Joseph Herrin (10-30-2012)
Bounty – Three Masted Tall Ship
A remarkable tragedy, full of spiritual significance relating to the people of God, has played out in the past couple days as Hurricane Sandy made its way up the East Coast to spend its wrath upon the most densely populated and developed area of the United States. That Sandy’s impact was felt especially sharply from Washington D.C., the seat of American government, to New York City, the nation’s financial center, stands out as a testimony of that storm that is looming that will soon ravage both the United State’s political and economic foundations.
In the midst of this a story has arisen of a tragedy at sea off the coast of North Carolina. In 1960 MGM Studios commissioned the construction of a replica of the HMAV (Her Majesty’s Armed Vessel) Bounty to be used in the film Mutiny on the Bounty starring Marlon Brando. The film was based on the historical account of the mutiny of half the crew of the HMAV Bounty against her captain, William Bligh, which occurred in 1789. Noteworthy is the fact that this was the same year that America seated her first government as George Washington began serving his first term as president in 1789.
If one considers the true history of America as told in the recent series Dragon Flood, they will perhaps see a parallel to the event that occurred aboard this British vessel. There were 46 crew and men aboard the Bounty when the mutiny occurred. Half of these men, twenty-three in all, formed a rebellion against the captain of the vessel and wrested control of the ship. Similarly, no more than half of the Colonial Americans supported rebellion against the King of England, yet this percentage was enough to wrest control of the country and establish their own government. Wikipedia provides the following information:
Of the 42 men on board aside from Bligh and Christian, 22 joined Christian in mutiny, two were passive, and 18 remained loyal to Bligh.
(Note: There was also a botanist and his assistant aboard the ship, but they were not numbered among the crew, not being members of the British Navy.)
These figures mirror the situation in America when rebellion broke out in 1776. There was a dedicated core of rebels, a significant number of Colonists who were loyal to the king, and a third group who remained neutral. Upon seizing control of the HMAV Bounty, the mutineers put the captain and those loyal to him aboard an open boat and set them adrift.
The mutineers ordered Bligh, two midshipmen, the surgeon’s mate…, and the ship’s clerk into the ship’s boat. Several more men voluntarily joined Bligh rather than remaining aboard. Bligh and his men sailed the open boat 30 nautical miles (56 km) to Tofua in search of supplies, but were forced to flee after attacks by hostile natives resulted in the death of one of the men. Bligh then undertook an arduous journey to the Dutch port of Coupang, located over 3,500 nautical miles (6,500 km) from Tofua. He safely landed there 47 days later, having lost no men during the voyage except the one killed on Tofua.
• Green line indicates voyage of Captain Bligh and abandoned crew in an open boat.
• Yellow line indicates voyage of mutineers after wresting control of the ship.
The mutineers having command of the Bounty sailed for Tubuai where they attempted to settle. They were harassed by the cannibalistic natives there, so they returned to Tahiti where they had sailed from. Wikipedia provides the following history.
After three months of being terrorized by the cannibalistic natives, however, they returned to Tahiti. Sixteen of the mutineers and the four loyalists who had been unable to accompany Bligh remained there, taking their chances that the Royal Navy would find them and bring them to justice.
Immediately after setting the sixteen men ashore in Tahiti in September 1789, Fletcher Christian, eight other crewmen, six Tahitian men, and 11 women, one with a baby, set sail in Bounty hoping to elude the Royal Navy. According to a journal kept by one of Christian’s followers, the Tahitians were actually kidnapped when Christian set sail without warning them, the purpose of this being to acquire the women. The mutineers passed through the Fiji and Cook Islands, but feared that they would be found there. Continuing their quest for a safe haven, on 15 January 1790 they rediscovered Pitcairn Island, which had been misplaced on the Royal Navy’s charts. After the decision was made to settle on Pitcairn, livestock and other provisions were removed from the Bounty. To prevent the ship’s detection, and anyone’s possible escape, the ship was burned on 23 January 1790 in what is now called Bounty Bay.
The rebellious crew did not fare well. Possibly due to the fact that they kidnapped the Tahitian men and women that went with them, there were conflicts when they arrived at Pitcairn Island.
