Thursday, May 01, 2008

Simple Fisherfolk

Have I said that I love Discovery Channel's The Most Dangerous Catch?

Well, I do. (And not just because it gives me opportunities to join in the Discovery Channel's catchy "boom-dee-yadda" promotional song. Sing it, Fellow Traveler: "I love the whole world/it's such a special place/boom-dee-yadda, boom-dee-yadda, boom-dee-yadda, boom-dee-yadda...")

This reality show, unlike so many, actually deals in reality -- the lives of crab fishermen off the Aleutian Islands. The spotlighted skippers include a Joe Cool neo-Viking; a tattooed biker-hippie; a totaly gonzo, type A wild man with the nervous system of a firecracker and a serious tobacco jones.

Their days are charted in long streaks of boredom punctuated by spikes of gleeful excitement, crushing disappointment or terror. Rogue waves...maiming on-deck accidents...empty crab pots...all in a day's work, out on the Bering Sea.

These guys smoke and drink too much. They cuss. They yell. I'm thinkin' they'd probably flunk the average catechism test; I'm guessin' they've never seen "The Bridge" or said the come-to-Jesus prayer.

But I'll tell you what: On the first episode of the season, we saw them gathered around their radios, quietly and solemnly listening to a local clergywoman giving the annual blessing of the fleet and praying for thier protection. When the radio transmission cut out, they looked positively stricken.

I suppose that persons who spend a lot of mental time sorting the sheep from the goats would accuse these fishermen of practicing a Christianity of convenience; of exhibiting the "no atheists in foxholes" syndrome. Personally, I find these men's honesty and vulnerability in the wake of nature and circumstance compelling. Maybe that's why Jesus liked to hang out on the docks.

Truth be told, I would rather spend five minutes in prayer with these tough customers than five hours engaged in happy-clappy Team Jesus cheerleading with Real Christians[tm].


Rev Scott said...

Oh, you're so right about this. There's a reason "Eternal Father, Strong to Save" carries much more weight than "Shine, Jesus, Shine" with me!

Did you not just love it when they counted how many cans of Red Bull the Cornelia Marie captain drank? I can smell the cab of that ship - it probably smells like some of the tractors I drove growing up in Nebraska.

LutheranChik said...

Oh yeah. And Cap'n Phil scares me. Cap'n Phil reminds me, dispostionally, of my Great-Uncle Art, WWI vet and German bachelor farmer -- a choleric little man who used to come to our house every Friday night to watch the ballgame because he had no electricity at home. He rolled his own cigarettes, and always had one wedged in the corner of his mouth, spilling tobacco on the floor. His favorite expression was "Goddamnsonmabitch" (or its adjectival form, "Goddamnsonmabitchin'"). He'd be sitting in our La-Z-Boy, all jacked up on nicotine and caffeine and the Detroit Tigers...yikes.

Evelyn said...

I haven't seen this particular show, but I once saw a similar show about the Alaskan King Crab fishermen........ and it's unforgettable!

I do think that Jesus would have rather spent time with them than with our current-day pharisees!