"The Gospel Reloaded" Provokes Thoughts, Promotes Dialogue
- Friday, June 20, 2003
It is this ability to step back from the rich allegories which can be found, or at least derived, from the "Matrix” films and acknowledge their basic function as artifacts of popular culture apart from philosophical speculation that keeps the pace in "The Gospel Reloaded." “And really, if Keanu Reeves can aspire to spiritual greatness, why can’t anyone?” they quip candidly in the chapter on Neo’s similarity to Christ.
Ultimately, whether the book inspires greater spiritual understanding, fans the flames of moviegoers’ appreciation, or offends those who are turned off by its “R” rating, Seay and Garrett hope that "The Gospel Reloaded" will help people of faith and those still seeking to ask questions that will draw them closer to the Truth. They caution that seeking to interpret the film as a Gospel allegory will be a disappointing effort.
“Allegory is too strong [a word], and anybody who tries to think of this movie, and really most artifacts of popular culture, as ‘Christian’ is probably pushing a little too hard,” Garrett says. “The thing you can do is say, yes, this has elements of the Messianic story in it, so we can look at it and we can find symbols that help us understand Jesus better and understand our faith better. But I think if people think of 'The Matrix,' or as I said, just about any artifact of popular culture, as something that has a close correspondence with Christianity, they’re probably going to be disappointed and maybe even offended.
“What Chris and I try to do is point out what we can learn from the Christ-like elements that we see in the character of Neo, and at the same time recognize that Neo can be Christ, but he also stands for other things, and he ultimately also stands for the lead character in a popular action movie!
What Makes the Connection
“In a sense, we didn’t write the book for the Christian community, and while I think that it’s entirely possible that pastors and other vocational people will find some real inspiration and some real understanding that will help them connect to people, I think our primary hope was that we would be writing the book for the fans of the movie, Christian or non-Christian,” he continues. “Two entire generations of Americans are connecting with faith and spirituality more through popular culture than they are through just traditional religion – Gen X and Gen Y – so when we find a story like this in popular culture, and the makers of the story admit that religion and theology are one of the things that are informing the questions they’re asking, it seemed to us that this was a great way to create a sense of dialogue with people who may not be getting called to God in traditional ways.”
In chapter 14, "The Gospel Reloaded" reveals the inspiration we can all take away from "The Matrix" and "The Matrix Reloaded," as it draws an allegory from the film and gives practical application for each of us on the path to faith and freedom.
“The Christian Scriptures paint a world in which we all are slaves. The question is simple: Who or what will you serve? Or put another way, who or what owns your soul? Morpheus says that many people are not ready, and Cypher proves that some are not willing, to trade their form of slavery for truth … [Yet] we still have this much control over things, even in a world enslaved: we can decide how we will live and die, and we can choose to live rightly.”
Chris Seay is pastor of Ecclesia, a progressive Christian community in Houston, Texas, recognized for exploring spiritual questions of culture and breaking new ground in art, music, and film. Author of "The Gospel According to Tony Soprano," Seay has appeared on numerous radio and television broadcasts, including CNN and ABC News.
Greg Garrett is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-nominated novel "Free Bird," forty short stories, and numerous articles and essays on film, narrative, and spirituality. He directs Art & Soul, the nationally recognized festival of religion and the arts at Baylor University, where he is a professor of English.
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