"The Gospel Reloaded" Provokes Thoughts, Promotes Dialogue
- Friday, June 20, 2003
For some, the year 1999 redefined what we expected from a $7.00 ticket to the movies with the release of "The Matrix." Featuring starring roles held by well-known actors Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano, and Hugo Weaving, the film’s groundbreaking special effects and elaborate, thought-provoking storyline made the movie a massive best-seller. Everyone from sci-fi buffs to college students, and even average, everyday yuppies discussed and debated as they tried to determine what the film’s real message was.
This year, "The Matrix" story has continued with two additional installments, "The Matrix Reloaded," released last month, and a final episode, "Revolutions," to hit theaters in November. Much of the buzz surrounding the films has centered on their spiritual, theological and philosophical undertones, which are layered to an intricate depth and run the gamut of modern and post-modern influences. Among the Christian community, fans and foes of the movie have argued long and hard over whether the spiritual elements in the "Matrix" plotline merit applause or disdain.
Corralling the passionate responses that "The Matrix" movies almost always spark, and with an obvious appreciation for the process behind making a trilogy like the "Matrix" are authors Chris Seay ("The Gospel According to Tony Soprano") and Greg Garrett ("Free Bird"). In "The Gospel Reloaded," Seay and Garrett examine the many factors that created this multi-faceted and supposed jewel of a movie series, and provide a deeper look at what really is unarguably spiritual about the films. With eyes wide open to the questions and problems the films raise, the authors invite readers to draw inspiration from the truths that lie in a pop culture icon.
“When we wrote the book, we were recognizing a couple of things,” says Garrett, a Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer and English professor at Baylor University. “One was that many of the stories in the 'Matrix' have a very strong biblical core. We tried to make that clear whenever we could in the book. But we also wanted to write a book that would appeal to the mainstream viewers who were interested or intrigued by the spiritual ideas and wanted to explore them further.”
What Is Spiritual
With their sights set on sparking dialogue that can lead to deeper spiritual understanding, Garrett and Seay cover a great deal of ground from both "The Matrix" and "The Matrix Reloaded." Though they provide insight into a wide range of the influences found in the "Matrix, the authors focus primarily on the spiritual and theological concepts in the films in both its characters and plotline.
“The story of Neo seeking to rescue a world in bondage represents the Wachowskis’ attempt to bring healing to a confused world by re-injecting a common narrative. The biblical narrative and its fall from prominence have left a vacuum in the culture — a space not easily filled,” the authors argue in chapter eight(“Reinventing the Myth for Gen X and Y”).
“Before the modern era, which is to say, mostly before the Renaissance ? before people started to try and answer questions with science and logic exclusively ? we recognized that there were two ways to know things, one of which was empirical, and one of which was mythic,” explains Garrett. “So we’ve always relied on stories to tell us perhaps the most important things about where we come from and what we’re doing here. Stories, whether they’re in movies or whether they’re in Scripture, give us a model for how we’re supposed to live, and they show someone else’s experience. So a good story can inspire us, and it can teach us, and it can give us a sense of our higher purpose.”
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