Exploring Lost/Program 1

By: Dillon Burroughs; ©2008
Realize the cultural impact of LOST, Is LOST a Christian show? What does LOST say about God and the Bible? Discover some of the numerous biblical allusions and names featured in the series (including Moses, Jacob, and even Jesus!) Why does LOST devote an entire episode to baptism and building a church? What is the story behind the Jesus stick? How could I use LOST to grow in my relationship with Christ?


Announcer: Today on the John Ankerberg show, we will examine one of most popular and influential television programs in America today. ABC’s hit television drama Lost has captivated millions of people worldwide since it first aired in 2004. It has been watched by over 15 million Americans each week for the past three seasons and has been the number 2 watched Show worldwide. Why is it so popular? Many experts have noted the spirituality of Lost whose episodes highlight many deep spiritual issues. Among Christians 18 to 29 years of age, Lost is the most watched TV program. What is the appeal? Up to this point, there’s been no specific book designed to investigate the spiritual themes of this widely popular series. Now there is. I recently co-authored this new book, What Can Be Found in Lost? which has just been published. Along with staff writer Dillon Burroughs, we reviewed the first three seasons of Lost, interviewed experts, and researched numerous Lost resources in order to analyze what the series really says on the key issues of faith. We think you’ll be surprised at the amount of spiritual content we discovered in the different episodes, including the many references to God, the Bible, and other religions. Join us as we discuss one of most popular and influential television programs in America today on this edition of The John Ankerberg Show.

Ankerberg: Hi, welcome to the program. Today we’re discussing one of television’s most popular programs; the ABC hit drama series LOST. It has been watched by over 15 million Americans each week. It’s been the number two-watched show worldwide, one of the most downloaded television programs online. Yet the show includes an enormous amount of spiritual content, including Buddhism, Islam and Christianity. We certainly have a lot to talk about today. I am joined today by staff writer, Professor Dillon Burroughs. We recently co-authored a book on this topic, What Can Be Found In LOST. You can buy this book and today we want to share some of our feelings, which may surprise you. Our hope is that you will use this information when you talk to non-Christian friends. Let’s talk a little bit more about that. Dillon, what is the purpose of this program and the information we put into our book?
Burroughs: Certainly. That’s a great question, John. I want to be clear from the start that LOST is not a Christian television program. But as you’re surfing the channels on television you’d be hard-pressed to find another drama series today that features as much spiritual content as LOST does. You combine that with the fact that it’s one of the highest rated shows currently, as well as of all time, and one of the most downloaded shows. You find that among 18-29 year olds it is the most popular show and number two worldwide. So it certainly offers a lot for us to talk about as we explore LOST. I think your listeners will be very interested in hearing more about the discoveries we made in our book, What Can be Found in LOST.
Ankerberg: Yeah, we’ve put a lot into this new book and we’re going to go right to the clips from the television program to share some of the issues that come up in LOST. Those of you that watch it every week or those of you that are getting interested in it, you may remember some of these clips. Let’s begin; what’s the first clip we’re going to look at?
Burroughs: Certainly, John. And this clip that we’re watching now is a perfect example of how LOST features a lot of spiritual content but it’s not specifically Christian. In this scene from the episode, “The Cost of Living”, we find Jack who is the leader among those survivors from the plane crash, in dialogue with the leader of the bad guys, Benjamin Linus. And Benjamin has asked him to operate on him and in the dialogue, Benjamin comes to him and he asks a question about the existence of God and what he thinks about it. Let’s watch the clip.
Ankerberg: All right, let’s watch this clip.

Dialogue from LOST

Ben: Do you believe in God, Jack?
Jack: Do you?
Ben: Two days after I found out I had a fatal tumor on my spine, a spinal surgeon fell out of the sky. If that’s not proof of God, I don’t know what is.

