How Godlessness Leads to Tyranny

So many people are feeling it in the core of their beings.

The country has been unmoored from its anchor, an intangible one that for generations provided the stability needed to form communities in which people were able to reside together and care for one another.

We’ve known for a while that we had been drifting toward a destination that was strange and unfamiliar.

Now that we have seemingly arrived, we find ourselves at a place that is deeply disturbing and at times even intolerable.

An analysis may be helpful in understanding how the fix we find ourselves in came to be. It is also useful in a self-comforting kind of way, societally speaking. And it may prove especially helpful in figuring out ways in which we can get ourselves back on course.

Every society has an underlying ideology upon which beliefs, attitudes, norms, customs, institutions, etc., are structured.

Years ago a destructive type of worldview took root. As things would have it, this harmful ideology burgeoned over time and ended up displacing important foundational building blocks of our society, including those of civility, integrity, respect, and the like.

A new Gallup poll provides a key to understanding what happened.

Gallup’s recent Values and Beliefs Poll found that Americans’ belief in God has dropped to the lowest level since the polling organization first began to gather research data on the topic about 88 years ago.

From the 1940s to the 1960s, a consistent 98 percent of Americans indicated that they maintained a belief in God. The rate of believers has since taken a steady downturn, hitting an all-time low of 81 percent in 2022.

Gallup’s data indicate that in recent years belief in God has declined most significantly among young adults and those who are of a politically liberal persuasion.

Removing God from public life has been a goal of secularists, who for a long time now have been hard at work restricting religious expression in all major American institutions.

Prayers, holiday celebrations, music, etc., which since the nation’s founding were culturally unifying aspects of American life, have been supplanted or, in some cases, completely removed.

In his Farewell Address, the country’s first president emphasized the importance of religious values as he assessed the future of a then-budding nation.

“Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports,” President George Washington said.

His words were very precise. If an indispensable support is absent, an entire structure is destined for collapse.

Most people are aware that, despite the capacity for goodness contained within each and every individual, there is a dark component of human nature that lurks below the surface.

The Judeo-Christian explanation of this concept, and for the existence of evil itself, is the notion that humankind initially had a virtuous nature but early on took a precipitous fall from grace.

Judeo-Christian values in large part serve to restrain the human tendency to indulge in the most negative inclinations, which are manifested societally from street gangs to government corruption.

Without constraints on evil, society will become spiritually ill. Such sickness results in a culture that literally hits bottom, with the attendant failure to protect the most vulnerable and an apathetic attitude toward injuries suffered.

If God does not exist, then what is determined to be good or evil becomes merely a subjective human construct.

If no guidelines are in existence when decisions are being made regarding which ethical options would be preferable, then in conflicting situations the self-interests of decision makers will inevitably rule the day.

If good and evil are only human concepts, then morally upright actions will take a back seat to expeditious ones.

To cut to the chase, if God doesn’t exist, then neither do objective moral values.

In his book, “The God Delusion,” atheist-author Richard Dawkins wrote the following: “It is pretty hard to defend absolutist morals on grounds other than religious ones.”

Any system of government that lacks moral underpinnings is a system where freedom cannot flourish or even be mildly sustained.

As promised, God stands in the way of would-be tyranny, if those who keep the faith take to their knees.

Tom Cruise Returns to His Roots in ‘Top Gun: Maverick’

Tom Cruise is one of the biggest box-office stars of all times. And in a career that has spanned the decades he is once again wearing the crown.

Film-goers may remember Cruise for his initial breakout vehicle, the 1983 classic “Risky Business.”

Other hits would soon follow for the actor-producer; notably, the “Mission: Impossible” franchise series, which kicked off in 1996 and played out over six installments.

This is where Cruise really established his credentials as an action star. He reportedly performed many of his own stunts, a rare feat in a business that in many cases computer-generated action scenes have supplanted authentic ones.

He is presently sitting atop the box office, courtesy of his latest blockbuster “Top Gun: Maverick.” The movie is the long-awaited sequel to his 1986 hit film “Top Gun.” Its Memorial Day weekend box-office tally rang in at over $150 million, making it the biggest debut of his career.

It’s been a long road for the movie’s 2022 release. Paramount Pictures first announced the idea in 2010 and secured from the original film the indispensable services of Cruise and Val Kilmer to reprise their roles.

Tony Scott, the first “Top Gun” director, was tapped to direct the sequel. Sadly, Scott passed away and pre-production was consequently halted. Years later Joseph Kosinski was brought in to handle the direction, and work on the project resumed. In a moving tribute, “Top Gun: Maverick” is dedicated to Scott’s memory.

Release of the sequel to “Top Gun” had been scheduled for July of 2019, but it was delayed until 2020 to allow additional time for some of the more complex action sequences to be filmed.

Paramount rescheduled the release to June 2020. But due to the onset of the pandemic, a new date of December was set. Then it was bumped to July 2021, and then to November as the studio and film industry attempted to cope with the unexpected prolonging of pandemic-related restrictions.

Writers painstakingly developed the characters with deference to the stars’ younger “Top Gun” selves.

In the case of Cruise’s character, Maverick’s romantic interest is portrayed by Jennifer Connelly. Her character’s name, Penny Benjamin, was brought up in dialogue in the original movie by Maverick’s Radar Intercept Officer and best friend Nick “Goose” Bradshaw. The dialogue revealed Penny to be the “admiral’s daughter,” a family relationship that was inserted into the new sequel’s plot.

Maverick has a new assignment in the sequel, i.e., to train a group of young pilots for the Navy’s Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program, aka “Top Gun.” The crew of young aviators includes the son of Maverick’s now-deceased best friend, Goose.

In part because the new movie is a sequel to a film released over three decades ago, it includes themes that a whole lot of people have been hungering for. It is unapologetically pro-America, pro-military, and pro-manhood.

Social media posts tell the story of spontaneous hoots and hollers from gleeful movie attendees being emitted at cineplexes around the globe.

In Taiwan specifically, according to the Central News Agency of Taiwan, audiences who were present at the premiere of the film broke into applause and cheered at the sight of their national flag being displayed onscreen in the movie.

The Taiwanese and Japanese flags had reportedly been removed from a 2019 trailer because of China’s political demands.

“It is unprecedented,” Ho Siu Bun, a film critic in Hong Kong, told VICE.com. “Major film studios have never been shy about pandering to the Chinese market. And even if it is a simple scene, editing is very costly. So no one knows why they changed it back.”

China’s Tencent Pictures had been designated as an investor and marketing partner of the film. However, the Chinese company backed out of the business arrangement.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Tencent pulled out due to concerns that Chinese leaders might be miffed over the pro-military content of the film. It is presumed that Chinese officials would not pleased with the scene restoration of the Taiwanese and Japanese flags. So far “Top Gun: Maverick” has not been given a release date in China.

Cruise’s film, and the success it has experienced so far, brings up an important cultural issue that has seemingly received very little attention, but is deserving of public discourse.

Once upon a time Americans had a common bond in the television that they watched and the movies that they viewed. Hasn’t been that way for a while now.

But there really are palpable things that serve to bind any society together as a culture. One of these things is having a common body of literature, or in modern-day terms, a common body of entertainment fare. Something that everyone is tuned into at a given time.

These media components have the capacity to serve as a kind of glue that secures people together in a life experience. It also can translate into a unifying cultural dynamic.

One other film-related note deserves commentary.

“Top Gun: Maverick” is one of the first slices of entertainment media in quite a while that is not just entertaining. It is a nod to visceral manhood, which over time has been relegated to the cutting room floor.

Disney’s ‘Turning Red’ Has Parents Concerned

Disney’s brand was always thought to have been family-friendly. Not so anymore.

Now the Mouse House’s products actually have to be pre-screened to determine whether or not they are suitable options for children’s viewing.

