I’ll Take the Red Pill Please

I found this post at Scotteriology via Exploring Our Matrix. What an excellent analogy. The Matrix was a revolutionary movie for me. Like Fight Club it was one of the few movies that dared challenge how deeply humans are enmeshed in what we perceive as reality or what we have created for ourselves as a protective layer against the harshness of the world. Some of us are living lives pretty much on the surface of  reality, but biblical fundamentalists are buried beneath another layer called inerrancy. As a fundamentalist I felt pushed further and further back from the surface of reality as layer after layer of dogmatic belief was draped over me like blankets. The deeper one went in biblical theology according to inerrantists, the poorer the chances of ever waking up from it.

I’m not sure now what the “red pill” was for me back then. I think it was first discovering that so many different sects of Christianity interpreted the same set of scriptures in entirely different ways that set me on my way to questioning the “reality” fundamentalism claimed to construct for me. At least it got me out of a fundamentalist church. The final swallowing of the red pill was in a mythology class at university. There I discovered etiological myths. I learned that myths are so deeply ingrained in cultural consciousness that some cultures began to actually believe their own stories; those poetic stories told ’round a fire at the tribe’s center, stories about heroes and exploits of group salvation when the tribe began. These stories about gods and goddesses and supernatural phenomena, centered around the supposed origins of the world, were written down eventually and the very act of writing made them seem magically permanent somehow.

This germ of a thought opened every door for me. If I could claw my way out of the morass of inconsistent and self generating dogma that inerrancy provided, unplug myself from the “machine” of fundamentalism that was feeding me only what it wanted to make me serve it, then I could at least begin to see things clearly and make decisions closer to the surface of reality. All I had to do was handle the fear than engendered by facing the world as it was, not as fundamentalism told me it should be. Swallowing the red pill was the best thing that ever happened to me up to that point.


15 thoughts on “I’ll Take the Red Pill Please

  1. The Scotteriology post is excellent. I am going to have to watch the movie again, I can’t imagine what I was thinking when I watched it as a conservative Christian.

    “As a fundamentalist I felt pushed further and further back from the surface of reality as layer after layer of dogmatic belief was draped over me like blankets. The deeper one went in biblical theology according to inerrantists, the poorer the chances of ever waking up from it.”

    That is very true. It seems the authors that are most highly regarded in Reformed theology circles are the ones that write the most from their imaginations. When you read the constructed world they make from the bible which they call Truth, you would be hard pressed to find anything we can see evidence for. And any personal feelings about the doctrines rightness or wrongness are discounted as being of less value than God’s Word.

    “I’m not sure now what the “red pill” was for me back then.”

    It is surprising how hard it can be to identify the red pill. For me I think it was the cumulative effect of seeing things work differently in the world than what the bible described. Finally it was a teaching on the book of Daniel which required a high degree of belief that it was real prophesy that got me looking elsewhere for answers. That was the key, reading stuff about the outside of the matrix.

  2. I find that taking the red pill actually is easy. Jumping to the other side and staying there is what I find scary.

    I find that I haven’t been able to rejoin the human race since I left the fait. It seems to me that now that I don’t have the delusion of the big sky daddy, the world is way too scary for me.

    But, the day is coming when I will finally get my life back, and it will be great without the rules, regulations, prejudices, expectations, and unrealistic responsibilities (like witnessing to co-workers).

  3. Thanks for the comments. The red pill is very hard to identify. What door is it that was opened first we wonder? I too remember reading Daniel without the lens of Pre-millennialism to tell me what it meant for the future. I do also remember reading Matthew Henry’s commentary about that and Revelation and how there is no basis for picking and choosing the verses dispensationalists use to support that doctrine. The concept that there were alternative views of the “end times” was very enlightening. Once you realize the numerous ways scriptures can be used to support just about anything, the mirrored glasses can come off. Yes, the movie is brilliant in that regard. Thanks for commenting!

  4. Lorena,

    I can certainly understand that outlook. It takes a while to see the world as it is rather than as we want it to be. I still find the christian lens comforting when the world looks too unsteady, but I haven’t completely given up on the supra-natural components of this world. I’m still trying to make sense of it, just not through anyone else’s lenses such as scriptures, traditions, etc.

  5. I love the analogy of the red pill and the Matrix. It effectively describes the moment of realization, the moment of awakening. I too find much wisdom and truth in movies like The Matrix, Fight Club and the Butterfly Effect. It is amazing how clear things can be and how clouded they can be depending on one’s state of awareness.

  6. tobeme,
    The trick is then, to always stay aware. That’s the hard part. Obliviousness is encouraged in fundamentalism. Or at least the clearness of others’ visions rather than your own. The question is, what does it take to knock us into awareness as Fight Club asks? I liked the Butterfly Effect as well although it was a very painful movie to watch.

