Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales – Movie Discussion
What is it about Jack Sparrow that makes him, pathetic as he is, so loveable?! He’s a pirate, a drunk, a womanizer. He’s lazy and lacks character. And yet, for all his shortcomings, he surprises you. His men love him, and that says something. He pulls through when needed and shows far more character and compassion by his actions than he would care to admit to. You always get the feeling he’s trying to hide the fact that he’s actually a decent human being, just as he seems to try to hide the fact that he’s also a decent pirate. He’s a lot like the characters in the Bible—deeply flawed, and also surprisingly heroic. Human. In this story, Jack takes a page almost directly out of Essau’s life from the Bible.
Jack had a compass that was given to him. He was told it was very precious and had great value, but to outward appearances, it was useless and broken. It was more of a spiritual gift than a physical one as it pointed to where his true heart lay. Jack was at a low spot and exceedingly desperate for another drink. He was out of money and all he had to offer up for the purchase of a drink was the compass. Without much hesitation, he gave it away. It wasn’t doing him any good in the moment, after all. So he gave away what he needed for the future to get what he wanted in the present. That thoughtless, short-sighted action set in motion a chain of painful consequences (like unleashing his mortal enemy from his cursed prison, etc.).
That’s what Essau did. He was the first born and as such was given a gift, a birthright, which would include privilege, honor, responsibility and wealth at a future time. It, too, was more a spiritual than a physical gift. Essau, however, came in from being outdoors and was hungry, “famished” even. His brother had some stew cooking, and Essau wanted it, needed it, right then. He didn’t want to wait till he could cook his own meal, and he apparently didn’t have a relationship with Jacob that Jacob would willingly and freely share it. So, when he demanded some food, Jacob bartered, “First, sell me your birthright.” This is where Essau is a lot like Jack Sparrow. “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?” Now that birthright had a lot of value. Just as that compass did. Esau knew it, just like Jack knew it. Neither of them, however, could think past his present appetite. All they could think about was the moment, right then. So Jacob sold his birthright to his brother for a bowl of stew, (That’s gotta be like the world’s most expensive meal, right there!) and it set in motion generations of feud and war and struggle between those two men and the nations that descended from them. Unlike Jack, he was never able to get it back, to make things right. It was gone, forever.
We live in a culture in which the highest value is, “Do what makes you happy.” The problem with that is happy how and when? Essau and Jack Sparrow did what made them happy in that moment, but they didn’t think about whether or not that would bring them long-term happiness. Sometimes the things that bring lasting happiness are things that make us very unhappy in the moment. (It may make you happy to lay around and eat pizza and watch movies all day, but in the end, that breeds obesity and depression. Conversely, going to the gym may not be fun in the present but in the long run, you’ll be happier as endorphins are released and you become full of good health, feel good about yourself, and are able to enjoy living life.) We have to have nothing higher to live by than just “Do what makes you happy,” it’s not a good guide.
We need to value more than just our present appetite. Our appetites get us into trouble. The Bible encourages us to make our bodies our slaves, to subdue and subject our appetites to our will. If we don’t, we become slaves to our flesh. Pursuing our immediate happiness leads to foolish decisions with long term consequences and even enslavement—it tempts us to give away what we need for the future to get what we want in the present.
- How are Jack Sparrow and Esau alike?
- Why is “Do what makes you happy” a faulty guide? How might it lead you astray? (How did it lead Jack astray?)
- What are ways you can practice disciplining yourself to make short term decisions for long-term happiness/health/good?
One other really great moment I want to comment on. Carina was a brilliant scholar and her understanding of science was completely beyond the pirates’. They didn’t want to follow her because they didn’t understand the things she knew. So often, this is how we are with God. His understanding is impossibly beyond ours, and just like those pirates, we often refuse to follow Him when we don’t understand Him. I love Henry’s response to the pirates, “You don’t have to understand her, just believe her.” This is how we need to be with the Lord. We need to have that faith like a child that doesn’t require understanding. We need to be willing to believe in Him, trust Him, follow Him, obey Him, whether or not we understand Him.
- How hard is it to believe something you don’t understand?
- Are you willing to follow the Lord in obedience even when you don’t know why He’s asking you to do something?
 Genesis 25:29-34