Monday, May 24, 2010

The Bible and the "Lost" Finale: Wrap-Up

I've had a night to digest the Lost finale, and as fun as it was to Bible-blog the two-and-a-half-hour marathon, I must admit that the series's conclusion is decided un-Biblical. Yes, we have Christ figures galore--Jack, Hurley, Locke, Aaron, Christian Shephard, and, um, a big statue of Jesus. Yes, we have sacrifice and redemption and a vision of heaven. But even though the last scene takes place in a church, the producers leave us with a decidedly ecumenical message.

So far as I can tell, Lost ends in the afterlife. But it is not a Judeo-Christian afterlife, or a Biblical one. The Hebrew Bible usually suggests that the dead just die--they simply cease to exist. Or they descend to "Sheol," an amoral gray area where perished ancestors live on in a shady half-life. And Christianity gives us either a new Jerusalem, a lake of fire, or a "mansion with many rooms."

Lost's afterlife is not really any of these things. It seems to be, rather, an idealized space where people go to reunite with the ones they love. Though this heavenly family reunion often gets unintentionally promulgated by certain Christian sects, it is not Biblical.

And as I mentioned last night, the stained-glass window over Christian Shepherd's coffin--a virtual spiritual smorgasbord--features symbols from most of the major world religions: a star of David for Judaism, a crescent and star for Islam, a dharma wheel for Buddhism, interlocking yin and yang symbols for Taoism, the Sanskrit word for aum for Hinduism (thank you, Cara), and a cross for Christianity. Thus, we are left in an inter-religious--or post-religious?--happy place where all our beautiful friends get dressed up and hold hands. I wouldn't have been surprised had the cast members started singing, "I believe the children are our future ..."

Now, I'm not a television critic; I'm a fly-by-night, tongue-in-cheek Bible commentator. But the Lost finale seems to drop us into a big pile of wishy-washy, spiritual-but-not-religious hooey. There was definite hard-edged religious content in the finale, and in the show. Why not end with a more decisive eschaton? Even if it weren't Judeo-Christian, or even Biblical, I would have appreciated a less vague wrap-up.

Yes, the beckoning white light and the community of dead friends give us hopeful images of a pretty afterlife--they make us feel better. But do they make for the type of innovative television that the best moments of Lost led us to expect? I don't think so.


  1. I want to discuss this with you in person at some point. The Christian imagery was super hard-hitting in the finale, you have to admit. Jack as the Christ figure and all that. This is my one beef with all of Western literature/art: Why does it always have to come back to that? Can't we be a bit more creative? Anyway, JP, let's talk.

  2. The "foreign-looking script" you mention is the word "Aum" written in Sanskrit. As you suspected, it is associated with Hinduism (although not exclusively).

  3. Thank you, Cara! I've made the change above ...

  4. i enjoyed the usage of the word "hooey."


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