OKAY, SO THE PLOT OF THE MATRIX MAY BE JUST a bunch of metaphysical mumbo-jumbo (as many critics have complained), but I believe there is more to that mumbo-jumbo than first meets the eye. If you're at all familiar with the particular theological bent of the heretical early Christians known as the Gnostics (and really, who isn't?), then it's actually pretty easy to see from whence the makers of The Matrix cribbed most of their stuff.

The Gnostics paint a pretty oddball picture of the world. Their writings (most of which were penned during the first couple centuries A.D.) argue that the Biblical God is not the TRUE God, but instead is some sort of weird cosmic vampire. This evil Vampire God, together with his team of buddies (also evil Vampire Gods), originally created our world as a sort of prison camp for souls--souls being tiny, fractured-off pieces of the True, for-real God, and also a kind of Vampire God delicacy. For sport, the Vampire Gods lure souls down into human bodies, make them forget their celestial origins, and keep them distracted with "earthly matters" (alcohol, sex, etc.) while sucking their souls dry.

How does this compare with The Matrix? Well, in the film, instead of "Vampire Gods" we have evil computers, and instead of "our world" we have the computer-generated Matrix. (We also get a whole bunch of gun battles and helicopter explosions thrown in, too.)

Anyway, according to the Gnostics, there's only one way to escape this untenable situation, and that's to achieve what they called "gnosis" (not to be confused with gnocchi, the dumpling dish). "Gnosis" is Greek for "knowledge," and once you have it, you're able to see through this illusion that most folks think is just the plain ol' world. This is what happens with the Keanu Reeves character, Neo, after he is contacted (while still in the Matrix) by those anti-computer rebel guys. Neo even comes to realize that he is in fact "The One": the individual who's destined to overthrow the Matrix, to wake up the sleeping souls, and to show the evil computers what's what. Neo's duties here directly correlate with those of the Gnostic "Redeemer" figure (sort of like Christ, except with a few extra super-powers).

Imagining Keanu Reeves as a super-powered Christ figure isn't as far-fetched as it seems. In our age, few powers are more super than hunkiness and box-office clout, and as the world knows, Keanu's got those in spades. Truly, the Gnostics are among us.

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