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League of Inveterate Poets

The out-of-context contextuality of a foolish sage

A LOST Retrospective: The LOST Eschaton, or Knowing the End from the Beginning

By on May 25, 2010

From left to right: Faraday, Boone, Miles, Mic...Now that the LOST finale episode, and the entire six-year series, are history, I’ve decided to begin an attempt at re-watching all the episodes again, now knowing the end from the beginning.

I realized that in doing this I’ll get to repurpose the two-readings “Christian” way of reading the Bible I learned in seminary. In some of my Old Testament classes we were taught that we should read an OT passage first as it would have been read at the time it was written (as much as that is possible), and then re-read it “christotelically” (with Christ as its “end” or ultimate purpose). Both readings are valid (at least from a Christian point of view), and both yield there own riches.

So this will be my “second reading” of LOST. I now know how it ends, and I think it will be interesting to relive the whole story knowing the end from the beginning. How will I view various characters and situations differently knowing where they eventually end up. What signs and clues will I now recognize were there all along? What elements I once thought of supreme importance will now turn out to have been red herrings?

There is a further aspect of my theological training I’ll bring into this second walkabout of LOST. The particular Christian tradition I was studying believed in the importance of eschatology (the study of “last things”) to a proper understanding of the Bible, and to the “kingdom of God” message delivered by Christ. (Please, dear reader, stick with me here, even if you are not religously-inclined. My point is bigger than religion.) When I mention eschatology, don’t think here in terms of Left Behind and rapture and end-of-the-world sort of things. Rather there seemed to be some way in which the New Testament writers believed that Jesus’ inauguration of the Kingdom of God was a calling of the future, fulfilled and perfect Kingdom, into the present. He was calling his disciples to not only proclaim a “Kingdom come (in the future)” but a “Kingdom (already) come(-ing).” This is often referred to as an “already/not-yet” eschatology. In some ways the kingdom has already come (as Christ’s disciples learn to live out kingdom values in the present world). In others it will not be fully here until Christ returns. But the big idea is that that future perfect kingdom is being “drawn back” into the present.

It’s interesting to note that theoretical physicists and philosophers have been playing with this idea for some time now; that the present (and so therefore, the past) is being affected by the future; that there is some way in which there is a two-way feedback between the present and future. This is something story writers have practiced since story telling began. At some point in the creation of a story, the story creator decides on an ending, and his/her knowing that ending affects everything that happens in the story as it is developed.

And so, for however long I can sustain it, I’d like to embark on a little writing project for The League of Inveterate Poets. I missed my chance to be an “as it happens” blogger for LOSTS first run-through, but now I want to blog through it anyway, thinking through each episode and its significance with the end in view. I don’t know if this will be of interest to anyone else; I plan to do it mostly as my own way of processing through a narrative that I gave around 120 hours of my life to. But if you do find this approach intriguing, I would very much welcome your thoughts and contributions in the comments.

Now let’s go get LOST — with the joyful hope that we know, in the end, we will be found.

(NOTE: I’m going to start with episode 3 of season 1, which was actually the second show in the series [the two-hour pilot was counted as episodes 1 & 2]. I may make a few comments back to the pilot, but I think episode 3, “Tabula Rasa” is where the story that ended this past Sunday night really gets going. I will probably post my reflections on episode 3 later this evening. My post on “Tabula Rasa” is now up.)


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