With all the digital devices and content providers that have permeated the media universe, it is difficult for parents to even keep up with what is out there for kids and adolescents to access with a simple click.

Disney, via Pixar, is currently streaming a movie that is over-the-top in terms of its unsuitability and potential to cause outright harm to our youth.

The film “Turning Red” is being marketed as a coming of age story. The setting is a Chinatown community located in Toronto, Canada. Lead character Meilin “Mei” Lee is 13 years-old and is in the process of transitioning to full-fledged womanhood.

Curiously, in this new state of transition, Mei discovers that whenever she feels angry, upset, or otherwise emotionally charged, she turns into a giant red panda. This condition is oftentimes accompanied by an unpleasant scent and some unfortunate occurrences.

The cinematic tale is apparently meant to be an allegory about female puberty, a kind of symbolic representation of the physiological, psychological, and emotional changes that occur in a female’s life as she journeys from youth to adolescence.

The panda manifestation, red in color, problematic, and emotionally intense, only happens to the women in Mei’s family.

The representation of the menstruation process is disrespectful and debasing in nature. But this is far from the worst of the film’s flaws. Adding to the potential mind, body, and soul-altering mix are the exploration of sexual urges and blatant participation in occult practices.

The movie is directed by Oscar winning Chinese Canadian filmmaker Domee Shi. As if on cue, mainstream media critics are showering it with praise. On the other hand, a whole lot of parents are not. Faith-filled folks in particular are really riled up.

The red panda is depicted in promos as cute and cuddly, which is seemingly designed to appeal to small children. However, there are numerous scenes in the film that in no way should be viewed by this demographic.

Christian parents should be especially concerned with the depictions of ancestor worship, polytheism, ritualistic practices, and supernatural transformations.

In the film, the transformation of little girl to panda is viewed as a curse. The only way for Mei to be relieved of the curse is to have the oldest male in the family, which in her case happens to be her grandfather, perform a ritual ceremony that coincides with the next red moon.

Prompted by the themes in the film, one prominent pastor is warning parents about the movie. Mike Signorelli, founder and lead pastor of the multiple location V1 Church in New York City, recently released a video on social media and conducted an interview with CBN’s Faithwire, all in an effort to inform parents of his religious concerns over “Turning Red.”

A former atheist, the pastor was led to Christianity by a friend after a year of faith discussions.

According to Pastor Signorelli, the sexual content of the movie as well as the menstruation metaphor are enough, in and of themselves, to make the film inappropriate for the younger demographic.

“If you extract the spiritual aspect of this movie, just on the basis of the content being about menstruation and this coming of age, it’s not appropriate for children,” he advised.

However, Pastor Signorelli finds the occult-related content even more disturbing.

“Even within the first eight minutes, you have chanting, communication with ancestors, and immediately a red flag should start to go off,” he stated.

He also noted that scenes in the film contain numerous concepts that conflict with a biblical worldview. He warns of danger in the fact that “the movie contains an intermingling of spirituality and ritual.”

This intermingling occurs, for example, during the ritual to rid Mei of the red panda spirit. She crosses into another “dimension” and encounters a deceased ancestor.

It occurs in a nightmare sequence too, one in which statues with glowing red eyes appear to be tormenting her, a scene that the pastor believes would be highly disturbing to an audience of children.

During his clerical tenure, Pastor Signorelli has had extensive experience in a deliverance ministry, one in which he has had a key role in confronting evil itself. This enables him to recognize imagery in the film that is not merely inappropriate, but dangerous to the spiritual well-being of our young ones.

“I believe that every parent — not just a pastor, but a parent — has a mandate to actually screen material, because every single device you have in your home is a portal, either a window into the things of God or, unfortunately, things that I believe are demonic,” he said.

In his post, the pastor offered a summary of his major concerns.

“I cannot in good faith allow you to show this to your children knowing what I know about demonic spirits, knowing what I know about the cultures that demons create,” he said.

Parents, relatives, and guardians of children and teens would be wise to take heed of Pastor Signorelli’s words regarding this film and other youth-oriented media that have hidden agendas embedded within.

