Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Looking to the future

All the paperwork relating to the demise of our beloved old VW Golf arrived today, plus a cheque for £265. The procedure required careful reading, a little form filling, and a trip up to the local office of the DVLC in Llanishen to fill in a form to reclaim the unused car tax, after the lunchtime Eucharist, attended by a handful of the faithful, as usual.

The city centre continues to welcome a large volume of bargain hunting shoppers. Clare and I ventured out after an early supper to take advantage of the later opening hours, and have a good look around - not that this resulted in any impulse purchases. Our minds are set on furnishing sales to equip our retirement house with a suitably downsized bed, wardrobes etc. Much of the furniture will have to go, simply because it will not fit in to our modest terraced house. This is one of the un-mentioned penalties of living in grand tied cottages for forty years of family life. Nevertheless it's not yet a matter of squeezing the most cherished possessions into a couple of tiny rooms in sheltered accommodation. We're grateful to have a home of our own to move into on our own terms.

The evening I watched the last of the Matrix trilogy of sci-fi movies on TV, having endured films one and two on Monday and Tuesday. Being sci-fi, all three were a tour de force of special effects and computer generated imagery, as it has evolved over the past decade, depicting an epic struggle in a future when digital technologies which have taken over the world, exploiting humans as fodder to keep 'The Matrix' alive. The remnant of real human beings do battle to reclaim the world, let by a messianic figure, who gives his life to free mankind (for real) in the final scenes of the third episode.

The dialogue was stilted, the acting uninspiring, the whole thing ponderous Fight sequences were far too long and too many, and all based in 'virtual reality' i.e. they looked like endless repeats of either an arcade kung fu or adventure game on a kid's game machine, very stylised generally dull, just occasionally amusing. Much of the the dialogue was, kinda philosophical, resembing stuff that used to be found in text based adventure games. There was a good deal of cinematic homage in the use of shots or visual cliches. All very clever, highly popular, but just overweight, pretentious. Three episodes of two and three quarter hours each, with at least ten minutes of adverts per hour made it a test of endurance. But since all the kids have seen it and said 'Dad you ought to watch it' in times past, I thought I should make the effort. It's fortunate I had leisure time to waste during these chilly evenings.

I understand the Matrix has been subject of some theological reflection. It raises questions about the nature of reality understood from a reductionist and atomistic point of view. It extemporises in 'science fantasy' mode around the theme of human dependency upon technology to uphold the lifestyles we covet. It places a high value on truth, courage and the capacity of love to sustain hope and work miracles of transformation. However, the self sacrificing hero achieves the redemption of the world by meeting violence with violence. This is as far as possible from the Crucified God, whose 'powerless power overcomes powerful power' (the power of those who have it, cling to it), and use it to do violence to retain it) as my wise mentor Bishop David Jenkins used to say.

So, in every sense, it was an innovative attempt to speculate about redemption, reaching a conclusion as boring and predictable as much of the film's action scenes, but it offered only the insight that humanity is as lost as it ever was or ever can be without a Gospel whose entire action is to dispense with the need for violence at all. For me there's nothing new in that. Convincing others is the real battle for survival.

No comments: