We talk about pirates these days in terms of computers, music and movie theft, and shipping off the coast of Somalia. Meanwhile, we have pirate themed birthday parties for our children, blow up the box office over pirate movies (or make them cult classics years later), and incorporate the Jolly Roger into our clothes or décor. We are captivated by pirates…and maybe even piracy as a practice.
Kester Brewin has some ideas about why that might be in his book Mutiny! Why We Love Pirates, and How They Can Save Us. Brewin explores the history of pirates on the high seas including the likes of Blackbeard and others. He presents a history of how and why those men (and sometimes women) likely became pirates and what that kind of lifestyle meant–from start to finish. He also explores how those experiences have been embodied in popular stories such as Peter Pan, Star Wars, and even The Odyssey. And then Brewin reminds us of the theological implications of what it means to pursue the pirate vision of seeing “where access to a commons has been blocked and [working] to unblock it.” Pirates emerged “to rise up against inequitable monopolies and the violent systems of oppression and do so to free the flow of goods and information ‘for the benefit of the poor.’”
This book was groundbreaking and refreshing in its subject matter and in the challenge to rise up as modern day pirates. Indeed, it was unlike anything I’ve read. Mutiny! was informative in its history of piracy and then took the themes that arise from pirates and drew—and expounded upon—the parallels that underlie some of our most popular stories. Brewin’s descriptions of the history was by no means dry. In fact, I was ready to read even more about pirates of old (probably aided by the fact that I’m from North Carolina which is where Blackbeard ran aground). And I was just as motivated to revisit Peter Pan and Star Wars via the lens of how we have the opportunities to unblock what has become blocked—be it in matters of an interpersonal nature or broader economic and social issues. Mutiny! also described clearly the ways in which Jesus was a pirate—at least in the ways he worked to subvert the system that blocked access to anyone other than the wealthy or government officials and working to find points of access for all of us. And how we are called to do the very same.
Raise up your Jolly Roger and prepare to stand in opposition to the status quo. For in doing so, we might find that we are saving and being saved every time we raise that flag.
Note: Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.