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jackIt should come as no surprise that I adore pirates, fell in love with the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland, have watched all the Johnny Depp movies multiple times. I actually live in the land of pirates, so as much as the 9th circle of hell bums me out sometimes,well,…….we have pirates.

Lots of maritime trades here, fishermen, boat builders, lots of authentically rugged individualists, so our pirates can be quite realistic, in the sense that I actually met a charming gentleman with a peg leg and an eye patch. I am laughing here, but when you are missing a leg and an eye, just embrace your dapper self and go with the romance of pirates…..

So most of our pirates are generally civic-minded, you often find them in parades, raising money for the food bank, sometimes blowing off canons, reenacting historical events. Pirates engaged in serving the greater good.

That is one side of the truth of pirates. Then you have the darker, more realistic “pirates,” in the sense of criminal activity. Boat stealing, drug smuggling and what not. Long ago when I was a teen there was a boat and a family missing. I remember the “wanted” and “missing” posters. Much later came “wanted for piracy,” meaning they had killed the family and stolen  the boat. Probably something related to drug smuggling, but my memory is vague.

My point being there are really two kinds of “pirates,” and even “truth” itself can actually  be somewhat subjective or even paradoxical and contradictory. Besides the romance, there is a lot to be learned from pirates, things to be admired, the boldness, the hoisting of the Jolly Roger, the independent spirit, and the refusal to surrender all to people favor……or to the Powers That Be. Some historical pirates were actually “fighting on the right side of history,” whatever that means.

I was actually pondering all this piracy stuff in light of the internet, faith, politics, and speaking the truth in love. Our words matter, we will be held accountable for our words, and for the way we convey our words. That is actually biblical. It is an imperfect art, so thank you Lord for grace, but just the same, with free speech comes responsibility and accountability, too. Just because you “can” say it doesn’t mean you “should” say it.

“Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” What is lurking in your heart, the condition of your soul is bound to come spilling from your lips at some point. So my concerns aren’t even about what other people think of you, but rather what your own words and manner of speech reveal about the condition of your own soul.

Notice I said the “condition” of your soul and not the “position” of your soul. In Jesus Christ your position is assured, you are a son. Your condition however may vary, often due to user or operator error.

So our world is just marinating in hostile rhetoric, hateful words, fake news, great offense, and the urge, the instinct, is to just hoist the Jolly Roger and punch back harder. When you do that however, you become part of the problem, rather than becoming the solution to the problem. You are not set apart, you are not offering the world something new, you are simply just another scurvy pirate rolling around in the muck.

For those who don’t know, scurvy comes from a lack of vitamin C, so like bleeding gums and eyeballs, rotten teeth, and having not bathed in the past year. My point being, scurvy pirates are downright ugly. They are on the wrong side of history and on the wrong side of my romance O meter.

I am chuckling here, I completely understand why no one would care in the least about my romance O meter, but I must use it to draw an analogy. You do not win hearts and minds by competing to become the scurviest of all scurvy. Nobody says, “look at that pirate, he’s got the biggest, baddest case of scurvy I’ve ever seen! Yep, that’s the pirate I want!”

No. You win by stepping away from the pack, by coming out of the herd, by being set apart and different. You win when you take your peg leg and missing eye and allow the Lord to transform them into a great asset, into the dapper romance and charm of an elderly pirate on a fine sunny day….

Grace matters, self-control matters, kindness matters, your own story matters, and perhaps it even matters more than speaking the “truth” sometimes. People in general have often have had so much truth (and so much deception) forcibly imparted upon them, that they don’t even know what to believe anymore. Love however, and grace, and kindness, cannot lie. They speak to people in a way words just cannot.

I am reminded on the internet over and over again that Jesus did not say,  here is the truth. He said, “I am the truth.” The truth is actually a person, the personhood of Jesus, and not “a fact” or “a theology” or some fancy wordsmithery.

Just some things to keep in mind before you go hoisting your own Jolly Roger.