“The Matrix Reloaded” and Inclusion

OK. I finished The Matrix Trilogy. Amazing stuff. To all those who are not movie watchers, if you ever decide to jump through a movie hoop, these three are worth the viewing. I am not a huge movie and TV watcher myself as I don’t have enough time (and would rather train anyway). But I think there is more in these three movies than in just about any other series that has philosphical material : Batman, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars.

In reloaded, a conversation took place between Commander Lock and Morpheus about how best to deal with the impending attack. Lock of course believes in the traditional “let’s organize our military and blast them.” Morpheus on the other hand, while not discounting Lock’s point of view, places more significance on “The Prophecy” that Neo is “The One” who is destined to save Zion during this very crisis as not only their way of life but their very exsitence is threatened. During this exchange, the following lines are said:

Commander Lock: Damn it, Morpheus, not everyone believes what you do.
Morpheus: My beliefs do not require them to.

That is an amazing response from Morpheus and reminds me of the current state of affairs in our culture. Christians think that everyone who does not “convert” is living in sin and doomed for hell. Followers of Islam think that the West is full of infidels who must be exterminated. Democrats and Republicans both stick to ideologies til death rather than genuinely cooperate. Atheists think that anyone who believes in anything other than that which is empiric and rational are idiots. And on and on and on and on and on it goes. Of course I realize that not everyone in these groups holds to such stereotypes. But there sure is a lot of it going around.

Instead, shouldn’t we all be able to sit at the same table, respecting each other’s experience, respecting each other’s beliefs, instead of telling each other where we are wrong? Instead of telling each other that we hold all the truth and you don’t hold any of it. Instead of telling each other we are going to hell or heaven based on which hoops we have or have not jumped through or that there is nothing beyond this life. Etc, etc, etc….

We all hold bits of the truth. Lock tried to tell Morpheus that his was not truth, and Morpheus countered with a response of grace that actually affirmed what Lock thought was true. He was not threatened. Man, how much better this world would be if that is how we all sought to interact, grace and affirmation with an honest hunger to know and understand each other’s truths.




22 responses to ““The Matrix Reloaded” and Inclusion

  1. I totally agree, and I want to live my life that way. I’m realizing how unaccepting I can be of people who hold beliefs that are highly different than mine.

    I was just discussing Christianity last night with a friend and said that the one thing about religion I don’t care for is when it divides people artificially. I mean when two people, who otherwise would get on splendidly, are separated by the religion.

    Honest question, pertaining to Christianity: Do you see the bible getting in the way of this kind of understanding?

    Matthew 10:34: “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.”

    Also all the warning verses about unbelief in the NT. Not that you can’t reinterpret them, or ignore them, in order to glean what you may from the bible. But it seems that you have to work against parts of the bible in order to all sit at the same table as you discussed.

    Of course, people inclined to reject others will isolate these verses or misinterpret them to justify their exclusivity or arrogance. But I’m talking about people who would otherwise be accepting of people different than them.

  2. societyvs

    “Honest question, pertaining to Christianity: Do you see the bible getting in the way of this kind of understanding?” (ATTR)

    Yes. The base assumptions one holds about the beliefs of another person will seperate the 2 in some regards.

    For example, if a Christian thinks someone that is not a Christian is part of the ‘world’ – then that taints their view of friendship with them – and even that persons credibility to some degree.

    Does it have to be that way? No – but I can admit this is pretty common. So yes, something within the NT (or bible as a whole) is about ‘seperation’.

    But like Doug I think there is more room for grace and friendship in the 21st century and people of belief and non- belief…we need this for the world to be a better place. Exclusion is a way of the past – when seperation likely needed to exist for the safety of the community.

  3. “Honest question, pertaining to Christianity: Do you see the bible getting in the way of this kind of understanding?

    Matthew 10:34: ‘Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.'” (atimetorend)

    I appreciate the honest question. It is a time to learn new truth from each other. One of the things that I have observed is that biblical passages can be used to say and justify anything we want them to. Much like statistics, the bible can be used as a tool. And I don’t believe it is intended to be used as a tool.

