JR. Forasteros - May 7, 2017
From Series: "Strangers in a Strange Land"
Great Science Fiction offers visions of a utopian future where humans have achieved peace and prosperity through progress. But Jesus' resurrection challenges the assumption that humans can save ourselves. In this series, we'll examine some of the most famous sci-fi visions of the future against the image of the Church we find in 1 Peter and see how the Spirit at work in us is the true hope of the world.
More From "Strangers in a Strange Land"
1999 introduced us to a film that changed the action-movie landscape forever. The Matrix essentially made animae special effects possible in live-action movies with their new bullet-time technology. Soon, every movie was using bullet-time.
But the other reason The Matrix was so popular was because of the layers of philosophy and religion the Wachowski siblings put into the script. In a world where machines have taken over the world and enslaved humanity, the main character, Neo, turns out to be a prophesied Messiah, who will go on to die and rise from the dead to inherit his impossible power. Neo is a thinly-veiled Christ-figure, with some Buddhism sprinkled in for good measure.
The film ends with Neo warning he’s going to tear down the machines, and then he flies off while Rage Against the Machine plays. It’s epic!
There were two more movies that were much less-well received, but they do reveal the Wachowskis’ larger intentions with the first film. In the sequels, we learn that Neo is a false messiah – that in fact he was the latest in a long line of false messiahs. The machines allow these false saviors to exist because it makes the humans easier to control. This “religion” Neo represents is all part of the plan.
This is a fascinating critique of religion, one that most of us are familiar with.
Karl Marx, an avowed atheist, famously called religion the “opiate of the masses”. He meant by that critique that religion is a tool the powerful use to keep the oppressed under their control.
This is something we know happens.
From the slavemasters who quoted scripture about slaves submitting to masters and being good to get to Heaven to pastors today who tell abused spouses it’s their Christian duty to submit to their abusive partners, we see the Good News of Jesus turned into weapons of injustice.
Let’s read one of those texts used to support oppression and see how texts like these were calls to liberation. (Which means we’ll also see why they’re so easy to misuse).