The unintentional theology of the Matrix

Search the interweb and you’re bound to find posts regarding the Wachowski brothers 1999 film The Matrix and it’s theological underpinnings.  Some have suggested that the movie carries hidden themes that are Christian, others say it’s Buddhist, and still others insist it’s pagan throughout.  When asked about it the Wachowski’s have managed to allow everyone to believe what they want.  Which is a great way to hype the film of course.

I was pondering the nature of spirit the other day — yes, it’s actually something I ponder — and for some reason made a connection to the Matrix story.  I don’t think the authors had my thoughts in mind when they wrote it, but it turns out it serves as a good metaphor for what I’ve been turning over in my head.

Through many of my musings on this blog I’ve taken some time to explore the paradox we can find built into so many aspects of creation.  We need look no further than our human existence for one example.

Most people I’ve talked to, regardless of their particular belief in an afterlife, do believe in the concept of the soul.  I’ve even come across some who say they don’t believe in an afterlife at all, yet to do believe in a spirit life — hauntings, residual engeries – that sort of stuff.

I’ve long believed that our nature as humans was dualistic.  Both physical and spiritual – each with it’s one view of existence.  I think that most people today can easily relate to the physical being.  The world we live in has a physical rhythm that is difficult to ignore.  But, at the same time I feel that we are at our root spiritual beings.

From time to time I ponder a particular question in this regard:  I acknowledge that I’ve lived my life from a physical viewpoint and perspective first with spiritual second.  What would it be like if I were able to flip those around and live from a spirit first perspective?  What would the world look like?  What would life look like?

While thinking about this it occurred to me that I could use a concept from the Matrix movie as a metaphor for this idea.

What if …

My real existence – true reality – is spiritual rather than physical.  The physical world, and consequently my humanity is designed as a container for my soul.  The physical world becomes my matrix.  If I manage to “unplug” from the physical, everyday world around me, I enter the world of spiritual first – a world where every thought and action is derived from a completely different point of view.

Like Neo, I choose the red pill.  I choose to go down the rabbit hole.  To try and be spirit aware foremost and to pass every conscious thought through that filter.  It occurred to me just now as I was writing this that there may be other evidence that this is the real state of existence.  Could dreams, dream states, extremely intense sessions of creativity, and other “altered states” be windows into the truth that we are meant to be unplugged from the trap that the physical world keeps us in.  Certainly we have to still acknowledge it as long as we are breathing, but do we have to put it first?  I don’t think so.

It also just occurred to me that Altered States is another movie that might have some metaphorical value when contemplating the paradox of my existence in this world.

Reframing Jesus – what a wild ride!

So, looking back, we’ve tried to understand our global crises. We’ve consolidated various lists into a model of human society as a machine with three subsystems or mechanisms — prosperity, equity, and security. We have situated this societal machine within the ecosystem of Earth, and we have understood it to be driven by a dominant framing story in which many narratives or subplots nest and interact. And we have raised the possibility that Jesus’ message might be seen as an alternative framing story that, if believed, could save the system from suicide. To test this possibility, we will need to consider the possibility that “Jesus” as we have understood him has himself been domesticated and made part of the dominant framing story. For Jesus to save the system, we must first, in a sense, save Jesus — by reframing him outside the confines of our dominant and largely unquestioned assumptions.

Brian D. McLaren
Everything Must Change
When the World’s Biggest Problems and Jesus’ Good News Collide

Amazing stuff!