    I agree with you that the traditional reading of this passage, which I believe carries a fundamentalist slant, when taken by itself can be interpreted to mean that God, more specifically Christ in this instances, intends to be divisive. But if you look at in the context of the entire chapter, Jesus is really telling the disciples to be polite, generous, kind, compassionate to everyone they encounter but that because of their message, they will see resistance. And this is just what would be expected. These people were expecting a military style takeover of the Romans occupying their country and here was a message of non-violence and compassion and cooperation that didn’t mesh with that at all. Resistance to that 180 degree different message should have been expected, even in families.

    So that is my take on this passage. Unfortunately, I do agree with you that the bible sometimes seems to be a source of division. But I think that is because it tends to be used as a tool to prove different groups right or wrong. If Christ really is the complete revelation of God, then Christians should be interpreting the bible with the non-violence, peacemaking, grace, love, and compassion that was his life. When we look at the bible that way, I think the potential divisiveness largely takes a back seat.

  4. okay, so i sat with this post for a few days so i wouldn’t come on here and cuss up a storm. why? cause this post is frack’n awesome! crap! i sorta cursed, BALLS! i did it again! dammit… okay, enough with that line of joke’n.

    i’m so happy to see someone has found the philosophical awesomeness of the matrix series. but i think this gives insight to something bigger.

    i get so excited when others see something cool in something i think is cool. so i get riled up and talk to more people about what i think is cool and why. i get disappointed when i meet someone who hasn’t watched it, doesn’t think it’s cool, or doesn’t think it’s cool in exactly the same way i do. it has been a long hard lesson to learn, but i’m slowly getting it. there is grace and wisdom to be found in disagreement and we must hold loosely to our beliefs; allowing for transformation and change and dare say, resurrection to take place.

    the bird of wisdom lands in the hand that doesn’t grasp. i believe this, but my belief doesn’t require you to. RAWK DOUG! RAWK!

  5. Luke. You have no idea how impressed I am with these movies. I have all three and want to watch them all at least 2 or 3 more times. And I never want to watch movies again. Come to think of it, you probaby do understand EXACTLY how impressed I am. I even have a philosophy book dealing with “The Matrix” on order from Amazon. And I am picking through the link you sent me. Awesome. Glad you like the post. There will be more to come.

  6. FRT: “It is a time to learn new truth from each other.”
    God: “Now gird up your loins like a man; I will ask you, and you instruct Me.”
    Job 40:7

    Just a little joke there, what you said kept niggling my brain until I made the connection. ;^)

    OK, I read Matthew 10 this morning. I think you make a good point. And if the disciples are bringing peace to the people and are rejected for it, then sure, the separation Christ causes is both to be expected and should be seen as “good.” My thinking about the division caused by bible is something I will need to dig into a bit more. Read the bible more.

    But again, I am thinking of people who would get along fine otherwise, both believing in non-violence, peacemaking, grace, love, and compassion, but one thinking there is a necessary division because they see certain “truths” of the bible as essential beliefs. Those beliefs considered essential could range from virgin birth (more peripheral range of the spectrum) to Christ’s substitutionary atonement (essential end of the range).

    Now that person may use Matthew 10 as a tool as you put it, which would perhaps be an incorrect use of it. But if Christ came to bring peace, and there is no peace apart from believing in him historically as the son of God, God incarnate, sacrificial lamb for sin, then there is division perhaps in keeping with Matthew 10. Maybe a matter of interpretation, not using Matthew 10 as a tool. In which case it could be said that Christianity divides by its nature depending on what one believes about Jesus, which might make the fundamentalist slant more accurate in fact, if not in tone.

  7. Great stuff. I like your points. Excellent questions. I would answer with this…I don’t think that Christ intended for following him to be divisive. I think that it is a by product of the message of peace when a message of war is desired. But his message does not force division. It is us and how we apply it that forces the division. Any time we get to thinking that you have to believe this or that or not this or that in order to be included or excluded, I think we have taken Christ’s message to far. When did he do that to anybody other than to religious zealots? I know of no instances.

