Friday, March 5, 2010

Alice, Neo, Jesus, and You

Afraid things will be crowded tonight at, say, the Broadway and 68th IMAX theatre if you try to see Tim Burton’s visually delightful and adventure-film-intense version of Alice in Wonderland? Then why not join me a few blocks away at 2 West 64th St., where the Ethical Culture Society will be taking a trip down a more recent rabbit hole, by watching The Matrix and then discussing its philosophical and spiritual implications?

I must go (reception 6:30, film 7) if only to cap this religious-discussion-themed week (which also included our fine, feisty Debate at Lolita Bar between Richard Spencer and Helen Rittelmeyer, in which a crowd with admittedly few Christians concluded, by not too wide a margin, that Christianity is indeed for wimps). Tonight, I must also spread the insights of my friend Read Schuchardt who has pointed out that the first Matrix movie, while invoking numerous overlapping symbol-systems and philosophies, owes a great deal of its remake-reality-to-your-individual-will vibe to the bland yet creepy Landmark Forum self-help cult, of which the Wachowski Siblings are apparently graduates.

Read correctly predicted before the Matrix sequels came out that Christians enthusiastic about the first film and its messiah narrative would be disappointed by the sequels, which, to stay true to the Forum formula, would have to end with the messiah subverted, slain, and supplanted by individuals’ own diverse efforts. No more Trinity by trilogy’s end, either.

Of course, the Forum grew out of the older self-help cult Est, which was a conscious attempt to create something like Scientology without the aliens — and to some it might seem almost as nutty for Ethical Culture to have something resembling a church without a god, but for all their flaws, I’d say both at least represent slight improvements over their source material, so I may as well check out the latter group for an evening. Icky as watered-down quasi-religions and, say, Unitarianism can be, they may be a crude glimpse of the future if humans retain the social cohesion and moral lectures that religion contains but are capable of gradually shedding specific supernatural claims for lack of evidence (as careful thinkers, with intellectual integrity and honesty, eventually must).


Sean Dougherty said...

Sounds like fun but I think it will conflict with the end of taping of Stossel’s show, which I’ll be at tonight.

Have a great time, will try to make the project on the 17th – but seriously, we’re having a networking meeting on St. Patrick’s Day in bar? In Manhattan? Wouldn’t it make sense just to make it the 18th this month?

Todd Seavey said...

Networking meeting? We’re drinking! In a bar!

Alex said...

Is there going to be an audio download of the Christianity debate? Cause I totally meant to go, but I couldn’t.

Todd Seavey said...

Later this week.

Alex said...