Thursday, November 13, 2014

Throwback Thursday: LOST Part 2

This is an article I wrote on LOST a long time ago:

LOST And Found
Note: This article contains spoilers.

            I’m sitting here in my office reflecting on the end of one of the best television shows I’ve ever watched. LOST was for its viewers more than just another piece of entertainment, it was like literature on film: a story that dealt with issues of faith and reason, life and death and afterlife. You could not just watch an episode here and there: the writers built a beautiful tapestry that was at once terrible and wonderful, and if you were going to be involved you had to be involved all the way.
            Despite the deep, mysterious, evocative, and sometimes confusing nature of the Island that was the setting for the stories, and although it was the mystery and confusion that was the mark of the show for many outsiders, for true fans the show was more about the characters’ separate search for something deeper in life. I, for one, was profoundly moved by this hour a week episodic adventure, it was thought provoking and spiritually uplifting. If you are not yet familiar with the show or never gave it a chance, I suggest you look at the DVD boxed sets.
            In the end, it is Jack Shepherd’s search for faith that moved me the most. Jack was a man of science, a doubting Thomas who was in a perpetual struggle sometimes with, sometimes against, those forces that tried to get him to see himself as called to an actual destiny. Over against images of sometimes fanatical blind faith (in the forms of Ben Linus and sometimes John Locke) or a kind of monastic detachment preoccupied with a better life on the other side (Desmond Hume) Jack’s journey was one of hard fought, this-worldly meaningfulness. In a pivotal moment Desmond tries to convince Jack that his struggle to save the Island and his friends don’t matter because of the existence of a better world somewhere else, while Jack insists his struggle in this world matters, and matters ultimately. In the end it is Jack’s vision, and not Desmond’s that wins out. Between Jack’s early skepticism and John Locke’s absolute trust, there emerges an image somewhere between the two, of a life lived in mystery and unknowing, in horror and wonder, but in a general trust that there is something good and meaningful behind it all.
            Now, what the heck does any of this have to do with youth ministry?  Well, for starters, it is possible that in the future we may do a LOST study in youth group. I wrote one a couple of years back for our junior high mission trip and it went splendidly, and when I did that I also wrote one for the senior high group. Unfortunately this only touches on the first season of the show, because if you really wanted to do it right a study of religious ideas using this TV show would take years to complete, and that’s just not feasible.
            More importantly, I think the image of faith that comes out as the noblest and truest is the one that predominates in this group. Inquisitive, questioning, hard fought; the idea of the ultimate goodness of the universe and of eternal life always hangs in the background, but in the foreground is the conviction that life in this world, gritty, difficult, beautiful, and tragic as it is, matters and that we engage in our struggles together, as a family, and in concert with God. That kind of faith is the faith lost commends to us, and it is the kind of faith I see in this youth group every day. I’ll miss the story, miss the show, but really in another way it’s always with me, because I live that adventure every day.

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