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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Please Don't!

The scripture stick isn't just for show!

One thing that's been puzzling me lately is the Christian content of ABC's Lost. Two weeks ago, they presented an interesting tale of redemption. Last week they took on the thorny issue of baptism. Before you do something silly and start a Bible study (Ooh, ooh! We could call it Lost?), let's take a look at what's really going on.

In an episode called "Psalm 23" we see the curious path to sainthood of Mr. Eko. He saves his young brother (they are both children) by killing a man. He is then taken under the wing of a local warlord. He flourishes in his mercenary apprenticeship and ends up running the whole show. His brother becomes a RC priest. Eko hatches a scheme to export a load of heroin out of Nigeria. He smuggles the heroin in statues of the Virgin Mary and forces his brother to ordain him and his men. The whole thing goes pear-shaped and Eko's brother is shot while Eko is left on the runway. Eko then begins to take his ordination seriously. Eko's redemption is completed when he finds his brother's body on the island. He makes a funeral pyre and recites the entire 23rd Psalm.

I was bewildered by the straightforward portrayal of regeneration. It would require listening to a month's worth of Christian music to hear as much scripture as was presented in the last two minutes of this episode; though, to be fair, it was only one psalm. I had a sense of foreboding. Christians just aren't presented in a good light for very long.

The next episode disappointed in its lack of disappointment. There are no dark secrets revealed about Eko. Moreover, the episode centered on the need to be baptized. Yes, you read that right. Eko makes an incredibly boneheaded statement about Christ's baptism by John the Baptist. He says that it was necessary for the forgiveness of the man's sins. Oops. Either the fact-checkers took the week off or someone slept through most of his/her catechism. But at the end of the day, the unsaved or incredibly ill-informed producers of Lost made a television show about baptism.

I can only speculate on the motives of the show's producers. I would say, cynically, that they know about the large number of evangelical eyeballs that view their program. They don't have to throw them much of a bone--heck, the title of the show is suggestive, no? It's an easy way to increase viewership.

Less cynically, it seems as though the show may be about redemption after all. But I wouldn't count on it being a particularly Christian redemption. They might do some sort of "all roads lead to heaven" mushfest. Whatever the plan, they have done a good job at showing the consequences of each character's sins. It is somewhat unique in its portrayal of the suffering caused by vengeance and infidelity.

If for some reason, Lost presents the gospel clearly, I will rejoice. I will also eat my hat and change my name to Armin Tanzarian. In the meantime, if you start a Bible study based on the show, remember this; many people were excited about MC Hammer's faith. Some things are meant to keep us humble.

Category: Theoblogia


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