Monday, June 25, 2007

How the Pirate Brotherhood is Like the Church

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 meant to write this one right afterward, but other things happened in the same timeframe, and they seemed a little more urgent to recount.

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--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 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, 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.

Young Adult Bible Study Group (2006)

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


Christianne said...

Hey, Jenn. I didn't see Pirates 3 and couldn't make it through Pirates 2 (though I hasten to add that I loved the first one), so that is why I didn't comment on your first post about Jack Sparrow. I did, however, really enjoy reading it. I just wanted to put that out there, as the reason you at least didn't get a comment from me back then. And as a reason why I'm not going to comment on this one, either, in any substantive way, since I wouldn't know the context of which we speak. :)

Craver Vii said...


I didn't see the movie either, but a lack of knowledge will not prevent me from commenting. ;-)

Heather said...

Okay, I thought I left a comment here, but I must have only thought about it. I loved all 3 Pirates, and I couldn't agree more with all of your thoughts about it and the similarities between it/the characters and the Church and all that jazz.

Jenn said...

Heather--thanks for the endorsement. ;)