The Heart of the Life Movement Beats On

The annual March for Life, like so many other pivotal nationwide events, has been deeply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and its parallel ripple effects.

Last year the pro-life event was significantly smaller in size, consisting of a mere group of pro-life leaders who attended in person, along with a host of life enthusiasts from across the land who were only able to attend virtually.

It is by design that the annual pro-life rally takes place during the same time period as the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the nation-altering 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion throughout the country.

The first march was held in 1974, organized through the efforts of pro-life activist and lawyer Nellie Gray. Originally intended to be a one-time event, participants of the first march had a great deal of hope that the Supreme Court would see fit to reverse the Roe v. Wade decision.

After the first march was completed, reality quickly set in. Gray took steps to institute the march as an annual event, and was able to obtain official recognition for it as a nonprofit organization.

Jeanne Mancini assumed leadership of the March for Life organization after Gray passed away in 2012.

This year’s event is going to take place well before the expected announcement of the Supreme Court in the yet-to-be determined decision of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which holds the possibility of effectively overturning Roe v. Wade and returning the abortion issue back to the state level and jurisdiction.

The 2022 version of the March for Life would be the first one to take place since the two-year-old coronavirus pandemic descended upon us. This does not mean that individuals over the years have not tried to prevent its occurrence.

This year’s march is scheduled to take place on Jan. 21, six days after a new vaccine mandate is set to take effect in the nation’s capital.

The mandate imposed by Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser requires those who are entering restaurants, bars and nightclubs, indoor entertainment establishments, indoor event and meeting establishments, and other indoor spaces to provide proof of having received at least one dose or more of the coronavirus vaccine, or to show evidence of a negative COVID test (taken within 24 hours of the event), accompanied by either an oral or written religious exemption or a written medical exemption.

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, founder of the prominent pro-life group the Ruth Institute, issued a statement blasting the timing of Mayor Bowser’s vaccine mandate.

“We are disgusted by the transparently heavy-handed tactics of the mayor’s office in interfering with the biggest pro-life event in the nation,” Dr. Roback Morse said.

The group’s founder continued.

“It’s hard to believe that the timing of the mandate, which goes into effect several days before the March [for Life], is a coincidence. Rather, it looks like a deliberate move by a pro-abortion politician to throw a monkey wrench in a week of pro-life events,” she added.

Because the mandate requires that those entering indoor spaces must provide proof of vaccination and/or exemption, the imposed restrictions appear to be a means by which attendees might be hampered in their participation in this year’s March for Life.

“How could the mayor not know that pro-lifers are among those least likely to be vaccinated, due to concerns that fetal cells were used in the vaccine?” Dr. Roback Morse asked.

Students for Life of America, a young pro-life leadership training organization, expressed its displeasure with the last-minute mandate.

With regard to Mayor Bowser, a statement by the group indicated it is widely known that the mayor supports abortion. Consequently, the statement also suggests that the mandates imposed, along with the timing of their imposition, appear to be an attempt to “throw a wrench into plans to mourn the 49th anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade decision that wiped out the pro-life laws of the 50 states replacing them with chaos.”

“Under her leadership, the D.C. government in late December announced that there would be a new and stricter mandate in the district starting January 15 – shortly before the national pro-life march on January 21 and the National Pro-Life Summit on January 22,” the statement read.

“This last-minute mandate has caused dramatic changes for many organization’s plans to mourn the day the Supreme Court first allowed the human rights atrocity of our day,” the statement asserted.

The good news is that instead of folding up and canceling the event, dedicated activists behind the March for Life are making adjustments to deal with the mandates.

As March for Life’s Mancini noted in a statement, “While the March for Life itself is not affected, our indoor events will have a few modifications due to the District of Columbia’s current COVID regulations.”

Students for Life of America have actually purchased several thousand rapid-response COVID tests, so that those who want to attend the group’s indoor conference can obtain a free test to show their status, thus making them eligible to enter.

