Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Matrix and hope

I watched The Matrix with my oldest daughter last week. Sometimes the language made me flinch; the violence often did. And I also winced inwardly because she was apparently unbothered by it all. I watched the scene of Neo and Trinity storming the building to rescue Morpheus and thought of Columbine. But despite all of my reservations, I like The Matrix for its blatant philosophical musings. I love the picture it gives of a false reality and a hidden truth. I love being able to pause the tape and explain how the statement Morpheus just made has qualities of Eastern mysticism and explain what Christianity teaches. (She has learned not to roll her eyes at me too much. Such a good girl.)

When Morpheus is captured, Smith tortures him for the codes to Zion, and in the process the agent explains the origin of the Matrix. At first, the machines created a program that made everyone perfectly happy. Human minds wouldn't buy it and "entire crops were lost." Smith concludes that humans require misery...and although I didn't pause the dvd, my brain paused on this thought. I have often heard people argue that sin is necessary to the human condition, and something about that argument bothers me.

I thought through Smith's "perfect matrix." What the machines actually created was a world where people had everything that they thought they wanted. How deceptive our hearts are. I thought about how much I love expensive coffee drinks, but how horrific it would be to be given one at every turn. You can see the phenomenon of someone getting everything their heart desires in our pop culture stars: the athletes, musicians, and actors who "have it all" and seem so miserable.

We were created by Someone to need Him, to desire His purposes and His ways. Even if we don't recognize that hunger, it is real, and we think that we can fill it with things that this world offers. But the world doesn't satisfy, and when we have everything the world offers, if we are unaware of our true spiritual need, we think there is nothing else to attain. Having it "all" and still being unhappy leaves us without hope, and without hope we die.

Few of us reach the point where we have everything. Sadly, we are often content with hoping for the things of the world to satisfy us: a better job, more pay, more vacation, a new something, more expensive coffee drinks. We die without hope, but beware being tricked into mediocre living by being offered hope in something false.