Thursday, May 11, 2006

Learning About Faith From a Television Show


If you are a fan of the TV show LOST on ABC and haven't yet watched last night (May 10th) episode then you will not want to read this post past the warning further down. This post contains major spoiler information.

You don't have to watch the show to read this post.


On ABC's Lost we have a show about a large group of people who mysteriously end up on an uncharted island. Strange things happen which force the survivors to deal with emotional times in their pasts. Many times these are instances that proved to be trying times in their lives. Through whatever is happening on the Island the survivors are forced to reconcile their troubled pasts and most times they come out for the better. In a few cases when a person has worked out their issues the character had died on the show. Many fans believe that this is analogous to completing your mission on Earth and therefore passing on.

The show has had a spiritual overtone since the beginning. For all of the first season and a half the shows main two leaders were two men. One by the name of John Locke, billed as a Man of Faith. Another man by the name of Jack Shepard. A Man of Science. A doctor who doesn't believe in fate, he only believes in what he can see. He goes on the facts and then makes decisions.

These two men have clashed many times, as would two men coming from such polar ideological opposites. The shows creator a man by the name of J.J. Abrams is Jewish, as is one of the two main producers, Damon Lindeloff. The show's other main producer is a man from a christian background whose name is Carlton Cuse. It's safe to assume that many of the shows creators religious backgrounds have gone into this show.

The concept of faith vs. science is something that permeates throughout all of religion. I want to address it's place in Judaism.

Every day that a Jewish man wakes up he is supposed to pray, put on leather straps with boxes filled with parchment containing verses from the Torah. Every day Jewish men and women eat kosher which does not allow us to eat fish that do not have both fins and scales and animals that do not chew their cud and have split feet. Every Friday night we stop using all forms of electric and we cease working.

Many of these things are based on faith. Being a religious person is something that requires lots faith. Sure there are many laws from the Torah that make sense, but there are just as many if not more that are impossible to really understand. Believing in something simply because we are told to is very hard. To do something simply because "it says so" is something that every Jewish person has to internalize.

On the show there is a hatch, in this hatch is a computer. At the beginning of this season a man left them there and told them that they have to press specific numbers into the computer and press enter every 108 minutes. If they don't do it, it could mean the end of the world. Why was the man doing this? Because when he came to the hatch a man before him told him the same thing. Our main characters John Locke and Jack Shepard argued over whether to press the button. Jack Shepard, the man of science believed this made no sense and was probably part of some experiment. Locke on the other believed there was a higher meaning to all of this and decided to trust the original occupant of the hatch and press the button.

Every 108 minutes Locke made sure that the button was pressed. Why? Because he had faith he was doing the right thing.

This season on Lost a new character was introduced. This was a man by the name of Mr. Eko. Mr. Eko, like John Locke was also a man of faith. Mr. Eko was a priest, well, he became a priest after being a drug l-rd, but that's a different story.

(Spoiler starts here, this is your last chance to stop reading)


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Last night Mr. Eko and John Locke, two men of faith showed us how there are different levels of faith. They discovered the location of a new hatch. In this hatch we learn that this really is all part of an experiment. We're told that the people in the other hatch were "told" that they are doing something of the "utmost" importance. Locke takes this to mean that now that we know the reason for pushing the button, its obvious that there is no true need to push the button. Mr. Eko on the other hand takes this to mean that now there is more reason to push the button then ever.

I found this to be very interesting. For many years Jewish people followed the mitzvahs in the Torah simply because it said so. Later we learned that some things did in fact have logical explanations. Kosher dietary laws helped keep us healthy, psychiatrists will tell you that taking a "break" once a week is great for the mind and also great for strengthening the family bond.

The problem with this is that then we turn into John Locke's. Now that we know the reason for something, our faith is tested. Faith is really believing in something - just because. When we know why we are supposed to do something we can then come up with reasons why they shouldn't be done. Mr Eko believes that even though we think we know the reason why they were supposed to push the button, that doesn't take away from the faith he had in the button and its purpose.


It's a very interesting turn and it really is something that speaks to any religious person.

So why do we push the button? By button I mean remain religious. Are we doing it because we have true faith or because we think we know the reasons. What if we found out that the reason for something didn't make sense.

Would you still do it?


Tell me, why do you push the button?

