How much free will do we have? When I wake up and I want a Pop-Tart, am I deciding that I would rather eat that than oat meal? Or does the way that my synapses fire and brain operates mean that all the things I “decide” are facades produced by the brain? In this week’s chapter, Boyd argues that everything we do and think is completely programmed, deciding all our outcomes. This is the reason why we find it so hard to really go after God.
Boyd describes the way we are programmed as living in “the Matrix”, an obvious allusion to the movie The Matrix. He calls the world that our brain tells us to see is a lie, and that the only way to get out of it is to surrender to Christ. To continue with the Matrix allusion, Christ is to be our red pill, for he is the only thing that can cast light on all of the lies.
Boyd stops here, because this is where his Matrix is unlike Neo’s Matrix. Breaking the matrix of illusions by surrendering to Jesus is essentially replacing one matrix for another. In the Matrix, Neo’s life only becomes more complicated when he takes the red pill. He is aware of the struggles and battles in not only in his life, but the dual worlds that he lives in. Neo and his shipmates are trying to reconcile the Matrix with the real world. Because of the truth the red pill revealed, the protagonists of The Matrix are living out what they believe: the matrix keeps us from having life.
I really struggled with this chapter. I felt like it was all about reassuring yourself that God is always with you and loving you, and all you have to do is believe this is true. Boyd stressed over and over that God loves you and if you don’t forget it, everything will be A-OK. As of this point in the book, there has been very little about breaking down people’s comfort zones. The book is aimed at making the prototypical American Christian understand how to be a Christian in their world. Could it be said that much of what middle America experiences is a facade, or matrix, in and of itself? I like how Boyd suggests that we ask what God would have us do instead of us asking “what I should do?” We are called to clothe the naked and feed the hungry; I would like to see an emphasis on breaking out of our comfort zones too look for God.
The exercises are increasingly about how to make Jesus “mine”. “Oh hey Jesus I am so glad you are with me! Everything is great now that I have you”. It feels a lot like just another flavor of individualistic Christianity. There is little on how our spirituality is tied to the community of believers we live and worship with, at least through chapter 4.
There isn’t anything on stewardship, alms, or charity. God surely is present in the poor and sick as well as the rich and healthy. Right?