March organizers are urging participants to attend in person and to go over to Virginia with the money that they would have spent in Washington, D.C. for lodging and food.

This year’s theme for the March for Life is “Equality Begins in the Womb.”

It will proceed as planned, with a kick-off concert by contemporary Christian artist Matthew West, followed by a noon rally and the traditional march to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’ Misses the Mark

Remakes of iconic films are rarely able to match, or even come close to, the level of artistry, entertainment value, and outright magic of their original movie counterparts.

This hasn’t stopped New Hollywood from continuing to give it a try.

Steven Spielberg is the most recent one to have a go at it. Just released is Spielberg’s remake of directors Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise’s 1961 enduring musical film classic “West Side Story” (music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim).

Spielberg may be wishing that he had chosen a different flick to try and reconfigure. The legendary director’s remake, which bears the original’s same name, has come up short at the box office.

The film’s estimated take for its debut weekend is around $10 million, despite its having had a production budget of about $100 million and a likely larger marketing cost. Expectations for its opening weekend had been as high as twice that amount.

Filmmaking is, of course, a uniquely collaborative art. It typically involves a large team of creative individuals who work together on a singular cinematic goal.

Sometimes everything comes together to create the perfect piece of entertainment art. That’s what happened with the original “West Side Story.” It is one of those rarities where all cinematic cylinders were fired up at peak levels.

The story by Arthur Laurents sublimely meshes with Bernstein’s musical compositions and Sondheim’s lyrics, creating a beautiful framework from which the Shakespearean inspired tale takes flight.

All things work in concert, including the impeccable casting, choreography, and screen presentation, which at the time resulted in the film’s winning 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

The plot revolves around the lives of two teenagers who are madly in love with one another. Tragically, though, each one has an allegiance to family and friends of a different ethnicity and gang affiliation.

The inter-rivalry between the gangs is fierce, and they are continuously at odds with one another in an ongoing effort to dominate the New York City neighborhood.

In Spielberg’s remake, creators made what I consider to be a storytelling error that tends to worsen over the course of a movie-making process; that being, creators appear to have allowed an agenda to take precedence over fundamental artistry.

In other words, it looks as if the message derailed the medium.

In the remake of any iconic film, a mistake such as this may prove to be very troublesome. Here’s why.

In the remaking process, it is extremely important that deference to the original film be taken. This is because a classic movie has permeated society to such a degree that it has become an integral part of our shared cultural experience.

In the Spielberg version of “West Side Story,” the underlying storyline, song lyric content, and personality traits of some of the characters were significantly changed. This appears to have been done in an effort to comply with an invisible mandate contained within the film’s agenda of preference.

To compound matters, certain scenes are much less accessible, particularly for viewers who are not bilingual in English and Spanish languages. Portions of the film are actually in Spanish language only; however, there are no subtitles included, which many audiences have come to expect in such cases, and/or individual scenes.

Spielberg shared an explanation for the decision regarding language. He told IGN that the choice of not using subtitles in any of the Spanish speaking scenes was “out of respect for the inclusivity of our intentions to hire a totally Latinx cast to play the Sharks’ boys and girls.”

He also indicated that the decision was made to avoid an inequity that might be created if a language became over-empowered.

“If I subtitled the Spanish I’d simply be doubling down on the English and giving English the power over the Spanish,” he said.

Here are more ways in which the remaking process, minus the proper deference to the original, may be creating trouble for the reboot.

The late Natalie Wood, who was not of Puerto Rican descent, famously portrays Maria in the original film. Creators of the remake, likely in an effort to avoid the criticism of “cultural appropriation,” cast a Colombian American named Rachel Zegler as Maria.

Despite the apparent attempts to gain favor from those who subscribe to the tenets of the remake’s preferred agenda, the film is being slammed anyway for its ethnic insensitivity.

“I have an issue with Hollywood once again fumbling the easiest of opportunities to elevate a Puerto Rican actress. They seem to think that as long as the actors are Hispanic, that’s enough,” Daily Beast Assistant Managing Editor Mandy Velez wrote.

