Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Powerful Scriptural Themes in LOST

As I gear up for tonight's LOST episode, I'm still stuck on last week's episode that featured the story of Richard, a mysterious character on the island who doesn't age. As with many episodes, I've seen strong Biblical and religious references. Last week's references were so strong everyone seems to be talking about them. Early in the show Richard is in a prison cell awaiting punishment reading his Bible. The Bible was open to Luke 4:37 a passage where Jesus cast out an evil spirit, that's possibly important to the plot, but not particularly interesting theologically.

The really interesting part of the episode was a conversation between Richard and Jacob, a supernatural being who appears to be a force for good and a protector. Here's an excerpt form their conversation that I'll intersperse with my own comments and some outside references. To make things less confusing outside references will be blue. You can read the complete transcript here.
[Richard is sitting on a log near the remains of the statue with a blanket wrapped around him. Jacob approaches with a bottle of wine. Richard glances towards the Statue.]
RICHARD: What is inside?
JACOB: No one comes in unless I invite them in. [offers Richard a cup of wine.]
Compare that to Jesus' words, "No one comes to the Father except through me." John14:16. Also the way Jacob poured the wine appears to be strongly Eucharistic, although his later use of the wine in the bottle to represent evil kinda blows the analogy.
RICHARD: Are you the Devil? [Jacob pauses a moment and smiles.]
RICHARD: Then who are you?
JACOB: My name is Jacob. I'm the one who brought your ship to this island.
RICHARD: You brought it here? Why?
JACOB: [picks up the bottle of wine] Think of this wine as what you keep calling hell. There's many other names for it too: malevolence, evil, darkness. And here it is, swirling around in the bottle, unable to get out because if it did, it would spread. The cork [raises cork] is this island and it's the only thing keeping the darkness where it belongs. That man who sent you to kill me believes that everyone is corruptible because it's in their very nature to sin. I bring people here to prove him wrong. And when they get here, their past doesn't matter.
Compare that to the story of Job:

One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them. The LORD said to Satan, "Where have you come from?" Satan answered the LORD, "From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it."

Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil."

"Does Job fear God for nothing?" Satan replied. "Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face."

The LORD said to Satan, "Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger."

Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.

In the Bible God proves to Satan (and to us), through Job, that people can be faithful and just in spite of our hardships.

The other part is the offer of a fresh start. Of course God offers us a fresh start every time we repent of our sins.
RICHARD: Before you brought my ship, there were others?
JACOB: Yes, many.
RICHARD: What happened to them?
JACOB: They're all dead.
RICHARD: But if you brought them here. Why didn't you help them?
Huh. There's a humdinger. Compare to "why does God allow good people to suffer?" Another conversation though.
JACOB: Because I wanted them to help themselves. To know the difference between right and wrong without me having to tell them. It's all meaningless if I have to force them to do anything. Why should I have to step in?
I think that free will has been a major theme in the show. It's a major theme in Christianity too. The Catechism says, "God willed that man should be left in the hand of his own counsel, so that he might of his own accord seek his creator . . ."
RICHARD: If you don't, he will.
[Jacob pauses for a moment, taking Richard's words into consideration.]
JACOB: Do you want a job?
[Jacob nods.]
RICHARD: Doing what?
JACOB: Well, I don't want to step in. Maybe you can do it for me. You can be my...my representative and intermediary between me and the people I bring to the island.
Again, big theme in Christianity. If we allow it, God uses us to accomplish his will. I'm thinking of the story of a statue of Jesus that had been damaged by bombs in WWII. After the bombing the people repaired the statue, but couldn't find the hands. They erected a sign, "he has no hands, but yours.
RICHARD: What will I get in return?
JACOB: You tell me.
RICHARD: I want my wife back.
JACOB: Can't do that.
RICHARD: Can you absolve me of my sins so I don't go to Hell?
JACOB: I can't do that either.
RICHARD: I never want to die. I want to live forever.
JACOB: Now that...
[He touches Richard's shoulder.]
JACOB: ...I can do.
And that's the conversation. Although I have to admit the character of Jacob is not that clear cut, and I found the "I can't absolve your sins" bit somewhat troubling.

The next episode is starting in just a few short hours!


lacierempel said...

Hey Patrick, Dave made the connection to Job too! He's studying Job in his biblical heritage course.

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