The Lost and the Found
It’s Tuesday as I write, the first Tuesday after the end of Lost. A week has passed since the bewildering end to a mold-breaking, bewildering, television event. I got lost a little late, though of late I think I don’t get Lost at all. That is, I started watching near the end of the second season. It was the first television program I watched via DVD, and with my dear wife stayed up many a late night to watch “just one more.” We waited for Season 2’s release, and watched it also on DVD. From that point however, we put ourselves on the schedule of the network.
I confess that I am a plot kind of guy. I tend to drive my wife nuts by picking the murderer five minutes into the story, by predicting what is supposed to be the big surprise twist. I am a student of story and so have some understanding of how story works. Which is why I am so attracted to stories I can’t figure out. Neither The Game, nor Total Recall were much in the way of acting, nuance or fine cinematography. I remember them both clearly, however, because I remember not being able to figure it out. They both kept me guessing until the end.
And so I lost myself in Lost. I watched it, talked about it, thought about it, dreamed about it, worried about it. My great worry? “They’ll never, ever be able to tie up all these loose ends, to explain everything,” I warned myself, while secretly hoping, “But wouldn’t it be marvelous if they could?” They didn’t, and so I am left picking up these pieces — why did it matter so much to me, and should I have seen this coming?
The answer lies in the image of God. That is, we all love story because story is our story. The unbeliever who denies the God who made him still knows he is made. Though the unbeliever affirms that he is born by cosmic accident, and goes back to the nothing at death knows in his heart that his own story, and our story collectively has a beginning, and more important still, an end. The best storytellers, whether they are Christians or not, tap into that reality. Their stories are and will always be echoes of His story.
The fall, however, has gravely distorted that image. Unbelievers deny God precisely because they would rather live not-guilty in a world of nonsense than be guilty in a universe that makes sense. And that is what I should have remembered going in. No matter how gifted the writers, no matter how attuned to the imago they might be, they are in rebellion against the Dei, and it will show in the end. To put it more bluntly, why wouldn’t I expect a lame, mushy, postmodern ending when the show was written by lame, mushy postmoderns? Mr. Echo thought it necessary to build a church. It burned to the ground before it was built. At that point I should have known we’d end up in a “sanctuary” festooned with a cross and a crescent, a Star of David and a yin/yang. The problem with the ending wasn’t the unanswered questions. It was that it is profoundly boring because it refuses to affirm. We should yawn rather than scream when the Unitarians burn a question mark on our front lawn.
We ought also to find our joy and satisfaction in the one story. There every question will be answered. There, beginning and end, Alpha and Omega are one. There we will be found.