So over the past few years I’ve written several times on the show Lost. I never wanted to be “that guy” who found meaning in a T.V. Series, but for those of us who have watched for the past 6 years, we know that there was something unique about Lost. I know that it ultimately had the same goal for revenue that all TV shows have, and that if the ratings hadn’t been good the plot would have run dry. But underneath all of that was this epic, beautiful story.

I heard one of the producers say something about the show that I thought was interesting. He said that it didn’t feel as though they created it, as much as it was just connecting to something that was already there.

And I think he’s right. Since no story is written in a vacuum, I’d like to ask what cultural ethos produced Lost?Think about it Romeo and Juliet was written in the context of religious tribalism between the Protestants and Catholics, The great American novelists wrote stories shaped by the American Frontier. So what made the smoke monster?

I have a theory.

One of the things that has both frustrated me about Lost, and kept Leslie and I tuning in, is the mystery. Lost has gotten a reputation for raising more questions than it answers. And I don’t think this would have been very successful a few decades ago. The generation that fell in love with I love Lucy probably wouldn’t have to spend a summer wondering who the heck was in the hatch. But think about this. Our world has spent the better part of a century being in love with answers. We’ve tried to figure out everything by dissecting, prodding and explaining. Everything has a reason. But I think Lost is a great example of a cultural kick back against this.

While I’m glad that we discovered pennicilin and figured out indoor plumbing, one of the things that I think Lost (or rather the culture that produced it) is reminding us is that there is limit to what we can know. There are mysteries that are out there that are beyond us, and maybe that’s not such a bad thing. I’m not saying that we should try and learn and grow and expand. But to acknowledge that we haven’t mastered the universe is pretty refreshing. That there are things beyond our explanation, and they inspire a kind of holy curiosity.

But the biggest thing Lost reminded me of was Redemption.

I think the reason that movies like Slumdog Millionare and Life is Beautiful resonate so deeply in me (and so many others) is because they tap into the awareness that we are deeply broken. But that is not the end of the story.  Because there is something behind the scenes at work. Something I believe to be the God revealed in Jesus, that is drawing all things back to Himself. Piecing the individual brokenness we all bring to the table into something beautiful.

Without giving the Lost finale away, I think that the way that story ended was pretty gospel. It was really a picture of what I think the New Heaven a New Earth is like. Death gives back what it owes. Forgiveness runs like a broken faucet, and the Locke lays down with the lamb.

Okay I made that last one up, but it really was a great ending.

For those of you that don’t watch Lost. You can just skip over this blog and wait for tomorrow’s on the poor in Spirit, but for those of us who have spent the last few years engaged in this story, what did you think of the ending?

Did you see any of the same themes? Or others? What kind of culture do you think was necessary to produce a show like Lost?

See you in another life brutha…

About jonathanstorment

My family and I love reading, traveling, daddy/daughter dates, playing hide and seek, good music, and long meals with friends. We still miss LOST, and all four of us have Superman uniforms. We are passionate about bringing Heaven to Earth and want to follow Jesus while repainting discipleship for those around us. We are followers of Jesus and I preach at the Highland Church of Christ. We participate in something called A Restoration Movement, and we've come to realize that might be larger than we thought.

14 thoughts on “Lost

  1. Yep. They were singing redemption’s song. We should’ve seen it coming when the producers announced that the finale was going to be on Pentecost Sunday. You know, the climax of Simon Peter’s redemption story.

    Interesting thoughts on mystery vs. answers & this present age. I think it was the nature of the show’s genre (fantasy — not sci-fi, fantasy) to leave mysteries out there & try to make you comfortable with that. And the reaction seems somewhat mixed in terms of fulfillment/satisfaction at not having those answers. Some people didn’t get the answers, and that aggravated them deeply. Others thought it was perfect. Perhaps that reflects a culture still in transition from modernism to postmodernism?

  2. Wow, that’s interesting. I hadn’t considered that about Peter. Your quote on Facebook last night was priceless. Really, really funny.

    I just couldn’t stop thinking about the finale last night, it touched me in a way that is normally reserved for the Lord of the Rings. Glad that you liked it too Philip!

  3. I would have been happier with just a little more mystery. I’m referring to the end. If Jack’s father had said, “I don’t know,” when Jack asked him where they were, it would have been better.

    Mysteries are compelling because they keep you thirsting for me. It’s very satisfying to have them solved in the end, but it’s okay to leave them open. Most of the time, that leaves the story open for a sequel. They’ve said there won’t be a sequel to Lost. But they’re still okay, IMHO.

    The things that made Lost great are story and character. Those two are tied together in my book, and they took the time to show character through the stories. They didn’t explain the characters or show us a dossier, as is common in thrillers. I fell in love with these people, even the ones who weren’t terribly loveable. I’ll miss the show. I pray something equally good replaces it. Or maybe, just maybe, we should replace it with our own stories.

  4. We connect not so much because of our achievements but because of our shared suffering and the need for meaning and hope. Lost connected deeply with this theme and seemed to touch on how we struggle as humans and what Heaven may be like in the life after life after death.