In terms of the music, many folks vividly remember the song “Gee, Officer Krupke,” the cleverly choreographed performance contained in the original film,

In Spielberg’s remake, the scene that contains this song and performance has unfortunately been twisted into an anti-police presentation. The setting is the 21st Precinct of the New York City Police Department, and it is here that members of the Jets proceed to mock the police and wreak havoc on the facilities.

Lyrics to the iconic “America” tune are altered as well. The snappy back-and-forth between Anita and boyfriend Bernardo about whether the U.S. is a good or bad place to live has been contorted into a flat lyric with no measurable zing.

Ditto for the original Rita Moreno scene-stealing performance. The remake seems to have put it through a redacting machine.

On a Moreno side note, the enduring star is also an executive producer of the remake, and she definitely provides some bright spots in the dull new version. She portrays a character that wasn’t in the original’s cast, Valentina, who is a widow that runs her store while simultaneously dispensing sage advice.

Too bad Doc, the “conscience” character of the original film, was left on the cutting room floor.

Other problems in Spielberg’s revised version include a lack of chemistry between lead characters Maria and Tony. This perhaps is partially due to a loss of an idealism that the original contains, as well as an innocence that is manifested by the characters.

All the seemingly forced alterations in the reboot simply don’t work. And one of the worst things about it is that this happened to a film that is considered by many to be the best movie musical in all of cinematic history.

I’ve been thinking, though, that the lackluster reboot might have the effect of bringing a whole new generation back to the movie experience of the real deal.

Young people could enjoy it with their moms and dads and grandmas and gramps, who in their drama club days sang and danced to the high school musical of their times, the original “West Side Story.”

Hollywood Still Loving ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’

“It’s a Wonderful Life” is widely recognized as one of the greatest movies of all time. It was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and took home one Oscar.

The American Film Institute (AFI) includes it on the list of the 100 best American films ever released. And it takes the top spot on AFI’s list of the most inspirational American films of all time.

Believe it or not, the movie was not initially well-received at the box office. But it ultimately became a seasonal must-see across the country, airing every Christmas Eve for decades.

“It’s a Wonderful Life” is produced and directed by the great Frank Capra, who considered it the favorite among all of the cinematic works that he had directed.

As a matter of fact, Capra made it a point to screen it for his own family every single Christmas season.

Jimmy Stewart, one of the most beloved film actors in all of history, plays George Bailey, a man who one stark Christmas Eve questions whether his family and friends would have been better off had he never been born.

In his despondent state, he attempts to take his own life. A guardian angel, Clarence, played by Henry Travers, comes to the rescue. The angel shows George the way life would have played out for his wife Mary and for the people of the town of Bedford Falls, without his presence.

It all makes for a magical misty-eyed Christmas movie treasure.

In a 2003 book by Stephen Cox, which is titled “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Memory Book,” the legendary filmmaker indicates that he had a higher purpose in mind when he made the movie, which was “to combat a modern trend toward atheism.” Sadly relevant for today’s times.

“It’s a Wonderful Life” will no doubt air multiple times this year. But there will be a bit of an additional twist to the regular television lineup. A group of Hollywood actors will participate in a special table read of the classic script.

The live table read will honor the late Ed Asner, who passed away last summer. Proceeds will benefit The Ed Asner Family Center, which promotes mental health and enrichment programs to children with special needs and their families.

An all-star cast will be featured. Tom Bergeron will host the event. SNL alum Jason Sudeikis will take on the role of George Bailey. And Sudeikis’s real-life uncle, George Wendt (aka Norm on the classic sitcom “Cheers”), will play Bailey’s Uncle Billy.

The cast will also include Martin Sheen, Rosario Dawson, Kathy Bates, Mandy Patinkin, Ed Harris, Lou Diamond Phillips, Jean Smart, and Mark Hamill.

