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Sarah Pulliam Bailey, a fine journalist at CT, writes about “Lost” in WSJ. 

How do you explain the phenomenon? What do you think is the point?
Here’s an excerpt with her thesis tucked in… 

‘Lost’ Devotees Need a Little Faith

In the beginning, “Lost” was simple.

A plane crashed on a Pacific island, leaving survivors looking for food, shelter and rescue. But polar bears, skeletons and rattling smoke soon made it clear that this was no “Gilligan’s Island.” As ABC’s critically-acclaimed television series approaches its Sunday finale, aficionados are still crying for promised “answers” to “Lost’s” many unresolved questions.

The show’s writers have hooked an invested group of about 11 million viewers, and these devotees want to believe some larger purpose exists in the storytelling, something meaningful that makes six seasons of watching worthwhile. Each week, however, every answer seems to lead to more questions, leaving enthusiasts with grave angst.

Yet this is how all of life unfolds. In the end, we may find only an approximation of the truth. The viewers’ search for meaning in “Lost” exemplifies a microcosm of that experience. If we give the writers a little grace and extend some patience, the suspense leading up to the finale of this television show could teach us something about faith in general.

As the final episode approaches, some viewers don’t want ultimate answers. “The power of the show is the air of mystery that it always preserves,” says Craig Detweiler, director of Pepperdine University’s Center for Entertainment, Media and Culture. “In the same way we would never want to put God in a box, I would hate to see ‘Lost’ wrapped up in a tight bow. Maybe the show will leave us with a sense of critical self-reflection about whose side are we on and which parts of our backstory do we need to reconcile.”

Other fans are afraid of hearing unsatisfactory answers. People often leave a religion when the doctrinal tenets become unsatisfactory or even illogical. In “Lost,” we see this kind of disgust from Ben when he finally meets the legendary Jacob after following his orders for years. Looking for recognition, Ben asks him, “What about me?” Jacob, who protects the island, responds, “What about you?” before a frustrated Ben drives a knife into Jacob’s chest. The finale could leave fans similarly disenchanted, feeling strung along before an anticlimactic letdown.

But maybe a quest for specific answers is the wrong idea. One of the most fundamental questions a human can ask is: “Why are we here on earth?” For people who are religious, the answer usually lies in faith, a confidence in things unseen. We believe in fundamental truths and yet we leave a little room for unanswered questions.

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