Redemption Television: Chris Seay on The Gospel According to LOST
- Friday, January 15, 2010
Every once in while you stumble across the book that you feel you should have written. Or at least, that's what I thought when I saw the cover and title of Chris Seay's latest effort, The Gospel According to LOST, which happens to be about my all-time favorite television series and the Christian themes therein.
Then I was fortunate enough to read the book and speak to Chris about it, and let me assure you, he knows his stuff. Seay mines every nugget of redemptive gold from the annals of this show as it approaches its final season, and helps the reader understand that while LOST may not be a "Christian program," it's certainly a well-written, exquisitely-crafted piece of culture that explores what it means to be saved, to be redeemed, to be home, to be forgiven, to be in community... even to sometimes not know what on Earth is going on.
CW: In a nutshell, what is the Gospel as LOST records it?
Chris Seay: For Christians, we have to make two distinctions. It is The Gospel According to LOST, so these are the spiritual truths as told in this unbelieveable series. And sometimes they line up very clearly with Jesus the Liberating King. And other places they do not. So my job isn't to make all of it conform, it's to reflect on it and ultimately to believe what Jesus said: those that seek will find. So that's what I love about this show - it gets people seeking, asking questions, and hopefully finding. It isn't an endorsement of everything that happens in the show.
From time to time people pick up the book and tell me, "I thought this was gonna be just like reading the Bible." And I think, "For that, you would read the Bible." For this, you would engage people in conversations about a show that they're already watching. Having said that, I think that The Gospel According to LOST is about the yearning for redemption. There's not a full understanding of where redemption comes from, although, clearly with all the biblical metaphors in the show - the biblical narrative being woven in - there's so much there that alludes to [the Gospel], that seems to be hungry for it, but at the end of the day, [the story's about] the most broken people you can find.
In the book I compare it to another show that I watched growing up that took place on an island, where they picked very stereotypical people that you would want to be. We still use that: "Are you a Mary Ann or a Ginger kind of a guy? Are you a Professor or a Skipper? Who are you?" And you take these people that were basically very normal, beautiful, remarkable people in their own vein. LOST does the exact opposite, right? So at a time we're at war in Iraq, it includes an Iraqi soldier, plus a surgeon who's an alcoholic, and a woman who murders her father, and a mass murderer, and a man who had, I think, the most broken relationship with his father in John Locke that any of us have probably ever encountered. You just get these really deeply broken people, and clearly the ultimate story of it all is: can these people be redeemed? And for me, a person who believes that that's what Jesus came to do, believing that he came to bring shalom to all of creation, I feel like we have the answer to that. So that's a conversation I always want to be a part of.
CW: With all these diverse, broken characters thrown together, can you compare what it means to be "lost" in a scriptural sense to what you think it means on the show?
Seay: Where we find most of the term "lost" in the Scriptures is in Luke 15. Jesus tells these "lost" stories: the woman who loses a coin and turns the house upside-down to find it; the shepherd who loses a sheep and leaves the 99 behind to go and find it; the father whose son leaves and is lost as lost can be and ultimately finds his way home, broken but searching for redemption. In those "lost" stories (and you can't summarize scripture too simply, but) clearly it is about God seeking out and pursuing those that are lost and the joy of being reunited with that which God loves.
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