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

Lady Geek Girl and Friends

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

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7 comments on “Oh, My Pop Culture Religion: Indiana Jones and the Neutered Belief Systems

  1. David A says:

    Interesting article.

    A similar article but with aniem depictions of Christianism would be longer!

    Two details, the use of the word “agency”… I associate it to other topics.

    And Christian gnosticism… gnostic sects weren’t part of Christianity.

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    • Don’t Gnostic sects at least count as a Christian heresy? After all, they did believe that Jesus was God, but they thought that he had no humanity. What people saw as his body, according to the Gnostics, was merely a projection.

      But, I suppose one could treat Gnosticism like Islam, which is another Christian heresy but not considered Christian.

      And yes, an article filled with examples of anime doing the same thing could easily become a tome!

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      • David A says:

        Gnosticism is a mix between persian, egyptian, mediterranean, and jewish elements. Later, they began to add Christian themes and people. For example, in some texts, Seth is the saviour figure, later, they began to mention Jesus.

        Some gnostics came from Christian backgrounds, while others were more pagan.

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      • I see, it’s sort of like how the Leftist church manages to include all denominations. 🙂

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      • David A says:

        That would be an interesting read. About what some anime does regarding Christianism.

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  2. Luminas says:

    I think this kind of thing is what tends to happen in the time period that Indiana Jones was made in. That is, the earlier movies were when more of the nation was culturally Christian (Never mind whether they actually were in the sense of serving God— That’s a different subject). So Christian artifacts would’ve been acknowledged as having miraculous power (To appeal to the movie’s audience) but they wouldn’t go out of their way to be accurate about it. For the Nazis to appear to be a threat, they had to be able to actually use the artifacts in theory while still being shown as morally corrupt.

    That, and the more secular and atheistic implication the movies seem to maintain throughout that: “Miracles and magic happen, but whether they are attributable to a God is debatable.”

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    • That sounds about right: secular filmmakers throwing the Silent Majority a bone while not actually believing in the power of God themselves. And that is a good point that the Nazis would have to gain power from the artifact for the heroes to be motivated to risk their lives in stopping them. Though, the Nazis were very disappointed with the result at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark to be sure.

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Legens, scribe sententias tuas.

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