St Paul and the Last Word on Pirates | The Cross and the Crossed Bones

by , under Theology

chains

Having been reading a little of 2 Corinthians, I couldn’t help seeing something of the Pirate code in Paul’s words in chapter 6:

through glory and dishonour, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as imposters; known yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, but possessing everything… beaten stoned and shipwrecked.’

And who other than Pirates and Christians decorate their vessels with visions of death? The cross and the skull and crossed bones… In death, there is some strange freedom, some new liberty from those who pursue us and will have us killed.


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  1. geoff holsclaw

    but the sign of the cross worn (or made) on Christians witnesses to the end of death and yet paradoxically our continual need to embrace our own death (the death of self). but for pirate it symbolizes the death they are about to carry out on others. I don’t really see the analogy.

  2. KB

    I think the skull and crossed bones device works on more levels than simply ‘we’re going to kill you.’ More potently, and this is the sense in which I think it parallels the cross, it says ‘we are the dead.’

    We are the dead, and we therefore have no fear of death, no fear of the system you are a part of, no fear of the navies you send to protect your wealth. Rather than simply a statement of violence, it functions to cast fear into those they meet because they see that these people are utterly liberated from the usual systems of ownership and capitalism.

    Should this not be the power of wearing a cross? Not just that we hope for the end of death, but that we are participants in death: we are the dead-to-this-world, and it’s systems and forces have no more hold on us.

  3. Simon

    Interestingly enough one of the theories behind the skull and crossbones motif is that it comes from an old Knights Templar flag, which was a kind of cross. The KT navy became pirates for a while after they were outlawed. Thanks for the ongoing provocation.

  4. maggi

    Don’t worry Kester. However radical your pirate theory is I’m pretty damn sure no-one’s out to kill you 😉

  5. KB

    You say that Maggi, but some of these bloggers seem pretty serious. Ha ha. Beaten, stoned and ship-wrecked ain’t far off sometimes though at the end of the week.

  6. geoff holsclaw

    KB,

    I can see you point, but is seems more like investing meaning into the pirate flag that was probably not there. but yes, certainly, in the cross, we are all dead, all dead in Christ to be free for a new life. that i can totally get behind.