We went to see “Inception,” and it is one of those “thinkers” that keeps your mind going back to it, pondering, replaying, trying to unravel the conundrum. I’m not going to give away any of the twists and turns, and really am not sure that I can. However, the movie is a must-see if you ever think about the 21st century and the church.

The movie asks you to ponder “What’s real?” In our work-a-day-world with people seeking meaning beyond just having a paycheck in this economy, I am challenged to look at the church’s on-going gnosticism, it’s flirtation and marriage to mind over matter; i.e., “If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” Gnostics, the ultimate neo-platonists, separated mind and knowledge (gnosis) from matter. They elevated unseen thought above the seen “projections” of mind. Objects, people, the environment – None of it matters. One’s mind and feelings were the ultimate filters and gauges of value.

Sounds like our culture, “Inception,” and me. Why do I say,”me?” Well, I’d really like a lot of the junk I see, the gaping fear I feel about Narcie’s condition, to be all a dream, a falsehood, a projection, from which I’ll wake. How many of us have a reality that we really wish wasn’t real? I think there’s a whole bunch of us.

Worse in all this pipe-dreaming is that this kind of dualistic separation of mind (psyche) and body (soma) is rampant in the church, maybe in the Bible, the New Testament at least. Think of the last funeral you attended. We buried the body, and the soul is gone to heaven. Well, thank you, Paul, for setting up this Greco-Roman embrace of Plato that flies in the face of Hebrew thought’s understanding that one cannot and could not divide mind and matter. Our human personhood is an unitary whole, therefore, EVERYTHING matters! We will not rape Mother Earth. We are partners and interconnected with everything. John Dunne’s “No man is an island…” or Wesley’s notion of connectionalism come to mind?

I hope so. As I have been reading Brian McLaren’s A New Kind of Christianity, I have been challenged in how much we need to shed our gnostic theological underpinnings and get back to the solid Rock, the utter realness of Jesus. I’m not talking “Jesus Seminar” neutering of Jesus as God Incarnate, but an embrace of incarnational theology and process theology that celebrates that we as “Second-Adams,” like Christ, should live enmeshed in the creation fully; that we are not and cannot be bifurcated into meaningless lives separating who we are from what we do. We bear the image of God, made in that image. From the beginning we have been co-operants with God’s plan to redeem everything. The more we separate mind from matter God redeems nothing.

Hear this, if you don’t get it from “Inception,” get it from me: Your life is real. Your pain is not a phantasm. Feelings aren’t the end-all of everything – God is, and that God in Christ has entered our real lives, pains and triumphs, and cries and smiles with us. God goes with us through everything and the ending of the movie is never the ending because God continues to connect with our journey, our going on to perfection, sanctification. The Gospel of Jesus Christ redeems our total reality because we are not mere projections, we are precious participants in a holy endeavor to make all things real and right. You matter! You matter! You matter!