  7. I don’t think there was ever a red pill for me. The problem was that I took the blue pill when I was very young (in accepting christianity) and since then have been under it’s intoxicating effect. As I grew older, I guess the effects of the blue pill started to wear off.

    The power of the blue pill was that I was alone and needed a social community in which to be in, and the church served that purpose very well.

    As I grew older, I gradually rid myself of the need to belong to an artificial tribe, and so my addiction to blue pills totally went away.

  8. Temaskian,
    That’s an interesting point. Some of us get faced with choices about which to believe or confronted with an issue that we didn’t realize before, while others, such as yourself, merely wean themselves from the effects of the “pills” altogether. Interesting.

  9. Howdy 🙂

    I’m a bit of a cliche in that The Matrix totally rocked my world and kicked me in the metaphorical ass. I remember leaving the theater in a daze, knowing I’d never go back to the JW church again (and I haven’t).

    I’ve watched the movie through a few different lenses since then – Zen, Advaita and Gnosticism. Using those frameworks to interpret what the Matrix is all work very well (especially the Advaita one).

    I have to say that I agree with Loreena. Taking the pill was easy. Staying out of the matrix is hard.

    However I’m not one of those that thinks that everything to do with Christianity or spirituality is all part of the Matrix. Some of the truths found within religion are, imo, part of Zion. 😉

  10. Although my progress was gradual in the sense that it took place over the space of a few years, there were many jolts in that process, or perhaps catalysts, which hastened me on my way, which would otherwise have taken much longer.

    Example, I was questioning everything in church so much that I was ultimately issued a discipline letter saying I was a murderer for hating someone in church (which I did not, but that’s another story). That really speeded my way out of there.

    Another instance, when I was already out of any church altogether, but reading the bible on my own (daily, as usual), I read about the part where many other people were also resurrected (at about the time of christ’s crucifixion). I had read many explanations given by apologists before, but right there and then I decided that it was no longer tenable. If the bible can’t get its resurrection stories straight, then christianity has altogether fallen in my view.

  11. Kay,
    You wrote: “However I’m not one of those that thinks that everything to do with Christianity or spirituality is all part of the Matrix. Some of the truths found within religion are, imo, part of Zion.”

    That’s also a good point. To me, the Matrix is that which some would like you to believe, say asleep, and never question. This includes dogmas, doctrines, interpretations, and ideas that have strayed far from the original purpose of the revolutionary impulse of religious beginnings. I would agree that not everything related to religions or spirituality is part of the Matrix because you could make a good case that the “red pill” could be the revolutionary religious idea as well, such as Christ’s wanting to lift everyone out of the stifling rules and regulations inherent in the religious system of his time. Direct encounters with the Divine are much preferred, no matter where it takes us or how we get there, short of criminal means. 🙂

  12. temaskian,

    That story reminds me of when my husband and i joined the Roman Catholic church after our fundamentalist stint. The pastor of the fundamentalist church came over with an elder and insisted that we would be considered not true believers if we went the Rome route. I was thinking that it took a lot of gall to assume my spiritual state from the decisions we made about joining another church. What they were really saying was that their interpretation of the bible was more accurate than Rome’s. I came to realize later that Rome also felt the same, but at the time we were moving through our own process.

    I too read that passage and wondered what happened to those resurrected people at Jesus’ time. Never heard any other eyewitnesses to this phenomenon or whether that was theologically significant.

  13. That reminds me to say that fundamentalist leaders treat you with all kindness and courtesy before you become a member, but after you become an official member, they seem to feel more at liberty to take drastic measures against you. And they seem to think that there’s a biblical injunction to behave in this manner.

  14. This makes fascinating reading for me, as someone who just happened to grow up without taking the blue pill. As with friends of mine on acid ETC, I sometimes asked myself: “I wonder what that feels like”, but was never curious enough to actually try it.

    I must say that part of the call of that pill was a degree of envy for that amount of certainty. However, any discussion I had with people with this kind of belief system, including JWs, only served to show how inflexible they were, in that they dare not see their position as interpretation. It had to be absolute truth, or the whole thing fell apart. They could never explain to me why I should accept the truth of the premise on which this dubious edifice was built. Once again, it was a human being claiming to speak for God. Meanwhile, everything I feel about the Divine has nothing to do with any of that rather petty minded retributive dogma.

    Finally, can I just say, after all these knowledgable and insightful comments, what a good piece of writing this post is.
    It was writing of this quality that brought me to this blog in the first place.
    MOI is alive and well. Thank you.


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