Book review:
The Gospel According to Lost

The Gospel According to Lost - coverI’ll admit, I gave up on Lost a while ago. I am the type of person who likes resolution, closure, answers—and Lost is all about mystery, questions, and complications. I thoroughly enjoyed the first few seasons I watched—the storytelling was excellent and the characters intriguing—but I grew frustrated that the mysteries were never solved! In fact, they became more complex as each new layer was revealed. And the amount of time in between seasons made it difficult for me to remember the threads of all the story lines.

But Chris Seay’s book, The Gospel According to Lost, has persuaded me to participate in the show again. Seay makes a convincing case that Lost is not only a good story, but it is a rich tapestry of cultural, philosophical, and religious truths, presented in a totally engaging and potentially life-changing way.

Seay’s book devotes a chapter to each of the main characters—Hurley, Sayid, Kate, Sawyer, Jack, Locke, Mr. Eko, Sun and Jin, Ben, and Jacob. In each chapter he compiles all the significant details revealed about that character’s background over five seasons, which I found incredibly helpful! Seay also points out details I would never have noticed on my own—the ways the characters reflect their Biblical namesakes, the Biblical artwork in some of the flashbacks, the fact that so many of the characters have been hurt by their fathers. In comparing the stories of Lost‘s various characters to characters in the Bible, Seay helps me think about them in new ways. I find myself less frustrated by the lack of resolution and more willing to experience Lost as an ongoing story—like life.

Perhaps Seay says it best in the Prologue of his book:

Lost is not just a television show…. The story, which has blossomed into a marathon of cultural, literary, scientific, and religious allusions, offers to its faithful adherents ideas worth pondering, books worth reading, scientific theories worth exploring, and ideas that very nearly burn a hole in our pockets. Lost, in all its illustrative, complex glory, demands that we dialogue, research, meet ourselves in the characters, and share our latest discoveries with one another.

In fact, isn’t that what we dreamed television would do? Early in its history we envisioned families watching quality programs together, laughing together, learning together. How long was it before those lofty goals diminished into the glorified inanity of shows like Two and a Half Men?

Even the best TV show is no replacement for real relationships and real involvement. But Chris Seay’s book makes me wonder if perhaps a show like Lost can equip us to recognize our own demons, to care for complicated people, and to live in harmony with the One who came “to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10)

What do you think? Is that too much to hope for from a TV show? Or am I only trying to justify my preference for staying on the couch instead of making disciples?

8 thoughts on “Book review:
The Gospel According to Lost

  1. I do believe Lost is portraying the Biblical Gospel story in many ways. I wasn’t a fan from the start, but asked foe the first season for Christmas in 2008. I was hooked, not because of the good writing, the good characters, or the wondering of the mysteries. I was hooked because the Gospel eas written all through this story, and nobody was really noticing it. The Gospel is mysterious and intriguing. We will never understand the true essence of God, just like I expect the Island to remain a mystery. As the Island operates outside of time and space, so does our living God. I’m looking forward to season 6 and seeing if they’ll leave the mystery out there. I believe they should because God can’t be explained either!

  2. Hi Chris! Do you think the writers and producers of Lost are Christians? Or are they just well-researched? What do you think was their intention in making the show so full of religious references?

  3. I’ve not watched the show, but you have enticed me to give it a try with some insight into the fact that it isn’t just another reality show. Sounds interesting.

  4. I do recommend anyone wanting to read this great book by Chris to watch past seasons.

    By doing that, reading this book will be more interesting. It’s a fact from an avid fans of LOST…(me of course) :D

  5. Hi Berrylost!

    What do you think of the final season so far? How does it rate compared to the previous seasons, in your opinion?

    I didn’t get an answer from Chris Klein when I posed this question to him, so I’ll pose it again in the hopes that you (or someone else) will respond: Do you think the writers and producers of Lost are Christians? Or what do you think is their intention in making the show so full of religious references and spiritual meanings?

  6. I saw a reference to this book some months ago, before the final season of LOST even started. I thought then that this was premature. Given the unpredictable twists and turns of plot that the series has been fond of the book could wind up stunningly off target. I haven’t read the book so I don’t know if that’s the case.
    LOST is certainly full of Biblical allusions, delectably so. It’s tempting to break it down and explain it as allegory, to line it up with Christian doctrine. But I fear that would reduce the value of the series. The genius of LOST is that it never says ‘This is the way it is’. Instead it says ‘Could it be? Maybe so. Think about it’. What you get out of it may not be the same thing I get out of it. LOST is like one of those paintings by Picasso. I see an ugly woman with both eyes on the same side of her face where others see… Well, I don’t know what they see but you get the idea.
    A case in point is maybe the biggest question left on people’s minds. What is the Sideways World? Here is what I got from it:
    At the beginning of season six Jack and Rose are on the plane when severe turbulence hits. When it’s over Jack still has a death grip on the armrests. Rose says, “You can let go now Jack.”
    And that is what the Sideways World is all about.
    I don’t believe there is anything else to be done (or can be done) after we die so I don’t think of Sideways in terms of the afterlife. But it can mean something in terms of the here and now. We can let go of guilt for what we have done to others, the pain of what others have done to us, the regret because our lives have not turned out the way we expected.
    That is the genius of LOST. It left us short of explanations. But it gave us a full measure of meaning.

    • Hi Angus, thanks for weighing in!

      I think you’re right about the genius of Lost being that it’s less about “prescription” and more about “possibility.” I did watch the last season, and while it still didn’t answer all my questions, “The Gospel According to Lost” helped me embrace the not-knowing. I have not re-read the book after the show’s finale, but my recollection is that it probably was not off-target much, mainly because it didn’t try to make any predictions about where the show would end up taking us.

      Did you happen to read Maureen Ryan’s column about the finale? I appreciated it. Here’s a link: http://featuresblogs.chicagotribune.com/entertainment_tv/2010/05/lost-finale.html

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