I just got done watching the entire series of Lost on Netflix for the second time. What a trip. What story telling. This time around things came a little bit easier. I more often had “aha!” moments and more than a few head-nods to the writer’s foreshadowing. For having gone as long as it did, for having kept almost all of its cast members the entire time, for having a grand story arch they stuck to and finished, and for the sheer magnitude of the undertaking, I can’t think of a better television series. Believe me, I’m a Browncoat, so you can take that to the bank. ;) So, if we have to go back, here are my main take-aways from the show’s six-year run…*spoiler warning*…
Wow. Where do you start with this one? Did any character in that show have a healthy father figure? Not really? Why is that? Having been blessed to grow up in a healthy family with a loving mom and dad, and having known families without that and what tends to happen, this was a glaring point of commentary in the show. Trust me. You don’t keep hitting the same plot device over the head without intending to say something about it. From Jack’s alcoholic father, Kate’s abusive father, Claire’s son’s run-away father, Hurley’s absentee father, Shannon’s missing father, John’s no-show father, Ben’s neglectful father, to Jacob and his brother’s unknown father, the show is rife, again and again, with this “daddy issue” stuff. That’s not my choice of wording, I think it’s a little insensitive, but that’s what people call it and even episodes were named referencing it.
Why so much emphasis on that? Never mind that a few became good fathers throughout the show, that would negate a huge, running story point with only a handful of examples.
I tend to think it was a statement against God. There is a train of thought that considers God to be an absentee father. I don’t agree with this, I’m a follower of Christ, I’m just suggesting this might be the premise of this theme in the show. If that’s true, you’d expect them to come down on one side of the question or the other and how that played out in the lives of the characters. What seems to have played out, given the idea that the sideways universe was a sort purgatory which wasn’t really real, it would seem most of the fathers never did become good fathers except maybe for Michael, but did he turn out well in reality? He was stuck on the island after committing suicide in the real-world due to guilt about telling his son what he did on the island to get them off. So, bad father figures beget bad father figures? I guess.
Man of Science vs Man of Faith
An interesting development, one I wouldn’t expect from our naturalistic, materialistic culture was which side of the old romantic versus naturalist philosophy triumphed in the end. John and Jack were pitted against each other early on as a “man of faith” and a “man of science”. For seasons Jack rejected John’s claims of fate and destiny but by the end he was a complete convert. I didn’t expect this. Given that our culture is so into ‘science’, to the level of faith, I figured the writers would somehow make that philosophy come out on top. Amazingly, they didn’t. If Lost was a battle between romanticism and naturalism, faith and science, surprisingly romanticism won. If you don’t know why that would be strange I encourage you to read Saving Leonardo by Nancy Pearcey. It’s an unabashedly Christian look at the driving philosophies since the Enlightenment in the arts, the sciences, literature, music, film, etc. One thing it does very well is describe how our modern philosophies are simply renditions of the same old “there’s more than we can see” versus “this is all we can see”.
Why did faith win out in the end? Why did they write it like that? Maybe because, although our modern, western culture loves the cold, hard scientific practice, it is very cold and hard and we like to think that we have a soft, warm, ‘good’ side to us, too. Love wins in the end, right? Or maybe the cold conclusions of materialism just don’t make for good television? I don’t know but it does make for a better story – and that should make you think a little.
You’ll notice that the church at the end, where all the survivors gather to “move on”, is a multi-faith church. It has symbols from all different faiths. These are actually real types of places. Again, I don’t agree with it, but that’s what they used. What you have, then, is a statement, perhaps subtle to some but painfully obvious to a follower of The Way (the only way), that all beliefs lead to…something good, the show didn’t really elaborate, but those who were not ready were kept in their painful circumstances. The problem with “all ways get to the same place” is that they don’t. Some ways lead to the mountains, some ways lead to the sea, some ways claim one thing, some ways claim the opposite. The law of non-contradiction arises and so one of them has to be wrong. They can all be wrong, but they can’t all be right.
The writers were clearly steeped in and serving a post-modern, western audience, and that’s where you’re going to run into trouble if you want to say anything really meaningful. In the end, Lost was itself lost in its own metaphysics, just as the culture it was reflecting is lost in our mixed up, tumbled, confused ideas about right and wrong, and how to find meaning, and what makes a person good, and all the other big questions.
So, after six years, 121 episodes, an epic, time-traveling, universe-fraying survivor story, what do we take away? Why was it so powerful if it was so meaningless? Where do we go from here? We have to go back.
We have to go back to where we lost the way, to where we crashed on this island of contradictions and meaninglessness. We have to go back to a time before we grew up not even knowing we were being conditioned to live in this personal purgatory where we’ve forgotten there is such a thing as redemption. We have to go back to when we still believed in fate and destiny. We have to go back to the beginning. We have to go back to our constant.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
We have to go back. We have to go back to God.