Richard Beck, Professor of Experimental Psychology at Abilene Christian University, has one off the most interesting and insightful blogs out there, Experimental Theology
And last week he had one of his most head-shakingly brilliant series yet: Jesus and the Jolly Roger. As you can tell by the intro video, it was inspired by Kestin Brewer’s book Mutiny: why we love pirates and how they can save us.
Brewer’s main thesis is that piracy arises when the common goods have been taken over by the wealthy and powerful.
17th & 18th century sailors were basically slaves, having often been pressganged into service, and treated horribly, and used up until they died. Remember the great traditions of the British Navy, “rum, sodomy, and the lash.”
Turning pirate was a way to escape and fight back against a violent, exploitative, and utterly wicked empire (several of them, actually).
For that matter, popular music and media used to be more free, with 28 year copyrights, not life of the author plus 70. People used to play their own music, they just owned the culture a bit more.
But the big entertainment companies got the laws changed, and now basically nothing will ever become public domain again.
So the pirates set sail again, less violently, against a much lesser evil.
Dr. Beck extends the metaphor into the spiritual domain. In Jesus’s time, the religious elites in the temple (in Greco-Roman and, more applicably, Jewish life) systems had become gatekeepers of religion, faith, and salvation … gatekeepers of God.
Jesus bypassed the gatekeepers of empire and temple to bring good news to the outcasts, the lower classes, the excluded.
Early Christianity was a religion of women, slaves, and the lower classes.
Dr. Beck gives a much more in depth analysis. You should check it out.