My kids and I started watching Lost on DVD this past summer, catching up from the very beginning and getting totally hooked on the series. There have been great moments of connection and discovery, like when one of my 8th graders realized that John Locke was the name of a real person (18th c. English Religous Philosopher) and my 4th grader recognized that Daniel Faraday was a nod to Michael Faraday, the scientist. Soon, we really started looking for the links and connections beyond the 'plain sense' of the storyline and noticed other interesting names, etc: Jack Shephard - the shepherd and physician who leads; Sawyer - wild like Tom Sawyer; Charlotte Staples Lewis - a nod to Clive Staples Lewis (C.S. Lewis).
It's a great show and has given us hours of imaginative conversations about faith, science, religious philosophy: Christian hope, Eden, Messiah/Sacrifice, Healing Power, The Communion of Saints (e.g. Time/Space Continuums), etc.
Last week's episode climax occurred in a church and Benjamin Linus tells Jack Shephard the story of Thomas the Apostle, whose painting is hanging in the sanctuary. Ben recounts how Thomas was the one who said to Jesus when he learned he was going to Jerusalem to die, "Let us go with him and die also." But that is not how he is remembered, Ben continues. Instead, Thomas is remembered for being the one who didn't want to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead. He needed proof - had to see, wanted to touch the wounds for himself. At this point in the series, Locke is dead (we don't know exactly why or how) and Jack has a note from him, unread until a few scenes later, but which says simply, "Jack, I wish you had believed."
During tonight's episode I finally remembered to grab my copy of John Locke's "The Reasonableness of Christianity with a Discourse of Miracles" off my library shelf. Must admit, haven't looked at it since seminary days (thanks Dr. Edmondson!) but in turning a few pages quickly stumbled on these two points from Locke's main treatise:
"7. Adam being thus turned out of paradise, and all of his posterity born out of it, the consequence of it was, that all men should die, and remain under death for ever, and so be utterly lost."
"8. From this estate of death, Jesus Christ restores all mankind to life...whereby it appears, that the Life, which Jesus Christ restores to all men, is that life, which they receive again at the Resurrection. Then they recover from death, which otherwise all mankind should have continued under, lost forever..."
Now, I'm not confident that this is where the writers are going. According to the ABC Lost series website, (or was it another related website?) the writers did require the condition that the series have a supernatural underpinning to it, and clearly they have carefully chosen characters' names and made some strong allusions, if not outright references, to religion and science, miracles and the power of hope.
Regardless of exactly where this may be headed, it's more than just an occasional TV teaching moment - it's been season after season of great discussions, wondering, and just darned good writing, acting, and entertainment.