May 24th, 2010
09:22 PM ET

'Lost' ends on a spiritual note

For six seasons, there was a lot on the series "Lost" that was open to interpretation. One thing pretty clear, however, was that the final moments of the series on Sunday night - with many of the characters "moving on" from a kind of purgatory inside a church - were intensely spiritual.

One man who has been interpreting the show as having a very Christian point of view is Chris Seay, pastor at Ecclesia Church in Houston, Texas, and author of the book "The Gospel According to Lost."

He believes "Lost" took a big step in a spiritual direction during a final season that saw episodes where the island was described as hell, or a gateway to hell, and a place where all the light of the world must be protected.

"I think they embraced a spiritual identity and told a spiritual story," he said. "The spiritual commentary is so rich that even 'Lost' itself commented on it, as Desmond told Kate that they were waiting on the body of a man named Christian Shephard. Her reaction was to say 'Christian Shephard? Seriously?' The finale kept it going full force in that vein."

In the finale, as Desmond was lowered down towards the "source," he faced a blinding white light, which was drained and replaced with something that can be best compared to lava from a volcano. It came across an awful lot like classical descriptions of hell.

"It fit very well with the description that Jacob gave in 'Ab Aeterno,' my favorite episode," according to Seay. "He said that the island is this cork that is holding back the forces of hell and malevolence. It was similar to what Jesus would say to Peter, that my kingdom would hold back the gates of hell."

Even though one of the closing scenes took place in a church, an array of different religious symbols could be seen on the stained glass walls there.

"Christianity has been the dominant narrative here, but I thought they might hedge their bets, and they put every religious symbol ever known to man all over the place," Seay said. "This was a deeply spiritual path to redemption. This show is saying there is a spirituality to how you live, and seeking redemption and atonement for your sins is important."

Even so, he felt "disappointed" with some of the "gaps" in the finale. "The 'flash-sideways' as purgatory felt a bit like a copout to me."

Despite this, Seay has a lot of respect for what the show accomplished.

"One of the great things about the show is it gets people reading and talking," he said. "The 'CSIs' of the world don’t get you reading books to make you understand them. And unlike most feature films I've paid $10 to see, what they did was pretty remarkable."

- CNN iReport Associate Producer

Filed under: Culture & Science • TV

soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. Bryant

    A work of fiction is a good analogy of the christian cult fairy tales. I fully agree, way to go Lost for demonstrating how silly and nonsensical mythology is and that it requires a fictional television show to imitate it.

    May 31, 2010 at 9:12 am |
  2. Sparrows345

    The end times are near my friends, repent.

    May 31, 2010 at 1:41 am |
  3. Susan H

    BRILLIANT masterpiece!! The Christian theme is what gave this show it's depth and success. Check your heartfelt reaction to the end....it will certainly verify whether you are holding a white or black marble in your hand......

    May 30, 2010 at 8:28 pm |
  4. Jerri

    Douglass, wonderful post! The thing that stuck out in my mind is "Ben." He had done so many negative things, and he also took the side of the smoke monster, and while everyone else could go on to eternal peace he was stuck in his own private hell. The strange thing is everyone forgive him, but he seemed to have problem forgiving himself. That is the way it is with Christianity. God says he will cast all our sins in the sea of forgetfulness never to be remembered anymore. And then we keep going back to those times. I am going to miss Lost because it will made think, and the end really made me think about the end of my life and what will it be like. I did not understand some things though, but everything is not for me to understand or know. The writers did a great job with the end of this show.

    May 30, 2010 at 6:02 pm |
  5. Michael Fitzgerald

    I just wish shows billed as "science fiction" would be based on, well, SCIENCE. Religions fantasy like the Left Behind series or the Narnia series are fine and are never passed off as science-based. I wish Lost had similarly had some truth in advertising.

    May 30, 2010 at 4:02 pm |
  6. Henry

    Amazing. These hick skypilots will do ANYTHING to promote their view of religion.

    May 30, 2010 at 1:57 pm |
  7. delawarept

    Don't forget Kate's step-father

    May 30, 2010 at 1:57 pm |
  8. Eric

    I am so glad I ignored this entire season. I had watched up until this season but it started getting wierd with very muddy writing. Everyone attached to each other somehow. I also came to the realization that the writers have serious Daddy issues. Either they were beaten as kids or their dads ran off. Did anyone notice every father on this show was bad? Sun's ran a criminal empire. Jack's was a drunk who abandoned his daughter Claire in Australia. The guy who father'd Claire's child ran off. Locke's father tried to kill his own son and was a con man. Ben watched his own daughter get killed. Michael went insane and became a murderer. Hurley's dad ran off until he made it rich. And don't forget Sawyer who was under the bed as his father killed his mother. These writers need serious mental help.

