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‘Lost’ in thoughts of community (and other stuff)

Last night was the fourth season finale of Lost, and it was stuffed full of great moments, jaw-dropping reveals, new questions and other good stuff—some of which even brings God-talk into open spaces.

For example, I found Sawyer’s sacrifice amazing. It reminded me that while each of us is broken and bent towards selfishness, we are also all living with the broken echoes of our creation in the image of God. When Sawyer decided to jump off the helicopter in order to give the others a better chance of getting to the boat, he was listening to one of those echoes.

Then there’s Sun. I’m a bit disturbed at the path she’s walking—which seems too much like Ben’s. Heh, my husband (who doesn’t watch the series) sat down to watch the last 40 minutes with me and asked at one point if Ben was “a good guy or bad guy.” The show kinda blurs those lines, I said at first. But then I thought about Ben’s decision to kill Keamy (because he murdered his daughter) even though he knew it would blow up the freighter full of innocent people. Hurm. That’s pretty much Ben’s modus operandi: though he is capable of sacrifice (he does move the island instead of Locke), when it comes down to it, Ben does what’s best for Ben. And that is pretty much the path that leads to destruction (of self and others), death and, well, evil. In Sun’s case, what started her down the path is her desire for justice against those she feels are responsible for Jin’s death. But there’s a point when the desire for justice turns into the lust for revenge—and that’s a dark path. I think that’s where Sun is at—and it’s already taking her away from those who care about her (including her child).

But the most resonating moment for me came at the end of the two hours, when Ben tells Jack that the island won’t let him come back alone. Jack, who led the crusade to get off the island, now realizes they never should have left and that he must go back. But all his attempts have failed—and Ben explains why. “All of you have to go back,” Ben explains. “This is the way it has to be, Jack. It’s the only way. You have to do it together—all of you.” (And that includes the now apparently dead John Locke/Jeremy Bentham—another topic all on its own).

This conversation on its own spawns a ton of questions regarding exactly what the island is and what the heck is going on, but it also gets me thinking more about community. I’ve been chewing on what makes community, particularly Mark Scandrette’s idea that communities aren’t so much the special groups we’ve chosen to relate to but rather an intersection of folks with whom we cross paths. In Lost, Jack and his fellow survivors (as well as some of those they’ve encountered along the way) are thrown together due to their circumstances. They need each other to survive. And living so close together, they’ve gotten to know each other pretty well. Sometimes, they don’t really like each other, but most of the time they figure out a way to get along. A significant number of them have discovered each other’s stories and gifts. They’ve been blessed and confronted and reconciled and stretched. Back in civilization, most of these folks probably wouldn’t have chosen each other to relate with (in fact, the relationships between the Oceanic Six have fractured since they’ve returned to their previous lives), but on the island they had to. And most of them grew and were enriched because of it.

Being a part of a community, however, also entails responsibility. Each member is important and necessary. So, while I get that Ben’s admonition to Jack obviously relates to plot elements in the Lost universe, his words resonated with me on another level. It makes sense that this community of folks would have to face and confront the threats and problems facing them and the rest of their group together. It’s just rather bizarre that Ben of all people would be the one to say those words, heh.

All this makes me think of the implications for we followers of Jesus. Our way of life in America makes it easy to choose a community rather than engage in the ones around us—our neighbors, coworkers, relatives and friends. Frankly, like the group thrown together on Lost, communities like these are messy. Sometimes they are uncomfortable, maddening and gut-wrenchingly painful. But they are also full of delight, surprises, joy and people we’d never have encountered otherwise. Perhaps, as Scandrette puts it, “Our challenge is to learn to embrace, nurture, and cultivate these relationships to their fullest potential—to become the best kind of neighbor, daughter, uncle, colleague, or friend.” If we are to be truly missional—to “Go” and be light and life and love as we work and walk with God, to be and bring the good news that Jesus has put everthing together again—then perhaps that means engaging with and embracing the communities and people we already have available instead of forming or choosing them.

That doesn’t mean that we can’t gather with others or form communities with others outside our regular walking paths, but thinking like this does encourage us to engage more in the communities and relationships already available to us. When we really pay attention to and become embroiled in those communities and relationships, we start to rely on and need each other. We find we are not only needed but also need others, that we are not only bringing God's light, love and life but also encountering his light, love and life in those relationships and groups. We are blessed, confronted, stretched and reconciled. Personally, like some of those folks on Lost, I'm finding that living like this is both humbling and enriching.

So, kudos to the writers, job well done. I’m looking forward to next season—I’m just sorry I have to wait until next fall to find out where that island went, heh.

(Images: ABC) lostctgy


Ken Brown said…
That episode was amazing; I wish I had time to watch it again! But Oi! I'm spoiled now; since I started late, the last two weeks have been the longest I've had to wait between two episodes of LOST. How will I survive the summer without it? ;)
Don said…
Great episode, great season. I just was getting my mind around time shifting realities and now I have to this about space shifting?
Where did the island go? What is the normal way islanders come and go between the states and the Island? I am happy for Desmond but how is his girlfriend going to hide him from her Dad? This is so much fun?

Carmen Andres said…
i really liked this finale (though i'm not sure it can compare to last season's with charlie's death). the ripples left over from the island's "move" was a nice touch. and, heh, i was almost off the couch with my craning to see who was in the casket at the end - i knew it was either ben or locke.
Ken Brown said…
I think that last season's finale was more moving, but I can't say I enjoyed it more. Funny thing, I was totally in denial that Charlie was really dead. I didn't believe it until he actually told Hurley it was true in Season Four (which raised plenty of its own questions that have yet to be answered). For some reason Locke's death doesn't bother me quite as much, maybe because he was never my favorite the way Charlie and Eco were... or maybe I'm just desensitized by now? :)
Carmen Andres said…
locke's death was different from eko's and charlie's - there was no movement towards it. it would be hard for me to care at this point because i didn't see it or anything leading up to it. when they do a flash forward and we see the events leading up to his death, then i'll probably be pulling out the tissues. plus, you know, i'm thinking he's not as dead as we think.