The American seal-hunting ship Topaz visited Pitcairn in 1808 and found only one mutineer, John Adams (who had used the alias Alexander Smith while on the Bounty), still alive along with nine Tahitian women. The mutineers who had perished had, however, already had children with their Tahitian wives. Most of these children were still living. Adams and Maimiti claimed Christian (the leader of the mutineers) had been murdered during the conflict between the Tahitian men and the mutineers. According to an account by a Pitcairnian woman named Jenny who left the island in 1817, Christian was shot while working by a pond next to the home of his pregnant wife. Along with Christian, four other mutineers and all six of the Tahitian men who had come to the island were killed in the conflict. One of the four surviving mutineers fell off a cliff while intoxicated and was killed. Quintal was later killed by the remaining two mutineers after he attacked them.
A further correlation between the American rebellion and the Mutiny on the Bounty is the name of this lone survivor of the original crew who lived to provide a history of the events. The crewman’s name was John Adams, the same as the first Vice President and second President of the United States. A prominent figure in the American Revolution, John Adams assisted Thomas Jefferson in writing The Declaration of Independence, the principle document of the rebellion.
Other than the ship itself, there is a remarkable link between the original mutiny and the recent tragedy at sea. The leader of the mutiny in 1789 was Fletcher Christian, the Master’s Mate on the ship. When the reproduction of the ship sank, one of the crew members was Claudene Christian, the great-great-great-great-great granddaughter of Fletcher Christian.
There were 16 crew members aboard the Bounty when it sank. Fourteen were rescued by helicopter, while Claudene Christian and the captain of the vessel had been swept overboard and never made it into life boats. The captain has not been found. Claudene was found floating in her cold water survival suit, being unresponsive. She was declared dead later at a local hospital.
There is much to be considered in these events. The name Fletcher means “a maker of arrows.” Fletcher Christian was a man who used violence and insurrection to get what he wanted. King David wrote the following words:
My soul is among lions; I must lie among those who breathe forth fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows and their tongue a sharp sword.
From the very early days of the church there have been men who have sought to wrest control of the church by carnal means.
III John 9-10
I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church.
Diotrephes was a Christian whose words were as arrows. He rejected those leaders Christ had appointed as shepherds of His flocks, and sought to rule in their stead. As such he is similar to Fletcher Christian. Such ones God will judge. Those who are spiritual descendants of this carnal spirit are represented by the descendant of Fletcher Christian.
Claudene: Feminine form of Claudius. From a Roman family name which was derived from Latin claudus meaning “lame, crippled.”
The female crew member who died bore the same name as her mother. In name, they were both “lame, crippled Christian.” A Coast Guard spokesperson stated that Claudene was “unresponsive” when she was found. This is the condition of many Christians today. When God calls out to them, they do not respond.
In many stories, Captain William Bligh is depicted as an overbearing tyrant, and Fletcher Christian as the sympathetic protagonist of the story. Recently, historians have begun to challenge this depiction, arguing that Captain Bligh was far more lenient with his men than many British Navy officers. That half of the crew remained loyal to the captain provides further testimony to the fact that life was not intolerable under his leadership, as some have suggested. Furthermore, the actions of the mutineers as they subsequently kidnapped natives, and sought to rule them by force, reveals definite character flaws among these men. They were rebels and violent men at heart.
These events parallel the facts of the American Revolution. Those advocating rebellion sought to vilify the King of England. The offenses charged against the King were magnified to make rebellion seem justified. Even so, those in favor of rebellion never garnered the support of more than half of the American Colonists.
I have pondered the fact that this descendant of Fletcher Christian should choose to seek a career as a crew member on a ship that traces its history back to her rebellious ancestor. There was nothing noble in the actions of Fletcher Christian. He was a rebel, a kidnapper, a murderer, and a instigator of mutiny who would make himself the appointed leader of men. He manifested none of the fruit of the Spirit, despite his name, but rather was a man of strife and discord. Why would a descendant of such a man wish to say, “This was my ancestor,” and choose a career that would associate their own name with his?
