The Gospel according to LOST?
By guest blogger Andrew Gill, a producer for Chicago Public Radio and self-proclaimed "LOST Mega Fan" who will miss tonight's premiere to cover Illinois' primary election. Guest blog posts express the views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of U.S. Catholic, its editors, or the Claretians. Read more about the relationship between faith and television.
"The Gospel According to..." sub-genre of books has always been a suspect one: at worst a quick cash grab, at best an easy way to make bible study "relevant." The release schedule for The Gospel According to LOST, by Chris Seay, makes it easy to write off as a money-making maneuver by Thomas Nelson, one of the largest religious publishers in the world.
The book rings even more hollow when considered in light of LOST's narrative structure, which includes time travel, smoke monsters and disappearing islands. Given the show's fondness of surprise twists, it seems a bit premature to connect theological constructs to the world of the Losties. What if the final season turns all that came before on it's head?
The book does a little better when it focuses closely on LOST's individual characters. Seay does a sort of emergent church hagiography on 14 of the how's major characters (complete with full color icons of many of the characters ). The past five seasons have developed many of these characters' off-island back stories in ways that do, in fact, lend themselves to spiritual reflection.
However, after only appearing in one episode, it seems risky to write an entire chapter comparing Jacob to Jesus. Does Seay really trust LOST's writers to keep Jacob a good guy? Perhaps this edition will serve as a good first draft for more carefully considered analysis of LOST's theological themes after the series finale. As it is now, this book is really just a handy resource for clergy who want to punch up their homilies with current pop culture references.