Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Temptation to Press

I've gotten started on the Patrick O'Brian Aubrey-Maturin series. Book one, "Master and Commander," is also the title of the movie starring Russel Crowe based on a couple of the novels in this series. I was hoping to do a podcast on the first book, but I didn't find much in the novel to recommend it as an edifying read for Orthodox Christians. Nevertheless, I'm quite enjoying the novels. It's one of those reads that I feel a bit guilty for liking so much. The story is completely engaging, the characters are real, human, and, unfortunately, for the most part godless. Or I might more correctly say deeply suspicious of the Church, especially the oppressive, coercive earnestness of Evangelicals. What is understood as Evangelical in the context of the novel is the lessons of Sunday school based on "those odious little tracts" teaching that it was God's will for the poor to be poor. But as Captain Aubrey's sweetheart points out, "It's all because they cannot read and write".
However even Captain Jack is tempted to preach a sermon on obedience to authority. His new, mostly pressed, crew was not responding well to his lieutenant's cruel indoctrination techniques. For those who do not know, most sailors were captured against their will--often knocked in the head and waking up in the bowels of a navy vessel.
The Bible is indeed a powerful weapon when used against those who can't or won't read it. Like the caricature of Evangelicals portrayed in the novel, we can all be tempted to read the Bible to buttress what we already believe, and to cudgel those who doubt our wisdom (i.e. To press them into our navy).


Byzantine, TX said...

Love that series. Read them all save the final "unfinished" book.

Donna Farley said...

Glad you are enjoying the books, Fr. Michael! You may like to check out these two older blog posts of mine on the 'Ships and Shipmates' theme of these novels.

Part one:

and part two: