May 11 -
May 16, 2003
Friday 16th May, 2003
Is Matrix Reloaded
(filmed here in Australia) Christian allegory? Evangelistic tool? Or
Here’s the BBC’s
Neo's mission, foretold by prophets, is to reveal the truth
that will set humankind free. And if that's not messianic enough for you, he
gives his life for others and then rises from the dead more powerful than
ever. He even ends the movie ascending to heaven….
But where the jury is really out is on the spiritual
message of the film. What does The Matrix "believe"?...
For a start, there is no idea of sin, repentance, or
forgiveness in The Matrix. Instead people just need to be liberated
from illusion, which seems more Buddhist than Christian….More seriously,
there is no God in charge. Instead their lives are ruled by "fate". Again,
this is more Buddhist than Christian.
The BBC website invites
readers’ comments. Here are a few:
- The Christian Rhetoric in the original Matrix film
was quite clear. The message is a message of hope and that is basically a
Christian message. But the film can only be an allegory for Christianity. It
is not a Christian film; it is a Sci-Fi film with a Christian message of
hope at its core.
- The Matrix
brings a message of hope... to everyone except other film-makers. Why bother
guys? Seriously. Retire now. You just aren't going to make a film as good as
- Nah, I still say it's about "guns, lots of guns".
- As a Muslim, the one thing from the original Matrix
I found to be in alignment with my religion was the amazing scene when Keanu
actually "wakes up" and sees the world for what it is. As Muslims, we
believe that the life of this world is, in effect, like a dream. It will
pass us by in the blink of an eye. Hence, we should use our time here wisely
and not get too caught up in material things or idle life but excel in
prayer and spirituality to realise that this life is merely a stepping stone
and a test prior to what comes after.
- What about all the Alice in Wonderland references?
The pills, the tunnel, the white rabbit, the mirror, alternative
- I'm sure that Mother Teresa, the Pope, Mahatma Ghandi,
Siddhartha, Mohammed, and Confucius have a lot in common with a movie in
which more than half the time is spent on explosions.
Land of Dreams
self-proclaimed biggest fan of Southern Gospel music, I have the pleasure of
receiving occasional emails from fans in the
The latest is from Lori Brainard, of
The Brainards. She invites me to take a look at the group’s very
attractive new website and to listen to a song from their latest CD “Land of
Dreams”. They’re great. Check them out.
I have just received the
Christian Monitor newsletter, covering the persecuted church. It was
especially concerning to read of renewed violence against Christians in the
The newsletter is a
resource that I highly recommend. And they need help, from Christians
anywhere in the world. Go to their
Help Out page for more detail.
Wednesday 14th May, 2003
I’ve spent the past hour
on a virtual tour of Malaysia, thanks to
Irene Q, a Christian journalist (like me) who blogs from there. Hers is
a lovely blog, full of moving personal reflections on her struggles to
follow Jesus, along with snippets of information on life in
and links to other bloggers.
Did you know there’s a
new Malaysian blog called
Old Testament Passion? What a great name (and it’s a great blog, too).
It’s from a pastor and seminary lecturer.
Ikan Bakar (it means “grilled fish”) is a blog from a 22-year-old
medical student, Fooji, who will put to rest any notions you had that the
people of Malaysia are all too cowed to say anything critical of their
country’s leadership. I was fascinated by this blog and by a couple of
others that he operates, including
Zeal.com, a journal of his “Christian inclinations”.
I’ve been to
several times. It’s a fabulous place. I run a small weekly Bible study group
at my home, and three of the participants are Chinese Christians from
Malaysia. They tell wonderful stories of the growth of faith in their
country, despite restrictions on evangelism.
It seems to me the
revival in Christianity in China is spreading to other parts of the world.
Here in Australia, for example, Chinese congregations are booming, in the
midst of a general Christian malaise. But in Malaysia it’s thriving in a
Muslim country, and that’s unique.
I once read of a survey
of migrants to Australia which said that those from Malaysia had fewer
adjustment problems than just about anyone else. That’s because Malaysia is
a multi-cultural country, like
But it’s also a
multi-faith country, and, by and large, a democracy. If the people there
don’t get distracted by radical Islam, or by their “let’s blame the West for
our problems” leaders, they have the potential to create one of the globe’s
most exciting countries. Watch Malaysia. I think it’s one of the countries
of our future.
Tuesday 13th May, 2003
A couple of decades ago,
living in Tokyo and trying to write thrillers, I came across a book called
The Big Fix, a Moses Wine private eye mystery. I was riveted.
In smooth, effortless
prose, author Roger Simon created an atmosphere that held me to the end. It
connected at many levels, not least because my father was a Jewish Communist
(in New Zealand) and I, like Moses Wine, was something of a disillusioned
‘60s political activist.
The book’s opening is a
The last time I was with Lila Shea we were making love in
the back of a 1952 Chrysler hearse parked across the street from the
Oakland Induction Center.
Tear gas was seeping through the floorboards and the crack of police
truncheons was in our ears.
I don’t know how many
times I read that first chapter, trying to deconstruct it and then somehow
imitate it in my own writing. It was even better than the other first
chapter I was then trying to deconstruct, Graham Greene’s The Quiet
The fact that I didn’t
get my fiction published is no reflection on that book. (And for the record,
I’ve just tried again, with my thriller
Prophets & Loss, which I’ve placed on my blog.)
Meanwhile, Roger Simon
himself recently moved into
blogging, and again he is making it all seem so effortless. Like many
bloggers, he blends the personal and the political, with humour and
commentary. Yet somehow he has managed to create an ambience about his
website. There’s a kind of a nonchalant mood there, but drawn from a deep
well of soul. It’s a blog with a heart.
It’s way too early to
call it a classic (are there any classic blogs?), but I suspect many budding
bloggers are going to be turning to him for instruction. And like me and
The Big Fix, they’re probably going to learn that being effortless just
Blessed are the Anti-American Peacemakers
Now, let’s see if I’ve
got this straight. Millions have been killed in the continuing civil war in
the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mothers are raped and murdered, kids are
dying of starvation.
Meanwhile, the people of
are celebrating their liberation from tyranny.
But according to this
month’s edition of my
denominational newspaper, handed to me in church this morning, blessed
are those who opposed the
“Blessed are the
Peacemakers” is the headline of a full-page report (not online) of how the
Baptist Union of Victoria’s Director of Ministries used the occasion of a
Palm Sunday ecumenical service last month to attack the war.
How many lies have we been told about the need for this
invasion: about weapons of mass destruction, chemical weapon plants, nuclear
weapons, links with terrorists? These were the reasons we could not afford
Well in the past couple of weeks we have learned about who
does have weapons of mass destruction and I don’t think it is the Iraqis….
It’s expensive but comparatively easy to bomb a nation to
the edge of oblivion….If the experience of
Afghanistan is anything
to go by, the big guys with the bombs will soon lose interest when the real
work has to be done.
Not a word in the report
about the Congo. Or the African AIDS crisis. Or any other human tragedy
where Jesus might be waiting to hand out some blessings.
For the record,
Iraq. May the record forever show that the Baptist Union of Victoria
peacemakers opposed this action of liberation.
Pastors for the
Thanks to Donald Sensing
One Hand Clapping for linking to Rev George Lazenby’s plea on my site –
actually an excerpt from his autobiography – for churches to consider
pastors for the elderly.
It has roused some
debate, with lots of comments and at least two other bloggers posting their
The Bemusement Park:
I'm sorry to make this observation, but nobody under 65 has ever told me
they didn't want a single thing to change about their church, ever. Lots of
folks over 65 have, however. But lots of churches knuckle under and let this
group dictate how the church will minister to everyone, not just
their own age group.
Trojan Horseshoes said:
In my experience (also, largely in the
Methodist Church), I do
see a large emphasis on the Elderly. It isn't that there is a specific
pastor assigned to issues for the elderly. It’s that most of the primary
functions of the church are focused on the needs of the Elderly. Generally,
they are the ones who run the church, and have for years, and the Pastor and
various members spend a large, large amount of time and effort dealing with
the Elderly. It isn't specified as such, simply because the needs and wants
of the Elderly are built into what the church already does. Those who have
been around for years, leading church committees, building, maintaining and
running the church... the elderly are disproportionately represented in that
Dr Lazenby is 90 and
still preaches every Sunday at Northcote Baptist Church, here in Melbourne.
Now, if only I can get him to start his own blog…