Ankerberg: Alright Dillon, you can see right off the bat why this show is so popular with folks all across the spectrum. And here you’ve got a problem that a person has experienced and all of a sudden he believes God has provided the answer in terms of this surgery. A lot of folks that are watching in our audience right now, they’ve also had a problem. Many of them, they’ve had a providential answer to that. They believe that God has intervened for them, either saved their life or rescued their child or done something for their marriage. And so they see that God does exist. Now, LOST brings up this whole question of, “Does God exist”, and here you’ve got a positive answer; so what’s being communicated here?
Burroughs: Here we have Benjamin Linus the leader of the bad guys, the Others, who is the one who gives positive evidence for God’s existence. While Jack, who’s the leader of the good guys on the island, is the one who has doubts and questions about God himself and His existence whatsoever. But in Benjamin’s response, he does what many of us who believe in God do. We see a providential situation and we don’t attribute that to anything other than God himself. So in that sense it’s very relevant to how we respond as Christians to God’s working in our world today.
Ankerberg: Alright, so is LOST actually positing the fact that God exists?
Burroughs: Well I think it leaves the question out there but it doesn’t give a definitive answer and lets the audience itself decide. And it’s interesting when you make that transition from God in a general sense to talking about Jesus specifically.
Ankerberg: Yeah and let’s talk about that. Does the series talk about Jesus? I think I was surprised when we put down all the references to Jesus. Spell it out for us here.
Burroughs: Sure, what we saw happen when we did a key-word search on Jesus in the first 3 seasons of LOST is that there were 9 references specific to Jesus himself.
Ankerberg: All right let’s put some of these references to Jesus on the screen so that people can remember back to watching this on the program and then I want you to comment.
Burroughs: Of the nine references to Jesus in LOST there are some used as slang but others are significant. The first one from Locke in Season 1 says, “Backgammon’s the oldest game in the world. Archaeologists found sets when they excavated the ruins of ancient Mesopotamia. Five thousand years old, that’s older than Jesus Christ.” So here you see a historical reference to Jesus, though they make no comment on who He is other than that.
Ankerberg: I think what’s significant about that is that whatever part you’re playing in this show there are historical references that Jesus did exist. In other words you have a calendar today where you’ve got “the year of our Lord”, A.D., that’s the year of our Lord. So every time you reference the calendar people in our society can’t get away from the fact that Jesus actually lived. So that’s a positive thing in LOST.
Burroughs: It certainly is and one thing we see in addition to that is the attitude about Jesus. Where Hurley’s mom, in one of his back stories, talks about Hurley praying to Jesus because if he does maybe Jesus will give you a new body, maybe He’ll give you a new car or one of the references there. So you see Jesus referred to as someone who gives good things, even though she’s somewhat sarcastic in how she relates the scenario.
Ankerberg: Yeah, that kinda reflects some of the views that people have about Jesus in our society today. Jesus is somebody that’s the cosmic Santa Claus, you ask Him for things He just gives them.
Burroughs: Yes, and another one that’s a little more significant. You talk about Eko, who is a Roman Catholic priest among the survivors, and it says that when John the Baptist baptized Jesus, quoting from the show, “that the skies opened up and a dove flew down from the sky”. Now this came directly from the show and even though he doesn’t get the quote exactly right, they devote an entire episode to what baptism is and talk frequently about Jesus in one way or another.
Ankerberg: Alright, we list all these references to Jesus in the book. And I found that interesting, but I even found it more interesting how many times the Bible was mentioned in this series. And we’re going to show them a clip here, set up the clip. What are we going to show them?
Burroughs: Yes, this is one of my favorite clips from the series “LOST”, and it features Eko, who is a Roman Catholic priest of sorts, in the series, and he sits down to talk with Locke. And as he does he tells the story from the Old Testament of King Josiah and relates it to the situation at hand. Let’s watch it together.

Dialogue from LOST

Eko: Hello. I have something I think you should see. If you don’t mind, I will begin at the beginning. Long before Christ the king of Judah was a man named Josiah.
Locke: Boy when you say beginning, you mean beginning.
Eko: At that time the temple where the people worshipped was in ruin. And so the people worshipped idols, false gods. And so the kingdom was in disarray. Josiah, since he was a good king, sent his secretary to the treasury and said, “We must rebuild the temple. Give all of the gold to the workers so that this will be done.” But when the secretary returned, he had no gold. And when Josiah asked why this was the secretary replied, “We found a book.” Do you know this story?
Locke: No, I’m afraid I don’t.
Eko: What the secretary had found was an ancient book…the Book of Law. You may know it as the Old Testament. And it was with that ancient book, not with the gold, that Josiah rebuilt the temple. On the other side of the island we found a place much like this, and in this place we found a book.
Eko: I believe what’s inside there will be of great value to you.

Ankerberg: OK, so Eko has a Bible, he shares an Old Testament Bible story, and then he opens this Bible to reveal a splice of tape, OK? What’s going on here?
Burroughs: This is so interesting that he accurately depicts the story of Josiah found in the books of Kings and Chronicles from the Old Testament. It’s a story that many Christians do not even know but one of high value because he rediscovers the Law of God and they use it as an opportunity to teach the people God’s Word again and to reform the nation. Well Eko uses it in the sense that, “I’ve found a book just as Josiah has, and it has something that can help us”. But as we’re looking at the Bible he opens it up and instead of the scriptures we find a splice of film. And that splice of film leads to the next step in the storyline of LOST. So again the Bible is used, but it’s used with a twist. It’s not what we would expect but it adds a little bonus that brings us to the next part of the LOST series.
Ankerberg: Alright, we’re going to find out what else you can find in LOST and we’re going to document the different ways that the Bible is referenced and used in LOST. I think you’ll be amazed; stick with us, we’re going to show you more clips and talk about this in just a moment.

