Theology and – Indiana Jones?!

Check out this insightful article from Fr. Dwight Longenecker, readers!

The Theological Theory of Indiana Jones

By Dwight Longenecker

January 3rd, 2016

Is it possible that the popular Indiana Jones trilogy is a cleverly-structured, well-thought-out, theologically-astute analogy of the Christian spiritual quest? I do not suggest that it is an allegory, and I realize it is always possible to read too much into popular film and fiction, but might there be more meaning there than meets the eye?

J.R.R.Tolkien grew weary of readers who insisted that The Lord of the Rings was an allegory about World War II or the Cold War. In the introduction to his masterpiece Tolkien insisted, “I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence. I much prefer history—true or feigned—with its varied applicability to the thought and experience of readers. I think that many confuse applicability with allegory, but the one resides in the freedom of the reader, and the other in the purposed domination of the author.”

When Tolkien vociferously denies that LOTR is an “allegory,” he seems to be denying that it is a fable: that is, he is reacting against stupid people who were inclined to say, “The ring is the atomic bomb. The Shire is England. Minas Tirith is the United States. Mordor is Nazi Germany. Isengard is Fascist Italy. Wormtongue is Neville Chamberlain. Eowyn is Vera Lynn.”

C.S. Lewis also denied that his Narnia stories were allegorical, but did not deny his intent for the stories to bear a theological reading. He used the word “analogy” to explain how the Narnia stories reflected an underlying theological system. Can the same kind of analogy to truth be detected in the Indiana Jones films? Let me give it a try.

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