Built for the Truth

You know what’s always bugged me? That guy in The Matrix. The first one. The one who betrays all his friends so that he can back into The Matrix.
There is a lot that bugs me about him. I don’t like the way he sells out his friends for his own selfish needs. But there is something else that bugs me even more: I can’t come up with a logical reason why he shouldn’t want to get back into The Matrix.
A thought experiment: What if he didn’t have to betray his friends? Or shift the focus a little bit. Earlier in the movie, Morpheus offers Neo his choice of two different pills. One of the pills would pluck him out of the world he had always known, the matrix. The other would allow him to see the world as it is.
Why do we admire Neo for stepping out into the truth?
Sometimes, being disconnected from reality, in the long term, leads to suffering. I don’t think this really explains it, though. Our desire for truth isn’t conditional. We don’t generally say “I want to know the truth if my ignorance is going to end up hurting me in the end.” We basically say, “I want the truth.”
Even the fact that we fight so hard to maintain our delusions doesn’t really detract from this. The question I am thinking about isn’t “Who would we actually be like: Neo or the guy who goes back into the matrix.” The question is “Who would we want to be like: Neo or the guy who betrays them?” Even if he hadn’t betrayed them, I think we admire and want to imitate Neo in the little things and in the big things.
Many ethical systems want to claim that we are seeking amusement, pleasure, satisfaction. They claim that the good is in what ever maximizes these. The bad is in whatever diminishes them.
While we do so many things to feel some version of warm & fuzziness inside, it seems like there is a more basic drive to who we are. It seems like we know that our desire for truth should come first. At our best, we act on this.
This is why we hope we would hang out with Neo in the real world, and not enter into the matrix. This is why we ask the hard questions. This is why we watch movies like “Hotel Rwanda” and “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.” This is why we might choose to not shop at Wal Mart or boycott Coffee that was not purchased at a liveable wage. This is why we value those friends who have the wisdom and courage to tell us what we need to hear, not what we want to hear.
I believe that we humans are weak and broken. I believe that we are not the center of the universe. I believe that we owe something to the being that created us.
Even if a thorough understanding of our nature didn’t carry other benefits, I believe we are hard-wired to seek out truth ahead of nearly everything else. Even if there were no other benefits, until we find this relationship, we would still be left looking, and seeking, knowing that there is something more.


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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