Ankerberg: We’re back and I’m talking with Dillon Burroughs, our staff writer and professor. We’re going to be talking a little bit more about our new book, What Can Be Found in LOST, the ABC hit television program. And I think what we’re going to do right now is to introduce this next section. We’re going to go to a clip from the TV series and again, it’s referencing the Bible. When we made the list of all the references to the Bible in all the different episodes, you’ll be amazed. And then we’re going to talk about how it’s being used. But right now let’s take a look at this clip.

Dialogue from LOST

Eko: The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures, He leadeth me beside still waters. He resoreth my soul. He leadeth me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Eko and Charlie: Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.
Eko: Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies. Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever. Amen.

Ankerberg: Alright a very interesting clip. What’s going on here?

Burroughs: Here we have one of my favorite scenes in the series of LOST. It’s called “The 23rd Psalm”; that’s the name of the episode. At the conclusion of the episode we find Charlie and Eko burning this plane, and inside the plane is the body of Eko’s brother Yemi. As they do so, they do a funeral-type of ceremonial speaking of the 23rd Psalm. And as the scene fades and they close the episode you hear these two men repeating verbatim Psalm 23. It’s a very moving and emotional experience for anyone who’s seen that episode.
Ankerberg: Yeah I find it interesting again that they could have used a witch doctor’s chant or something from Africa or whatever, an Indian chant, any of the other religions. And they chose Psalm 23. Now maybe they’re just playing to our American audience but the fact is, it is biblical and they did use it. But that’s not the only reference that we have found in the series. And let’s put this chart up on the screen. I want you to go through some of these examples. We listed quite a few; we’re just going to take a couple of them right now. But tell us what you found.
Burroughs: In total we found 23 different references to the Bible or showing the Bible in some way in the series. Some of those include episodes entitled, “Exodus”, “Numbers” and “The 23rd Psalm”, as we mentioned. We had Michael’s attorney in this discussion on getting the rights to his child during the divorce situation, talking about the biblical story of David and Goliath. We also see that Locke names the skeletons discovered in the cave Adam and Eve, similar to the Genesis account, in “House of the Rising Sun”. It’s significant how he marks these first two inhabitants with the same names as the two first humans in the Genesis account of the Bible. We find further that Claire’s baby is named Aaron, just like the brother of Moses in Exodus. And of course, Aaron, being the first priest of Israel was a source of strength and a source of hope, something that the survivors thought Aaron shared as well. We also see the wind Desmond makes in his back story when he is a monk includes the name Moriah. Moriah in the Bible is the place Abraham took Isaac with the intent to sacrifice him. We find later that Desmond is the one who attempts to sacrifice himself on behalf of the other survivors and to help them be rescued.
Ankerberg: I find some of the most interesting, though, is the main character of the story. What’s his name?
Burroughs: Yes, Jack Shepherd. That is amazing. We see him with the Shepherd name, paralleled in the story as the leader. And his father’s name is Christian Shepherd, and that’s the most explicit Christian reference of course, using the name “Christian” in it. And then in the finale of Season 3 Jack is called Moses because he’s leading the people from the beach to a place where he thinks they will be rescued off of the island.
Ankerberg: All right, you’ve got all these references and more that we’ve documented in the book. How would you use these references in talking to non-Christian friends?
Burroughs: There are a lot of ways you can do this, but the main idea behind LOST is that there is all this information and much of it is spiritual. When you talk with your friends it’s much easier to say to your friends, “Did you see the episode of LOST and when it talked about…”, for instance the scene with Benjamin asking if he believed in God as he talks to Jack, or the reference we saw about Eko talking to Locke about the Bible and the story of King Josiah. And when you go that route, you’re faced with these issues of eternal significance. And we have to decide, “OK, this is good information, but what does that mean to me personally”? And you have the opportunity to say, “What do you think about this? Where do you think you will spend eternity?” And to ask those tough questions that lead people to a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Ankerberg: Yeah, I think that LOST is great in the sense that it gives a spectrum of experiences that we all have gone through. Some have experienced death, some have experienced divorce, some have had breakups with their relationships, some have been in trouble with the law. And you’ve got all these different stories. And it’s interesting that in these stories they’re referencing the Bible, which just goes to the fact that the Bible is commenting on all of the things that we do experience in life. It’s a wealth of information and advice from God; if you find yourself in this situation these are the things you can do. And if that is the case, then as you encounter friends that are having the same kind of problems that are brought up in the show you can also say, “Did you know that during the show they referenced the Bible”? And we give you all the places where that happens. Right along this line we’ve got another clip from the show that talks about how the Bible is used. Let’s take a look.

