|Call of Duty: Black Ops? What's that? Roll the dice, kid.|
John Locke, who has just miraculously regained the use of his legs is non-nonchalantly cillin' on the beach. Walt, bored out of his mind, finds Locke playing backgammon. Ooooo, I found a clip.
The "oldest game in the world." Just in case that didn't sound cool enough, Locke even exclaims, "It's five thousand years old; that's older than Christ."
Older than Christ!? Now you've really got my attention! Anyway... two sides. You'll notice Locke avoids ascribing personality to the two sides. The color simply shows they are on opposing teams.
See what he did there? Which one is good? Which one is bad? Who knows! That is part of the mystery and adventure in LOST and will be a topic we'll get into later.
The idea of two opposing sides is so meta in LOST that it must be presented in a way that is both easily understood (a game) and infinitely deep. Games are important in LOST, you see them everywhere. Chess, Backgammon, football, Connect Four - just to name a few.
Does it seem odd to you that after such a traumatic event as a plane crash Locke would be playing a game? It shouldn't. People need games. Just ask Tuscaloosa how much they are looking forward to seeing the Crimson Tide play after the horrific Tornado destruction of April 27th, 2011. Games allow us a construct by which we can define our reality. The same is true for LOST and the reality faced on the mysterious island.
This is the premise presented in the duality of the "Man in Black" and Jacob, of whom we'll learn more of later. As I said at the beginning, it also crops up in other duality that doesn't necessarily have to follow a good/bad construct. For the world of LOST, you could almost say the entire experience on the island is a kind of game. Granted, a very serious game where people can lose their lives, but a game non-the-less.
Why does this matter for Christians? Well, there is a distinct difference in the world of LOST the Christian perspective of our world. Two ways:
Playing the Game
Christians would do well sometimes to take the Biblical view that our lives are, in some sense, part of a larger "game" - this both means that we should take life "not so" seriously but also of infinite importance. When the game is over, it is over - death even comes with it's own theme music at our funeral. But Jesus clearly offered the idea that because we need not fear death (or, the "end" of the game) and so we can "play the game" the way we need to - without fear of the end result. In LOST and in our world, choices are of vital importance to the individual - but how much does it change the outcome?
As long as I've been alive the "light" team is good and the "dark" team is evil. Think Lone Ranger - good guys are easily identified by their white shirts. They are noble, upright, and always dashing. Bad guys are always dressed in black. They are shady, ruthless, and sit in dark corners laughing maniacally and rubbing their hands together with plans for world domination.
Unfortunately, something is lost when we label certain races, nations, or persons as being on one team or the other. Instead of simply establishing that the two sides are opposed, we confer judgment. It isn't that these judgments aren't true or right - it is that we can't ever see past them.
Let's step further from just playing a game and look at that duality...
Duality of Good vs. Evil
One thing people cannot get away from is the presence of evil in a world that we believe was created by a good and divine creator. Evil, for Christians, often takes many names. Sin, the Devil, Fallen from grace - regardless of your take on Hell (a popular subject today but I'm not getting into fate or free will yet) everyone admits that things are not always "good."
Some people see this conflict of reality and place good and evil on the same level playing field. Think Ying Yang type thing. Good and evil are equally opposed and their only difference is that they are opposed.
This may be true in LOST, but it is not true in Christian tradition. God is not on the same playing field as Evil. C.S. Lewis makes the case that evil is simply a tainted good - it doesn't have it's own virtues, it only uses corrupted virtues - thus making it only an alternative to "good" that can only be reached by corrupting good. In our world, there is good and there is evil. That doesn't always mean we know which is which though, does it. Regardless to how well we can see it, in our world, God definitely is "above" evil. Evil, in a lot of ways, doesn't have the power, resources, or purposes of God. Thus, evil will be and is already, simply at the mercy and judgment of God.
Did I lose you? I hope not. Let me summarize:
In LOST there are two teams, equally opposed and apparently in constant conflict. Yes, there is good and evil in there but both sides see the other as evil and their own side as good.*
In the Christian world view, it is more appropriate to say there is, by and large, good. God's good. Yes, that good gets corrupted - but that corrupted good must be reconciled. Hence, Jesus Christ coming to save the world, not destroy/condemn it. Hence, evil must never be excluded from the "good side" of the game. There is always hope we can all be on the same team.
We would do well to claim God's abundant grace whenever we are playing a game or living our lives - especially lives that we give to Christ.
* - the Man in Black often espouses freedom and power and the struggle of coming out from under Jacob's thumb. Who doesn't want freedom and power? These things are not bad, in and of themselves. You'll also notice in LOST Jacob seems to do some pretty evil things to keep the Man in Black in check - thus making the distinction of who is good or who is bad intentionally murky. Whole bunch of "grey" between the black and white of LOST. God, on the other hand, never ever ever resorts to evil/bad actions. Even with the best intentions, and greatest freedoms, Christ overcomes the temptations to do the wrong things for the right reasons. He does the right things for the right reasons. And this is why we place our hope and our faith in this God. This is why I believe we can do it too.