Last week I began the process of fixing a major issue in my life – never having watched the Indiana Jones series. I explained here that Raiders of the Lost Ark left me a bit unsettled as I didn’t think anyone truly understood the purpose of the Ark and how to use it, which for me, translated to how many people don’t fully utilize the gifts and graces bestowed upon them.
This week I watched Temple of Doom, first released in 1984. This is the second film of the Indiana Jones saga, but it takes place before the events of Raiders of the Lost Ark. I don’t know why. Anyway, Harrison Ford returns as Indiana Jones, entering into the dark and dangerous world of an ancient Indian cult, with a reluctant Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw) and kid-sidekick Short Round (Jonathan Ke Quan) by his side.
Temple of Doom is well-known for being a much darker film, and even inspired the PG-13 rating due to its violent elements. And it is rough to say the least. We’ve got worship of evil demons, hearts being ripped out, and people being burned alive, just to name a few. I cringed as Indy chanted along and assisted in the attempted sacrifice of his counterparts, oblivious to how his mind was poisoned in the scene before. It physically hurt to watch them fight again and again to escape. As soon as one obstacle was cleared, another fist came flying. I seriously wanted them to give up. I couldn’t take it. I kept repeating to myself, “why do they keep fighting? I think I would let them kill me.”
But they don’t give up. Indy and Willie and Short Round are driven to not only survive this ordeal, but Indy in particular is committed to completing the task that lead him into such danger in the first place. And it’s for something he doesn’t even believe in.
You see, a small village population in the remote mountains of India was suffering. A sacred item was stolen, and immediately everything went wrong. Their wells dried up and crops withered. Animals perished and children disappeared. The community knew it was tied to the stolen item, and they counted on Indy to retrieve it.
As we learned in Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indy doesn’t always share the belief as to why something is so valuable: instead, he places his own value on it. This is once again evident in Temple of Doom, as what he is retrieving is, to him, really super cool. He’s not necessarily convinced as to the full power of it, yet he does recognize that those who long for the return of this particular stone consider it something invaluable to their survival. And when push comes to shove, that is enough to drive him.
I can only speak to my own experiences, but perseverance doesn’t come easily for me. Call it attention deficit, call it impatience, call it laziness – whatever you call it, there have been many times when I just don’t feel like continuing. I question the validity and importance of whatever it is I’m trying to accomplish and after a while, seek ways to “get out of it” so I can move on. But I am noticing that the current state of affairs in our world doesn’t allow for that kind of attitude anymore. We need conviction now more than ever. But I’m not talking about conviction of a particular faith or belief. I mean conviction in that what we are fighting for is worth it.
I am observing that while those who are passionate about preserving or reclaiming something for themselves may have a pretty strong case, it’s those who are fighting for the sake of “the other” that have a drive to push past physical comfort and personal belief, and instead risk taking a beating similar to Indy’s so that they may see the other fully restored to peace. I see them as people walking in the posture of Jesus without even knowing it.
And I see that I need to do the same.