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5.0 out of 5 stars Taking A Risk, But Definitely Worth It
Chris Seay and Greg Garrett take a significant risk in seeking to draw parallels between evangelical Christianity and an R-rated, culturally significant movie, but their risk was worth it.
While drawing criticisms from both within and from outside of Christian circles, the authors strived to redeem the worthy aspects of the Matrix. This choice to interact with...
Published on Oct. 22 2003 by Dillon Burroughs

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly good
This is a surprisingly good book, vastly better than LaVelle's Reality Within the Matrix, though they are both books that basically draw upon the movie(s) for evangelical purposes.
If you are from a Christian background, this book will give you a take on the movie from a reasonably sophisticated theological viewpoint. It is not at all like the dumbed-down...
Published on July 18 2003


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4.0 out of 5 stars Seeing God All Around., March 26 2004
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tvtv3 "tvtv3" (Sorento, IL United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Gospel Reloaded: Exploring Spirituality and Faith in The Matrix (Paperback)
I wasn't for sure what to think when I first started reading THE GOSPEL RELOADED. From the title, I thought I was going to be reading a watered-down book that illustrated the Christian allusions in the Matrix movies. However, I got more than what I expected. THE GOSPEL RELOADED does illustrate some of the Christian allusions that are prevalant throughout the Matrix films. Yet, the book also illustrates many of the other influences that can be found in the Matrix movies (comics, Easternism, etc). It also touches upon the possibility that the Matrix movies are films that are anti-Christian in nature. But mainly, the book compares and contrasts Christianity with the world view of The Matrix. The book tries to show how The Matrix fits into Joseph Campbell's research of a hero and how Jesus Christ was the ultimate hero.
The authors of the book are very intelligent and have a huge concern for impacting our culture. Nevertheless, the book does have two flaws. First, the book really doesn't flow that well together and kind of skips around from one point to the next without any transitions. Because of that, the book comes off as being more of a hodge-podge than an accurate comparison and contrast. Secondly, though the authors are clearly Christian and it is apparent they are trying to illustrate the similarities and differences between the Gospels and the Matrix movies, they never really do come out and say, "Here's exactly how Jesus is different from Neo and here's how Christianity is different from the world of THE MATRIX". What ends up happening is that the authors end up doing more comparing than contrasting which is a shame. Still, I found THE GOSPEL RELOADED to be better than many Christian books on pop culture I have read and it presents a rounded enough approach that might attract non-Christians into learning more about the Christian faith.
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2.0 out of 5 stars beating a dead Trojan Horse...., Feb. 24 2004
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This review is from: The Gospel Reloaded: Exploring Spirituality and Faith in The Matrix (Paperback)
i read this in a couple of hours (skimming certain parts, admittedly) at the Seattle Public Library, then put it back on the cart. there are about 3 billion websites on the Net (give or take) that try to dissect this or that aspect of The Matrix and explain the deep underlying concepts that the Wachowskis dabble in. in 99% of cases this is simply an exercise on the part of the individual in trying to justify his/her viewpoint by aligning it with one of the very ambiguous and wide-open mythological/theological constructs behind the films. the fact is that the films are actually so saturated with conflicting ideologies that they're not supposed to make sense. instead, they have a little bit of everything so that each and every person can relate, regardless of faith (or lack thereof), and take home the over-arching message that only confidence and personal responsibility will set you free.
so after finishing the book 15 minutes ago (more or less), i'm disappointed to say that "The Gospel Reloaded" is the printed equivalent of such a website.
the book seems to be intended for Christians young and old who want to get into all the Cool Stuff that the sinners are into, but can't reconcile it with their families and church-going friends. it's that old line about the atheists having all the fun... Mom says to Dad at the dinner table, "Billy is grounded because i caught him watching The Matrix. they were saying all these dirty words and there was a scene in a nightclub where people were wearing gas masks and groping each other like it was Sodom and Gomorrah!" little Billy replies, "but Mom, i read that the battle on the highway was actually a reference to Matthew 13! ...and that Neo and Trinity represent Adam and Eve for the postmodern era! ...and that The One is a metaphor for Jesus' love!"
even if little Billy (or the book's authors) can find such parallels, The Matrix films are still very dark, very violent, and very un-Christian. sure, the last human city is called Zion, as the authors point out. sure, you could come away with the impression that Neo is Jesus. but to make those sorts of things the central focus of a book is to disregard a hundred other things that take place in the films. what about the premarital physical relationship between the protagonists? the blatantly sexual non-hetero dancing that some of the good guys take part in? the fact that in the first film, Morpheus mentions that The Matrix takes control of your mind "when you go to church," just as it does "when you go to work" and "when you pay your taxes?" you can't ignore those things and pretend the movie played out differently... it didn't. the authors seem to ignore a mountain of contradictions, simply tossing them out for the sake of brevity and (superficial) clarity.
