Resurrection? The Lie Behind Living ‘Your Truth’
After watching The Matrix: Resurrections, I found myself struck by how much has changed in the 23 years since the first Matrix movie hit theaters.
Perhaps this was, in part, because both directors of the series now identify as transwomen, advocating for the need for all people to be able to define their identity. Or perhaps it was because the original Matrix followed a traditional good versus evil storyline, whereas the newest Matrix movie places good (Neo, Trinity, and Morpheus) on the same side as evil (Agent Smith).
The new enemy of the Matrix franchise? A therapist.
This isn’t to say that the film is an invective against therapy. Quite the opposite, actually. In the film, both Neo and Trinity have somehow landed in a new Matrix. The evil therapist’s job is to convince Neo to deny a deeply felt truth—that he is deeply unhappy with this world because he senses it’s all a sham.
Similarly, Trinity—who now goes by the bourgeois name Tiff and lives an aestheticized life as a mother of two, married to a New York jock-investor-type—has been tricked by the new Matrix to deny her deeply felt reality: she loves video games and riding motorcycles.
Her story calls into question not only established gendered norms, but the also the institutions of marriage and family.
Her freedom comes when she drops the name Tiff and re-identifies as Trinity. At this point, her beefy husband and harmless teenage kids become agents of the therapist, trying to kill her. She kills them all and sets herself free in the process.
The moral of the story is clear: society puts you in a cage, and you become your own worst enemy by buying into the lie. Resurrection is only possible when you break free and live your truth.
It’s an ode to self-expression. The best therapy is being true to you.
The Longing for Resurrection
It’s eerie how this story reflects real life. Think of Adele leaving her husband despite the effect on her young son, admitting that she “voluntarily chose to dismantle [her son’s] entire life in the pursuit of my own happiness.”
Or consider best-selling authors like Rachel Hollis and Glennon Doyle who train their acolytes to dissolve marriages, friendships, and relationships with anyone who obstructs their ability to be “authentic” by perusing personal happiness.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has heard friends parrot these sentiments to do things that, just 20 years ago, might have sounded devastatingly selfish, if not outright evil.
But evil has become a paper-thin abstraction: evil is anything or anyone that resists my personal definition of happiness.
I hope this isn’t an overly cynical take, but I can’t help seeing what all these self-help-gurus share: profound discomfort with their current state of being.
They all sense that something is desperately wrong with their existence and long for it to be made right.
That’s one reason I loved the subtitle for the new Matrix film, “Resurrections.” We all long for personal redemption and the restoration of life as it should be. Neo and Trinity are bodily reconstructed by robots, in a scene that speaks to a trans person’s longing to have their gender reconstructed.
But I think it also speaks far beyond that: we all share a longing for the entirety of life to be reconstructed.
And yet, so many of the things that promise resurrection in this life fall short. Adele admits that she still hasn’t found happiness. Rachel Hollis got herself canceled by taking self-definition to a bizarre extreme. And every successive Glennon Doyle book explains why the philosophy espoused in the previous book failed to bring her happiness, and why her latest experiment is sure to work.
I’ve felt the longing for resurrection more palpably in the last 2 years than ever before.
COVID not only took the lives of loved ones, but quite literally shut down society. I longed for reconstruction, and ads promised that science would fix everything by giving us revolutionary vaccines. Finally, the vaccines arrived, and it seemed I might be free again… only to be struck by variant after variant, each highlighting that—whatever the Pfizer marketing wizards may say—humans have not mastered nature.
Reality continues as it has been. The resurrection failed to materialize.
Similarly, we went through one of the most politically tumultuous elections in American history. Both sides longed for a resurrection—a grand political reordering that would set the world back into join—but both sides have been sorely disappointed. If anything, we’ve become more divided and tribalized and angry since the 2020 election, not less. Another failed resurrection.
We’ve suffered disappointment after disappointment. Every promise turns out to be a sham. Every hope a dead end. As I look around, I can’t escape the feeling that we’re all just exhausted. It’s like we’re stuck on an infinite loop, walking on a circular road full of billboards promising something better, but the exit ramp to utopia never appears. Instead, history coils into worse and worse iterations of itself.
Before I give into despair, I must remind myself that I’m only 34. I’ve only had a window into the smallest pinprick of human history. Things seem worse today than ever before, but that’s only because my “before” is very limited in scope.
We are not the only humans to experience history as a disappointing loop of false starts.
The Jews in Jesus’s day experienced something similar, though much more devastating. Between 586 B.C. and the time of Jesus, they’d undergone a cycle of oppression by four successive foreign powers: Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. At the turn of each era, it seemed as though God might finally lead them out.
But he never did.
Perhaps God, too, is a purveyor of empty promises and failed resurrections?
Breaking the Cycle of Failed Resurrection.
Fortunately, those 500 years of Jewish experience were not the end of the story. Jesus arrived during the Roman era, proclaiming that the promised resurrection—not just the reconstitution of dead bodies, but the reconstruction of reality itself—was around the corner. Then he died.
But the loop did not repeat.
Jesus came back to life. Like the first blossom on a dormant tree toward the end of winter, his resurrection whispered what was bound to come: spring. A time when the tree would explode into full bloom, and the winter would end forever. He told his followers that his Spirit would indwell them in this life to begin the slow germination of the life to come.
And I’m beginning to see, as the years cycle on, that this really is our only hope. Humans cannot break the cycle of sin, death, and destruction that make us long for something better. We need a divine intervention. We need a supernatural power.
I suspect this is what Paul meant in 1 Corinthians 4:20, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.”
Humans will fill pages with their talk and promises about how to experience happiness and fill our world. But it’s just talk. Sound and fury signifying nothing.
We need nothing less than power. The good news proven in Jesus’s resurrection is that the power is already at work, and the future we long for is already secured.
You long for resurrection. I long for resurrection. Only Jesus has the power of resurrection. And this is the true and truly good news our tired, cynical, hopeless world needs.
Come celebrate Jesus's resurrection at The Crossing this Easter Sunday. Services will be at 7:30, 8:45, 10:00, and 11:15. Visit ColumbiaEaster.com for more information.