    May 30, 2010 at 12:21 pm |
    • Danko Ramone

      Hmm...you're right about the dads. It was like watching a Disney movie. If only the castaways had a copy of a Disney Bambi videotape they'd have figured out the daddy issue angle on their own.

      May 30, 2010 at 1:52 pm |
  9. patrick

    Nice posting, Douglass. One doesn't have to be a Christian to agree with its basic message-"love one another". Who can disagree with that?

    May 30, 2010 at 11:17 am |
  10. mn

    One of the lamest finale's in all of TV history. That was SO stupid.

    May 30, 2010 at 7:39 am |
  11. Gary

    I'm sure the Catholic church had some lobby money in the outcome of this season to make faith look more favorable. Especially since they're in an abuse scandal that has shown that they transfer their pedophile priests before they can be prosecuted. Praise the lord!

    May 30, 2010 at 5:50 am |
  12. Equality

    Anyone thinking Lost was a Christian story clearly did not watch it closely. The lost writers brought in aspects of many religions, with most pre-dating Christianity. Many of the characters were also named after famous atheists (Hume and Rousseau). However, most of the main characters were named after Philosophers and others took on names from a number of religions texts, including the bible.

    The great thing about the show, is those from just about any religious background could identify with it, and that was the intent. Like anything though, those like Pastor Seay see the aspects that relate to their religion and fail to pick up, or recognize the others. Same could be said for life I guess.

    There are countless examples of at least a half a dozen religions in the story. In the ending alone made a specific point to include six major religions, again, most of which pre-dates Christianity. Lostopedia dictates it best, so I will use their reference:

    The stained glass window in the church shows symbols of the following faiths: the star and crescent of Islam, the Star of David (Judaism), the Aum (widely used as a symbol of Hinduism, but also present in Buddhism and Jainism), the Christian cross, the Dharmacakra (Buddhism) and the Yin/Yang disk (Taoism).

    May 30, 2010 at 1:15 am |
    • Rita

      I am so glad that you are able see so much more than just Chrisanity in the spritual referencing of this show. To me this show was about unity of all religions not about division. Afterall, if we get that message of unity in our lives, we would truely be part of advancing humanity in this world.

      May 31, 2010 at 12:07 am |
  13. plar

    I don't mind the Christianity-inspired theme of the show. It entertained me. The problem is the religious people (like the one article is talking about) taking this as a confirmation/approval of their beliefs. This is just a TV show, man! wake up!

    May 29, 2010 at 10:25 pm |
  14. iso

    it was an awesome ending! they always say that on a near death experience - peeps see their lives flash before their eyes.. thx to the lost creators n writers n actors/actresses.. can' wait to get the dvd sets.

    May 29, 2010 at 1:34 pm |
  15. caseagainstfaith

    Yes, there was lots of Christian allegory in the story. Which, I don't mind so much, its just fiction, kinda like the Bible itself. Its just fiction, allegory, etc.

    May 28, 2010 at 7:55 pm |
  16. Douglas

    Regarding the spiritual messages at Lost's final episode end ... it appears to me that they are clearly pro-Christian. I believe that Christian Shephard / Shepherd (a type of Jesus Christ, the Good Christian Shepherd according to the Bible), who was not in the coffin like Jesus was not found in the grave approximately 2000 years ago (i.e. Jesus was resurrected as He prophesied before His expected death), was the one who finally brought everyone (of the "Lost" group ... all those without Jesus Christ are often called "lost") to the Light (the Truth ... the true religion / eternal salvation / Life) in the end by opening the doors to the light in the Church.

    Even in the room where the empty coffin was with all those varied and very contradictory religious symbols and religions, Jacks' dad replied to Jack's question "Where are we, Dad?" after Jack suddenly walked and looked around the room containing those various religious symbols, saying that "this is a place that you all made together" ... (i.e. it was man-made only / all of the other religions or symbols were just man-made, not God-made or true). Only the real Christian Shepherd (Jesus Christ) was able to finally bring them to the light / the truth by opening the doors to the light (heaven / God) in the Church at the very end.

