THE MATRIX AND ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY
(I swear, I searched long and hard to make sure nobody came up with this when the first movie came out 4 years ago, so I don’t think I’m being repetitive here!)
The premise of The Matrix – whose sequel is coming out late tonight in many markets, and tomorrow everywhere else – is that the world we think is real is merely the virtual-reality creation of the aliens keeping our bodies asleep in pods as bio-electric batteries for their machines while they take over the planet a generation or two from now. ‘Life is but a dream.’ (Nevermind the real continuity problem involved for the aliens!)
One key to Palamite, Chalcedonian, Orthodox Christianity, is that the world non-Orthodox see is NOT how God created it; that it and we got screwed-up by our own selfishness, or EGO as the Archbishop of Albania told Victoria Clark in The Far-Farers.
So, what is the reality that non-Orthodox don’t see, merely hinted at by the remaining perceptible goodness, beauty, and truth? Nothing less than the Divine Energies creating and sustaining all that is – though distinct from the Divine Essence which is unapproachable and indescribable. Oz’s “man behind the curtain” isn’t a deceptive, doddering old fool – We’ll never see the Trinity behind the curtain because the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit’s Essence “dwells in unapproachable light.” But we’ll see that Light and know it, either as God’s Radiance or a painful fire, depending on whether or not we’ve joined ourselves to God’s Energies in the here and now, or not.
God is present in His Energies, just like I’m present in my hand shaking yours, even though I am not my hand, and my hand is not me. And the matrix of reality isn’t a top set spinning or a clock wound up and ticking by their maker, but God’s Will and Activity behind every instance that exists, every nano-moment, the whole universe (or universes, if you like) from the Creation to the End. Everything except human free will and sin.
“God became human so humans could become God,” said St. Athanasius in the 4th century A.D. “Become God” not in His Essence, of course, but in His Energies, or by His Uncreated Grace. By joining ourselves to Christ’s Body in the world today, and bringing our wills willingly into conformity with His, by the power of the Holy Spirit we may become “partakers in the divine nature” even here and now, not only hereafter. And by God’s doing, we can become what he made us to be before “the ancestral sin” entered the world – Adam and Eve with God in Paradise, with Christ His Logos and Revelation.
“The West” forgot these essential Christian teachings – and their reality – because my medieval Franko-Norman ancestors were more interested in world domination than in Orthodox Christianity. They intentionally cut off Western “Christendom” from Eastern Orthodoxy, and placed the Western Church under command of their armies – which, after all, is all feudalism is. They made Western Catholicism and later Protestantism too, into gnostic philosophies, anything to keep us from the Truth. “I AM the Truth.” They blinded us from the true matrix of reality. Even Western “science” can’t find it, and distracts from Eastern Orthodoxy; after all, Science is only Latin for Gnosis. They cut us off from the Salvation that is in becoming part of Christ’s Body the Orthodox Christian Church, and built a wall of lies almost to the sky to keep us from seeing it.
What is knowledge without Wisdom, but temptation, hubris, arrogance, pride. Such knowledge/science/gnosis is a poor substitute for Wisdom. Christ is Wisdom, and Christ gives Himself to those who truly want Him. Wisdom is a Divine Attribute and Energy, but more – the Divine Logos, Incarnate in Jesus Christ our Lord and God and Savior. Knowledge doesn’t save; Wisdom saves. But you have to want it so much that everything else in your life is secondary; this Orthodox ascesis isn’t against the Created world, but very much for it! When we use and abuse the Created world without Wisdom, are we for it or against it! The world was Created a Garden; we in our sinfulness have made it a jungle.
What is Sin? Is it breaking little-known and arbitrary rules – usually sexual – set by some power-hungry celibate or social reject in Rome, or Geneva, or Canterbury, or Kalamazoo? Sin is putting anything before God, whether it’s the body, money, power, fame, human honor, convenience, lies, whatever. Idolatry, pure and simple. (Not all idols are ‘images’!!) As the Quaker George Fox said, In God we learn “the right use of the creatures.” Not ego, not self-centeredness, not me-first.
How does one know? Well, you or I are not the world’s first Christians; there’ve been Orthodox Christians for 2000 years, and this is what they have consistently found, this is their witness, that for which they literally gave their lives. They testify that with work and grace the human being’s ‘sixth sense’ is activated, the nous, in which God dwells and in which the Holy Spirit prays whether you are awake or asleep, quiet or busy. Thus Orthodox Theology is EMPIRICAL. Orthodoxy says, Don’t take our words for it, try it yourself. What have you got to lose?
This is the Good News of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures: look for it and you will see. Look behind the lies you’ve been told about “the bible,” for the Truth, the Wisdom, the Logos, the Glory, of God – the “pearl of great price,” the “treasure buried in the field.”
The story is told of a community meeting in Communist Russia one spring or early summer, where the speaker spent hours denouncing Russia’s Orthodox heritage, using all the philosophical arguments of Marx and Lenin. Then he asked, Are there any questions? And someone in the crowd replied, CHRIST IS RISEN! The rest immediately responded, INDEED HE IS RISEN!
Christ conquered philosophy, false knowledge, gnosis, in His own earthly life, and offers to do it in ours as well, and replace in us Wisdom. Reality is not what we were told, it’s something other, so much better. Look behind the lies and see the Truth they try to keep us from – the real Matrix.
CHRISTOS VOSKRESE! VOISTINU VOSKRESE!