A Most Reluctant Convert
Dr. James Emery WhiteJames Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina; President of Serious Times, a ministry which explores the intersection of faith and culture (www.serioustimes.org); and ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture on the Charlotte campus of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Dr. White holds the B.S., M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees, along with additional work at Vanderbilt University and Oxford University. He is the author of over a dozen books.
- 2009 Jan 16
I’ve become a recent convert to something that I swore I would never give my life to. Yet now I’m all in. I’ve invested hours trying to catch up to the place where other true believers are, even though it has taken time away from other pursuits. I’ve committed myself to learning the history, the people involved, including their backgrounds.
My commitment to discipleship is getting ready to pay off. I’m now caught up and ready to go. This is important, because it is time for the Holy Grail, the moment of moments, the night of nights.
Yep…the season premiere of ABC’s “Lost.”
I mentioned that I was a reluctant convert. That’s putting it mildly. My four children – all in their teens and twenties - have been after me to get into this show since it debuted back in 2004.
I had my reasons for keeping away. I didn’t have time to go back and catch up with the complex plot-line. Also, it sounded,…well, pretty stupid.
For the Lost-illiterate among you, it’s about a group of passengers who crash on what they believe to be a deserted island, only to discover that the island is not only anything but deserted, but also that the island itself possesses some kind of supernatural power. They try to get off the island while battling both its mysterious power and the “others” who inhabit it. These “others” have somehow tapped into the island’s mysteries, and are obsessed with keeping the island and its powers to themselves. All the survivors of Oceanic 815 want to do is get off the island, but the island seems to be keeping them there as they discover its secrets.
Sound a bit much?
That’s just a warm-up. You then find out the island was at one time in the hands of the scientific group called the Dharma Initiative, who built stations all over the island in hopes of harnessing the island’s unique properties. Throw in some time travel, the island being able to move, six getting off the island and then finding they have to go back, and you have the show.
And someone like me saying, “I don’t think so.”
Yet four people went on a mission. Not in a way that bugged me, or harassed me, but in a way that was continually inviting me, wooing me, enticing me, encouraging me to experience this for my life. It took years, but I finally broke down and said, “Okay, I’ll watch one.”
They said, “Wait – no – not on your own! We’ll watch it with you – and help you – and explain things.” Little did I know that while I was watching the first episode, they were silently praying that my defenses would drop, my heart would soften, and that I would see how my life could be forever changed.
One episode, and here I am – the most reluctant convert to “Lost” in all of America.
And I became one the way anybody becomes one. Those closest to me reached out consistently with something they genuinely thought would be of joy to my life. They did it relationally. They were patient - there was a lot to understand before I could begin to appreciate the larger story. And they were willing to walk each step of the way with me.
And come this Wednesday, I will be glued to the set for the season premiere.
By the way, this works with more than TV shows named “Lost.”
It also works with people who are.
James Emery White
Home site of “Lost”: http://abc.go.com/primetime/lost/index?pn=index
For a thoughtful engagement of Lost, and a good summary of its story-line (from which I’ve benefited here), see Andrew Root’s article “The TV Show Lost and Eschatology” at http://www.the-next-wave-ezine.info/issue114/index.cfm?id=37&ref=ARTICLES_FEATURED%20ARTICLE%3A%20SPOTLIGHT_529
On the phrase “most reluctant convert,” I am indebted to C.S. Lewis who attributed the title to himself in relation to coming to faith in Christ. On this, see David C. Downing, The Most Reluctant Convert: C.S. Lewis’s Journey to Faith (InterVarsity Press).