    More than that, "it appeared to me" (watched the end several times to verify) that the main Church room where all previously-lost people were finally gathered only had Christian symbols in it. So Jack had to leave ("let go" of) the old back room with the man-made religions and religious symbols (and empty coffin) and join the others in the main Christian room.

    Also, the great emphasis on love (with forgiveness), though important to various religions, is super-important/emphasized in the Christian faith, in which the Bible says that "God is love", and (Jesus said) "love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, stength, and soul" and "love your neighbors and enemies", "forgive others or God the Father won't forgive you" (Locke forgave Ben in the end).

    In addition, it seemed to me that the whole final dream-scene was like Purgatory (and that the island events truly did occur), since it was a place before moving on to the light / heaven / God. Unfortunately, though nice-sounding and portrayed sweetly in the finale, Purgatory is actually not in the Bible at all, which clearly indicates that a person's faith in Jesus / God here on earth before they die is required to go up (eternal unity with God). Otherwise a person goes down (eternal separation from God). (From verses like: "it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment" in Hebrews 9:27)

    I personally believe the Christian message / good news in which Jesus said "I am the way, and the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but through Me." (John 14:6). I encourage the reader of this to as well. Jesus also said: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16), and "unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). May the real God and Christian Shepherd bless you and yours abundantly! 🙂

    May 28, 2010 at 4:01 pm |
    • cmc

      Only a narrow minded Christian would say that only OTHER religions are man made. Imagine buddy, THEY think the same thing about YOUR religion.

      May 28, 2010 at 7:25 pm |
    • goldenretrievermom

      i totally agree with douglas!!

      May 31, 2010 at 7:52 am |
  17. wayne skylar

    Bill B I couldn't have said it better myself.

    May 28, 2010 at 1:54 pm |
  18. RealCreature

    LOST became lost within its own plot devices. Blowing people up gets old. Not enough hotties and too many paradoxes. When significant events happen like the discovery of an electrical power cable coming in from the ocean and nobody does anything more than charge a battery, that's when you know there must have been too much wine flowing in the writing room.

    May 28, 2010 at 1:15 pm |
  19. Bill B

    Wow, the finale was so lame. They had a good mystery/thriller show that targeted intellectuals, who understood what a Skinner box or Alice universe was. They somehow managed to transform it into a soap opera aimed at uneducated evangelicals.

    May 28, 2010 at 12:29 pm |
    • The_Mick

      I'll buy Alice Universe, as well as Schrodinger's Cat, etc. but understanding a Skinner Box signifies intellectuals? That and Pavlov's Dog signifies Psychologists: you know that college Mickey Mouse major for those who can't handle Physics, Chemistry, Biology, or Phys. Ed?
      Personally, I loved the flashback-awakening stuff, but the story line left us as confused as before. If the the non-crash world is "purgatory", then what was every one who was still alive on the island doing there since there was a sense of time – remember Jack couldn't make it to the concert in "time" before it "ended". And what did Desmond have to do with their "awakening". On the other hand, if one assumes everyone died on the Oceanic 815 plane crash, that explains the desolate crash scene at the very end, as well as the "lost" souls who needed the island as a temporary "purgatory" or "hell" to prepare them for the afterlife. Didn't Richard say, this season, (paraphasing), "You don't get it. This isn't an island, this is Hell."? I want to see the missing 16 minutes of Hurley and Ben running the Island after Jack dies to see if there are any more clues.

      May 28, 2010 at 5:06 pm |
    • Brice

      Ufortunately, you are so very right. Had I known it was a religious soap instead of what I perceved as gleenings of a really good mystery – I would have not wasted my time on it. Already turned in the DVD's to Goodwill. I'll be more careful before getting caught up on a scifi/mystery series in the future by checking out the writers to see if they were involved with Lost ! Such a letdown 🙁

      May 28, 2010 at 8:20 pm |
    • Ben

      Your assumption that all evangelicals are uneducated is ignorant. If you had any theological education you would have noticed Biblical themes throughout the series.

      May 30, 2010 at 11:35 pm |
  20. James Collie

    the 17th revalation the Kings of the earth= the goverments of the world

    May 24, 2010 at 10:46 pm |
    • JPM

      This is it you know.

      May 25, 2010 at 2:36 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.

May 2010