My father used to say when he was unimpressed by some observation that it represented “a remarkable grasp of the obvious.” That is how I felt when reading The Gospel According to Lost. Chris Seay is a church planter, pastor, and “internationally acclaimed speaker.” Perhaps he should stick to that work because this book for all of its promise is neither particularly insightful about the relationship between the gospel and “Lost” nor especially helpful in laying out principles for righteous living and achieving social justice.
Seay had a lot to work in his effort to explore the religious dimension of Lost, the perplexing, fascinating, and often obscure television series that aired between 2004 and 2010. I wish he had done a better job. The show’s writers have been overt in their efforts to create a drama with a specific sense of good and evil—as well as the shades of gray—allowing characters to work out “right relationships” through a quest for enlightenment and justice. Each of the characters, all flawed in fundamental ways, represents a particular type of person drawn from sources ranging from the Bible to the latest pop culture fads; each also struggles and grows and changes in response to experiences on the island and in relation to the island. Seay begins the task of trying to lay out these issues, but then stops just as he might offer some insight or enlightenment. This tendency is the most infuriating aspect of The Gospel According to Lost. It left me with the sense that a banquet existed just beyond a veil and Seay was allowing a taste but blocking entry to the feast.
Let me offer one example. Seay comments, and this is nothing unusual since the writers used the same terminology on the show, that John Locke is a man of faith and Jack Shephard is a man of science. OK. Tell me something I didn’t know. Is this really true, and I would argue that it really isn’t for these two characters? But even if it were, what does it mean to be a man of faith or a man of science? Can one be one without the other? Are both men of the enlightenment more than anything else? The potential for a deep philosophical discussion exists when pondering these and other questions of a more sublime nature? The fodder for this discussion is present in “Lost” and Seay’s unwillingness or inability to pursue such an exploration ensures that this will be a disappointing book for anyone with basic curiosity.
I really looked forward to this book as a hefty investigation of the religious, spiritual, and moral implications of Lost. I agree they are present in the series virtually everywhere. I will have to await these possibilities when someone else explores them in another publication.