ah, the pirates. we can’t forget the pirates.
the pirates’ hilarity was the yin to the westboro crazies’ sad yang. oh wait, the westboro people hate china…so forget the chinese philosophy reference…
anyway, the pirates completed the circle of absurdity friday and made for a good time. as stated in the first post of this series, the pirates weren’t just your average run-of-the-mill wackies who just decided to celebrate talk like a pirate day. these pirates were on a mission…a mission from
god the flying spaghetti monster.
indeed, these pirates are pastafarians: members of the church of the flying spaghetti monster. (notice the sign they displayed with their depiction of heaven: a cloudy land with a beer volcano and a porn palace…the beer must give the streets that gold sheen that the bible talks about…) let me offer a quick explanation as to what the church of the flying spaghetti monster is.
a few years ago, in response to the kansas state board of education’s consideration of intelligent design being taught in schools, bobby henderson wrote a letter proposing that schools teach three creation concepts: the “traditional” scientific view, intelligent design and, finally, flying spaghetti monsterism. his point was that if intelligent design purports a designer, then that designer could be whatever we so choose to make it. for instance, it could be a flying spaghetti monster. since that time, the flying spaghetti monster—as a symbol—has caught on and is used commonly by atheists and agnostics (“spagnostic”) as a defense against christianity. these people, who go by the term pastafarians are, by and large, a loosely connected group throughout, mainly, the united states.
these particular pirates are a part of the central arkansas pastafarians. i’m not sure if they meet regularly or if it’s more relational than anything, but they are obviously organized enough to have planned this protest. (it should be noted, by the way, that pastafarians consider pirates divine being, thus the celebration of talk like a pirate day.)
so, friday when i went out there, upon discovering who these guys were, i was that much more interested. i walked up to one of the pirates and we exchanged that we both thought this was ridiculous and sad. he informed me who they were and pointed out their classy sign. needless to say, it’s difficult to focus and have a normal conversation when you’re standing with someone in a pirate costume, but nevertheless, i felt compelled in that moment to engage a conversation beyond small talk.
so, i decided it was a good time to tell this guy that i am a christian and a pastor. with a somewhat nervous look on his face, he said, “you’re one of those preachers?” i informed him that i wasn’t one of those kinds of preachers and that i, in this case, was part of his team. i told him that we might have some fundamental disagreements, but that didn’t mean that we couldn’t be friends and work together against something that is just plain wrong and against the faith that i know. he said he agreed and proceeded to shout, “hey everybody, we got us a preacher over here.” oh boy.
upon hearing that news, a few other pirates buddies of his gathered around me (don’t worry, no swords drawn…these were peace-loving pirates, fortunately). again, i thought to myself, “self, here’s a great opportunity to create a bridge between a person of faith and a group of people who have probably been outcast and treated poorly by other people of faith.” i told them basically what i told the first pirate: that i am a christian and a pastor, but that what the westboro people were doing had nothing to do with god and that it was actually opposite of the true message of christ. i told them that god loved gay people and that i was here to show support to the pirates and the people who stood up for truth and against hate.
so here we stood: one pastor and a bunch of atheist “pastafarians” in homemade pirate costumes yelling at a bunch of crazies holding signs that read, god hates fags. only in america, people.
as weird of a scenario this might have been and maybe as corny as this may sound, i sort of felt like a god moment was occurring. i think it was one of those things that god orchestrates that allows us to see that we don’t have to agree to be friends and to be allies against hate and injustice. i think god’s heart breaks at the current state of religion in the united states, particularly. for some reason, christians have adopted a philosophy of “all or nothing.” basically, it’s the idea that you have to accept every single miniscule piece of dogma that i believe in order to be friends or you obviously agree with nothing and that disallows us to be friends. this mode of thinking flies in the face of what jesus was all about.
i don’t know if jesus would have been out on the street corner giving “argh’s” for honks, but i think it’s safe to say that jesus would have already known all these pirate pastafarians by name because he probably would already have spent time with these guys in their homes or their pastafarian gatherings. if jesus spent time with criminals and prostitutes, i don’t think it’s too far of a stretch to think that he would be hanging out with atheist pirates.
christians are so afraid that if we get too near “evil”, that we’ll be tainted. jesus didn’t start sticking people with homemade shanks because he hung around criminals. he didn’t start swindling little old ladies because he hung around greedy, lying tax collectors. i never saw jesus hanging around prostitutes so much that he started turning tricks and doing blow in dirty alleys. certainly we’re not jesus. but certainly, we are called to be like jesus.
so when the popular christian subculture or your church or whoever tells you to avoid “the enemies”, listen to jesus instead. go find a dude in a pirate costume. go find your local pastafarian gathering. go find the drunk. go find the militant atheist. go find these people with love and understanding and compassion and open and listening heart. be friends and build bridges.