Idol or icon?
LOST, Lord of the Rings, the books referenced in LOST, even the Bible itself can become idol rather than icon if we become enmeshed in the details of the stories or of the Word and never see through to the Author, to God Himself.
It is possible to find True Truth in LOST or in LOTR or in Kierkegaard or Augustine or in Matthew Henry’s commentaries, but if we look to any story or philosophical treatise or commentary as the Source of Ultimate Truth, that work of literature has become an idol rather an icon that points us to the Ultimate Truth of God in Christ Jesus. Stories and poetry, and in our culture movies and television, are powerful icons that can point us to the source—because in the end all Truth is God’s truth (which is NOT the same thing as saying all religions lead to the same Source).
Cuse and Lindelof (LOST producers) wisely refused to answer all the questions raised over the course of six seasons of LOST for at least two reasons. First of all they don’t have all the answers. LOST raised many philosophical questions for which the answers are incomplete in any story. Cuse and Lindelof and the writers of LOST are telling us, “LIFE/LOST is messy. We have faith that it does have meaning, but the whole thing is a group project. No man is an island. We live in community, whether we want to or not, and we work out our salvation in fear and in trembling and in community.”
Secondly, and related, the answers are not neat packages. Each answer leads to more questions. LOST is like life. Things happen that seem meaningless and even perverse, and only later on can we see the meaning and the reason. Other parts of life we never do understand. Perhaps those incomprehensible and seemingly random events (Jack getting pounded in Thailand, Walt’s special abilities) also have meaning, but it’s a meaning that we are unable to discern even from the vantage point of the future. Like Jack and Hurley and the rest of the LOSTies, we just have to muddle through, having faith that there is a light at the center of the universe and a place and time where all be made clear.
In the end the LOST writers, the story itself, came down on the side of faith. Granted, it was faith in anything or everything, Buddha or Jesus, take your pick. But that’s our culture. That’s the part of the story that’s misleading and untrue. Still, some of the themes were truth-filled. It does take a community to work through your issues and help you to become the person you were meant to be. Human beings do have choices, and choices do matter, even when it seems as if everything is predestined and predetermined. Forgiveness is important and healing. In one sense, what happened, happened. You can’t change the past. But in another sense, nothing is irreversible. Resurrection and redemption are possible. (“Christian Shepard? Are you kidding?”)
And faith is vital. Not faith in oneself, as was implied in certain lines of dialog in the season finale, but rather faith in a God who is there and who is weaving meaning into every single event and relationship of our lives. In fact, we have a God who is so much bigger than Jacob or Jack or the Island itself. We have a Savior who by His sacrifice on the cross gave meaning to all the little mirror sacrifices that we sometimes make for each other. Jack and Desmond and Charlie and Jin and even Kate were all little Christ-figures, icons for the true story of sacrifice and servanthood that is found in the Bible. If you’ve never read it and you’re looking for a story to fill the LOST void now that LOST is over, you might try the real thing. God’s story is as mysterious and profound and beautiful and iconic as LOST, and it’s completely True. Time to go further up and further in and enter the Door that is now open into the most exciting story of all.