Those Days Have Come and Gone

Michael Metzger

Sad songs say so much. So do sad sequels such as Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.

It’s a sad state of affairs when Hollywood resorts to sequels to keep moviegoers interested in its films. A recent example is the latest installment in the Indiana Jones series: Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. Harrison Ford, who is 80 years old, plays a creaky Indiana Jones.

Disclaimer: I haven’t seen the movie, nor do I plan to. What I did do was google Dial of Destiny. The movie is primarily set in 1969. But in a flashback to 1944, de-aging technology makes Ford look like the 30/40-something-year-old Indy of the original trilogy. Later in the film, Indy admits: “Those days have come and gone.” They sure have.

Hollywood seems to be the last to get the message. Dial of Destiny cost $294 million to make. It grossed a total of $11.69 million in ticket sales in its debut (June 30), $60 million domestically in its 3-day opening weekend and another $70 million internationally. The film is likely a financial loss, as only 9% of viewers recommend it to friends and family.

Compare this lack of enthusiasm with Sound of Freedom, released the same weekend as Dial of Destiny. It’s based on the true-life story of federal agent Tim Ballard who set out to rescue a young girl from child traffickers. Disney acquired the rights to the film in 2019 but decided to shelve it. It was shopped to Amazon, then Netflix. Both passed. Angel Studios, a small film company in Utah, bought the rights. It used crowdfunding to raise the 14.5 million needed to make the film. Sound of Freedom grossed a total of $14.24 million in its debut, nearly $3 million more than Dial of Destiny. Sound of Freedom went on to earn over $40 million in its first week.

The film is, however, not without its critics. And there’s a lot controversy around the real-life Tim Ballard being played in the film by Jim Caviezel, a Christian. But I think Sound of Freedom, even with its critics, reminds us of how sad sequels, like Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, say so much. They say those in power, in this case, Hollywood filmmakers, are often the last to recognize when their days have come and gone. Sound of Freedom bypassed fading Hollywood power brokers, appealing directly to people of faith.

Which brings me to a surprising book that a friend recently sent me: From Christendom to Apostolic Mission: Pastoral Strategies for an Apostolic Age. I say “surprising” because the author is Catholic, Monsignor James P. Shea. “Apostolic Mission” sounds like what we would call evangelism, does it not? From a Catholic? You bet. This is one of the best books on evangelistic methods out there because it recognizes the last 1,500 years of Christendom are over. Those days have come and gone. So has the efficacy of our resources based on a Christendom view of society. Shea says we need new evangelistic resources suited to the times in which we live.

This week I’m in Denver, meeting with a group of leaders looking for such tools. I’m hopeful because, more often than not, leaders of Christian institutions—Catholic or otherwise—are often the last to recognize when the efficacy of their resources has come and gone. We who love Christ can do better than that. My hope is these leaders in Denver will do better.


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