On Pirates and Privateers

I guess the conversation started last Thursday in my class on Europe’s Reformations. The professor was talking about the Hussite heresy and how John Huss was burned for his heresy. The heresy was of teaching communion in both kinds. I didn’t understand what that was, so naturally, my questioning mind asked the question, “What do you mean by communion in both kinds?” as well as “What was all the hub-bub about communion in both kinds?” The professor naturally assumed a Protestant up-bringing. Quite accurate. He explained to me after class how the Hussite heresy, while it affirmed transubstantiation, taught that the bread was only the body and the wine was only the blood. Hence, it was in contrast with the Catholic theology that taught that the wafer becomes both the body and the blood so there is no need to distribute the wine which also became both the body and the blood to the masses.

At this point it clicked into my head why the Hussite heresy was so dangerous. It had taken an extreme position on the nature of transubstantiation in its interpretation of the fathers of the Church and the scriptures. It was advocating for something entirely unnecessary. Hence why we can see the Catholic Church considered it to be a distortion of the faith fairly limiting the miracle of transubstantiation mind you, not quite hitting the nail on the head.

Move over to yesterday and now my professor’s the curious one. He was asking just before our class started that day as to what my prior church background was. (He had asked me on Thursday if I had taken communion before. “No,” I replied.) I told him about how it was extraordinarily low church. Sure, we would have communion but it was only ever just a cracker and some fruit juice. Much to the extent that I had always thought of it as just a mid-church snack. I mean, sure, I might have tried to pay before taking communion to make it seem more than just a mid-church snack, but as a symbol, all I could ever see it as was something relatively meaningless.

My professor responded telling me about his own personal high church background as a Lutheran. They’re impounded into and ingrained with the traditions of other churches from Baptists, Presbyterians, Catholics, etc. They know what the other traditions teach and how they differ from other traditions. Everything is so ingrained into you that you start realizing why these things become important. Faith becomes a center-piece in the high church and not just simply a side dish that you work out yourself. He also admitted his own dismay as to how in recent times, America has fallen into a decadent state where it no longer values traditions and other cultures. It is unfortunate because the United States is supposed to be a cultural melting pot.

He went onto discussing a video we saw in our previous class that day on witchcraft and heresy in the Atlantic and was pointing out a failure of the video on Cortez and the fall of the Aztec Empire is that the video kept showing scenes of this church setting in modern day Mexico City where Catholics were praying. That’s not what the Aztecs did. In America, we have this ignorance of beliefs discussions. We don’t seek to understand other’s beliefs, we don’t seek to respect each other’s beliefs, and we just don’t discuss beliefs. Even in modern religious studies, the beliefs of the religions we study are almost never discussed. When they are, it’s quite minimal.

Then I got side-tracked and started asking about pirates and The Pirates of the Caribbean. My distracted mind was curious about how accurate the pirates are depicted in films. Of course, it resorted in another interesting and related point. We love to fantasize about everything and turn everything into this romantic ideal that we can find quite acceptable to our states. It is a similar thing with pirates. We glorify the pirates out in the Atlantic. The Islamic pirates out in the Mediterranean, who’s glorifying that?

There were pirates, then there were privateers. Pirates generally had no interest in going back to the crown. They were in it for themselves. Privateers on the other hand had the appropriate license from the crown. They were in it for the government while the pirates were in it for themselves. One could accurately assert that Captain Jack Sparrow might have been the only “real” pirate in the film. But this is mostly in the Atlantic. The pirates in the Mediterranean are hardly ever discussed or fantasized about. Why not? They were Islamic and nobody in the west wants to glorify the Muslims. Instead, what we’ve done is westernized Orientalism with Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves or Arabian Nights but we hardly ever note their religion as a part of it. Indeed, religious idealism has become a lost cause in America.

But overall, it seems as if we’ve made heroes out of villains, villains too quickly out of potential heroes, de-religiosicized history and culture, and have nullified how beliefs really play a central factor in our daily lives. We have also scandalized people based on our precepts. For Americans, we simply don’t talk about beliefs any more. It’s something that really needs to be changed.

(Pirates also probably didn’t use electric guitars on their ships.)


About newenglandsun

A student. Male. Passionate. Easily offended. Child-like wonderer. Growing in faith, messing up daily.
This entry was posted in Anthropological, Catholicism, Eastern Christianity, History, Narrative, Religious, School and Education. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to On Pirates and Privateers

  1. 2 likes on this post. My hopethesis – skip to end, watch music video, see comment about pirates and electric guitars, after LOL-ing for multiple consecutive hours hit “like” button. Call me a cynic.

    • jrj1701 says:

      I read what ya posted, can’t watch the video right now due to computer issues (won’t play, your link is fine, just my ISP is not letting me have needed band width>_<) was going to wait to comment after seeing vid, yet what ya wrote I liked, just figured that the vid would give me a more full understanding of what you wrote.