  5. 8-10Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.
    (Kinda like Lost. Love is all that exists when you have thorough understanding — but then again, love defies thorough understanding.)

    11When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.
    (Again, a bit like Lost, or my watching of it. The Lost series started with an infantile search for firm answers. It ended with the mature realization that it really was all about love.)
    12We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!
    (Like “the end” of Lost, “the end” of our time before we see God will not merely end in a simple answer — it won’t end in “knowing about” God, but in “knowing” God — not simple answers but deep relationship.)
    13But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.
    (The realization of the concept in this last verse, I think, is how the writers kept people watching the show and smiling at the end. It’s exciting that what this show keyed into is a poor reflection, as in a mirror, of the overwhelming reality).

  6. Oh — I had something at the beginning of my post, but I’ll put it here:

    I Corinthians 13:8-13 are the verses I referenced. I was really excited to see that you wrote a blog on Lost! I really like this series — Lost and House may be, for me, the two most thought-provoking tv programs ever made.

  7. Bro. Danny, you’re right. I’ve noticed that people today are either in love with the ending or very upset. I loved that the writers were able to hold to both the scope of the story and the depth of the characters. Great final sentence by the way. I agree.

    Scott, you are right. Nothing bonds us quite as much as shared suffering. Thanks for sharing.

    Peter, that’s some good commentary on 1st Corinthians 13 and Lost. I love the distinction about Knowing about God and Knowing God. I think you are right about lost functioning as a mirror, or parable pointing to something beyond itself. And while there are many ways to interpret what it was pointing toward, I chose last night to see it as a gospel story. It haunted me all day. I couldn’t stop thinking that this story was reminded me that there was good in the world and it was worth fighting for.

  8. After I wrote what I wrote I wished I could revise it a little bit to make it tune in more to what you were keying into…it was more in tune with it at first, and then I thought about it more and became interested in the concept of love, which made me overhaul the short response I had and start from scratch…when I posted it, I found that the first, introductory part, was gone.

    I think that both the gospel story and I Corinthians 13 show that love (ultimately God’s love) has redemptive power over imperfection and death. Honestly, I had some trouble with the Buddhist and Ancient Egyptian imagery at first (when I was pondering your point about this being a gospel story) but then again any aesthetic worth these other religions have is “borrowed” from God’s own gospel story. I could identify, though, with your point that there was redemption in spite of the characters’ weaknesses and faults, and in thinking about the source of that redemption (in the context of the Lost story), I thought about how the redemption came from the power of the love between the characters, and in thinking about love, I realized that love ultimately comes from God — which brought me to I Corinthians 13. So even though what I wrote might seem to have little intentional connection to what you originally wrote, I really wanted it to — if I could revise it a little more (especially the abrupt first part) to make it more overtly relevant to your original post, I would.

    Thanks for the thought provoking post! Didn’t really think about Lost as a Gospel story until I read it, and what you wrote has definitely influenced my perspective on the show.

  9. Quite naturally, the ending postulated a Universalist afterlife. That was clear even to my 17-year-old daughter from the images in stained glass. I say it was natural for them to do so because I would expect nothing else from a TV show in 21st century America. To be more specific, more selective about the afterlife would be unthinkable to Hollywood, and to a majority of their viewers.

    That said, I loved the final show. We were all sitting around the TV cheering when the characters touched each other and remembered their time on the island. But all earthly things come to an end. I celebrate the show and thank the folks who gave it to us for asking big questions. Big answers are great, but you have to first ask the questions, and those are great in and of themselves.

  10. Here’s my really short take…We all are trying to avoid dying but it is only when we finally fulfill our mission (not destiny, I think that’s different) we can actual let go and die.. God has a mission/plan for us and that is what keeps us alive.

  11. Peter, good. I’m glad to hear that. By the way, I didn’t think that your comment was irrelevant.

    Bro. Danny, that’s exactly what I did. I told a friend that those moments (of them remembering) reminded me of the New Heavens and New Earth, because one of the core promises of God is that He will restore all things. I think that includes relationships. I just thought it was absolutely beautiful.

    Ricky, that’s a good take. Missional living. Sounds like this. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=philippians%201:21-26&version=NIV

  12. Lost was very compelling, and it was because of the mystery and story. But I wonder, with this and other modern stories, if we sometimes label things as “redemption” when its really more of the same works based idea that we find in every other religion in the world. To me, redemption implies much more the idea of grace than we get in a story like Lost. What brings this out to me the most is that there were a few characters absent from the final scene, most notably Michael, but there were others. It conveyed to me the message that it will all be ok in the end. The people who have a good heart and try really hard will get things worked out. That doesn’t seem like redemption so much as working out your own path.

    How do you see redemption as we know it through the themes of Lost? Am I just not remembering right?

    BTW, I’ve been listening to you from the RHCC podcast for a few years and just found your blog through Zack’s. Look forward to hearing more from you.

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