The Inevitable Connection Between Lost and The Church

You knew someone was going to do it. In fact, I'm pretty sure I'm not the first. However, I am not going to tell you that there are spiritual themes from Lost that can be extracted, distilled, and poured out into our lives (although some may make that claim, and they may be right). I am not going to tell you that good and evil on this earth are almost always as unclear as the plot of Lost seemed to be, because I wouldn't know.

In fact, let me start out by saying that I am no expert on Lost. In fact, the only reason this post exists is because I only watched two episodes before the finale, and then caught up with the recap before the finale. I then watched the finale, with a surface level knowledge of the plotlines and characters, and felt like I understood what was going on. In fact, when the finale ended without the powerful conclusion I expected from such a beloved show, I was okay with it, because I had been entertained for two hours.

My fiancee, on the other hand, was pretty upset about the ending. Her and her sister talked about this character and that character, and what had happened seasons ago, as if they were talking about old friends. They had been personally invested in the show, having watched the show for six seasons, and when the ending fell short of their expectations, it affected them. It meant a lot more to them than it did to me, because I was simply an outsider who had come in to be entertained.

A great show creates a fan base of insiders, who connect with the characters and the storylines. These insiders know the lingo, and know the meaning behind a certain move or action within the show. They are personally invested in the show, and when the show fails in some way, they are affected.

An outsider, on the other hand, is simply tuning in for some light entertainment. In fact, an outsider may be intimidated by the depth of the show he has found himself in. When the entertainment is done, the outsider leaves, and most likely isn't affected by whatever it was he just watched (he may have even been switching between the show and ESPN).

Here, I believe, is the correlation between Lost and The Church. Built within the structure of the church is a natural Insider/Outsider dynamic. A successful church builds a group of Insiders, whose goal then (hopefully) becomes bringing more people into the group. It is a self-replicating structure when it works, and often it works quite well.

However, there always comes a point where the Insiders become too immersed in their lingo and storylines and characters, making it hard for Outsiders to join. We hand them the Bible like a box set of DVD's, and tell them to study up. Or maybe we simply talk about those storylines and characters within our church, and when an Outsider asks a question about what we are talking about, we simply brush them off, sure they would never understand.

To see a TV show create a devoted following, personally invested in its plotline and characters, is amazing. To see a Church do so is beautiful and encouraging. However, how do we reach both the Insider and the Outsider? If you make things too simple, some of your Insiders will leave. If you make them too complex, the Outsiders will be intimidated and unwelcome. It is important, and exceedingly difficult, to find the answer, as a Church, that fits your community and allows you to grow.

The only way to make this easier, then, is to make it the mission of the Insiders to bring in those Outsiders, but this doesn't come naturally. We all love to be the keeper and giver of a secret. We all strive to be Insiders, often times at the expense of others. It seems that we are almost afraid; afraid that if we let too many Outsiders in, there may not be room for us.

Regarding the finale... I feel like the ending to Lost may have erred on the side of accessibility. It was the finale of an intricate story, woven from so many smaller stories. I should not have been able to come in and understand what was going on because of a crash course an hour before. The fact that I could, and that the ending was too easy and cliche ("it was all a dream/test/purgatory you had to go through before getting to heaven/afterlife/reincarnation"), was a disservice to those who had spent years trying to piece everything together. Thoughts?


Jared Ulrich said...

Great post Richie! Those are some great thoughts indeed.

I am an avid LOST fan and have faithfully watched all six seasons. Though I didn't LOVE the finale, I was not upset over it. I think it ended well and am satisfied with the conclusion. I wish there were more answers, but I think ultimately its up to us to use our imagination and fill in the holes however we want.

The great thing about LOST is the character development. Through the six seasons, we see many people who are hurting, broken, lonely, and in need of redemption and purpose. Through the crash on the island, they are taken on a journey of redemption. In the end they realize that life isn't meant to be lived alone. They need each other. My favorite quote from the finale is when Jack's dad tells him...

"Nobody does it alone, Jack. You needed all of them and they needed you..To remember, & to let go."

I can't wait to watch them over again from the beginning, knowing how it all ends.

leanna marie jackson said...

i loved the finale. i love this article: i've watched lost from the beginning and i thought the end was marvelous. the kind of issues people have with the ending of lost remind me too much of the issues people have with their own faith, demanding answers, generally discontent, etc. food for thought, anyway.


and i agree about the insider trend w/christians.
that's why i've never been a fan of over-jesus'ing my social media or general conversation. most the things we say to each other makes no sense to people around us. it's so easy to forget that, though. too easy.