other’s way, but all the same, there are glimpses there of nobility, love, and commitment to their people and common cause. In the end, through a series of nearly miraculous events (aided in large part by Sparrow), the pirates–who we are all routing for because in this movie-world, the bumbling sea-bandits are the good guys–do triumph. It might seem far-fetched to some people to imagine the sometimes difficult, sometimes dangerous, sometimes unsavoury Christ-followers being good guys, too. Or triumphing. But motley band that we are, there is, thank God, still nobility, and love, and commitment. Jesus is still here, and Jesus is coming back, and one of these days, because of Him and in spite of all of us, He Himself will triumph–and He’ll bring His people with Him. It is, one might say,wonderful.

Friends from Then Church, in 2006. We didn't usually dress like that, but most of us probably still act like it.

Friends from Then Church, in 2006. We didn’t usually dress like that, but most of us probably still act like it.

P.S. Did they ever tell us–or did I miss it–why there were nine Pieces of Eight?

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