Inspiration from the Movies

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

I love movies, although I no longer have the time to devote to watching as many of them as I’d like. In a few years, when I retire, I hope to correct that problem.

Movies aim to elicit feelings, not thoughts, but sometimes feelings actually lead to critical thoughts. Take, for example, the Indiana Jones movies; while “The Search for the Lost Ark” was wonderful, the “Last Crusade” was important. It touched on some lessons that we don’t teach in schools, but are critical nevertheless.

Indian Jones, a fictional archeologist from the time when archaeologists were more “pot hunters” than scientists, seeks the Holy Grail—the cup Jesus drank from at His last meal. To reach the grail, he must pass three challenges:

  • The Breath of God – “Only the penitent man will pass.”
  • The Word of God – “Only in the footsteps of God will he proceed.”
  • The Path of God – “Only in the leap from the lion’s head will he prove his worth.”


What can we learn?

“Only the penitent man will pass.”—None of us are perfect, and we must be sorry for how we’ve hurt one another.

“Only in the footsteps of God will he proceed.”—God has given us direction through so many means, all of which come down to, “Love God above all things, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

“Only in the leap from the lion’s head will he prove his worth.”—It takes faith to live, grow, and do good in this world. Logic alone is not enough; logic applies only to this world, while faith touches the next.

God, in his infinite wisdom, touches us through scripture, religious communities, and even the movies. But then, since He is God, why wouldn’t He?

It’s Really No Surprise

In a country in which internet news stories encourage readers to post sarcastic—but anonymous—comments; where “professional” journalists try to outshout one another; and people want to raise a monument to a fictional high school teacher turned meth dealer, can it be a surprise that people are uncivil?

In a country in which children are raised on violent video games and movies with more rounds fired and explosives detonated than by Seal Team Six, can it be a surprise that people resolve their differences with drive-by shootings?

In a country which finds it entertaining to watch a sport in which up to two-thirds of the participants end up suffering traumatic brain injury or are entertained by staged “reality” TV programs in which the contestants lie, cheat, and steal to win, can it be a surprise that people lack empathy?

On the other hand, isn’t it something to not be shocked when someone holds open a door, says thank you, or offers to help when you drop something? Isn’t it something to see people lined up to donate blood, volunteer to help out in a disaster, or donate a kidney? Isn’t it something to see young men and women volunteer for the military, or the Peace Corps, or become a first responder for their community?

People may casually say, “There, but for the grace of God, go I,” but perhaps there’s a lot more truth in those words than we know.


School? Days

Here in beautiful Virginia, school is not allowed to start until after Labor Day. Why? Because Virginia is an attractive area to visit with our beaches, historic sites, and, of course, outlet malls. Keeping high school kids employed at their (minimum wage) jobs until the end of tourist season is important. Economically it’s kind of like slavery, only kinder and gentler.

Colleges on the other hand, are under no such restrictions, so tuition payments were due several weeks ago and fall semester starts next Monday. This means that moving day is this weekend. The outcome is that the tourists have almost three weeks during which they no longer have the “A” team (college kids) serving them, but have to settle for the “B” team (high school kids).

From a business standpoint, I see this as a great risk. What if the cotton candy or funnel cakes at the amusement parks do not meet the same fine standards? Will Virginia Beach’s salt-water taffy and candy shops be able to maintain their quality? What about the hermit crab, tacky tee-shirt, and cheap sunglass industry? Will it survive? All it takes is one bad experience and the tourists will all head to Nebraska to spend their vacation dollars.

I sense a plot. The Chinese are probably secretly dumping shiploads of sand on the outer banks with the intent to construct islands, claim them as Chinese territory, and build factories to produce cheap, genetically altered hermit crabs and tee shirts with misspellings like “SEKS.” They plan to introduce these products at lower prices to undercut the cheap Chinese products our Virginia vendors sell. This could lead to ruination.

However, I have hope! I also believe that this year’s election antics are a carefully scripted performance orchestrated by the CIA to dissuade the Chinese from coming anywhere near our shore.

It seems to have worked so far.

Star Wars – The Saga Pauses

Kenny Baker, the diminutive actor who brought R2-D2 to life died today. An accomplished entertainer, he did not want to be stuffed into a metal can for a movie that everyone thought would be a non-event.

However, they needed him. He was small enough, strong enough, and old enough to work the long hours required. He relented, the rest is history. (Check out the picture)

C3PO: “I don’t think he [Luke Skywalker] likes you.”

R2D2: “beeemmmm”

C3Po: “No, I don’t like you either.”

But, actually, we all did. Thanks, Kenny. You were a giant in this life—it’ll be even better in the next.    

Kids are Gross!

Not to mention expensive and time consuming.

However, they’re best at being gross. How do I know this?

I was once a kid.

Some of the songs and commercials we parodied included:

Bosco—a chocolate flavoring. We corrupted their commercial so that it was poison, but we “fooled momma and put it in her tea. Now there’s no more momma to try and poison me!”

Funerals—It started with “When you see a hearse go by . . .” and ended up with a disgusting description of post-burial events; the last line was “Then you have supper for the dead!”

Today’s disgusting behavior is more web-based, but other than that, not so different from when I was growing up. Therefore, I have no choice but to accept that.

Now if I could find a cure for the expensive and time consuming parts, I’d be happy.

Words to Live By

The words of David’s son, Qoheleth, king in Jerusalem: Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!
What profit have we from all the toil which we toil at under the sun?

One generation departs and another generation comes, but the world forever stays.


Coincidentally, this was today’s first reading at Mass; this same day, my father-in-law, Dan died. He and his wife had been living near us for the past year and a half. My wife wanted them to have the best quality of life they could, and she devoted time and energy to medical appointments, prescriptions, and whatever else contributed to their lives. Dan bundled up and sat in the stands to watch soccer games. We had cookouts. He watched LSU football (on tleveision) with us. He loved opera, and we shared performances.


I think Qoheleth (whoever he was—some believe it was Solomon) was pretty much correct, but not perfect. It’s not the world that stays forever, but us. We move from this life into the next, and long after the world is gone, we continue.


So, to Qoheleth I say, thank you, but remember also, “Where your treasure is, there also is your heart.” Our toil under the sun isn’t wasted if it is to serve God and others. My treasure is my God, my faith, my family, and my values—and that’s where my heart is.

Peopled Out

Like most introverts, from time to time I get peopled out, and for introverts “people” includes pets—after all, we count them as family, so they’re pseudo-people.

Regardless of what we introverts do for a living, there’s a huge difference between what we do, and who we are. There are the roles that we play to earn a paycheck—doctor, lawyer, assistant manager at Radio Shack or whatever. We interact with others according to the expectations of the job. However, at the end of the day, in order to recharge, we introverts withdraw and seek solitude.

I don’t see any reason that actors can’t be introverts, although since I don’t know any actors, I can’t prove that.

Simon and Garfunkel sang, “I have my books and my poetry to protect me.” In my case, it’s technical articles and a soldering iron.

Oddly, there seems to be a heightened chance of being peopled out around the time of the political conventions, but it’s probably coincidental.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against people, in fact, some of my best friends are people. However, people like me better when I’m recharged.

I’m going rename my office/radio room/workbench as my laboratory. So, if you’ll excuse me, I shall now retire to my laboratory. Alone. To recharge.