there are also numerous grammatical errors in the book which detract from its presentation... the book is probably better-written and more thought out than some homegrown Matrix-decoding books... however, the frequent typos and improper usage of common English words detract from any professionalism or theological credibility (contradiction in terms?) that the book might have to offer.
bottom line: i consider "The Gospel Reloaded" to be a parallel to Christian rock: take something subversive and re-brand it so it's OK for Christians to enjoy. of course, such rebranding can't be done without diluting the strength of the original. with their book, Seay and Garrett take the intellectual sharpness behind The Matrix and turn it into a blunt #2 pencil for people to write notes with during Sunday school.
besides, if Christian leaders have to go this far to ingratiate themselves with people who watch and enjoy secular films like The Matrix, then what's the point? Satan's already herding the sheep - and the flock has decided that watching The Matrix is more fun than Vacation Bible School.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Taking A Risk, But Definitely Worth It, Oct. 22 2003
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This review is from: The Gospel Reloaded: Exploring Spirituality and Faith in The Matrix (Paperback)
Chris Seay and Greg Garrett take a significant risk in seeking to draw parallels between evangelical Christianity and an R-rated, culturally significant movie, but their risk was worth it.
While drawing criticisms from both within and from outside of Christian circles, the authors strived to redeem the worthy aspects of the Matrix. This choice to interact with contemporary culture proved a noble effort, garnering several media exposures from mainstream sources such as Publishers Weekly and USA Today.
In the words of another review, "The movies call us to seek and find--to ask of our own lives what's real and what's a mirage. They are modern epics, chock-full of meaning and metaphor." The Gospel Reloaded does exactly that--pushes the edge, explores the "truth" of the Wachowski brother's dialogue, and challenges even hardened critics to contemplate its questions.
Overall, I would not recommend this book to younger Matrix fans, but definitely encourage it for the student or serious thinker seeking to make sense of the Matrix from a Christian perspective. It can also serve as an excellent conversational tool for sincere explorers on their own spiritual journey.
The Gospel Reloaded will mess with your mind, just like the film, but leave you better off for the ride.
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5.0 out of 5 stars . . . but take it with a grain of salt., Aug. 15 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Gospel Reloaded: Exploring Spirituality and Faith in The Matrix (Paperback)
I read this book and saw both movies in a 48 hour period, which I highly recomend. This book mainly deals with religious undertones (intentional or not) in the Martrix films. But it also talks a bit about the many pop culture influences (albeit in only one chapter). Although most fans will be familiar with the Anime, John Woo, and Joseph Campbell influences, there was an interesting analogy to comics (Neo as Superman, Morpheus as Batman).
Although sometimes the author(s) sounds a bit like he's standing at a pulpit (after all, Chris Seay is a pastor) his message is, overall, uplifting. He mostly speaks of faith and tries to remain more spiritual than religious. I would have liked a chapter devoted to the relations to Buddhism and Zen, but I suppose the authors are not authorities on those subjects (the book "ZEN IN THE MARTIAL ARTS" is also highly recomended by this reviewer)Many pages discussed John the Baptist and were very interesting.
And the final two chapters are interesting, the last in particular. The title is Apocolypse Now, but it's surprisingly uplifting. After all, why should you be scared of Apocolypse unless you're an evil person?
I also learned a little about Gnosticism, which is very interesting and I'd like to learn more about it (not to follow it, but just because I love learning about new things).
In conclusion, buy this if you're a fan, read it in a two day period, and watch both movies during, before, and after you read it.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly good, July 18 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Gospel Reloaded: Exploring Spirituality and Faith in The Matrix (Paperback)
This is a surprisingly good book, vastly better than LaVelle's Reality Within the Matrix, though they are both books that basically draw upon the movie(s) for evangelical purposes.
If you are from a Christian background, this book will give you a take on the movie from a reasonably sophisticated theological viewpoint. It is not at all like the dumbed-down fundamentalist exhortations of LaVelle's book.
If the evangelism - even this kind of sophisticated evangelism - annoys you, but you want to learn more about the Matrix movies, this book is still worth a try. It has a lot of information about other belief systems, philosophy, mythology and so on, used in a way that genuinely engages with the detail of the first movie and (though to a much lesser extent) The Matrix Reloaded.
