The Spirituality of Pearl Jam: Love Boat Captain Reviewed by Momizat on . Love boat captain, take the reigns and steer us towards the clear. -Pearl Jam, Love Boat Captain Love is at one and the same time the divine being and the basis Love boat captain, take the reigns and steer us towards the clear. -Pearl Jam, Love Boat Captain Love is at one and the same time the divine being and the basis Rating: 0
Home » Blogs » Politics & Pop Culture » The Spirituality of Pearl Jam: Love Boat Captain

The Spirituality of Pearl Jam: Love Boat Captain

Love boat captain, take the reigns and steer us towards the clear.

-Pearl Jam, Love Boat Captain

Love is at one and the same time the divine being and the basis of any real knowledge.

-René Girard, Things Hidden since the Foundation of the World, page 277

 

Who’s your Love Boat Captain?

I’m starting with that very awkward question because, well, Pearl Jam brought it up. And I actually think the question – if a little awkward – is important to explore because it gets at a very deep, spiritual issue we moderns must confront. Here’s why: The modern world stifles our spirituality because it says that you are the Captain of your own ship. For example, take the modern dictum, “Think for yourself!” That phrase suppresses spiritual growth for two reasons. First, no one “thinks for themselves.” The phrase is self defeating because someone else has to tell you to think for yourself, which essentially boils down to this, “Think for yourself! I think for myself so you should think for yourself. So think for yourself, just like me!!” The second reason is because it fosters the myth of autonomy – a specifically modern spiritual disease that emphasizes the individual and cuts us off from recognizing the spiritual truth that humans are always interconnected, interrelated, and indeed, interdividual.

The spiritual truth is that we all have a “Captain” of our ship, and it isn’t us. Our captain is likely a combination of people and things that we consciously or unconsciously put our hope, trust, and faith into. Our captain could be combination of parents, politicians, teachers, religion, and ideologies.

The point is this: if we don’t consciously choose a captain, a captain will choose us. And so Pearl Jam asks us to do something deeply spiritual; to ask the Love Boat Captain to “take the reigns and steer us towards the clear.”

Who is the Love Boat Captain that Pearl Jam is talking about? The song doesn’t specifically say, but I’m gonna say Jesus. (When I was in Sunday school I learned that Jesus was the answer to every question.) I mean, he did tell people, “Let me be your Love Boat Captain.” Well, not in so many words, but he did say, “Follow me.” And, for Pearl Jam, the Love Boat Captain steers us towards the clear by steering us towards love, which is where Jesus steered his followers.

Indeed, love has had some problems recently. Love has its haters. Many people say the phrase “All you need is love” is banal. But if it sounds cheesy and trite, it’s because we have a spiritually deficient view of love. According to the Love Boat Captain, love steers us toward a specific place and a specific way of life. Love has intention. It’s an action. This love is not based on fleeting emotions. If Jesus is your Love Boat Captain then your life will be steered by a love that says, “You have heard it said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”

love boat captainIn Love Boat Captain, Pearl Jam doesn’t deny the real suffering and pain in our world. Our boat will be rocked by violence, cancer, earthquakes, and waves that seem insurmountable.  “Questions rise and answers fall” and in the face of suffering and pain we feel like “this [is a] god forgotten place.” There are no promises of protection amidst our violent world. This love doesn’t protect itself by responding to violence with more violence. Jesus was crucified because he lived the vulnerable, nonviolent love of his Father. This is an all embracing love that steers us in the direction of inviting everyone, even our enemies, into a community of support and friendship. Like René Girard claims, this love is the Divine Being and it is the basis of any real thinking and any real knowledge.

I want to encourage you to not think for yourself. That just leads us into the spiritual disease of autonomy, cutting us off from one another. Instead, think like Jesus. One of the earliest followers of Jesus encouraged people to “have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16). That means to put our trust, faith, and hope in Christ’s way of love, because that’s where we will find real knowledge.

So along with Pearl Jam, let’s sing together, “There’s just one word that I still believe and it’s love … love, love, love, love.”

 

 

Pearl Jam – Love Boat Captain Lyrics

 

Is this just another day,… this god forgotten place?
First comes love, then comes pain. Let the games begin,…
Questions rise and answers fall,… insurmountable.

Love boat captain
Take the reigns and steer us towards the clear,… here.
It’s already been sung, but it can’t be said enough.
All you need is love

Is this just another phase? Earthquakes making waves,…
Trying to shake the cancer off? Stupid human beings,…
Once you hold the hand of love,.. it’s all surmountable.

Hold me, and make it the truth,…
That when all is lost there will be you,…
Cause to the universe I don’t mean a thing
And there’s just one word I still believe
And it’s

It’s an art to live with pain,… mix the light into grey,..
Lost 9 friends we’ll never know,.. 2 years ago today
And if our lives became too long, would it add to our regret?

And the young, they can lose hope cause they can’t see beyond today,…
The wisdom that the old can’t give away
Hey,…
Constant recoil…
Sometimes life
Don’t leave you alone.

Hold me, and make it the truth,…
That when all is lost there will be you.
Cause to the universe I don’t mean a thing
And there’s just one word that I still believe and it’s
Love,… love. love. love. love.

Love boat captain
Take the reigns,.. steer us towards the clear.
I know it’s already been sung,… can’t be said enough.
Love is all you need,.. all you need is love,..
Love,.. love,…
Love.

For more in the Spirituality of Pop Music Series see:

The Spirituality of Pearl Jam: Love Boat Captain

The Spirituality of Phil Phillips: Home and Lent

The Spirituality of Fun.: God’s Grace in a Violent World

The Spirituality of Kelly Clarkson: Misfits, Scapegoats, and People Like Us

The Spirituality of Katy Perry: Pointing Toward Unconditional Love

Leave a Comment

© 2011 Raven Foundation. Site by JPMM.

Scroll to top