With the final season of Lost just around the corner, a lot of the writers at Christ and Pop Culture have finally found a television show they can agree on. From it’s beginning, it’s dealt head on with issues of morality, spirituality and faith. Most importantly, it’s a show that is thoughtfully and artfully produced, presenting us with a unique plot and real, empathetic characters. Naturally, it’s a perfect show for CaPC writers to discuss in our Water Cooler series.

For the next two Tuesdays, we’ll discuss the show so far, and what we might expect in the coming weeks and months. Once the show starts, you can expect regular updates, in which we discuss each episode and its implications.

Warning! There are spoilers down there!

Richard writes,

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t been moved by a television show more than I was moved during the season finale of Lost. Ben’s struggle, which we see hints of throughout the season, is pretty clearly a struggle with faith, but not the kind we often pay lip-service to. In fact, I’d say it’s a far more common struggle. Rather than doubting Jacob’s existence, he doubts that it’s in his best interest to follow him. He shows an unwavering faith for an incredibly long time until he finally can’t take it anymore, and he is understandably outraged. The writing here is brilliant: Ben doesn’t go on an overwrought angry tirade. Instead, he mournfully explains his feelings of rejection, frustration, and confusion at Jacob’s ways. It’s clear he doesn’t ask for much, but he is asking for something: simple acknowledgment. For me, the heartbreaking moment? When Ben asks, “What about me?”, Jacob replied with a neutral expression: “What about you?” The look on Ben’s face is shock. Who expects that, when given the chance to ask God that one question we’ve always wondered, he would respond with something like: “Who are you, oh man?”

One thing can’t be denied: Ben’s struggle is a common one and one that we’ve got to acknowledge if we’re going to have an honest conversation about faith.

Lost is certainly trying to do just that. A theme of the show from the beginning has been the seeming contest between faith (John Locke) and reason (Jack Shepard). My question is this: where do you think they’re going from here? Should we brace ourselves for the most powerful and convincing case against God ever produced in a television show, or are they presenting this conflict only to resolve it?

Anything else you guys are looking forward to finding out next season?

David writes,

My first thought is that rarely does contemporary pop culture show reason to be superior to faith. Almost everything we see has faith winning out in the end, almost always over and against reason. Granted it’s not the faith we would embrace, nor is it usually as thoughtful a faith as the writers of Lost are discussing, but it is a victorious faith nonetheless.
My hope is that the writers of Lost will continue their brilliant writing by showing that the tension we feel does not negate the compatibility of the two elements. But I can’t be sure that’s what will happen.

I would also ask this question: does it seems like Jack has become a man of faith in this most recent season?

Alan writes,

The Faith vs. Reason theme that has been central to the show from the beginning has always interested me, and I’m excited to see what Season 6 brings. One of the problems I’ve had with this theme, however, has been that Faith has typically been portrayed as a leap-of-faith. People in the show tend to have “faith” in things or people or the island when they just believe in something, despite reason. This either Faith or Reason dichotomy which seems to often define the theme in the show is precisely the kind of Faith that we want to distance ourselves from as Christians. We should be rejecting the mystical vs scientific, emotional vs rational, ancient vs modern divisions that dominate contemporary discourse on Faith. That all said, there are many interesting ways in which the show’s writers have problematized these divisions. Locke’s gut-feeling faith has occasionally helped him out, and occasionally lead to disaster. Meanwhile, Jack’s reason has often been little more than gut-feelings disguised as the “logical thing to do.” I’m quite curious to see how this theme plays out this season. Will we get any sort of closure to the theme?

Probably the biggest question I have going into Season 6 is who Christian is, I mean, other than Jack’s dad, and why is he named Christian? There are many strange connections between Christian and Christ, as any good Lost site will tell you (the most obvious is that he appears to have risen from the dead in some sense). If he is supposed to represent Christ, or Christians, I’m anxious to see what the producers intend to do with him.


  1. This either Faith or Reason dichotomy which seems to often define the theme in the show is precisely the kind of Faith that we want to distance ourselves from as Christians.

    I’m not sure that’s the case. Though the object of faith in LOST isn’t anything I’d place faith on, the paradigm seems to match the Christian one not insubstantially.

    Of course, I being our resident fideist would kind of have to see things this way.

    In the first place, there are scores of things we believe (as Christians) separate from reasonability. Call it a leap of faith if you like or just call it faith. Christ as God and man: unreasonable. Free will and sovereignty: unreasonable. God’s ubiquitiy and simultaneous locality: unreasonable. The Bible as the inspired, inerrant word of God: unreasonable. The Trinity: unreasonable.

    We believe these things and can create justifications for some of them—but all from within the system. We cannot arrive at any sensible understanding of these things from outside the system. We must, therefore be brought into the system in order to begin reacting reasonably from within it.

    Locke, as the show’s man of faith, is a very reasonable man. He pays heed to all manner of empirical evidence in his normal arena of operation: tracking, hunting, strategizing, liberating Charlie from addiction, leading, etc. The only difference between him and the others (not the Others) is that he is propelled by faith in something the burst through his understanding of the world and reshaped his perspective on things and his motivation for all the reasonable things he does.

    One might call it his recalcitrant experience. Just as regeneration is ours.

  2. In response to Richard: I actually saw that scene between Ben and Jacob pretty differently than you did…

    Where you saw Ben asking for simple acknowledgement from a being he has placed great faith in, and Jacob responding with indifference towards a lesser insignificant being, I saw Ben asking what’s in it for him, and Jacob trying to communicate that it’s not all about Ben.

    I don’t see Ben as representative of people who act in faith, yet struggle to understand why or to what end. I see him as representative of people who seek to use faith as a means to control others or gain power. To me, he is in the same category as the villain Carnegie in “The Book of Eli”.

    I agree that none of us would expect or desire an answer of, “Who are you, O Man?” from God. But does that say more about God, or about us?

  3. Joseph, you make a really good point. I think this speaks to two things inherent in the series:

    One, Ben is a naturally manipulative and untrustworthy character, and it causes the audience to second-guess absolutely everything he ever says! This is a fascinating dynamic, and it’s obviously something that’s influenced your perspective of the scene here.

    Two, Lost has done such a good job at making even the worst characters seem human and empathetic, and I think that’s what resulted in me ultimately feeling like I knew exactly where Ben was coming from. Whatever Ben is trying to say, and whatever Jacob is trying to say in that scene, I’ve been where Ben’s at, and it’s a completely valid place for a believer to be, though ultimately he has to come to a place where he acknowledge’s God’s sovereignty and superiority.

    I think you’ve touched on the intentional ambiguity in that one phrase from last season: What about you? It was delivered so perfectly in that we can read our own perspective into it, but when we watch the next season, we may go back and watch it and see it a whole other way.

Comments are now closed for this article.