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.

Seasons (of life)

It’s been too long since I’ve posted. I know that. Like everyone else, I get caught up in daily life. What some would call the “reality” of daily life. What I think of as the non-real. But those thoughts are for another day.

Today my thoughts turn toward life and it’s seasons. I’m really not that deep of a thinker. My thoughts have been prompted by a couple of events.

1) A close friend and the anchor of the base section of our church choir died rather unexpectedly. I say rather only because he was in his 70’s. However, despite his age, and medical situation, there really wasn’t any reason to expect a situation to arise that would claim his life in a matter of a couple of weeks. But it did. What’s more remarkable is the insight into his thinking about life that is being exposed by his family as they read through his text marking within his person Bible. Fascinating!

2) An acquaintance from church just discovered that she has stage 4 liver cancer. She was hospitalized for a completely different, and routine, procedure. Through routine pre-surgery evaluation they found the cancer. Two years is what they say.

So…

The question that comes up in these circumstances is frequently consistent. Why?

Not just why death. Not necessarily why now? But why?

Why did God create this world – our lives – and place us in an existence that will ALWAYS end in death.

I don’t mean to imply that I’m asking these questions. I’m not. I think I know what the BIG why is.

I’ve rarely spoken of it. I’ve held back. I’m not completely sure why. Perhaps because I fear exposing the fact that I have beliefs that run outside the mainstream of my church. But, at the same time, I’ve always know that the day would come.

I think that’s one reason I started this blog. It’s not for others to read what I have to say. It’s simply for me to document what I think.

It’s time. It’s coming. I need to document the WHY.

Why life?
Why are we born?
Why do we suffer?
Why do we experience joy?
Why pain?
Why die?

I think I know.

At least I have a theory that’s based on…

nothing…

just my feelings…

my impressions….

It’s time to give it a voice.

It’s not about me

On November 11 I was installed as a Deacon in my church.  In a nutshell this involves a “setting aside”.  Basically, I’m recognized as someone in my congregation who has pledged himself to serve the needs of the congregation.  The installation is simply formal acknowledgement of that.

Typically, that is.

I was also asked to deliver the message at all of our worship services for the week.  It was a task that I readily agreed to take on, but one that did not come without some significant internal self reflection.

There are so many things that I want to share with … heck, let’s be honest … with anyone who will listen.  Here, I was to have a captive audience.  But…

They were not there to hear me and my ideas.  They were there to find connection with their Lord.  They were there to praise Him for the blessings in their lives… to ask Him for continued blessings… to plead with Him for healing and intervention… to fume in anger and wonder about why He chose to take a loved one from them.

All these things…  They wanted from their Lord and God.  Not from me.

Yet…

Part of what I feel have have to share is an overwhelming sense that the answers to their problems… the solutions to their questions… the comfort for their losses… all of it… is to be found in the simple process of connecting with their God, and that I am called to be a conduit for that connection.

It truly isn’t about me.  I struggle constantly to make sure that “I” stay out of the way.  “I” have nothing to offer of myself.  What I have that might be useful comes from Him.  Heck, what I have – weather useful or not at any particular moment – comes from Him.

I work in downtown Chicago and live in the NW Suburbs.  I take the train back and forth every workday and love to complain about the commute.  The truth is – I relish that time.  If I had to drive I’d be too occupied in my mind to let it wander and I’ve discovered that it’s my wondering time that comprises the meat of my journey.

Last Thursday I was settling in for a little reading.  I was reading a recent best seller and following intently the authors train of thinking… really starting to get into it… when…

I overheard a couple of guys near me talking about their small group bible discussion.  I paused and listened.  One of them was telling the other that he was very happy with the group because it was being led by a Deacon.  He was pleased that someone with more education and understanding than a common lay leader was in charge of his group.  It made him feel … like he had access to more … authoritative knowledge.

Of course it occurred to me that I could be that Deacon.  I wasn’t.  I knew that.  But…

People in my groups could think of me in that way.  I really wasn’t prepared for the weight of that thought.  It brings responsibility.

I embarked on my diaconal studies for myself.  Not for anyone else.  I wanted to enlighten myself.  I wanted to know more.  I still do.  And yet…

I find myself leading through what I learned.

So be it.

I do understand now that I need to be careful to not be reckless.  I enjoy taking a radical view of a position and then breaking it down.  Others may not understand things that way.

So I understand that when I speak with others I need to be careful to not jump out too quickly with an obscure viewpoint.  Yet…

Sometimes the viewpoint that is mine is uniquely obscure.  It’s derived from a combination of rudimentary study, self exploration and a ton of conversation with the main Guy.

So…

Bear with me while I learn to walk the line…  To deliver what my friends, family, and fellows need in both written and spoken form…  To be the Deacon…  To lead toward discovery of spiritual reality and the paradox’s that accompany that… a wonderful world of exploration and possibility that sets us right with our Lord… In the way we need…

Join me!

————–  Update September 2013 —————

Who knew?

I am who I am.  I think that’s a concept that we all need to embrace.  Following a little logic play…

  • I am who I am.
  • I’m not who I’m not.
  • I’m not someone else.
  • I’m not anyone else.
  • No one else is me.

Why does this have any importance at all?

Because last spring I was approached by a member of my church who was intent on making a point in a very aggressive way.  It seemed that something I’d said had offended him and he was aghast that I was unaware that I’d “committed” the offense.  In the end, none of this really bothered me.  What bothered me most was that he declared that he was right to be offended because I was a deacon and should be held to a higher standard than others.

What?

Since when?

Is that what being set aside means?  That others can cast judgement upon me and measure my value with a yardstick that is different than the one they use for themselves?

I’m sorry, but I can’t – won’t – accept that.  I never made any claims to have any greater value than anyone else.  In any manner.  So why should I be held accountable to a different standard then anyone else?

I was stunned.  This was not what I wanted.

Upon reflection I realized that what I really wanted was to explore the meaning of life in my own way, and to share that exploration with others who can choose to join me if they’d like.  They don’t have to.  But, I welcome the company if they are so inclined.  That’s what being a Deacon means to me.  Not to be held up to some artificial standard of living that is defined by others who have no idea who I am.

I am who I am.

I stepped down from my official position as Deacon in my church.  But I am still Deacon Dan.  I have to be who I am.