Here’s something I’m not supposed to say: my life without Lost will just not be the same.

Has Lost become an idol? Certainly not, but it has become a fixture in my life ever since I took the dive and watched the first two seasons all the way through in a weekend. In fact, it has become such a huge part of my life because I sincerely believe that Lost is one of many gifts that God has provided us with. That doesn’t mean Lost should be required viewing for all Christians, and certainly it shouldn’t undermine or supplant God’s written Word or the Church, but it does mean that Christians can appreciate some of the gifts that have been provided by the show – and acknowledge what will be lacking when it’s gone.

LOST: A Shared Experience

I have several friendships that have deepened and grown over time with Lost as a backdrop. There’s the two families who my wife and I went and watch Lost with every single week for two seasons. There’s the emails I’ve shot back and forth to all sorts of people, speculating, sharing interviews and easter eggs, and discussing the character’s redemption stories.

And this season, I’ve been honored with a place at the table for what we like to call a Lost-Lunch: four smart guys (okay, three smart guys and I) who meet every week after Lost and discuss the most pressing questions. We test our theories out on one another, we discuss the major themes, and sometimes we talk about our real lives. But most importantly, I’ve gotten to know three people exponentially better than I’ve known them before. That is the invaluable benefit of the shared experience, and since media has become more and more fragmented, we just don’t have enough of them these days.

LOST: An Appointment With Empathy

There are some who watched Lost solely for the mythology. They want to know the nature of the island, the motives of Jacob and the Man in Black, and where the polar bears come from. But if they’re anything like me, they eventually found themselves all wrapped up in the relationships and struggles of the characters that are put before us. One of the most memorable scenes I’ve ever experienced on television was Ben’s questioning of Jacob at the end of season four: “What about me?” Ben’s feeling of rejection and doubt was something I’d had little real experience with, but I knew a lot of real people who were feeling just as Ben did. Lost helped me to understand, and more importantly, to feel what it must be like to be plagued by doubt.

It’s moments like that which, if we’re open to them and paying attention, can give us a window not only into the lives of characters but into the lives of our friends, family and peers. After all, dealing with a drug problem, having horrible parents, losing a loved one, or living with a horrible secret are all real things that happen to real people. It’s a rare gift to have the opportunity to look in on those situations and experience what that must feel like.

LOST: A Challenge of Perspective

Every so often (somewhere around once a week), people are up in arms about a creative choice that the writers of Lost have made. Why did this character have to die? Why time travel? Why a whole episode about this person or that mythology? And every time, the writers refuse to back down, unless of course (as was the case with Nikki and Paulo) they themselves knew before the audience complained that the artistic choice was a bad one.

Others who write television and film have an entirely different philosophy of how to create great entertainment. In their mind, the writer ought to always step into the shoes of the audience, ask what they want, and do exactly that. But think of it: what if Lost had done exactly what we told it to? Not only would the show be boring, but it would be nothing like real life in that it would contain nothing that we hadn’t prepared for. In other words, the show simply wouldn’t ring true, though it may tickle our ears for a while. Watching our favorite characters die, coming face to face with the true nature of Jacob, and embracing the mystery of a show we’ll probably never completely figure out will inevitably result not just in a better show, but a true challenge to our perspective of how things are and how they ought to be.

1 Comment

  1. Great thoughts here. I echo most of them. I started watching LOST by myself, then was joined by my girlfriend (future wife) and then later the company of more friends. LOST has the power of bringing people together. In fact, LOST Night with friends turned into a Bible study before the show.

    I agree that in many ways LOST is a gift from God. The eternal questions and truths presented in the show are ones that every human must face at some point. Think about Jack’s journey. He spent half the series running away from the island (or trying to) and the remaining half trying to get back, but without a clear understanding of why. Last night we found out why. Jacob (the God figure) was calling him back because he had a plan for him. My hope (and theory I suppose) is that the remaining characters will join Jack in his mission to protect the Island.

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