Modern Gnosticism

In First Things, David Bentley Hart writes:

. . .
And of science fiction films constructed around Gnostic themes—implicit or explicit—there is already a notable tradition: George Lucas’s 1970 film THX 1138, for instance, or the Matrix trilogy. Two films written by Andrew Niccol—1997’s Gattaca and 1998’s The Truman Show—were both consciously Christian Gnostic fables; the latter especially was an affecting expression not only of a certain Gnostic paranoia regarding the nature of reality, but of faith in a spiritual dignity in the soul that transcends the world (it even ends with a rather splendid and moving confrontation between the hero, the one “true man” in the tale, and the demiurge of the universe from which he seeks escape).

My final observations, I suppose, would be this: Our longing for transcendence is inextinguishable in us, and the appeal of the transcendent to our deepest natures will always be audible and visible to us in some form—first and finally in the form of beauty—and will continue to waken in us both wonder and an often inexpressible unhappiness. But in an age such as ours, within the picture of the world that now prevails, that beauty must seem more ambiguous, more beleaguered, and the call of transcendence more elusive of interpretation, like a voice heard in a dream.

In the absence of that scale of shining mediations that once seemed seamlessly to unite the immanent an the transcendent, the earthly and the heavenly, nature and supernature, we are nevertheless still open to the same summons issued in every age to every soul; but it must for now come to us as something more mysterious, tragic, and terrible than it once was.

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