Oh, My Pop Culture Religion: Indiana Jones and the Neutered Belief Systems

The Indiana Jones movies, especially the first and third ones (that is to say, the two good ones), are favorites in my household. Upon our most recent rewatch, however, I was struck by the realization that they are just some of a number of movies and franchises in which the narrative of the movie itself proves the existence of a certain religion’s God, while at the same time undermining that religion’s believers. These films aren’t billed as “religious”, and they don’t necessarily push a proselytizing message—we never see Indy asking someone else if they’ve accepted Jesus as their personal lord and savior—but nevertheless, throughout the films the actual, objective power of Jewish and Christian artifacts is emphasized.

indiana-jones-ark-of-the-covenant Continue reading

Oh, My Pop Culture Religion: The Power of Belief

world-religionBelief is a funny thing. When most people talk about belief, they’re usually taking about believing in things that are intangible; things like religion, a cause, or a greater good. Belief is often closely tied to faith. It’s a bit strange to talk about belief in terms of something we can touch or measure, because that kind of belief requires a simple glance over the evidence staring us in the face. It doesn’t really take any effort on our part to agree that something is true when a scientist or other expert has done all the work for us. The more interesting kind of belief requires some component of faith. A large part of faith is believing in something greater than oneself. This sort of belief is crucial to some of the most popular stories in fantasy and science fiction, from Peter Pan to Doctor Who to Serenity to The Hunger Games. It’s this kind of faith in something greater than oneself that gives true power to the characters in these works.

Spoilers for all three Hunger Games books, Doctor Who, and Serenity below.

Continue reading