Up until 2008, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was the final movie in the Indiana Jones saga. Some would ignore the existence of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but since I’m new to this series, I’m just going to roll with all of them. So this #tbt series isn’t done quite yet.
Released in 1989, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade provides a much deeper look into Indy’s character. The film starts with a teenaged boy (played by the late River Phoenix) fleeing from a band of what I’m calling “archaeologists for hire.” We get a fleeting glimpse of his father, clearly preoccupied with his own archaeological pursuits, and the tone is set for what turns out to be a far more personal adventure than expected.
Once Indy transforms back into the professor/archaeologist/adventurer we already know, his services are requested in the search for an item that brings the promise of eternal life: the Holy Grail. It is the cup used by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper and when one drinks from it, he/she will live forever in health and youth. As always Indy is intrigued, but he doesn’t jump at the opportunity like he did for the Ark. He dismisses the case with casual nonchalance until his recruiter Walter Donovan (Julian Glover), explains that Indy is not only being asked to locate the Grail, but the researcher that has been kidnapped in this pursuit. This missing Grail expert is none other than Indiana’s own father, Dr. Henry Jones (Sean Connery…I know right? Amazing as always). Indy’s quest is simple: start looking for the Grail, and find his father.
I could write pages on the rest of the movie: the relationship quirks between Indy and Henry, the delightful performances by returning cast members Denholm Elliott and John Rhys-Davies (friends Marcus Brody and Sallah), the (spoiler alert) misguided betrayal of Elsa (played by Alison Doody) and the fact that once again Indiana Jones is fighting to keep a coveted artifact that possess supernatural powers out of the hands of Nazis. But since I am still getting the side eye when I say I am just watching these movies for the first time, I’m assuming you already know all of this.
Instead, I want to look again at Indy’s motivations. In Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indy is driven by knowledge. He wants to know. Retrieval of artifacts such as the Ark of the Covenant gives Indy his purpose. He may not offer much in the ways of belief in their more mystical qualities, but he is intrigued enough to take the risk. In Temple of Doom, there is a combination of knowledge and ego pushing him, but he also is trying to return something precious to a suffering community. Again, he doesn’t give way to much belief, but I think there is still a sacrificial quality to his determination.
In The Last Crusade, Indy isn’t out for glory or knowledge; he is out to save his father. Their strained relationship doesn’t stop him from crawling through catacombs or entering into the heart of the ever-dangerous Nazi regime. And it’s not when immediate death looms over him that Indy relinquishes control of his destiny…it’s when it hovers over his father. Does anything drive us more to take leaps of faith and put our very livelihoods on the line than when someone we love is at risk or suffering? Probably not.
As I grow in my faith and my overall understanding of life, and as I connect with people very different than me, I feel compelled to revisit the category of “people I love,” and those who reside in it. There are the obvious residents: my husband, my children, our parents, our extended family, our friends and countless others. But there are some unexpected ones as well who have crept in quietly. And I didn’t know just how much I cared until they were in pain.
Last week, our church felt the impact of current events when one of our members from our Hispanic congregation was taken into custody during an ICE raid. Details are few because of the overall nature of things, but what we do know is that his family doesn’t know when or how they will bring him home. They don’t know how they will buy food without his income. The children are in danger of being placed in the care of the state. There is an aura of fear hovering over these brothers and sisters in Christ in our very midst.
This is not about politics. This is not about legality or what someone should’ve done, or anything else. This is about a hurting and suffering community. And it has hit home.
I no longer think that I have to claim any specific sort of connection with a person to call them “family.” I don’t need to know the intimate details of someone’s life in order to love them as I love myself. While those around me may view someone as “other,” I am learning that God has instructed me to call them “beloved,” and reach out my hand. It may be scary. It may be unpopular. It may be risky. It may mean walking out over a never-ending drop off with no obvious sign of a bridge. But it is required.
Because it’s personal.