Captain Hook, that nefarious helmsman of the Jolly Roger, has but two fears. He fears a crocodile with a clock inside of it, and the boy who cut off and threw his hand to that selfsame crocodile who now wants to eat the rest of him.
For this, and the next 40 hours — the last 40 hours of 2019 — we will have some fun with that fiendish pirate from J. M. Barrie’s classic story of Peter Pan. Captain Hook is a complicated villain, who in many ways mirrors us as we try to run away from the inevitable approach of our own mortality. The end of the year forces us to focus on the ticking clock of time, but it also calls us to look forward into a New Year and gather together your year-end tax deductible gifts towards our ongoing vision to introduce the Gospel of Welcome — Grace Turned Outward — to everyone, everywhere. So expect to be visited by multiple emails in the next 40 hours. We promise to entertain and inform you to where you will actually look forward to the next interruption, which also will chronicle your participation as your generous contributions come in.
So why does Hook, a pirate who instills fear into children, natives, and grown men alike, fear these two seemingly mild inhabitants of Neverland? The answer is all about time. The masterful J.M. Barrie created this wonderful allegory with a revealing piece of dialogue between Hook and his first mate:
He [Hook] sat down on a large mushroom, and now there was a quiver in his voice.
“Smee,” he said huskily, “that crocodile would have had me before this, but by a lucky chance it swallowed a clock which goes tick tick inside it, and so before it can reach me I hear the tick and bolt.” He laughed, but in a hollow way.
“Some day,” said Smee, “the clock will run down, and then he’ll get you.”
The clock, of course, is representative of time that is running out on Hook, just like it is for all of us. Like the crocodile, it’s going to get us all one day. All good children’s stories are allegories for adults, and this one is no exception, except that it is allegorical of the strictly human side of life — the side with no eternity — the side that fears death because it sees nothing beyond it.
For a believer, there is a counter reality to time — there is something on the other side of time — there is eternity. Jesus spoke of it constantly. He called it heaven, eternal life, and everlasting life, and it is a big part of the gift package He brought humanity. Through His death and resurrection, He created a doorway into heaven. He conquered Hook’s nemesis and enjoyed the first fruits of heaven for those who believe.
In the story, Peter Pan represents that hope of immortality, and is the main reason why Hook is so envious of him, and yet this is mere fantasy. In the story of Christ, a real historical figure, heaven — eternity — is no fantasy. It is a reality buoyed by real faith in the inner parts of our souls, and something that grows with time.
Yet we are human, too, and just as susceptible to human fears as is Captain Hook. That’s why we’re not going to be so hard on the guy, and why Barrie’s story treats him with a level of compassion. In spite of our faith we still have fear. We still understand. We are probably closer in reality to Hook than to Peter Pan and his cocky crowing. We feel and fear the effects of time even as we believe and hope in eternity.
That’s why these stories are so important. They capture the human side of our existence that too many Christians try to deny. Embracing our humanity is essential in identifying with others. It’s what Jesus did when He became one of us. In the same way, embracing the Spirit is what helps us identify with Christ and our ultimate salvation. We experience both at the same time.
To be sure, the Peter Pan story also has its spiritual side as well. Peter teaches the children to fly by believing, and Tinker Bell is healed when enough children believe.
Even the most human of stories has some eternity in it. That’s because somebody placed eternity in our hearts. I wonder who that was. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
Look who’s already got a start on
Year End Giving!
Noel, Blue Hill, Maine
Neil, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
David, Lakeville, Minnesota
Laura, Lubbock, Texas
David, Kati Kati, New Zealand
Darin, Cozad, Nebraska
Linda, Rugby Warwickshire, U.K.
Kent, Bryan, Ohio
Christopher, Edwardsville, Illinois
David, Liberty Lake, Washington
Roger, Whittier, California
Laura, Phoenix, Arizona
Paul, Wayne, Pennsylvania
Paula, Decatur, Alabama
Linda, Bainbridge Island, Washington
William, Huntsville, Alabama
John, Cupertino, California
John, Chicago, Illinois
Tom, Washington, D.C.
Patrick, Dundee, Michigan
Lisa, Sunland, California
Joe, Sugar Land, Texas
Cynthia, Harlingen, Texas
Garry, Ozark, Arkansas
Pat & Dave, Normandy Park, Washington
Christina, Columbia, Maryland
Michael, Tucson, Arizona
Dick, East Amhurst, New York
Mike, Cambria, California