Lorne Manly recently got a peek inside the heads of the executive producers of television's LOST - a deeply mythological show concerned with the big questions of life.
Part of LOST's durability is that it's a show that's never shied away from either referencing faith-shaping authors (C.S. Lewis, say, or Flannery O'Connor or Madeleine L'Engle) or quoting from scripture or doing its own (often explicitly Christian) theology. It's also a show that in a week's time will come to its final conclusion after six seasons.
Q. Your show traffics in a lot of big themes — fate versus free will, good versus evil, faith versus reason, how often Sawyer should be shirtless. Ultimately, what were the most important themes for you in this series?
DAMON LINDELOF If there’s one word that we keep coming back to, it’s redemption. It is that idea of everybody has something to be redeemed for and the idea that that redemption doesn’t necessarily come from anywhere else other than internally. But in order to redeem yourself, you can only do it through a community. So the redemption theme started to kind of connect into “live together, die alone,” which is that these people were all lone wolves who were complete strangers on an aircraft, even the ones who were flying together like Sun and Jin. Then let’s bring them together and through their experiences together allow themselves to be redeemed. When the show is firing on all pistons, that’s the kind of storytelling that we’re doing.
Q. One criticism of the show over the years has been that it throws all these big ideas in by giving characters names of philosophers: Hume, Rousseau Locke and the like. There’s a concern you’re just sort of tossing it into this gumbo and giving the show an intellectual veneer when those characters’ actions and motivations don’t correlate to their namesakes.
LINDELOF One of the things that we completely own is that in many ways “Lost” is a mash-up/remix of our favorite stories, whether that’s Bible stories from Sunday school or “Narnia” or “Star Wars” or the writings of John Steinbeck. Carlton and I both had to take philosophy classes when we were in college, and we talk about philosophy, so when certain ideas started to present themselves on the show, we just wanted to let the audience know that these philosophers are in our lexicon as storytellers.
That's from this NYT interview.
Chris Seay, pastor of Houston's Ecclesia Church and author of the (possibly premature) book The Gospel According to Lost, video blogs about just this topic, and in particular is interested in the show's approach to the idea of redemption.