Theology and Black Sails | Vane and Pastor Lambrick

When Lambrick visits Vane before his execution, his attempt to offer peace and repentance is rejected.


Lambrick enters and offers Vane bread, which coming from a clergyman seems pretty obviously to symbolize Communion.  But bread is only one half of the grace of Communion, just as the peace Lambrick is about to offer is not complete.  He wants Vane to feel fear for what is coming so that the mighty pirate will need a pastor’s solace.

Lambrick:  Men who’ve never experienced fear are said to know it for the first time.  But in this moment, there is quiet.  An opportunity to find some measure of peace.
Vane:  Get many takers, do you?  For the kind of peace you’re offering?
Lambrick:  It is a different experience to what you may imagine it being.  Surely a man like you has faced death before, but never so nakedly.

Lambrick’s pretense is revealed when Vane shows zero interest in accepting what he offers.

“I can help you do that.  To repent.”
“I have nothing to repent for with you.”

Tellingly, Vane does not say he has nothing to repent for.  He just doesn’t want to repent to Lambrick, later insisting that “whatever I have to say to God, I’ll tell him myself or not at all.”  We know that Vane has begun to see the wider ramifications of his kill-or-be-killed worldview.  When fighting the Spaniard in 305, Vane realized that everyone isn’t fighting for the glory of fighting.  Some fight simply so that their dead bodies will be evidence enough to provide their families with food.

But whatever sins Vane believes he has committed, he has no interest in sharing them with someone like Lambrick, who will use them as evidence to distance himself, a “good” man, from “monsters” like Vane.

“Don’t you?  I understand you believe your violence is justified in the name of a defiance of tyranny, but there are mothers who buried their sons because of you.  Wives widowed because of you.  Children awoken in their sleep to be told their father was never coming home because of you.  What kind of man can experience no remorse from this?”

“What kind of man” reveals that Lambrick shares civilization’s instinct to make pirates inhuman.  Vane clearly sees Lambrick as representative of the people he hates, those who would willingly enslave themselves to England, and an English worldview, for a bit of comfort and security.

Lambrick:  I am a shepherd sent to help you find a path to God’s forgiveness.
Vane:  A shepherd?  You are the sheep.

Sheep are consumed by fear, and a shepherd leads them into a new world of freedom and hope.  Vane sees Lambrick’s hypocrisy and therefore wants nothing from this man of God who is blind to his own failings.

Ironically, although Lambrick did not get what he wanted, Vane does leave their conversation with peace.  He has seen himself as a shepherd capable of leading people into freedom, and as such he delivers one hell of a last speech.  It probably wasn’t quite what Lambrick intended.


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