Dean Jones

We did see the new Indiana Jones movie last weekend, and while it was mostly “tedious havoc” (identify that quotation), it did support my point in the “Professor Jones” post that the series is really all about academia. The best line in the new movie: After Prof. Jones does some amazing deeds against the bad guys, the smart-aleck teenager, astonied and amazed, says, “Y-Y-You’re a TEACHER?” But the best part to me is that Indiana Jones, through much struggle, rises in his career to the point of going into ADMINISTRATION! I always knew he was a potential dean, even provost, due to his facility with a bullwhip. Now he is in a position to really do heroic deeds!

Professor Jones

My favorite scene in all of the Indiana Jones movies and the key to their true meaning, in my opinion, is in “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” The swashbuckling archaeologist is, remember, a college professor, and in that movie we see him in front of a classroom. He is droning on in his glasses and tweed suit, as the students in his class for the most part are dozing off or not paying attention. Then during his office hours he begins the process of saving the world.

This is academia, as I know from experience and vocation, a perfect encapsulation of us professors’ self-image. Yes, in our obsessive preoccupation with our fields we are boring and inconsequential. But when we do our RESEARCH we are exciting and world-changing!

I would love to see more of Indy’s day job in the movies. While he is flying on that DC-3 with the line on the map tracing his route to exotic climes, is he grading papers? Before taking off for the Temple of Doom, did he struggle to get his grades in? As he was trying to find the Holy Grail, did he have to interrupt his quest for committee meetings and to deal with student complaints? I know that he prevailed over Nazis, cultists, and Communists, but, given his retrograde attitudes and his politically-incorrect archaeological practice of plundering indigenous peoples of their culturally-significant artifacts, I’d like to see his battle with the college’s tenure committee.

All of his adventures would have had to take place, apart from a few sabbaticals, over summer vacation, that blissful time for academics that we are now entering.

Indiana Jones and the Holiness of God

As we psych ourselves up for the release of the new Indiana Jones movie this weekend, read this discussion of the character and of why the first movie, “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” was so good. Note the good lines about how the evil archeologist dared to looked into the abyss of the Ark of the Covenant and “the abyss looked back,” the folly of looking into the face of God, how Indy somehow knew that sometimes one must look away.

This reminds me of the great theological message of that fun popcorn fantasy, which, for all of its lightness and entertainment value, conveyed back to our jaded and secularized imagination in an unforgettably tangible way that God is holy, as poor Uzzah learned when he so much as touched the Ark while only trying to help. We have so abstracted and sentimentalized and domesticated God that we sometimes forget why we need a Mediator to come into His presence.

My take on “Prince Caspian” the movie

C. S. Lewis’s “Prince Caspian” is, in his words, about the loss of the true religion and its restoration. Narnia has forgotten Aslan, most of the animals have stopped talking, and a rigid, freedom-denying materialism rules. The Pevensey children and a motley crew of “Old Narnians” are charged with restoring the old ways.

Thus, “Prince Caspian” is about our times and the challenge of re-evangelizing Western culture. That’s what my book, The Soul of Prince Caspian: Exploring Spiritual Truth in the Land of Narnia, is about.

The movie, though, which I finally saw yesterday, all but leaves out the book’s culture war themes! It is filled up with battle scenes of tedious havoc (who knows that allusion?), but leaves out completely Caspian’s backstory and the major symbolic episodes. Missing is Lewis’s treatment of the Telmarines’ atheism (“there is no such thing as lions!”), his devastating critique of progressive education, the exploration of walking by faith and not by sight, the Bacchus figure making the important point that Christian cultural influence should lead not to controlling others but to freedom, etc., etc.

I am not too bothered with cinematic additions to a book adaptation when it’s necessary to tell a written story through visual means. Sometimes an addition can even bring out and heighten something in the original story (as the movie does with its handling of bringing back the White Witch; also its depiction of Reepicheep and his fellow mice). But next time, let’s have a director who understands what the book MEANS! (I suggest Ralph Winter.)

Review “Prince Caspian”

I’ve been traveling, commencing, and grading papers, so I haven’t been able to see the “Prince Caspian” movie. Have any of you seen it? If so, how was it?

How is Ben Stein’s “Expelled”?

Who has seen Ben Stein’s satirical take on the Darwinist establishment, “Expelled”? I haven’t, and I’m not sure when I’ll get to. I see that even conservative blogs are just aghast at Ben Stein daring to defend Intelligent Design and to ridicule evolutionists. How well does he pull this off?