Christian Symbolism

The Matrix

Matrix photo

The movie The Matrix was certainly a science-fiction/action thriller. However, many of us also found it to be deeply profound, carrying meaningful threads of thought and truth on the most intense philosophical and spiritual levels. For some, the movie was a catalyst for a fundamental paradigm shift. For me, the film helped free my mind by suggesting a new frame of reference that has allowed me to more clearly perceive truth. This page is a journal of my own observations and interpretations, from a Christian perspective, many of which are selections of posts made to various online bulletin boards.  Maybe the thoughts that follow will in some way help guide you in your own search for truth.


There Is No Spoon

Life is not what it seems!

If I have anything profound to offer on this web site, it is probably this, so don't miss it! What we consider to be the real world is in actuality just a Matrix! Our eternal self does not belong to this world. We are merely visitors in a temporary illusion known as life. "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:18) We cannot perceive the eternal realm of which we are citizens while "confined" to this life, but we are told of its existence. This is not to say that our time spent in this world is for naught. Quite the contrary. We each have a role to play and a purpose to serve while we are here.

When we, through death, unplug from this world, all that we knew as "real" will be gone. Our possessions, our career, everything. Our eyes will be opened for the first time. "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face." (1 Corinthians 13:12) Imagine the moment we "awake" and are able to look back on our previous experiences through a clear lens. Our relationships, our jobs, our fame and fortune, joys and pains, happiness and grief, will all fade into insignificance. The events in our life won't really matter anymore, at least, not in the sense we are accustomed to. As Neo said on his way to the Oracle, "I have these memories from my life. None of them happened. What does that mean?" What WILL matter, then, is who we find ourselves facing at this moment; Christ, and our fellow brothers and sisters seen for who they are for the very first time. Our real purpose in this life is to get to know the God behind the matrix, and to help others unplug from the world and plug into Christ.


Reality Verses Truth

Reality is in some sense dictated by our beliefs and our environment. Before moving on, I need to differentiate between Truth and Reality. There can be many realities, but there is One Truth. For example, to those who are plugged into the Matrix and not yet aware of it, the Matrix is reality. However, the Truth is that they are serving as a 120V battery in a pod full of green slime. If I am anorexic, then I see myself as overweight; that becomes my reality. The Truth is that I am gradually starving myself to death.

The problem, then, is when my reality is not in accord with the Truth. Either I am unaware of the Truth, or I am ignoring the Truth by conscious effort. To those who cannot see the Truth, whose eyes have never been opened (still in the pod), there is no choice. That is to say, the only choice available is one reality over another, one Matrix or another if you will. Yet there can be an awareness, a searching for the Truth. God has planted within each human the desire for purpose, for meaning; a thirst for the Truth. As Trinity whispered to Neo, "It's the question that drives us."

The Truth, once perceived,  may not be to our taste. It may not always be convenient or pleasant. It may require sacrifice and hardship. Was the truth, the real world, what Neo expected at all? If he had known what his first days in the real world were going to be like, would he have still taken the red pill? Cypher admits he would not, "Why didn't I take the blue pill!" What made this sacrifice (of the bliss of ignorance) worthwhile? If he was to spend the rest of his days eating tasteless glop and running away from sentinels in underground sewers, with no other purpose than to exist as a post-coppertop, he would likely regret his decision each and every day. What kept Neo going was his purpose, his destiny as the One.

When we turn from the Truth and return to pseudo-realities, it is either because we fear the hardships and responsibilities that freedom brings, or we lose sight of the higher purpose we serve as one "unplugged", or we just plain find the truth unpalatable. Consider the Matrix of New Age philosophy; that we are all divine and that the path to immortality is whatever you want it to be. Which reality is more appealing, that I am a lowly sinner in need of grace and redemption, or that I am god? When seeking the Truth we are often confronted with painful questions, whose answers may be just as painful.


Science Verses Spirituality

Another perspective from which the entire film can be interpreted: the AI represents the followers of science (governed by logic, deduction and rigid principles); Neo and the resistance represent the followers of spirituality (governed by faith in a higher power, compassion and love).

Science has become the Matrix of choice for many. Most people will accept as fact (as reality, or Truth) any statement made by anyone associated with the scientific community. Why is this so? Because science is supposedly based on objective principles and verifiable data. The scientific method: form a hypothesis (a model), perform experimentation and gather data, and evaluate the model against the results.

However, to what extent can any model be proven to be a perfect representation of that which it seeks to describe? At best, the model may reasonably predict reality under certain conditions and based on a set of assumptions. Chaos theory tells us that most systems are too complex to be represented by such models. There will always be unexpected perturbations in the system that have no apparent cause, and that drastically affect outcomes. (Weather prediction is a good example of this).

So, what most people believe to be "proven" scientific theory is really just accepted hypothesis. Now, belief in something which cannot be proven is "faith"! It takes just as much faith to believe in the "big bang" theory that is does to believe in "creation" theory!

Many people "believe", or accept, science because they are TOLD to! Thus, science becomes a Matrix; a virtual representation of reality that prevents "external" perceptions of the Truth.

What is extremely ironic is the scientific ridicule of mysticism. Because there are events that cannot be explained be current scientific theory (spiritual healings, Jesus walking on water, etc), science declares such events to be "ridiculous" and attributes them to myth or hallucination. In other words, the scientific method is abandoned and hypothesis are accepted as fact despite evidence to the contrary! In order to justify itself, science relies on faith! Ha!

The truth is that these "supernatural" events reveal the shortcomings of the model. Only when we allow ourselves to question science do we begin to free our minds from this Matrix.