(Cross-Posted on Life-of-Rubin)

7 comments:

Amishav said...

Very interesting idea! Of course, we as Jews have been "lost" for millenia so I suppose it is an apt metaphor. We have proof that lots of invisible things exist- microscopes show us bacteria; geiger counters show us radiation- who is to say that spritual energy does not exist? Maybe t'fillin pick it up? Thank you for making me think about this.

Z said...

I really love your thoughts on this. I am a LOST addict and I see polar opposites in pairs of people on the island...I love how you juxtaposed Locke and Eko and explored what and why they saw what they saw in the second hatch. Very cool.

Newwordsmith said...

Interesting. My observations, as a Christian, is that most of the Jews I know profess no faith whatsoever, but instead do things because they feel obligated out of tradition and guilt. I know many so-called Jews who don't believe in God (a contradition, of course).

Judaism seems to place a lot of emphasis of what a person does or doesn't do, and how he does or doesn't do things. We pray this way, we don't eat this food, we abide by these laws, we use these appliances on these days, etc. This cannot help but lead to a focus on what the individual is doing instead of what God is doing.

We don't have many of these laws or obligations in Christianity because we believe that Jesus was sent to relieve these burdends. The reason we beleive he was sent is because the people of the Old Testament had gotten so focused on what they were doing and didn't focus enough on what God was doing.

He was sent to change the focus back to where it was supposed to be all along: Himself! I don't know if this makes any sense, but I am really glad you posted about this. Thanks.

Newwordsmith said...

Interesting. My observations, as a Christian, is that most of the Jews I know profess no faith whatsoever, but instead do things because they feel obligated out of tradition and guilt. I know many so-called Jews who don't believe in God (a contradition, of course).

Judaism seems to place a lot of emphasis of what a person does or doesn't do, and how he does or doesn't do things. We pray this way, we don't eat this food, we abide by these laws, we use these appliances on these days, etc. This cannot help but lead to a focus on what the individual is doing instead of what God is doing.

We don't have many of these laws or obligations in Christianity because we believe that Jesus was sent to relieve these burdends. The reason we beleive he was sent is because the people of the Old Testament had gotten so focused on what they were doing and didn't focus enough on what God was doing.

He was sent to change the focus back to where it was supposed to be all along: Himself! I don't know if this makes any sense, but I am really glad you posted about this. Thanks.

Chaim said...

Thanks for writing. Jews absolutetly act on faith. Its one of the our basic princples we abide by every day.

David Buckna said...

Check out this LOST quiz:

http://www.ashleylangford.com/archives/2006/04/lost_quiz.html

Dr,. Jack Shepard said...

To copy the Peace Man go to www.shepardusgov.com and he is halfway down the page. Dr. Jack Shepard
_____________________________________________________

Keep the People for Peace Man walking... He is walking the World for Peace.

Say a Prayer for Peace and especially say a Prayer for our brave troops in Iraq; then copy and pass our Peace Man walking for Peace to others; via e-mail.So He can continue his walk for Peace around the World; via e-mail.

Then our Peace Man can
complete his walk and we Pray he reaches his destination & goal of his walk World Living in Peace.
_____________________________________
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS

ARE THE BASIS OF THE LAW AND ARE TREASURED AS WORDS OF LIFE*.

JESUS TAUGHT THAT THE CHIEF COMMANDMENTS WERE NOT ONLY TO LOVE GOD BUT ALSO TO LOVE ONE'S NEIGHBOR AND LOVE IS THE BASIS OF ALL OBEDIENCE TO GOD'S COMMANDS.

RABBI HILLEL SAID, "One of his most famous sayings, recorded in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers, a tractate of the Mishnah), is "If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?"

IF WE DON'T LEARN TO LOVE OUR NEIGHBOR IT COULD BE OUR FINAL DAYS?


PUNISHMENT IS NOT, HOWEVER, GOD'S LAST WORD.



GOD DOES NOT WANT HIS PEOPLE TO PERISH UTTERLY; A "REMNANT" WILL BE ALLOWED TO SURVIVE. THERE IS IN THE PROPHETIC MIND NO PERSPECTIVE TO DISTINGUISH GOD'S IMMINENT PUNITIVE INTERVENTION FROM HIS REMOTE AND FINAL JUDGMENT; HENCE THE "REMNANT" IS AT ONE AND THE SAME TIME THOSE WHO SURVIVE THE IMMEDIATE PERIL AND THOSE WHO ARE TO WIN FINAL SALVATION. THE COURSE OF CURRENT HISTORY WILL MAKE THAT DISTINCTLY CLEAR.


