May 22, 2010


Redeeming 'Lost': Entertainment Weekly’s Jeff Jensen tells CT why the television show reminds him of C. S. Lewis's 'The Great Divorce.' (Interview by Sarah Pulliam Bailey, 5/21/2010, Entertainment Weekly)

Do you see any similarities between the show and religious faith?

I am religious. I am a Christian, and I have thought a lot about that. To be a Lost fan these past six years is to take a leap of faith. It was a leap of faith in the beginning that the show was going to be a mystery show, and it would ever give us answers.

Jack and Locke are the two great characters of faith in the show. Jack only had faith in himself. That philosophy came from his intellect and that bias [toward reason] was created from damage in his childhood. His whole worldview was broken down and rebuilt into something: "I think there is something bigger than myself, and I think there's something out there worth pursuing." That makes him in many ways the defining hero of Lost. Locke, no dummy himself, was even more so a product of damage, and all he was was a huge ball of yearning. He wanted something to believe and something to believe in him. He was looking for anything that would give him meaning and purpose. He lacked good discernment in terms of what was right and good. He got suckered by a devil into believing in something that wasn't true. In many ways, Locke represents a critique of religion and faith that agnostics and atheists believe about religion. Jack represents a view a lot of people of faith believe. There's something more, and if they can seek it out, they can find it.

That said, there's one big difference [between] my faith, my belief, my relationship to God, and my relationship to Lost. I know that at the end, I will somehow "know" the answers. I will die, and I am going into that death with this faith. I have no idea what heaven is, and I'm not terribly concerned about it. I'm interested in having a relationship with God and Jesus. I'm tending to that in the moment. I will go into the afterlife saying, "Okay. What happens now?" And I will know. If the equivalent with Lost is, we reached the end of a journey of faith with Lost and now Revelation awaits, answers will be given and theories will be confirmed—I don't know if we will get that. All I know is it's coming to an end, and we will have a story.

Lost reminds me a lot of C. S. Lewis's The Great Divorce, his version of Dante's Inferno. It's a vision of the afterlife, but C. S. Lewis was really describing the life that should be lived here and now. His whole idea is that the afterlife begins now. You are on the slope of heaven or the slope of hell. This was all set in an allegory of taking place in the afterlife. Lost has supernatural ideas and the island may or may not be a place of this world. It might be a spiritual existence or something like that. Its concerns definitely talk about things that are bigger and beyond this world. It's really about how we live our life right now. Can we live moral lives, ethical lives, can we live together without knowing what is right, Christianity or Buddhism? What is the proper political modality for our country: conservatism or liberalism? We're going to be fighting about these things forever, but do they even matter?

If we get to the end of the show and we don't know exactly who is good, who is evil, won't that be disappointing?

Lost begins that conversation by saying, "Who gets to decide who is good and evil?" Here on earth, who gets to decide who is right and who is wrong? What Lost wants to say is, We're not going to decide that. What we're going to say is that you decide that for yourself. This is the ultimate expression of free will. All these being equal, pursue a life of self-awareness so that you know yourself well; then, you decide moment to moment whether you are good or evil and then be that, hopefully choose the good.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 22, 2010 7:56 AM
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