Friday, May 28, 2010

They Once Were LOST…, but now they have found each other.

LOST Supper Six years ago, Oceanic 815, flying from Sydney to Los Angeles, broke apart in mid-air and tumbled to an unknown island in the South Pacific in three pieces. Incredibly, providentially (?), over forty passengers survived. The survivors soon discovered, however, that this was no ordinary tropical island. From polar bears to strange electromagnetic forces, to a malicious “smoke monster” and hostile unknown natives (“Others”), to a group of utopian hippie scientists from the 1970s called “The Dharma Initiative” and seemingly ageless, demigod personages Richard Alpert, Jacob, and “The Man in Black”, the survivors were soon asking, in the immortal words of Charlie Pace, “Guys, where are we?” Six years later, the television series has come to a closure, and fans are still asking that same question, along with countless others.

LOST was unique in television history: it was epic in narrative scope, cast, setting, even in time and space. The closest series comparable to it has to be David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks” (early 1990s). Moreover, LOST was a product of our postmodern times and culture and, I believe, evolved over its six seasons into a critique of these. Chief amongst the postmodern themes in LOST include the island itself. An island has the appearance of being disconnected from other land masses, seemingly floating in the ocean. I believe that LOST utilized this idea as a critique of postmodernism, a primary tenet of which is that there are no absolutes (absolute truths), but that truth is subjective, being the product of a culture’s narrative or collective story. In the end, just as an island in reality is connected to a land mass hidden under water, it was never the island that was LOST, but it was the survivors who were lost in their lives even before being brought to the island.

In LOST, the island appeared to be disconnected, time and space appeared to be disconnected, good and evil, right and wrong, even life and death appeared to be disconnected – this is to say that LOST was thoroughly postmodern, leaving the viewer, and our survivors, awash in uncertainty of where they were, when they were, who they were, and why they were. Is that not a reflection of the world we live in today? The postmodern delusion of our time has seen us devolve into fragmented families, often separated by great geographical distances and by even greater relational distances. We have believed the lie that by eliminating absolute truth and connectedness we will truly be free. But, free to what end? Free to float alone with no meaning, no purpose, no relation to others, etc.? Many gladly court such disconnectedness, as did some of the survivors on the LOST island. In the end, however, LOST critiques this idea, I believe, by suggesting that the survivors, who were already disconnected and lost in their real-world lives, were brought to the island, not to revel in their postmodernity, but to have an opportunity to rediscover who they were, where and when they were, and even why they were in relational connectedness to each other. These strangers came to care about each other and even to love each other unto the point of sacrificing their lives, in some cases, for each other. In LOST’s end, it is relationships and connectedness that are truly important and that truly set the LOSTies free.

There were many religious themes in LOST coming from all sorts of faiths, philosophies, and traditions: good and evil, right and wrong, repentance, contrition, forgiveness, redemption, sacrifice, resurrection, and reincarnation are but a few. LOST was thoroughly pluralistic (equality of all religious views) and often Unitarian (all paths lead to God), but in the end, despite the many and varied religious symbols and motifs represented, I believe that a general western Judeo-Christian view won out. To put it simply, no one is brought into this world to live for himself alone. We are born into families, tribes, communities, and nations and are dependent upon each other. This gives us each an opportunity to die to ourselves and to live to God by loving service of our neighbor. I believe this idea was encapsulated in the oft repeated LOST mantra, “Live together, or die alone.”

Jesus teaches us that love is the fulfillment of the Law, for love does no harm to a neighbor. Further, Jesus teaches that the greatest act of love is to sacrifice one’s self for another. Postmodernists can do this as well as followers of Jesus “the way, the truth, and the life”, but ultimately their sacrifice has no meaning. Your selfless sacrifice of love, forgiveness, charity, mercy, peace, etc. is motivated by and flows from Christ’s own sacrifice of love for you. Jesus Christ is the Truth incarnate (in human flesh and form), and by knowing Him, you know the Truth, and the Truth truly sets you free.

Like passengers on an airliner, we all come into this world with the baggage of sin. Also, like travelers, we pick up a lot more baggage along the way. Jesus took that baggage upon Himself and died for our sins upon the cross. We don’t have to carry that baggage anymore. And, now that our load has been lightened, Jesus will work through us to help others believe that He has taken away their baggage to. We see that we are not alone, that we need each other, that we are not lost, and that is to be truly found.

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