    If what we believe was God is so damn critical, then I think God would have gone to a significantly greater degree of trouble to make sure that the book that is supposed to be his “final and complete” word was clear to understand and unequivocally gathered together in a clearer process than a bunch of dudes under a Roman emperor (who had questionable motives for making Christianity the state religion) vote on the books that they thought should be included. But instead we have a book that seems poorly organized, contradicts itself, and takes a complicated set of mental gymnastics to get it to fit together in systematic way. That says to me that it is not supposed to be systematic. Knowing God in a systematic way is near idolatry in my book. It was not meant to be that way. Humanity has turned it into that because that is what we humans do. We are uncomfortable, especially in this post-Enlightenment age, with not knowing. With not having a formula. But there will always be a part of God that is mystery and unknowable. I don’t think God wants to be a system. Otherwise, he would have set himself up that way. And he didn’t.

    At this point, I don’t even know if I answered your question since I got off on a bit of a heretical sermon. Forgive me.

  8. FRT, I think the heretical sermon is important stuff. I think much of what is wrong with conservative Christianity is all the “getting saved” stuff, which depends on holding certain beliefs. Which is BS for the reasons you not in your second paragraph. I agree that does not seem to be the message of Jesus.

    I think it probably is a significant part of the NT and (parts of) the early church though, and enough of Jesus’ words in the bible can have that read into them, backwards from other parts of the NT. Through the application of systematic theology. Paul said this, so this *must be* what Jesus meant by that, etc. On a side note, I hate when bible translations do the same thing.

    So at the end of the day, I think a Christian has to do some picking and choosing in the bible in order to avoid the exclusivist, right-belief-centered doctrines. And I mean real picking and choosing at times, not only generously adapting and adopting.

  9. Truth is, by nature, divisive, but it doesn’t have to be stated in a divisive way. Jesus’ way was to enlighten and persuade. No one can be forced to believe something unless they see it and want to believe it. Jesus was lighting up truth through personal ministry, example, and stories. Only a life made attractive by love will draw people. Threats and condemnation never help.

  10. I’m not sure that agree that truth is by nature divisive. It is truth that 2 + 2 = 4. That is not divisive. It is truth that you will die if all you drink is ocean water. That is not divisive. The divisiveness comes from our unwillingness to hear the truth of another, when we close ourselves off to being open to truths that we don’t already know. I would say that doctrine by nature is more divisive than truth because doctrine, if held to too closely, can make a person unable to hear new truth.

  11. ATTR. I like what you say about reading things in “backwards.” That happens all the time. Using God and scripture as a tool is what I like to call it. Instead, we ought to be taking the life of Christ and the example he set and reading the NT through that lens. That might correct a bunch of the hoop jumping and divisiveness.

  12. “We are uncomfortable, especially in this post-Enlightenment age, with not knowing. With not having a formula. ”

    i’m pretty comfortable not knowing… although i enjoy the journey to find stuff out! and we’re always finding more stuff out, questioning the answers and all that.

    i’m not sure i get the whole “tool” analogy and all that… i think personal, daily interaction with God is more imporatant than institutional church structures, faith is a way of life vs. a system of belief, and being authentically good is more important than being doctrinally correct.

    so you can throw out the virgin birth as well as the substitutionary atonement. what is done is done, Christ LIVED for us and as a consequence died for it… and then CAME BACK! he came not to divide but to reconcile and atone and forgive. this is grace. it’s not fair, it’s free, and it’s extended to all (with no hop jump’n). our job as the church is to proclaim this good news, not spout doctrines, creeds, and vague morals.

  13. Luke. I like the way you talk. I like the phrase, “It is what it is,” which is a good way to summarize your last paragraph. No matter what we say about Christ’s death and resurrection and all that went into his life, it means what it means and as long as God understands it, and I’m sure he does, it doesn’t really matter what we say about it. I can’t help but think during these kinds of discussions that if it was so critically important what we thought about all of it, I think God might have spelled it out more clearly. We humans have turned it all into a nice little formula. If a formula was necessary, don’t you think God would have defined it? Which brings me to the tool analogy. What I mean by that is that Christians tend to do what they are gonna do and then retroactively assign God’s blessing to it claiming that God “told them” to do this or say this. Not that that can’t or doesn’t happen. But we use God and scripture as a tool to justify our actions in a retroactive fashion. We use him as the ultimate trump card.

