A segue...from "Lost" to STAR WARS
Lost in translation
Spirituality and redemption subject to interpretation in popular series
By PHIL KLOER
Cox News Service
ATLANTA - Season 1 was about surviving for 40 days in the wilderness. Season 2 has been devoted to figuring out the meaning of dharma. And it really all comes down to a bunch of sinners who need to be saved.
Now what do you think Lost is about?
"Certainly Lost didn't become popular because it's a religious show or because it deals with spiritual themes. But that seems to be one element that hooks a particular part of the audience," said Lynnette Porter, co-author of Unlocking the Meaning of Lost (Sourcebooks Inc., $15).
The new book analyzes one of the most talked-about series on TV, devoting two chapters to the spirituality of Lost and its stories of redemption.
The ABC drama about a group of people who have crashed on a mysterious island has achieved the dual feat of being a consistent Top 10 show as well as sustaining a fanatically geeked-out, Internet-churning cult following.
While some just watch it for the unfolding story — as if it were a soap opera — others watch for clues to support their brain-frying theories of collective consciousness and electromagnetism.
There is also, for those alert to it, a spiritual core summed up by the enigmatic character Mr. Eko.
"People are saved in different ways," he said. And if you were to ask if he meant saved in an evangelical Christian sense, or in a rescued-from-the-island sense, surely Eko would just give one of his piercing but noncommittal looks EDITOR'S NOTE: IF YOU LOOK AS HANDSOME AND MYSTERIOUS AS THIS ACTOR, AND IF YOU SPEAK WITH AN AFRICAN LILT, YOU CAN SAY SOMETHING AS SIMPLE AS THE LINE ABOVE AND HAVE A WHOLE BOOK WRITTEN ABOUT IT. and go back to building his little homemade church.
Lost is basically a secular series, says Porter, an associate professor of humanities at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida. It doesn't carry an overt Christian message the way Touched By an Angel or Highway to Heaven did. But rarely has a show trafficked so heavily in religious symbolism and spoken so frequently in the language of faith — mainly, but not exclusively, Christian.
There's Eko, a former drug lord who became a priest (without official recognition), carving Bible verses into a stick he carries; statues of the Virgin Mary used by drug smugglers; Sayid, a Muslim, and his prayer beads; references to baptism; manna from heaven (food that mysteriously appeared); a newborn wrapped in swaddling clothes (Claire's infant Aaron) and the possibility of a miracle conception.
"Outside of religious shows, you generally don't see people offering to share their faith" on TV, notes Porter, who co-wrote Unlocking with David Lavery. "On Lost, you have a character like Rose who says, 'Here, let me pray with you.' "
And perhaps running the whole enterprise is the shadowy group called the Dharma Initiative.
Dharma is a Sanksrit word that is a key concept in several Eastern religions, including Buddhism, Hinduism and Sikhism. It's an elusive idea, defined in Unlocking as "a life plan in harmony with the greater good." The Web site Wikipedia states that "dharma can refer generally to religious duty and also mean social order, right conduct or simply virtue."
Lost also has built some of its conflict on the concepts of science (or rationalism) vs. faith, the same battle that plays out regularly over the teaching of evolution in schools. For example, on the island, Dr. Jack Shephard is the "man of science" who attempts to explain everything rationally, and John Locke is the "man of faith" who sees the island as mystical. EDITOR'S NOTE: THE BEST LITERATURE WORKS ON MULTI LEVELS. "LOST" IS AN AMAZING, LAYERED WORK.
SEGUING TO THE STAR WARS NEWS ...WHICH IS COMING UP NEXT.... WE ALREADY HAD A NICE LONG ARTICLE ABOUT MANY OF THE STAR WARS REFERENCES AND IN-JOKES INSIDE OF "LOST". BUT HERE'S ANOTHER LITTLE TIDBIT ABOUT THE "LOST" CREATORS AND THEIR STAR WARS FANDOM ---
LOST, far far away
The Creators of "Lost" reveal their Star Wars favorites
When producer/director J.J. Abrams and writer Damon Lindelof -- creators of the hit ABC primetime drama "Lost" -- bonded over a Bantha Tracks Fan Club t-shirt during their first meeting, it only made sense that the duo would have plenty to say about why they love Star Wars, right down to which character they most identify with.
"I'm definitely Admiral Ackbar," Lindelof says. "Isn't it obvious why? He's the man! And by 'man' I mean 'squid.'"
While Lindelof fancies himself part of the Rebel Alliance, Abrams thinks he measures up more as a sassy droid who always saves the day. "I'm probably most like R2-D2 because I am just about his height," Abrams laughs.
Being lifelong fans of the saga, both Abrams and Lindelof have separate ideas of what they like to collect.
"I really don't collect Star Wars toys or comics," Abrams admits. "However, I do have my original Star Wars laserdiscs that I bought a while back and I also have the Star Wars portfolio which was the conceptual artwork done for the films."
Lindelof is all about the plastic. "You better believe I played with Star Wars toys!" Lindelof says. "I still have my original Star Wars action figure set -- Luke, Leia, Chewie and Artoo -- which we mailed away for before Kenner was even packaging them! Of course, I've played with them many, many times over the years, but I'm happy to report their lightsabers still extend out of their arms!"
Star Wars is forever, and Star Wars fans are everywhere.