A Metaphor for the Holy Spirit

Despite an awareness of Truth, we are unable through our own powers of intellect to know or accept the Truth. We cannot "unplug" ourselves from the reality of this world, as represented by the Matrix. Matthew 13:13 "Though seeing they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand."

Somewhere it is mentioned in the film that Neo has been searching for Morpheus for the last couple of years, while Morpheus has been searching for Neo his whole life. If we view Neo as the person rather than the One, and Morpheus as God the Father, we have a nice metaphor for the relationship between God and man. God desires to have a relationship with us, from before we were born even. He is reaching out to us our whole lives.

When we seek God, he will reveal himself to us. "Seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened..." Notice how Morpheus first contacted Neo (through Trinity, the Spirit) rather than the other way around. This was done via the computer screen when Neo is first introduced. "Wake up, Neo! The Matrix has you!" Translated, "wake up, sin has you!" God reaches out to us first.

It is interesting that this scene is followed by "Knock, knock...", then the door to Neo's apartment is opened. This moment is critical because the invitation is extended to Neo to join the group, and thus "follow the white rabbit." It is this decision that paves the way for Neo to eventually establish a relationship with Morpheus. When Christ knocks on the door to our hearts, he follows with an invitation to "follow him"! If we do, we will enter into a relationship with the Father.

Only God can "unplug" us by the working of the Holy Spirit within, realigning our hearts and minds and opening our eyes for the first time. The Holy Spirit acts like the red pill, the trace program that Neo swallowed, which altered his input/output carrier signal. It was this change in his system that allowed him to "awaken" and perceive the truth. Now, as a "free moral agent," he has the choice to accept and live by the Truth, or to follow Cypher and plug back into the Matrix. See Luke 8: 12-15.


Fate, Destiny and Free Will

The Oracle knew that Neo was the One. She predicted his death as Thomas Anderson and resurrection as the One. Why did she seem to imply he was not the One? Consider the scene when Neo breaks the vase. The Oracle could not tell Neo he was the One, for the reason that Neo would then begin to think he was the One and act like he was the One. In doing this he would be distracted from ever KNOWING that he was the One. The truth of his nature had to be self-discovered from within. The significance of the vase was to provide a parallel for this critical point. Because the Oracle told him he would break the vase, he did! Self-fulfilling prophecy!! The Oracle needed him to BE the One rather than trying to BECOME the One.

Was Neo's future therefore determined? Was he not "in control of his own life?" Was he thus dispossessed of free will?

The role did belong to Neo, but he had to consciously accept that role all the same. The oracle could "see" the future in the sense that she could perceive the choices that Neo would make; that Neo would, at some point, accept his destiny. As Morpheus says, "I can only show you the door, you must go through it."

Notice the frequent symbolic use of doors in the film.
*Neo chooses to answer the door and follow the white rabbit.
*He declines to flee the office building through the exterior window (just a different type of door)
*He enters through the car door to be taken to Morpheus, and later decides not to exit the car.
*He enters the door to the apartment when meeting Morpheus.
*He enters the door to see the Oracle.
The list goes on. Thus, fate becomes a path which leads us through a sequence of doors; at each door we must make a decision, and each door that is opened leads to another door. This series of doors will describe a unique path for each person, our destiny. The gift of the Oracle is the ability to see through all the open doors, and therefore know the future by knowing each decision that is made.

Each of us creates our own future, moment by moment, one decision after another.   I believe we have complete and unrestricted free will. As each decision is made, a path is created. At each moment of our lives we face an infinite number of choices, an infinite number of doors, any one of which we choose to open. As we progress through life, we leave a "trail" of these open doors representing our decisions. To someone who is able to perceive the entire trail from birth to death, my life becomes predictable, in fact predetermined if viewed from the beginning!  I therefore define my fate, my destiny, to be this path.


A Metaphor for the Duality of Christ

The quotation "You seem to be living two lives, Mr. Anderson," led me to consider the duality of Christ. Christ, being both fully man and fully God, did possess two distinct natures and exist on two different planes. One the one hand he was a part of this world, subject to its laws and manifestations. He "obeyed the system" so to speak. On the other hand he is above this world, with the knowledge and power to create and/or manipulate this world as he pleases (although it wasn't until later in his earthly life that he began to reveal those powers). Similarly, Neo lived as both a follower of the system (Thomas,  an employee of a respected firm) and as a hacker (in opposition to the system). It is interesting that Christ was considered a criminal by many, and ultimately put to death as such. As Neo pursued his "hacker nature", his true powers as the savior began to manifest themselves.


A Metaphor for the Struggle Against Sin

Consider the scene where Neo is at the office and the agents come looking for him. Morpheus, via the cell phone which arrives just in the nick of time, provides Neo a means of escape through the window to the scaffolding. A metaphor for God's promise to always provide a means of escape from temptation.

Sin (the agents) often "comes for us" when we least expect it. God promises a way out. 1 Corin 10:13: "But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." This "escape route" may be difficult, it may require faith, and it may come at the last minute. Neo had the will but not the faith. He was afraid of falling. The result was that he surrendered to the agents and experienced the consequences (the interrogation scene).

What often keeps us from avoiding temptation is our own fear of falling; we convince ourselves we are not able to resist and expect ourselves to fail. We stop listening to God and concentrate on our own weaknesses, just as Neo dropped the phone (his communication line with Morpheus), took his focus off the scaffolding, and turned his eyes downward to the street. I guess the scaffolding could represent the Word. If we surrender to sin, the consequences will be painful (if not to our body, then to our soul). Sin will "infect" us like a bug, separating us from God. Just as Neo had to be debugged before he was permitted to see Morpheus, we must be cleansed of sin to enter into the righteousness of a holy god.