An Insurrectionary Idea: The church as Pirate Island

In chapter 7 Insurrection: To Believe Is Human; To Doubt, Divine Peter Rollins puts forward a necessary challenge to Christian communities to consider how they embody and challenge the world with resurrection life.

The chapter opens with this,
Resurrection houses a deep violence, an ethical violence. This is not a violence directed against individuals, but rather a violence against those systems that would oppress, destroy, and bring death.[1]
Rollins asserts the resurrection life requires participants to challenge and transform the state of life in this world.
[The] true Christian militant attacks systems of oppression and fights for a better world, even though that new world might negatively affect their own position of power. It is a violence that cuts against the very one who joins the fight.[2]
The resurrection is an event that affirms God’s interest in the world and acts as both a promise that creates future and an ethic that anticipates that future now.
In this sense resurrection insists that Christians, as those who are in Christ, will find themselves experiencing radical discontinuity with the current order of things as they inherit the vision Christ’s resurrection foreshadows for this world – a vision of peace, life, equality, justice and freedom – and work to realize it, as best they can, in the now, within the contexts of their communities throughout the world.
One suggestion for how this takes place which Rollins develops is the Pirate Island.
Pirate Islands where communities that were formed within the British Empire. Pirate Islands, in spite of being made up of citizens of the Empire, insisted upon and lived out of a set of values contrary to that of the Empire.
Pirate Islands involve the creation of a new world in the midst of the current world.
The current world and its values were to be subverted by the new world and its values.
This is a wonderful way of thinking about the nature of the church. The church is a Pirate Island. The church is where Christianity expresses its incongruity with the world.
The church imagines and creates a world of peace, justice, freedom and equality etc. within the world that actively fosters war, injustice, oppression and inequality.
This can happen anywhere values that need to be subverted exist. If our community does not associate with those people because they are other or inferior etc., the church subverts this by creating a community in which those people are embraced as friends and neighbours.
Where realities of violence and war are fostered and maintained, the church instead ignores and subverts this reality by creating a different reality of peace, refusing to be engaged in the old order of things.
To this end the church should be understood as a place that simply ignores the nature and values of the world as it currently stands and instead chooses to live from and insists upon creating a new reality – one that originates in, lives out of and anticipates resurrection.
The way of Resurrection life… is a way of living that is able to short-circuit the present social, spiritual [and] political order… This act of living the not-yet state as if it already existed is the truly political act, an act that directly confronts unjust systems by ignoring them and living into a different reality.[3]
The resurrection demands an insurrection; an insurrection that manifests, creates and points toward something of the future world of God and its economy in the here and now – and this insurrection begins in the Pirate Island we call church.

[1] Insurrection, 138-139
[2] Ibid., 140
[3] Ibid., 150
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