There are better Matrix books around than this one - e.g. Yeffeth's Taking the Red Pill - but The Gospel Reloaded is not a waste of time by any means. Also, it will only take you a couple of hours to read, since it is relatively short and the style is very clear, interesting and easy to follow.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Bravo, July 16 2003
This review is from: The Gospel Reloaded: Exploring Spirituality and Faith in The Matrix (Paperback)
Review: The Gospel Reloaded
The new book by Chris Seay and Greg Garrett titled The Gospel Reloaded is a winner. At first I was skeptical of a book about spirituality in the Matrix films. I was expecting the usual comparisons of Neo to Jesus Christ that I had read on countless web sites. Thankfully there is no bible thumping in this book. Instead Seay & Garrett (both enthusiastic fans of both films) discuss the different religious symbols & metaphors in the film as well as tackle what philosophically & culturally influenced the film. The authors write at length about other religion's influence the films such as Buddhism, Gnosticism, and Judaism in addition to Christianity. They also reference Joseph Campbell's The Power of the Myth and how closely Andy and Larry Wachowski story adopts that narrative. In addition, Seay and Garrett refer to Greek authors Homer & Plato and their stories of The Odyssey and The Cave as additional reference to the story of the Matrix. While discussing the religious & philosophical influences on the film, the authors recognize the cinematic influence on the Matrix comes from the Star Wars saga, Kung Fu cinema, Japan's Anime movies, and John Woo's films. The writers are also brave to tackle a very serious issue in our culture today: organized religion. In many ways they argue how today's organized religion can mirror The Matrix, always trying to control the way we think & feel while keeping us blind, while we seek to awake to freedom in a different & free world. Bravo, to those two for their hard work bringing all these elements into the book The Gospel Reloaded.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Lighting the Path, July 2 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Gospel Reloaded: Exploring Spirituality and Faith in The Matrix (Paperback)
I found this book inspiring and encouraging. Taking a multi-disciplinary approach, Mr. Seay and Mr. Garrett cite canonical, apocryphal and gnostic scripture as well as mythological and pop culture references to highlight the Christian theology inherent in the Matrix films. While adopting the point of view that Neo's "walking the path" in The Matrix mirrors the Christian's walk of faith, the book does not posit that the films are doctrine, rather that we can learn about our own faith through the journey and choices the movies' characters encounter. Potential readers should know that this book is written primarily from a Christian point of view, and although various other doctrines are introduced, the focus stays quite consistent with Christian beliefs. I applaud the authors for a sensitive and clearly written spiritual analysis of The Matrix films, which are often dismissed by Christians who fear the negative influences of Hollywood films such as these. Mr. Seay and Mr. Garrett have illuminated several treasures of faith and persistence needed to walk the path God intends for each of us, as witnessed through the faith journey of Neo, Trinity and Morpheus.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Lighting the Path, July 2 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Gospel Reloaded: Exploring Spirituality and Faith in The Matrix (Paperback)
I found this book inspiring and encouraging. Taking a multi-disciplinary approach, Mr. Seay and Mr. Garrett cite canonical, apocryphal and gnostic scripture as well as mythological and pop culture references to highlight the Christian theology inherent in the Matrix films. While adopting the point of view that Neo's "walking the path" in The Matrix mirrors the Christian's walk of faith, the book does not posit that the films are doctrine, rather that we can learn about our own faith through the journey and choices the movies' characters encounter. Potential readers should know that this book is written primarily from a Christian point of view, and although various other doctrines are introduced, the focus stays quite consistent with Christian beliefs. I applaud the authors for a sensitive and clearly written spiritual analysis of The Matrix films, which are often dismissed by Christians who fear the negative influences of Hollywood films such as these. Mr. Seay and Mr. Garrett have illuminated several treasures of faith and persistence needed to walk the path God intends for each of us, as witnessed through the faith journey of Neo, Trinity and Morpheus.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Theology? Not!, June 29 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Gospel Reloaded: Exploring Spirituality and Faith in The Matrix (Paperback)
If you are interested in a serious consideration of the theological implications of "The Matrix", one would do well to avoid this drivel. I found the text incoherent as the author jumps from one point to another without benefit of 'bridge' passages. There is no logical progression or explanation. For a text allegedly investigating the theology contained in 'The Matrix', it itself is of dubious theology (for example, the long-discredited 'Gospel of St. Thomas' is quoted as an authoritative source on par with that of the four Evangelists). The author seems determined to force a Christian (?) exegesis from the film. However, another problem arises as it is very hard to tell whether the author is an orthodox Christian or a New Age syncretist. Sources are not cited, footnotes are virtually non-existent, so one is left to wonder where the author gained his information and inspiration.
For a serious treatment of the theological overtones contained in "The Matrix", the online Journal of Religion and Film contains several essays which are far more worthy of a glance than this monstrosity of a text.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good read, June 25 2003
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This review is from: The Gospel Reloaded: Exploring Spirituality and Faith in The Matrix (Paperback)
2003 has been declared the YEAR OF THE MATRIX by some as two sequels take the box office by storm and the original movie is still at the top of BLOCKBUSTER'S best selling and rented list.
Surprisingly, this popular film has reached out to find a well loved spot in the halls of Christianity, rivaling even the more recognizeably Christian LORD OF THE RINGS. The author explores the allegory and symbolic themes in this picture that have caused this phenomena. Though some orthodox Christians might take issue with the weight he gives gnostic gospels, on the whole, Mr. Seay provides an in depth look that can provide good subject matter for a small group discussion. Using text from the Message version of the Bible, he also makes it easily accessible to the masses, some of whom could have difficulty with the more formal King James or American Standard texts that many authors use for such quotation.
***** Books such as this provide a bridge for adults and teens, giving them common ground to dialog about, and perhaps can help swell the church population in a non crisis situation.
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