      • Oh, it’s just a fun video of pirates playing celtic metal music. I like posting casual videos to give myself some fun. 😀

        Meeting with priest fell through. He post-poned it to next week. At least my counselor gave me the number for the local suicide hotline. Been screaming myself to sleep for the past two nights and have felt like screaming in class at times as well.

      • jrj1701 says:

        Dealing with depression is a real frustrating mess, I have my days when it is so overwhelming I just want to wreak havoc across my world, yet this of course will create more trouble than it cures. I have been sitting here typing and erasing lots of helpful advice, what I type out seems good yet I remember that I don’t want to hear that when I have my moments of despair. Seeking help is a very good thing, and there is no shame in that, I have my moments when the will to face another day is very low and I get to where I don’t want to deal with it anymore. During these times I don’t want to go for help, and the results have been disastrous, and I wouldn’t want to see anybody go through that. That is why I am taking time to respond to your comments, cause I have been there and I know that it is very hard to cope with Life, the Universe, and Everything, or that is the way it seems at times. I have to go to somebody that has experience in this and to remind me that it ain’t as bad as it could be.
        Take care and please keep this silly sinner in your prayers+++

      • to be honest as well, i haven’t been going to the liturgies. i’ve been wondering if the friends i’ve made there miss me and it makes me feel as i’ve let not just god down but them down as well. but i also note that if i go, my dad’s probably going to just start criticizing belief again.

      • jrj1701 says:

        From my perspective going to liturgy is very important, it helps me to maintain a better balance in this topsy turvy world. I have lived with those that were of a different beliefs and they were quick to criticize my beliefs, and I would not criticize theirs because I believe it is wrong to shake somebody else’s faith. I would have been unable to maintain my faith on my own, so I struggled with this until I finally had the chance to leave. If I had refused to go to Church to keep the peace, I would have ended up being even more bitter and resentful, for I have come to my beliefs through hard and dark paths, and what I found in the Church has kept me from being what I don’t want to be, it is healing my broken nature, not as fast I would wish, yet I did pray for patience and should not complain about the lessons that He is sending me. I hesitate to advise you to do the same thing because I don’t fully know your situation, and don’t want to give advise that will only make your situation worse. I know that family feuds are difficult to cope with and I do pray that God will guide you through this and give you His mercy+++

      • oh goodness do i miss the homilies. but then my dad generally asks “what did he talk about today?” and that begins the platform for his own assaults on my beliefs. accusations of fundamentalism, accusations of misrepresenting protestantism (not that there’s a protestantism to represent any way), accusations that the stuff is riddled with superstition, etc.

        it’s not that i want to miss but i really don’t want to experience what will happen if i do go back.

      • jrj1701 says:

        I went through the same things. I remember when my Baptist co-worker went into a diatribe against the Eucharist because real wine was used. It took a lot of prayer and me complaining to my priest to keep me from throttling this heretic. Yet God did see me through, and I thank Him for being with me in my times of weakness. With out offending you may I suggest something that I noticed. Although your dad is giving you a lot of grief, has he forbid you to attend services? Most folks that argue about something tend to harbor their own doubts about their own beliefs, so in their pride they attack those that believe different from them to try and build their beliefs in the arena of verbal conflict. Sometime folks just like to argue and that is very frustrating to me when I am desperately seeking the truth. What I am trying to get at is that maybe your dad loves you and wants you to get it right and yet he doesn’t see what you see. His beliefs are being questioned just by you attending services different than what he would choose and so he has to figure out why, and instead of actually trying to see it your way, he is arguing and testing your resolve, all the time wondering if are you right and he is wrong. Most folks won’t let go of pridefully help beliefs, I know of folks that believe that all science is just a bunch of crap and nothing I say will convince them different. Arguing accomplishes nothing anyways, yet sometimes I get so sick of the b.s. I have to keep up the good fight and that good fight ain’t with those that refuse to see what I see, although they can definitely distract me from true fight. What I have been seeing from the different things that you have posted you are in a similar fight, a fight for your beliefs, your very salvation and it is hard to overcome all of this crap your dad is giving you. It was very hard for me too and it was through the grace of God, the prayers and counsel of good spiritual friends, and lots of personal prayer that I got through. God does help in these situations, and sometimes it ain’t until I have looked back and looked that I realize that He was doing His part even when I wasn’t doing mine. My advise is if your dad ain’t forbidding you to go to services then go and when he asks what was said you can say “Come see.” When he starts pontificating against the Catholic Church, silently say a pray to the Theotokos and contemplate what others went through and how God saw them through.

      • he’d probable just take the time and opportunity to attack and assault the priest. i’ve debated telling my baptist grandparents about my conversion. although they may actually take it as more of a learning experience than he does.

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