IF WE SURVIVE AS A SACRED EARTH?
WE ARE DIVINELY ASSURED OF A GREAT FUTURE. IN OUR AGE WE CAN HAVE SUCH HAPPINESS THAT THE WORLD HAS NEVER KNOWN.

WE ARE ALL CHILDREN OF GOD; WE ARE ALL AT THE HEART OF THE PROPHETIC HEART OF PROPHETIC HOPE FOR PEACE AND JOY.

OUR ONLY CHANCE FOR PEACE AND SURVIVAL IS BY A RENEWED COMMITMENT TO THE REALIZATION OF THE KINGSHIP OF GOD. FOR THIS, THE ESSENTIALS OF HOPE IMPLY A PROFOUND NEW SPIRITUAL OUTLOOK OF VIRTUE AND HOLINESS WHICH ENTAILS A NEW MODE OF LIFE.

WE MUST ASK FOR DIVINE FORGIVENESS BY BEGINNING TO LEARN THE TRUE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD. BY LEARNING THE TRUE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD; THEN AND ONLY THEN CAN WE BEGIN TO ENJOY PEACE AND HAPPINESS.

MORALITY IS BASED ON THE LAW ENUNCIATED BY GOD BUT NOW IS OFTEN BROKEN. IF ANYONE IS TO ESCAPE PUNISHMENT FOR THEIR SINS THEY MUST SEEK GOD. THE MORAL CONDUCT OF THE PEOPLE OF THE WORLD IS MUCH MORE IMPORTANT THAT THE RITUAL PRACTICE.

GOD ASKS FOR A RELIGION OF THE HEART; THIS IS TO BE THE CONDITION OF THE CONVENT THAT IS TO COME. PRESENTLY SIN INFECTS ENTIRE NATIONS, CORRUPTING THEM AND IT SEEMS BEYOND HOPE AT THIS MOMENT IN TIME.

TODAY WICKEDNESS IS RIFE AND INVITES THE VENGEANCE OF GOD ON ALMOST ALL. MUCH OF THE SIN TODAY IS NATIONAL AND COLLECTIVE SO MAY BE GOD'S PUNISHMENT.

EVEN SO WE CAN HOPE AND RENEW OUR PRAYERS FOR INDIVIDUAL PUNISHMENT BY DEEPENING AND LEARNING TO APPRECIATE WHAT GOD DEMANDS. THAT THE CHIEF COMMANDMENTS ARE NOT ONLY TO LOVE GOD BUT ALSO TO LOVE ONE'S NEIGHBOR AND LOVE IS THE BASIS OF ALL OBEDIENCE TO GOD'S COMMANDS.

WE MUST WORK TO CHANGE OUR PRESENT PATTERN OF NATIONAL AND COLLECTIVE WICKEDNESS OR WE WILL INVITE THE VENGEANCE OF GOD.

GOD ASKS FOR RELIGION OF THE HEART

THIS IS A CONDITION OF THE COVENANT THAT IS TO COME IF WE WISH PEACE NOW. WE MUST BEGIN TO LIVE BY THIS SPIRIT AND LET GODS SPIRIT INTO OUR HEART. WE MUST CHANGE OUR PRESENT MORAL PRACTICES OF HOSTILITY BETWEEN NATIONS OR WE SURELY WILL PERISH!

THE COURSE OF HISTORY ITSELF MAKES THIS DISTINCTION VERY CLEAR. ONLY IN SHARING OUR MATERIAL PROSPERITY AND POWER CAN WE HOPE THAT IN THIS AGE THERE WILL BE SUCH HAPPINESS THAT THE WORLD HAS NEVER KNOWN.

AT THIS TIME OUR IMMEDIATE PERIL COULD EASILY HAVE NO SURVIVORS. OUR ONLY CHANCE FOR SURVIVAL IS THE COLLAPSE OF PRETENSIONS TO POLITICAL DOMINATION.


DR. JACK SHEPARD