In truth, this is what the church has done as they have aligned themselves with despots and rebels. There are legions of Christians who champion the founding fathers of America as great, moral, men. Had they failed in their attempt to overthrow the King of England, history would record these men as failed insurrectionists. They would remain the Masonic agitators that they truly were, men of violence and deception, seeking to elevate themselves and profit by installing a new government under their own control.
Similarly, many Christians profess affiliation with men such as John Calvin. Should any care to read about the life of this man, his persecutions of fellow believers, and endorsement of the slow torture of men such as Michael Servetus who was burned at the stake over green wood to prolong the agony, they should stand ashamed of ever having claimed to be a “Calvinist.”
People of God, the fruits of following in the steps of those who have acted carnally, rather than walking as spiritual men, are clearly seen in this nation today. The church is weak and crippled. It is unresponsive to the voice of God. There is a storm coming upon the nations and those Christians who do not walk as spiritual sons and daughters of the Most High will perish. When God sends them succor, even as the Coast Guard mounted an airborne rescue operation, they will not respond. Failing to act upon the voice of God, they will perish.
Some may argue that this woman was unable to respond. This is precisely the point. Those Christians who have spent their lives following the course their own soul has directed, choosing earthly affiliation over that which is spiritual, aligning themselves with deceivers and rebels, rather than with the meek, humble, and suffering Son of God, will find in the coming storm that they lack the ability to respond to the voice of God.
One of the things that has contributed to this lack of sensitivity to the voice of God is a love of the world and the things in it. Amazingly, this too is revealed in the parable now being visited. Fletcher Christian’s father Charles owned a large estate in England. Fletcher was very young when his father died. His mother then took over the management of the estate. She proved to be “grossly irresponsible” with her financial affairs.
Charles died in 1768 when Fletcher was not yet four. Ann proved herself grossly irresponsible with money. By 1779, when Fletcher was fifteen, Ann had run up a debt of nearly £6,500 (equal to £697,277 today), and faced the prospect of debtors’ prison. Moorland Close was lost and Ann and her three younger children were forced to flee to the Isle of Man where English creditors had no power.
In a remarkable parallel, Marlon Brando who played Fletcher Christian in The Mutiny on the Bounty is also credited with single-handedly running the production into financial ruin. He acted like a prima donna, even having the original movie director replaced. Talk about fiction imitating history. Marlon Brando exhibited the rebellion and usurpation of Fletcher Christian while making this movie, calling for a change of leadership, and ultimately inserting himself into the role of director. Although Lewis Milestone replaced Carol Reed as director for the film, Brando held everyone hostage to his whims, threatening to quit the film if his will was not carried out.
The 1962 film has become legendary for Brando’s behaviour during filming. Allegedly, this was what led to Carol Reed’s departure, and caused confrontations with Lewis Milestone. According to fellow actor Richard Harris, Brando got along badly with several cast members, including Harris himself, whose resentment was fuelled in part by Brando’s refusal (or inability) to memorize his lines; Harris was later quoted as saying, “The picture and Brando were a large dreadful nightmare for me and I’d prefer to forget both as soon as my nerves recover.” Brando would even reportedly rewrite portions of the script to his liking from day to day, leaving the rest of the cast bewildered as to what was to be filmed. According to the biography by Peter Manso, Brando’s antics included pulling members of the film crew away from the set to work on the decorations for a friend’s wedding in Tahiti and flying airplane loads of expensive food and drinks to the island for parties he would throw. The press accused Brando of throwing the film into weeks of overbudget, but Brando denied this and said the producers made a few mistakes as well that made the film’s release late.
The ship that sank was constructed for this movie and was intended to be destroyed after filming. Brando threatened to quit if they destroyed the ship, so MGM kept the ship as an exhibition piece. Old wooden ships are expensive to maintain, and the ship has passed through numerous hands. The most recent owners have been the HMS Bounty Organization LLC. They have sought to generate revenue by leasing her out to charter, excursions, sail training, and for use in movies. She appeared as “The Black Pearl” in Pirates of the Caribbean which starred Johnny Depp.
