April has had a bad week this week, so I took today off and we went to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Despite the bad reviews, I wanted to see it anyway. I thought it was a fun film. I wasn’t expecting Schindler’s List. It wasn’t as good as Last Crusade (my personal favourite), but it had to be better than Temple of Doom. Indy’s older now, so he’s not moving quite as quickly, and they don’t have him running around shirtless. Anyway, I am not doing a review. I just wanted to point out something about myself I thought interesting as I watched.
**SPOILER ALERT**If you want to see it and don’t want to know anything about it, just stop reading.
The premise of the story is based on the theory that space people came down and taught the ancient South Americans how to build the ziggurats. And the film ends with that premise – UFO and all. Once I realised that was the way the story was headed (this about half-way through), I thought, ‘Are they telling me that I am supposed to suspend my disbelief to believe that this archaeologist is going to find out that space people built the ziggurats?’ Space people whose skeletons were made of crystal? And were magnetic?
Then, just as I was thinking that and Indiana was running around with a space person head, another thought popped into my head. What about those who have no Christian faith, how could they have watched Raiders of the Lost Ark and Last Crusade? Being a Christian, I can ask, why wouldn’t there be an ark and why wouldn’t it melt your face off if you were so bold to try and capture it for world domination? (OK, I don’t know about melting faces.) Even while I was at the height of my anti-Catholic days in 1989, it didn’t take much for me to suspend my disbelief to accept a 900 year old crusader with the original cup of Christ. Somehow, both of these films and their premises allow me to accept the story within my sphere of belief.
It reminds me of a small group discussion in my American Christianity class at Duke. We were discussing Mormons and how crazy their beliefs are. Then someone said, well how about the Christian belief in the resurrection? How crazy does that sound to others? It appears that we have domesticated our beliefs so much that they no longer sound subversive, but in some way usual. I believe a man rose from the dead (who was incarnate by the Holy Spirit and a virgin), but dare anyone that puts me in the same class as those who, say, believe the earth is flat. Or ziggurats were built by people from space. (Of course, who thinks their own beliefs are stupid? You wouldn’t hear someone say, ‘I believe the earth is flat, even though I know I’m idiot for believing it!’)
I try to preach that the gospel centred on the death and resurrection is subversive, that these events can change and save the world. That they overturn the world. But Indiana Jones can show me that I don’t really grasp it. I have domesticated my beliefs to somehow think that arks and cups of Christ are possible and deep down everyone can see how that could happen. Yet, throw some space people in there and I think that everyone will see this as fantasy.
After this quick theological discussion carried on in my head, I enjoyed the film much more.