It is inevitable. The sentiment is exuded by Agent Smith as he seemingly conquers the Matrix. But almost at every stage, shortly after he employes the phrase, he get’s what he wants, but then he doesn’t want what he got. Because inevitability is a cruel master. Just because something is inevitable doesn’t make it right. It doesn’t make you right for participating. You look down and find the sword in your hand, or the woman in your bed, or the silver in your purse, then you realize that you are Judas. Just because you were able to make all that money, or sleep with that woman or be elected to that office, doesn’t mean it was right. You may be the tragic fool in the hand of God. As Jesus said on the night he was betrayed
“For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” (Luke 22:22)
which harkens back to an earlier verse in Luke:
“Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.” (Luke 17:1)
Of course it was inevitable, there may be conspiracies, there may even be conspiracies involving Lucifer himself, but they are all part of God’s plan. God’s plans will be accomplished with or without you. But for your sake you do have a choice whether you are that tragic fool or not.
You have to wonder about the career of Judas. He finds himself hanging out with the hottest show in town. A guy who is clearly a prophet, in a time when everyone is looking for just such a man to overthrow Rome. Then this guy chooses you to be part of his inner circle. This has to validate everything you believe, he chose you, so it must be because your particular philosophy of anti-Roman zealotry was right. Then you start making money on the side pilfering from the money box. You do it once, and then a few more times and no one seems to notice. So you keep doing it. God is making you rich and powerful. You are propelled by inevitability. This is so easy to fall into. But just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Then Jesus all but tells him to go out and betray him(John 13). I think he is on auto pilot by this point. He is probably getting those warm tingly feelings and perhaps déjà vu. This is where I’m supposed to be. It’s a feeling, we even call it the will of God or use that lamentable phrase “It’s a God thing”. It was inevitable. And so it was. But then Judas found out that he was on the wrong side. He had said his lines and played his part. But it was not the part of the hero, it was the part of the villain. He got to the point where his choices led him, and he didn’t like it. There were two layers of story, God’s purposes, where someone had to betray him, it was Satan’s plan for conquering Yahweh, it was God’s plan for conquering Satan. And the second layer, the man who betrayed the Messiah, and incarnate Lord of the Universe. But it all seemed to be going so well, so many open doors, it had to be the will of God. But it was clearly wrong, and he couldn’t face it so he killed himself.
So much the same situation with Agent Smith. He acts because he is compelled, it is in the cards, or the code as the case may be. What is possible, what is inevitable, seems like it is right. It just has to be, because he can’t understand anything else. He can’t understand a transcendent God communicating moral issues of right and wrong. It’s very similar to the Darwinian view of man and life on this planet. We must evolve and perpetuate the planet and the human race, because we must. Never mind that we have very little control over any of it. In so far as we do, we simply must. Like that idiot at the end of Cast Away. We deliver the package because and we get up every day because, it’s inevitable. What a lame ethos. Even the most strict man of fate has to feel that tinge of a moral tug in the back of his mind. Of course after getting away with whatever a few times, it is dulled and your inevitability complex can reign free. It’s so easy to do. Like Agent Smith the first time he clones someone. Maybe it was the first time you sold someone a piece of garbage and made a bunch of money. Maybe it was the first time you stole something from the company. Maybe the first time you misrepresented yourself, and gained positions or power. This is really the basis of Muhammad’s tribal cult. We can conquer all these other tribes, therefore God wants us to conquer the world. Or even the whole host of 20th century dictators. Science made our machines better, therefore it is only inevitable that we should treat our society like a machine. It has to make things better, regardless of the fact that we are murdering millions. We even see the same thing today with the voting for Trump. He can win votes therefore he should win votes and I want to be part of the inevitable so I vote for him. Which gets us to the other tribal cult which we are perhaps more prone to than victory by the sword. Victory by the competitive business model, unfettered Capitalism. Trump has learned about inevitability here too (so too has our local Gianforte, as he pursues the power of the governorship). He can throw his weight around and make money, so he does. He never has to repent because he has been a success, he’s a ‘winner’, which is the test of his morality. This gets back to the genius of Hilaire Belloc’s book The Mercy of Allah. Where he parodies the capitalist and the Muhammadan. As they go about the world defrauding everyone they can and then marveling that Allah has been so merciful. Or as we say in ‘merica, god has been good. That’s little ‘g’ generic god, who doesn’t mind all the corners I cut to get here. Because all that matters is the outcome, I’m a good person, I gave a bunch of it to charity, which I created, which gave me more power. Of course there are people who get wealthy by completely legitimate means, like Job, but many more who do not. But the fact that you do have wealth or power doesn’t mean that it’s a gift from God and that you are completely virtuous. It could mean that it was a curse from God and you are Agent Smith or Judas Iscariot. God’s plan marches on and the only thing we have orchestrated is our own demise. The blood is on our hands. And we feel betrayed, “but I was just following orders”. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way, we made the choice. We reap what we sow. We broke the law, we are the betrayer, because the character of God says so.
I wonder about the contrast between Peter and Judas. Jesus tells us that Satan asked for Peter that he might sift him as wheat. But Jesus prayed for him. And we know the result, after the resurrection Peter became and integral building block in the Church. But we never hear the story about Judas. We can assume that Satan also asked for Judas as well. And it’s pretty clear that Jesus allowed Satan to use him(John 13:26,27). But it was just the way Judas wanted. It was inevitable.
I am also reminded of this passage:
And Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left; and the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth- gilead? ’ And one said one thing, and another said another. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, saying, ‘I will entice him. ’ And the Lord said to him, ‘By what means? ’ And he said, ‘I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. ’ And he said, ‘You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do so. ’ Now therefore behold, the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; the Lord has declared disaster for you.”
God sent a spirit to deceive Ahab. It might not seem fair. But the truth is that if Ahab hadn’t given in to vice, it wouldn’t have been possible. When God allowed Job to be tested by Satan, Job passed the test. But we can’t overlook the fact that we have to use a lot of wisdom, and hold fast to the Word of God, or we might be swept up in something, which feel right, or looks good, but is really a subtle temptation to sin. Giving in to one sin makes us more vulnerable, it makes our sense dull to future temptation. It makes it easier to give into the feeling of inevitability. Don’t give in! Don’t be swept up! Hold fast to the commands of God, and do them! Every time!
Inevitability makes for a thin and shabby god. He has no “why”, he has no reason or character to back up his commands. Right is what is possible, wrong is what is not possible. “When God closes a door he opens a window” as they say. The door is open, it must be right. Except when it is wrong. And we find a window dropping us onto the potter’s field, or the dust bin of the Matrix source code. The story was told and you are the fool, you would be better off drowned at the bottom of the sea.