  14. Doug and Luke

    Seems to me that if you stick Jesus in the equation you ultimately limit your view of G-d(creator). In fact it strikes me as some form of Idolatry. And doesnt the Old Testament warn against this?

  15. John. Yeah it does, and you make an interesting point, one probably that the doctrine of “The Trinity” has in mind. It will be interesting to see what Luke has to say. My dad might have some good input here if he finds this comment (I have informed him that he needs to check back after he comments so that he can offer rebuttal to the challenges that come his way). I certainly think that Christianity as a whole sometimes gets into idolatry at times with the way it treats the bible, equating it with God rather than understanding it as a book about God. But I haven’t really thought about Jesus that way. But how would a focus on Christ be any more idolatrous than a focus on Buddha or The Great Spirit etc…? Would you say they are idolatrous also?

  16. Yes Doug, I would say they all have an Idolatrous aspect to them. I find any belief in G-d that has a doctrinal element is kind of like reading the last pages of a book. You ultimately take out the mystery. Jesus to me is a rendition of a good man. I know what that is, I still dont know G-d by viewing his life only. My knowing G-d the creator is by paying more attention to all of the creation. Its mystery is what drives me more into relationship with it.

  17. John. This reveals one of the things that I like about you. It has been your privilege to discover God on your own. You have looked at the world on your own without the baggage of a system of thought placed upon you when you were a child, and by your own discovery, have determined that a God exists and that this God created all that is around us. It may not be as pure as I’ve stated here, but whether it is or not, I find that you bring this perspective to the table. And it is quite refreshing.

  18. “Seems to me that if you stick Jesus in the equation you ultimately limit your view of G-d(creator). ” John T.

    nah… if anything it adds to the view. all things are windows to the divine, you, me, my dog, my wife, your wife, my baby daughter Eve (esp. her!). Jesus is part of the Trinity because he is the best example of how to live for others and reach out to the marginalized. Jesus is the best human window to the divine.

    of course this gets into doctrine which i just decried for being stupid.. so it goes… paradox of being. here’s my view on this doctrine:

    Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (traditional lang) equals Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer (contemp. lang) which means God created and is still creating, gives us examples all the time in our relationships and esp. in the life of Christ, and God sustains through new revelations through our relationships (like on here! learning new things every post y’all do!).

    All things have an idolatrous aspect to the observer… but to the worshipper the mindset must be on symbol. take my gma for instance.

    she was a zealous Roman Catholic. every morning she’d wake up and say the rosary (or part of it), in front of a plastic statue of Jesus and her Bible. to the observer it looked as though she was worshipping the statue and book and should be stoned as an idolatress.. but for gma she knew they were symbols, windows to the divine which aided in her meditation which helped her go through her day as a woman of grace and peace.

    of course this, as Doug points out, is part of a system which can get rigid and kill off the meditation and just have boring, dry ritual. the exoteric vs. the esoteric. i think it’s good to have both.. the exoteric leads to the esoteric, the ritual gives us a glimpse of the divine.

    clear as mud?

  19. Jesus is the best human window to the divine.(Luke)

    Hmm, I guess from your perspective this may be true. The thing is we dont all see things quite the same way.

    You know Luke, I have always wondered why we actually need a redeemer? Is Jesus the best way for you to make sense of the non sensical?

  20. we always need a redeemer. as Robert Capon said, for every age there is a christ who dies for the same ends. MLK Jr redeemed us from the overt racism, Gandhi for the colonialization of India (although he wasn’t murdered as the other two). the idea of a “Cosmic Christ” put forward by Matthew Fox.

    someone who stands up and says “Hold the phone.. what’s the deal with this?” most every culture has these people, Jews call them Prophets, Greeks called them Heroes, Egyptians called them “Sons of Ra.”

  21. Hey Luke. Come start a church in Andover, KS, when you get done. I’ll be there to help you open the doors.

    I really like your Trinitarian explanation. I also like the tension with which you hold doctrine and life. The greatest truth is in the tension between the extremes.

  22. we always need a redeemer. as Robert Capon said, for every age there is a christ who dies for the same ends. (Luke)

    Now this one makes me smile and think. :)

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