One memorable line that occurs near the end of Capra’s iconic Christmas movie is delivered via angel Clarence.

“Each man’s life touches so many other lives,” Clarence explains. “When he [Bailey] isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”

If you or members of your family haven’t connected yet with this precious part of Americana, put this one under the tree for your Christmas viewing pleasure.

Catch the film as it airs this season on TV, streaming, and on your favorite on-demand platforms.

And believe the words of the angel. Each one of our lives matters.

‘The Matrix’ of Our Lives

“The Matrix,” which debuted in the year 1999, turned out to be a watershed sci-fi movie.

Its impact is enduring, and it seems to have an ethereal quality and relevance that has never been more significant, and in many ways more disturbing, than at our present time.

The setting of the film is a dystopian future, one in which humanity lives and breathes a simulated reality, thus the name “The Matrix.”

Artificial intelligence is the means by which a false reality has been created in order to muddle the minds of human beings but still allow the shells of their bodies to be used as energy sources.

Thomas Anderson, played by Keanu Reeves, is a computer programmer who goes by the hacker alias “Neo.” The hand of destiny leads Neo to a man named Morpheus, played by Laurence Fishburne.

Morpheus holds the key that is able to unlock the secret vault of knowledge that holds the answers to questions about which Neo has pondered; questions that concern the nature of the world in which Neo and most of his fellow human beings unknowingly reside.

At one dramatic point in the plotline, Morpheus holds in his hands two different pills – one red and one blue.

Extending the choice of pills to Neo, Morpheus explains that if he chooses to take the blue pill, it will leave him in his current state (which is living in a computer-generated world that is blissful, yet completely inauthentic).

If he chooses to take the red pill, it will ultimately remove him from the Matrix and allow him to experience the awareness of the actual world (which has been imposed upon him and is blocked from his consciousness).

There is one monumental caveat if he chooses to take the red pill: Once chosen and consumed, there is no turning back, no changing his mind, no undoing of what has been done.

Shifting into real life gear, if shades of “The Matrix” are present in our lives today, should we take the red pill or the blue pill?

The decision at its core turns out to be a matter of individual priority. It also seems to be a matter of the soul in which an individual is somehow graced with an intrinsic thirst for the Truth.

In the film, Neo decides that truth is worth pursuing. He chooses the red pill.

In so doing, he learns that the generation of human beings of which he has been a part is actually living a life of enslavement. The Matrix had been cunningly crafted to exert total control over people’s minds and keep them in a perpetually docile state. In this way, their bodies are able to be exploited as a source of energy.

Neo, a kind of unexpected hero, rises to become part of the rebellion against the non-human overlords.

Use of the phrase “red pill” has become part of our pop culture lexicon in a major way. Its application has spread far and wide, and it has been utilized by individuals and groups across the ideological and societal spectrum.

It is most often used to convey the process of becoming enlightened to truths about reality that have the capacity to unearth previously hidden delusions. Unfortunately, due to its widespread use by some individuals and groups, “truth” in many cases may be subject to the interpretation of the user.

The phrase has been used to promote everything from a meatless diet on a YouTube channel to the men’s rights movement.

Conversely, when social media and cable commentator Candace Owens initially set up her YouTube channel called “Red Pill Black,” it was intended to encourage African-Americans to escape the mindset of liberalism.

For Christians, the symbolism contained within “The Matrix” film has come to be highly meaningful. The three main characters, Morpheus, Neo, and the aptly named Trinity, work as one to defeat the evil artificial intelligence cyber-entities.

The emergence of Neo at birth from an incubator womb is, metaphorically speaking, a type of virgin birth. Neo’s anointing as the “One” is prophesied beforehand in the film’s plotline. He is eventually betrayed by a Judas figure named Cypher. And he suffers death, but after 72 seconds returns to life, paralleling the death and resurrection of the biblical Savior.

There is one critical point in the movie when Neo asks why his eyes hurt so much.

Morpheus replies, “It’s because you never used them before.”

So which will it be for you, red pill or blue?