The Black Pearl
The name Bounty is of French derivation and means “goodness; abundant fruitfulness.” Vehicles often represent ministries, and as a sailing vessel, a ship powered by the wind, the Bounty represented a Spirit driven ministry. It stood as a symbol of the church itself. Yet this ship had been hijacked and put to uses other than those the Spirit of God intended. It is symbolic that in its most recent film role it was the ship of pirates, men of violence and deceit whose lust was for sex and money. The name “Black Pearl” itself speaks of something that was formerly pure and valuable becoming soiled. Pearls throughout the Bible are symbols of holiness, but the church has corrupted itself through love of the world and the things in it. Those who remain aboard this corrupted vessel become corrupt themselves. Spiritually they become weak and lame and unable to respond to the voice of God.
Revelation 21:21, 27
And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl… and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it.
Claudene was a former beauty pageant contestant, and a singer. Note the microphone in front of her and the beer mug on the stool for people to put money in. The Budweiser advertisement over her head completes the image of one who has taken their talents and used them for personal pleasure and worldly gain. This is symbolic of the church who loves the world and the things in it, but which has become spiritually weak and insipid as a result.
I John 2:15-17
Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.
The Bounty serves as a symbol of the church of Christ even as Fletcher and Claudene stand as types of those Christians who have followed their own course rather than following in the footsteps of Christ. The church was created to be a Spirit led and empowered vessel. In its latest incarnation, the Bounty had a diesel engine added to it. This engine, among other things, was used to power the pumps in the hull. This is symbolic of men in the church making use of worldly power as a substitute of those things Yahweh would accomplish through men empowered and guided by His Spirit. Wooden ships are leaky, and the pumps must be manned at all times. In the old days the pumps were literally “manned.” They were operated by men assigned that task by the captain of the vessel.
It was due to the diesel engine failing that the Bounty sank off the coast of North Carolina. In rough seas the engine failed and the pumps would not operate. The water level rose two feet inside the ship in an hour’s time. Soon the ship had to be abandoned.
Those who have been relying upon carnal means to accomplish the things of God in the church will find that these methods will shortly fail. The church has been reliant upon a healthy economy, fleshly fund raising methods, and a prosperity gospel to keep the pumps primed and running. A storm is coming that will devastate the world economic system and the church will find out suddenly, and with paralyzing fear, just how much she has been dependent upon this world system to accomplish her desires. The church has reshaped the gospel into something that can be sold. It has conjured up a prosperity message that will attract legions of followers who will put money in the offering plates. In a moment of time this will all end.
The Bounty has been for sale for the past two years. It was still on the market when it sank. Likewise, the church has offered herself up to whoever will show her the money.
“For thus says Yahweh God, ‘Behold, I will give you into the hand of those whom you hate, into the hand of those from whom you were alienated. They will deal with you in hatred, take all your property, and leave you naked and bare. And the nakedness of your harlotries will be uncovered, both your lewdness and your harlotries. These things will be done to you because you have played the harlot with the nations, because you have defiled yourself with their idols.’”
People of God, from beginning to end the story of the Bounty has been a Christian parable. When the flesh replaces the Spirit in guiding the body of Christ the end is tragedy. A storm is coming upon the nations and judgment must begin at the house of God. There are multitudes of spiritually weak and lame Christians today who are unresponsive to the voice of God. The seas were 18 feet high (6+6+6) when the ship sank. The winds were 40 knots. The beast system is rising. A wilderness experience lies ahead of the people of God. If you find you are in a church that traces its history back to the usurpations of man; if the leadership of the Spirit has been replaced by flesh and blood, flee from it.
Perhaps one of the most tragic aspects of this recent story is that God warned this woman named Christian of what was coming.
CBC News spoke to Claudene Christian, whose daughter was a crew member on the Bounty, Monday morning as the rescue efforts began. She said her daughter Claudene had contacted her before heading out on her journey.
“She says, ‘We’re heading out and I just wanted to tell you and dad that I love you.’ And I said, ‘What are you saying that for?’ And she said, ‘Just in case something happens,'” Christian said in a phone interview from Oklahoma.
The Spirit is testifying that a storm is soon to fall upon the nations. Like the captain and crew of the Bounty, many will seek to sail around the storm, but they will be unable to do so. If you are being guided by your soul or by men who have usurped the role of the Spirit of Christ, NOW is the time to return to the rightful Captain of your life. He will lead you safely through the storm ahead.
May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.
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