Redemption Television: Chris Seay on The Gospel According to LOST
- Friday, January 15, 2010
I think it is pretty similar in this story. It's not about necessarily coming home to a location, or a place, but about finding home. These people are searching for home, and maybe what they don't realize is that their very Creator is also searching after them. So I think that there are a lot of parallels there in the meaning and the way that we identify with them. The book shows that this isn't about them being geographically lost, though they clearly are, they're on an island. It's about them really searching for a spiritual home to lay their head.
CW: You mentioned earlier that LOST isn't a Christian show per se, but that there are obviously many Christian themes in the show. Of those, what do you think are the most prevalent?
Seay: Well, with every character it's different. So you have these dialogues that go on about salvation, and what that means, and whether it comes through Christ. You have characters like Eko - these broken characters - he was a drug lord who becomes a faux-Catholic priest, but still clearly doesn't understand that much about the Gospel. You've got topics like violence and others that come up repeatedly in the Scriptures. So it's hard to say; it's all there.
What I'm most curious about right now are some of the direct biblical names and the way that the story is being woven in. In the last episode of the last season we have this massive statue of an Egyptian god with these other figures like Jacob playing out in the middle of it. I think we have a story of exodus that's preparing to take place, so I'm always curious - how much does that parallel THE story of THE Exodus? I'm not really sure, but I'm excited to find out!
CW: Forgiveness is also a big theme in LOST, and in your book you talk about how some of the characters deal with the problem of guilt. What do you think LOST tells us about the role of guilt, and of being able to forgive oneself, as part of the whole process of forgiveness, absolution, and redemption?
Seay: This is one of the very basic questions that comes up at the beginning of Faith. I had a young man who's a friend who I introduced to Christ recently, invited to church; he came his first week on Easter Sunday. He comes from a very prominent, internationally-known family. He's been around church people all his life but never really heard or understood the Gospel. And one of his first questions was, "What do I do about my guilt?" He comes from a couple perspectives. One I think is, "This guilt is plaguing me, it's killing me in these sordid little ways." And so a part of me thinks, "That's gotta be bad," you want to run from it, and avoid it. Instead, part of what I have to be able to tell him is we have to face that guilt, embrace it, and then realize what Jesus has done on our behalf.
I think with all these characters what we see is them trying to deal with the guilt on their own, and it can't happen. When they can't deal with it, they run from it. So there has to be a salvation that comes in a larger form. Something bigger, something transcendent. Those of us who are followers of Christ, we know apart from a fictional story what we think that looks like. But all of these characters are looking for a real saving moment. And the struggle with guilt and the past is a big part of what drives that for all of them.
CW: In your chapter, "Life as Backgammon," you say that you see LOST on a basic level as a story about the struggle between good and evil, similar to Narnia or The Lord of the Rings. How do you explain the difficulty in LOST of sorting out good from evil? In those other stories, there's usually a pretty obvious line between them.
Seay: It's a question I purposely don't answer in the book because I'm not sure I have the answer. It's a whole lot easier to know, yeah alright, the queen who makes it always winter and never Christmas, obviously that's evil. There's no doubt about it. LOST is a lot more like our lives. Sometimes we don't know evil until we have to stare it in the face. Sometimes what we thought was evil is not so evil. It's just not quite as black-and-white, as gnostic in some ways, as we'd like to make it. That's one of the great heresies of the Christian faith, to think, "Let's just simplify the world into two categories, and we'll let the flesh be evil and the spiritual be good." Like all of us - we see this in our own hearts - even when I'm doing the right thing, I'm not always doing it for the right reasons, my motives have to be broken down. And I find that even in the good I do, there's evil present. That's what Paul talks about so much in Romans.
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