Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Why I'll Miss Lost

I enjoy a good television show. I always have. For many in my circles, this is an abomination.

"What kind of a knuckle-dragging cave man watches TV when there are so many books to be read and people to talk to and work to be done!"

I love reading and being around people and preparing for sermons but I also enjoy watching television shows and movies that are well done and thought provoking. So count me in the cave man category. If you happen to be in the Kill Your Television crowd that sees something as tame as The Andy Griffith Show as work of Satan himself you should stop reading this now. Besides, what are you doing looking at my blog?

Television, like most everything else in our world, has its place in moderation. Moving in excess either way can lead to legalism or license. Too much of any electronic media will turn your brain to mush, remove you from the real world and lead to idolatry. There are many Christians who do not own TVs and that is good. However, these people must be on the lookout against isolation. There are many more Christians who enjoy TV and we have to be on the lookout against over-consumption. The pitfalls lie on both sides of the fence.

In our house, we are very selective about what we watch on TV. The TV is never just on for background noise. One of the shows that made it through our invisible filter is, in my opinion, the most well written character driven show on television - Saved by the Bell. No wait, I mean Lost.

The final episode of Lost aired on Sunday and I liked it. It did not end with all of our questions answered and it was a bit of a messy ending that created even more questions. But I think that this is where so-called Christian films need to learn a lesson. After sitting through Facing the Giants, I didn’t care what happened to the coach and his family and his team. There are two reasons for my apathy. First, the script was not compelling and the characters played more like points to a sermon than they did people. It was as if I had no investment in the characters so why should I care what happened to them.

Also, the end of the movie answered every single one of those questions. The multiple trophies on the mantle and the kids in the background and the new truck pretty much left us with no remaining questions. Ooops. I forgot to add the term spoiler alert at the beginning of this paragraph. My bad.

The great thing about the gospel is that when things end up messy and situations leave us with more questions than answers we know that all of our questions and searching and doubts find their fulfillment in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Of course, Lost did not come to that conclusion but it is interesting when a show with polar bears in the jungle hits closer to reality than one about football players or firefighters.

So as you can tell I enjoyed watching Lost. What follows are a few other reasons why.

My Wife

For the past six years I would spend an hour a week watching Lost with my wife. In that time, we’ve lived in three different cities, worked several different jobs and had two kids. A lot changed during that six year run but I am so thankful for the constant friendship I have with my wife. I’ll miss our conversations the next morning over breakfast where we try to figure out who Desmond represents or who the good guys are. I love my wife and I am thankful for all that we share together. We have only been married for not quite seven years but almost all of my favorite memories involve her. Lost is just one of those memories.

The Script

Lost was a weird show and there was a lot that did not make sense. I’ll never deny that. The show certainly isn’t for everyone. However, it is nice to see a show that was actually written and done so with some thought. Almost everything on television is a contest or a sneak peak into someone else’s so called reality. Lost was a story that didn’t pretend to be real. Yet somehow it seems more real than the song and dance competitions and high school romance documentaries that have taken over prime time television. On a side note, I still believe that most reality shows do have scripts. You just aren’t supposed to know about it. You didn’t hear it from me.

The Vertical

I watch and react to Lost sort of like I listen and react to U2. I don’t know Bono’s thoughts on the Trinity or atonement of Christ. I don’t even know if he’s a believer. I hope he is. But when I listen to U2 I can’t help but think vertically. There is something about their music that makes me wonder what it has to do with the gospel.

Lost is the same way for me. As you can tell from the final sequence of the final episode, the writers are not Christ-followers but the themes they included during the show caused me to think about and discuss with friends the parallel themes of redemption and grace and sin. Watching Lost made me think and talk about my thoughts.

The Worldview

Watching Lost reminded me that the world is full of people who are not like me and don’t think or believe like me. The final episode was sort of an all roads lead to home, new age view of the afterlife. I was sad when I saw that, not because it didn’t end the way I wanted it too but because billions of people actually believe that living a good life gets you a good life when your current one is over.

The gospel reminds us that none of us can live a good enough life to inherit eternal life. It is only through the perfect life of Christ, His death in our place as the subject of God’s wrath and his resurrection from the grave that we can enjoy eternal life. Our faith must be in Him through repentance, not in our friends and our efforts during the journey. Lost reminds me of the lostness of the world I live in.

The Conviction

Lost was a character driven show. It was impossible to consistently watch the show without becoming emotionally invested. You wanted to see Jack stop striving for perfection and Charlie get off of the heroin. But at the end of the day, Jack and Charlie are just characters.

I’m reminded that there are real people in my church and community that are seeking salvation through good works. I’m reminded that every week I preach to people who are being eaten alive by addiction’s empty promises. Shame on me for being more heart broken over a character on television than a real person in my city or church. Lost reminds me that the sin and brokenness represented by the island are only glimpses of the real pain and depravity in the world.

So if you missed out on Lost you may be glad that you did. But if you’re okay with TV shows that are different from the norm and make you think you should try Lost. I’m sure a box set of the entire series will be out in a few months. Start selling blood platelets now and by August you should be able to afford a copy.

"See you in another life."

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