Friday, July 27, 2012

Aye Capn

Out of the night that covers me
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul."

"Invictus" by William Ernest Henley

The words of this poem are often regarded as inspirational, and they even lent themselves to a movie also entitled Invictus about the South African soccer team's importance to the people of South Africa during a transition from apartheid to the leadership of Nelson Mandela.  I find it odd that Mandela, a self-professing Christian, found encouragement from a poem that suggests that the self, and not God, is the "captain" of his soul.

I started this blog to share some of my thoughts on religion, politics, literature, video games, music, and whatever else I may decide to share.  The name of the blog, "The Captain's Chair," has a twofold meaning.

First, I am known in my gaming circles as "Capn" or "Captain" because I once played a character named CapnCrunch on a forgotten game called Shadowbane.  But through that game, I made a lot of good friends that I still game with today.  So in one way, this blog is my chair in which I sit to share my thoughts with those who care to read them.

Secondly, I thought of the poem "Invictus" and the concept of being the captain of your own soul vs. having God as its captain.  It is truly a constant battle for human beings over the captain's chair.  As Paul suggested in Romans 7, we Christians have an inward struggle over the captaincy.  The sanctified part of me puts God in control, and indeed He is in control of the greater part of my life.  However, there is still that "body of death" that likes to hang around.  But praise be to God, if I put Jesus in the captain's chair, then he helps me deal with that dead body, those attitudes and habits that do not look like the image of Christ.  That's what a life of sanctification is all about.  We turn over the captain's chair to the one who can truly right the ship, and we must continue to daily turn it over to Him.

In closing, I would like to share the words of another poet. Reese Roper is probably my favorite songwriter of all time, known for his work in Five Iron Frenzy and Brave Saint Saturn.  The following lyrics are from their version of "Invictus," found on the album Anti-Meridian.  Their version records a man who has been trying to be the captain of his own soul, only to find himself in darkness.  But God's love and grace are unstoppable and will break through that darkness to find him.

I've been breaking my backonly to show You,how very lost one can be,And bitterness fires through me.
The brilliance that wasis flickering cold,slowly burning to ash.I'm choking on pride,I'm closing my eyes,'till one day I'm scared to go back.
You part the shadows,Light of the World.Destroy the blindnessPeace Eternal.
Take this broken heart,if it brings You praise,Take this beaten soul,shivering hands I will raise.
Hope Unstoppable,Sing the morning sun,Wake up oh sleeper,the Daylight has come.

You are, You are,Invincible.You are You are,Unbreakable.