Monday, May 10, 2010

Lost Notes: Message in a Bottle; Verses in a Bible

I know this is Blogspot and all, but I never intended to use this blog for writing. First, it was a place to stick up my dumb, finger-on-touchpad drawn pictures. Then I thought: "Hey, why not stick the theme song videos in here, too? While they're not my creations, they are pictures, right, and they're often dumb." And so I did.

But then I was writing the recap for Lost, episode 6-14, "The Candidate" and found myself going off on a huge tangent about how, even if you hate the Bible, or don't know anything about the Bible, or don't care about the Bible, or think the Bible is the only book in the world -- that doesn't mean Lost shouldn't draw on Bible stories, or that fans shouldn't use the Bible (a frame of common reference) when analyzing Lost. What follows isn't polished. Heck, it isn't even proofed. It's a raw dump. I'll probably link to it in the recap, but maybe not. I didn't want to toss it, but as it developed, I felt that including it in the recap would make the recap less relevant to the episode, not more. And yet, I feel like it's a thing people might want to read. I feel like it's a thing that might help some people enjoy Lost even more. I feel like it's a thing that might help other people hate religious analysis of Lost a little less. Or maybe not. Maybe it'll just piss people off. That's fine too. I have no more time to spend on it, so...

Here's the thing:

About all that Bible Stuff: I’m noticing more and more people at wit’s end over Bible references in the show and biblical analysis of the show. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen people worrying that Lost is going to turn out to be a story of the type fandom often labels Goddidit. (You geddit?) And yeah, maybe this is the blind leading the blind, but I’m inviting you to stand over here next to me (don’t knock over the wine) and look at all the Bible-in-Lost stuff from a certain vantage point -- regardless of (but not despite) your real-world worldview. I’m trying to point out that all the Bible-in-Lost stuff is no fly in the ointment, but rather a common literary technique reaching back to the genesis of our culture.

The Bible (Eastern in origin) is arguably the foundation of the Western Literary Canon, and part and parcel of Western Society and Thought, and it’s not just the old dudes like Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton (although they too are foundational, and their work is chock full of Bible-y stuff).

Regardless of individual religious beliefs and experiences, Western Culture (literature, music, art, thought) is suffused with things biblical. Sometimes we get The Chronicles of Narnia; a fantasy retelling by a believer. Sometimes we get His Dark Materials; fantasy from a skeptic. Sometimes we get adaptations (think of all the epic bible-based films). Sometimes we just get allusions (think the film Jezebel, or Leonard Cohen’s song “Hallelujah”). Sometimes we get entire U2 albums, or a random Bruce Springsteen song. It’s in our politics (often, in my opinion to the detriment of both), and even in our advertisements.

My favorite biblically infused pop culture production, one that broadened my own understanding of my lifelong faith, comes from an atheist with a well-documented addiction to redemption. Yeah, if you’ve read any 3 of my Lost recaps, you know where I’m going, but follow me anyhow.

That favorite is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Ostensibly, BtVS had a mission: let’s watch as the pretty little blonde thing -- who is always monster chow -- takes back the night. And in its heyday, it had one overriding theme: high school is Hell.

But as the opening sequence reminded us every week, it was about "one girl in all the world -- a chosen one." Literally, messiah means chosen one (or “anointed one” which should get a chuckle from my fellow Buffy fans). In Buffy, my favorite atheist, Joss Whedon, gives us a messiah (mashiach) who manages to conform to one aspect of modern Jewish thought: messiah as mighty military leader; and one who conforms to modern Christian thought: her blood as substitutionary atonement; she died to save the world (a lot); and she rose again.

My point, and I do have one, is that if it's out here (in our shared consciousness), it's in there (the Bible). Lost is full of ideas from many religions and ideologies (although I see less objection to those ideas): dharma, Cerberus, Tawaret, astrology, psychics, walk-abouts, sweat-lodges, etc. As someone who holds to none of those beliefs, their incorporation hasn't watered down the show (for me). It's enriched it. It has enriched me. It has enriched my understanding of this show and my world.

Lost fandom, you are the apple of my eye. Like Sawyer in Faucke's cave, you can see the writing on the wall. It's time to rise and shine. There's no rest for the wicked. Our last handful of Losties have temporarily escaped Faucke's clutches by the skin of their teeth for while many are called, few are chosen. I'm watching Sawyer and Kate and wondering can a leopard change its spots. Maybe so. I no longer want to grab Jack and yell, "Physician, heal thyself," so anything is possible. All I know is that the end is near. Woe is me.



  1. Thanks, Cindy. I enjoyed that! Like I enjoy all your recaps (How I met your Mother too).
    I think we can't just ignore the Bible in LOST. It's there, I'm waiting until after finale to see what the ending means.

  2. Absolutely agree with all of a Christian (and a Sunday School teacher), I have tried to dance around this as best I could in my own recaps. It's impossible to ignore the Biblical references, just like it's impossible to ignore all of the other obvious influences in this story.

    By the way, you are my very favorite LOST recapper on the web, and I read a lot of them. I always try to get my recap up before yours, because we always seem to latch on to some of the same ideas and I don't want anybody to think I'm copying you! :-)

  3. I really appreciate your thoughts. I don't know what I'll do when I don't have LOST to stimulate the half-dead parts of my brain. I just hope the end isn't "it was all a dream" or something trite and lame like that. Keep up the fantastic recaps on all the shows we love!

  4. Hey thanks Evamarie, Scott and breetsuits for the kind words. I've had a health thing going on with one of my children (not dire, just not simple) so I've been remiss in responding to comments, here.

    Scott, the hardest thing for me (as far as recapping the show goes) is not letting myself read the other commentary out there, until I've written the recap. That's my rule of thumb, although I do break it sometimes, and when I do, I try to link to the articles I've read in the recap. so that it's clear they've influenced me. I'm always scared to death that I'll accidentally plagiarize someone.

    I'm going to miss this show so much, you all. It's really hitting me today. Tomorrow night, it's all over. GAH.