September 1, 2010 Posted by Roger Overton
*If you have not watched the final episode of LOST and don’t want to know how it ends, do not continue reading*
Overall, I believe LOST’s narrative narrowly survives the weaknesses of its unsolved mysteries. We are left with nagging questions, even after the bonus epilogue found on the season 6 DVD. But the most important questions have been answered, and the great climatic struggles of the narrative have been resolved.
Beyond mystery, another criticism of the show has been its theology. There are two moments that seem to demonstrate either ignorance or thoughtlessness on the part of the writers. In Season 2, Episode 12 “Fire + Water”, Mr. Eko claims that Jesus was baptized for his sins, and that baptizing Claire and Aaron will protect them. Both claims are plainly contrary to Christian teaching. I think the best way to explain this is that Mr. Eko never received formal theological training. He does seem to have memorized quite a bit of scripture, but there’s no indication that he has a robust understanding of its teaching.
The second can’t be explained via the plot, and is solely the responsibility of the writers. Even if we accept that LOST has its own unique spiritual worldview (there’s a light in every man that’s sourced to the island, the island is purgatory for bad people, not-so-bad people move on to some vague after life), the stain glass window in the final episode “The End” is rather repugnant. The church appears to be a Christian church (especially considering the painting of Thomas in the sanctuary and Christian stained glass windows), yet in this odd room is a stained glass window featuring symbols from Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism. The obvious message here in the afterlife is that all of these religions have led to the same outcome.
The problem is that each of these religions have serious differences at their very core. Saying they’re all true is much like saying every color of the rainbow is actually blue. If you take away their contradictory claims, you take away the claims that make them the religions that they are. For example, if Jesus is not the only way for salvation as Christianity claims, then Christianity is wrong. You cannot take away that claim and still have Christianity. Even in LOST’s unique worldview, that stained glass window is either utterly illogical, and disrespectful to the religions that are represented, or the symbols have absolutely no meaning and don’t refer to the religions we associate them with.
That said, there are very redeeming moments in LOST revolving around faith and religion. A few months ago I heard a gal say that watching LOST motivated her to return to church. LOST raised many of life’s biggest questions and never shied away from wrestling with them.
There isn’t much else for me to say at this point. LOST has become my all-time favorite show. I’ve met many of the cast and crew, collected plenty of memorabilia, attended some fun events, become friends with other devoted fans, and spent considerable time reflecting on and discussing the intricacies of the show. LOST is a great story, and every good story reminds us that we are part of a grand story that encompasses all of history.