Dialogue from LOST

Cassidy: They questioned me for half an hour. They confiscated my case, he was asking me about selling Bibles, oh it’s a good thing I know how to lie.

Ankerberg: Alright Dillon, this is kind of a humorous way of referring to the Bible but this shows what?
Burroughs: I love the contrast here because what happens is that you have a con-woman who is going door to door appearing to sell Bibles and because of the way she’s presented they arrest her thinking that she is Kate. Later on we see the scene where she says, “It’s a good thing I know how to lie”. So in this instance they’re contrasting the Bible, which they see as a book of truth, with this woman who’s a liar and a con-woman. So it’s great that even from these creators of LOST, many of whom are not Christians at all or hold any Christian worldview, see the Bible as a source of truth and a source of influence for good using this place we see here.
Ankerberg: Yeah, another thing that surprised me is they actually build a church on the island. What’s going on?
Burroughs: The last thing I would be concerned about if I was on a deserted island would be building a church, but this is exactly what Eko does. And Charlie later joins him. Now the reason behind this we find out later on. Eko’s brother Yemi was a Roman Catholic priest and in the situation with his brother, his brother becomes a priest as well but it ends up costing Yemi his life so Yemi tells him, and Eko believes, that he owes a church in this situation. So that’s why he builds the church and then later we find out he abandons the project because he feels he has another calling to save the people on the island.
Ankerberg: Yeah, I find that interesting too. But as you get into the research on this, which we put into the book, what knocks me out is this whole thing about the Jesus stick. And right now we want to put on screen what a Jesus stick is. And there are some words on the Jesus stick and I’ll tell you what folks, if you go to the website you will find all kinds of websites devoted to what these words mean. And let’s just roll through a couple of these things, Dillon.
Burroughs: Well on the first side of the Jesus stick we see Habakkuk 1:3, we see the verse Acts 4:12; and in total we see 7 carvings on each side, either Bible verses or references to Bible verses. For instance, “Lift up your eyes and look North” is a reference on there. So they have all of these that have been etched into the stick by Eko who is a priest and each one has special significance.
Ankerberg: Talk about Acts 4:12, I mean that really knocks me out that they put that on there.
Burroughs: Yes, it amazes me as well. Acts 4:12, that “there is no other name under heaven by which men must be saved”, referring to Jesus and salvation exclusively through Him. And then later on we have an episode about baptism and its role in salvation that uses this verse in connection with that. So we have that, we have an intriguing reference of John 3:5, which we find out later is not only the verse 3:5 in the book of John but is also used with multiple meanings for a compass-bearing later in the series as well as the exact episode, Season 3 Episode 5, where Eko is the person who dies. So it’s used in multiple ways but again, the Bible is featured predominantly over and over, especially on this Jesus stick and in Eko’s character.
Ankerberg: What’s on the other side?
Burroughs: On the other side, there are 7 carvings on each side. And there are more Bible verses; for instance on side two we find the 23rd Psalm, which is the name of one of the episodes that Eko is heavily involved in. We also see Psalm 144, Revelation 5:3, the word “hade” from The King James Version, T4, which is an unknown reference we may find out later in the series, and Titus 3. So we find all these references, some explained in the series, some yet to be explained, but all dealing with biblical passages that point people toward spiritual issues that we can use in our discussions.
Ankerberg: Yeah, people on the websites across the country are freeze-framing this Jesus stick frame by frame by frame to see if there’s anything else they can pick up. Alright, we’ve given all this information about LOST. Again, for the folks that are watching, how in the world do you want them to use this information? Why is it valuable, what do they do with it?
Burroughs: Yes, that’s one thing that I really struggle with. You watch this, you see all these spiritual ideas; what do I do with it? But at a certain point you have to get beyond the information and say, “How does this apply to my life”? And a great way that I do this is if I’m talking to someone about an episode of LOST for instance, because so many people are watching it, I can reference a particular spiritual example and then ask them about that issue in their life. So as we sit and discuss it’s not me saying, “How are you doing spiritually”, it’s me saying, “Look at this episode of LOST, how does that relate to your life”? And the response is almost always favorable and they’ll share what’s going on in their lives and open up an opportunity to talk with them about their spiritual condition, whether they’re a non-Christian or a Christian, and help them move forward in a way that would be honoring to God.
Ankerberg: All right, next week we’re going to show some more clips and talk more about What Can be Found in LOST. And from the way we’ve been talking you might almost think this is a Christian program, the series LOST, but it’s not. Because next week we’re going to talk about the 12 different religious groups that are actually named in LOST and some of the major religions like Hinduism and Islam and Taoism and all of these other things that come up. We’re going to show you clips from them and then we’re going to ask, “Is there only one way, like Jesus said, or are there many ways to God”? And we’re going to take a look at what the LOST series says so I hope you’ll join us then.

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