Friday, May 28, 2010

LOST and Job

This past Sunday brought the finale of LOST. As an avid fan of LOST, I came to the episode with great anticipation but also fear - how would this all be resolved. While to a great extent I am borrowing from a number of other in-depth and scholarly reviews, (though in far less depth) I hope to add my own perspective.

But first, I would like to debunk any notion that the series was Christian - that it was an attempt to put forth a Christian worldview. I can understand the longing for that, but I think that it would ultimately fall flat in the face of the much broader spirituality it presents. However, I still believes it has great value for the Christian because it provides a unique view into what it is that people want.

I would like to develop this idea in the frame of the Biblical character of Job. Job was a man of "science" or in his case theological/legal law. While it is easy to get caught up in how Job's response to his tragedy is portrayed as blameless, what is easily missed is Job's long discourse with his so-called friends. Here he actually calls God to trial so that God would pronounce him innocent and declare that his suffering was truly "for no reason." He wanted to have an actual court case where he shows that God made a mistake in causing his suffering because only evil people suffer and Job is a good man. In the loss of so much within his life, and the rejection of his friends, he sought out the one thing that he believed would bring his life meaning again - certainty in his knowledge of God as retributive.

I think many viewers of LOST have been caught up in a very similar attitude towards the finale. They want the mysteries solved, they want to be justified in their search for meaning in the mythology and mystery of the island. They have seen characters die without much cause, and they have chosen to invest less in the characters than in the mysteries.

Returning to Job, we find that he continues his long discourse until finally - surprisingly - God arrives! Job's opportunity to appeal his case is allowed - or so he thinks. No, instead God declares the world a mystery. Some may think this is a harsh response to Job and, yes, it is. But so is Locke's response to Jack, that he doesn't really have a son. Sometimes awakenings are jolting. But Jack recovered and so did Job.

Job's awakening was that God was not "reasonable" but rather mysterious. But, in the midst of that, Job realized that a reasonable, predictable, and comprehensible God was not what he ever really wanted all along. What Job really wanted was to know that God was there, that God would show up. Job wanted to know that God cared for him. So God had to reveal the error inherent in Job's search for acquittal: that he was trying to find fulfillment in having the mysteries solved.

Instead, God presents himself to Job and, rather than condemning him for his presumptions, invites him into a deeper relationship, one where the mysteries remain.

The conclusion of LOST is really about showing that ultimately (hopefully?) we cared about these people much more than we cared about the mysteries. Sure we tried to subjectify the mysteries, hoping that we would find fulfillment in them, to experience them as things we can relate with. But, really, would we have been remotely satisfied if every mystery was solved but the characters whom we cared for were lost in the midst?

Sure, we feel loss that the mysteries remain. We will never know for certain how it would have felt to have those questions answered. But I know the feeling I had when the lives of these characters found a conclusion. And that assures me that it is real relationships that matter. It is when God shows up when we realize what we really wanted all along.