Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Finding Christianity in LOST

The TV drama series LOST, which aired on the ABC network for six seasons, created by Jeffrey Lieber, J. J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof, was a polarizing cultural phenomenon that was on the air from 2004 to 2010. The series featured many Christian symbols and referenced many religious perspectives. Even though the show was more science fiction in nature and not exactly a Christian show, each episode followed the lives of people who had survived a plane crash and showed their struggles on a mysterious island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, all the while addressing the many deep spiritual issues that a lot of people face in today's world. The objective of this analysis paper is to look more closely and analyze some of these Christian references that were made throughout the show's airing.

In each episode of LOST, the show is seen through the perspective of one of several major characters, facing some sort of struggle, which plays as a major theme in the episode. The major Christian theme that can be found throughout the entire series of LOST, is that of Faith. Other Christian themes include; the existence of God, miracles, the nature of good and evil, the afterlife, secrets and lies, baptism, and prayer. "The Biblical narrative is a big part of the larger story," says pastor Chris Seay, of the Ecclesia Bible Society in Houston, Texas. Seay goes on to say that LOST points to the existence of a higher power that's good, as well as to the existence of a power that is also evil.[1] That can be seen with many of the show's characters, those who are good who play the heroes throughout the series, as well as there being many villains who threaten the heroes.

When it comes to character names in the series, peoples' names are very important to the entire plot of the show. Many of the characters have Christian names and those names hold special meaning in LOST in regards to the character. The leader and main hero in the series, was Dr. Jack Shephard, who did everything he could to save the lives of his fellow plane survivors. His name has a serious religious connotation, since his last name almost reads as shepherd. Another minor hero was airplane crash survivor Hugo Reyes,  who ended up being the "Protector" of the island, found out in the series finale. James "Sawyer" Ford, Kate Austen, and Sayid Hassan Jarrah were three major redemptive characters on LOST. Before arriving on the island, Sawyer was a con-artist who stole from people and ended up in jail, only to get his sentence commuted by pulling a con on a fellow inmate. Kate killed her father and fled from the law for many years, as well as committed various crimes. Both Sawyer and Kate redeem themselves on the island by helping the rest of the heroes/innocents on the island, with Kate even mothering Claire's baby, once she is off the island. Sayid was an Iraqi Republican Guard who tortured people and killed people. He was a tortured redemptive character, because he sought to change his ways, despite being forced to use his skills, and in end, sacrifices himself to destroy the bad guys. Since there are heroes found throughout the LOST series, there's also villains. The ultimate villain found in the LOST series, would be the Smoke Monster, because it was a powerful force that could be heard from a distance, clanking and hissing, and seen in a smoky black form. Martin Keamy was another pure villain who appeared on LOST, who shot and killed a number of people, most notably, executing Ben Linu's adoptive daughter, Alex, without much thought, and triggering the explosion of the very freighter that he came on. Ben Linus was a villain who lied, cheated, conned and manipulated people and even killed his own father throughout the entire series.

A biblical narrative in LOST can be seen when one of the main characters, Mr. Eko, who makes a stick that's filled with biblical verses and chapter reminders.

The following biblical references can be found on the stick that Mr. Eko carved:

- Colossians: This chapter was written by the apostle Paul and one of the main themes throughout the letter, are reconciliation with Christ and rules for Christian living. Life and Death imagery can be found in Col 2:13 - "When you were dead in your sins... God made you alive with Christ..." There is also clear reference to the show's theme of parent issues, found in Col 3:21 - "Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged."
- Acts 4:12 ("Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.")

- Habakkuk 1:3 ("Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds.")

- Hateth

- John 3:5 ("Jesus answered, 'I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.'")

- Gen 13:14

- Luke - One of the main themes found in the Book of Luke is the re-orientation of Salvation from the future to the present. One does not need to wait in order to claim spiritual gifts or healing; it is available now. Luke focuses on the idea of Jesus and Salvation for everyone.

- Psalm 144

- Revelation 5:3 ("But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it.")

- Romans 6:12 ("Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you can obey its evil desires.")

- Titus 3

- Titus 4

- Galatians 3:16 ("The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The scipture does not say, 'and to seeds,' meaning many people, but 'and to your seed,' meaning one person, who is Christ.") [2], [3]
Each biblical reference that can be found on Mr. Eko's stick is deeply important not only to the character that made, it but also adds to the larger story of LOST, with reflecting some if the struggles and issues that many of the other characters face. The stick itself alludes to the symbolism of Christianity itself, because shepherds often used rods in order to guide their flocks of sheep and were seen in Israelite culture as a symbol of authority. There are many examples found in the Bible of the use of the rod. One example is when Moses was able to use his rod to part the Red Sea when God commanded him. 

The image on the left side is a powerful image in regards to Christianity. The picture shows airplane survivor Claire and her newborn baby Aaron being baptized by Mr. Eko, who was a priest in the series. In the Christian religion, being baptized is a time honored ritual ceremony tied into being part of the Christian Church. Being baptized symbolizes purification, which for the LOST series, seems to make perfect sense, because all of the crashed plane survivors come from a world full of sin, and now they've come to an unknown island in the middle of the ocean. 

When it comes to finding God in the world of LOST, He is only mentioned in passing dialog between characters, when someone asks if they believe in Him. For the many characters of the show, they show determination and have a strong sense of faith to believe in a higher power in order to get through the many struggles and obstacles that face them in order to survive, just like the world that we live in. Even though LOST is a work of fiction that relies heavily on the part of science fiction, reality also plays an important role in the show, showing the human side of people, people who struggle with their faith and are determined in believing in Him.


[1] Sheridan, Michael. "Lost & Religion: Christianity and faith played big role in ABC series." New York Daily News. May 24, 2010.

[2] Quest Study Bible. Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI. 2003.

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