Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lost in Thought: "The Package"

I have just finished the previous review on Ab Aeterno, so this is going to be a little quicker. Usually after a momentous episode like Ab Aeterno, the following episode is once again another setup show. It tends to not have major revelations, but rather is moving the plot towards the next cornerstone episode which makes sense. If you want a good payoff, you need to put investment into the story. Thus why I was not as awed by Ab Aeterno last week. Great episode, don't get me wrong, but I still think there are a few others that are better.

As for this episode, I don't have a lot of great insight although I enjoyed the idea that Jin was carrying the money that would get him killed if he had delivered. Fortunately for him, what is normally a bad thing, like losing $25,000, actually saved him.

A lot of people predicted that it was going to be Desmond in the submarine and the funny thing is, I don't think I even cared. Sawyer made note of the locked door and I knew something was going to be in there, but I did not even consider what it could be for a second. Meh.

It's also interesting that the show may wind up ending on the Hydra island and not the mainland. Of course, they could come back but it's weird that the Hydra island is becoming so important so late in the game.

We're getting a little more insight into Widmore's plans and it appears that he is there to kill the Locke Monster. It's strange because why is he so antagonistic to Ben earlier in the show. It's like there are three sides to this whole battle. Maybe what the whole thing is that Jacob oversees the island and has the smoke monster to be the security (against his will) to prevent people who want to use the island for the wrong reasons. It may very be that Widmore has a geophysicist to find the pockets of electromagnetism in order to power some device or solve the energy crisis or what have you, but if it's accessed it will actually doom everything.

Maybe when Jacob was talking about the island being a cork to keep in the "evil and malevolence" that will spread its darkness, he is talking about the electromagnetism. A source of such powerful energy could potentially be the source for a great evil. It is temptation and it is a power that maybe people should not have access to. Jacob is not saying that the Smoke Monster is the evil that will infect the world, but rather the power. For the Smoke Monster, it is hell, because he is trapped there forever to protect it.

Jack and Illana's group is wanting to stop the Locke Monster from leaving because the island will be defenseless. I don't think their goal is to destroy the monster.

I am not sure of the reason that Jacob would bring people to the island. That is the mystery at this point. It could be for his own amusement or to test people or for some other reason that is beyond the main objective which is to stop the exploitation of the island.

There is no real theories here except for the idea that maybe in the end, it will be Widmore versus Locke and Jack. I am liking how this show is shaping up and where it's going. There was maybe no big reveals, but it's a steady revelation of what is happening.

Lost in Thought: "Ab Aeterno"

I know this is a little late for me with this, but sue me. I've got other things on the go. Anyway, I liked this episode, as I like most episodes of the show, but apparently I don't love it as much as everyone else seems too. It hit a major point in the island's past and even gave more insight into who Jacob and the Man in Black are. It had a strong emotional story for Richard, but I still think "Dr. Linus" was a better episode. For me, maybe I was expecting too much from this one. I was figuring it was going to fill in even more than it did. And as I have stated before, unfulfilled expectations, even unreasonable ones will make you disappointed.

One of my friends called the romantic story as strong as or even better than the episode "The Constant" from Season 4 which I was surprised at. I couldn't really say why at the time I thought that was bizarre, but in reflection I think the story of Desmond and Penny had a lot more build up and had a greater payoff. Meanwhile, we are just introduced to Isabella this episode. I can see parallels in the two stories and in the end, payoff makes me more attached to that other story by far.

Anyway, that all aside, here are my few thoughts on the episode. I am hearing strong arguments now that maybe the Man in Black is not actually a bad guy. This is from one Pearson Moore and honestly, you need to go to sl-lost.com and look for Pearson Moore's writings and reflections on this season's episodes. He has some of the most incredible insight into images and the backgrounds of symbols and in addition is well-versed in theology. He picks up on a lot from watching and he doesn't read spoilers. He delves into what Lost is about and does not care as much about what is happening. Once again, he suggests that maybe the Man in Black is an angel and that Jacob maybe more like the devil.

Pearson also pointed out that when Richard stated that he was in hell, Jacob only refuted the idea that Richard was dead. He could be in hell still, but just not dead.

I like the fact that they are really trying to blur who is good and bad. It is making you really have to look at what is actually evil and good. It is really highlighting for me that in some regards, popular images of what is good and what is evil is almost cartoony. We label something as evil and then that is it. If you are evil, you have no redeeming element to you. But people never consider themselves evil and if they do, then they see no hope for themselves. They have given in that this is their lot in life. Generally, however, people see themselves as good or the very least, not evil. That all of the choices that they make are generally good.

The view of evil is one that is the destruction of life. Tyranny that tries to squash freedom. Evil lacks the ability to love. That it is a force that looks to conquer good. That it wants the world. Almost none of those things can be true. A person does not want those things, typically. The battle I have with myself is not one where I am holding back the urge to kill everyone around myself because I want to see death or I want to exert my power over everything around me. Evil doesn't work like that, but some people kind of look at evil in that regard and thus they believe that they cannot be evil. "Clearly, I must be a good person. I don't want other people to suffer, thus I am good."

Evil is a lot more common than that. In fact, I believe that evil is not a power that is somehow and equal yet opposite to good, but rather a mere corruption of what is good. Usually, a lot of evil that people do come out of a perverted sense of what is good. The other kind is what is more often see and it is purely putting yourself ahead of others.

The first kind is what I see terrorist groups as. These are groups that are almost rooted in a good ideal, but it is taken the wrong way. If it's a religious extremist, they believe that they must bring about the peace that comes from their teachings by wiping out the opponents to their ideal. They view anyone who disagrees with them as oppressive or endangering the good people and thus if the good people (as determined by their religious ideals) are to be protected, the opponents must be punished or destroyed. It's the same with environmental extremists who are trying to protect what they think is important and going to great lengths to do so even if it costs lives. A lot of ideological groups have a root in what is actually a positive thing, but is taken to an extreme length to ensure the dominance of that positive thing. That's why Bond supervillains are kind of funny because how are they even trying to do anything good and how do they get so many henchmen to follow them? Anyways, this is the most dangerous form of evil, but rather an obvious kind because people who are apart of these groups believe they are actually doing good for the world and can be obvious.

The more insidious kind of evil is also the most common and that is the second type I mentioned before. It is where people put themselves first over others. Obviously, we need to take care of ourselves so that way we can be a positive force in our society and we should get to enjoy some good things in life, but it's a tricky line. It's easy to get lazy and generally not hurt others but not actually do anything that helps other people. We're not necessarily a force of evil, but rather a lack of force. If no one is hurting each other, great, but at the same time we are lacking as a society if we are not trying to push ourselves in a positive direction. Being good is more than a lack of hurting others, but rather taking steps to reach out to our fellow humankind.

Generally, Christianity pushes us to actually reach out and do something good and not grow complacent. However, it's easy to become complacent once you've found religion because you have chosen correctly and that is all. Nothing more is required of me. I'm going to kick back and not do anything else and that is the seed of evil. It is when we stop caring. Evil is more present than we care to think. That we are fighting more than we believe.

I might claim to be a follower of Jesus which is all fine, but that doesn't mean I'm good now. Things are a lot more grey than that and that usually does not sit well with a lot of religious people. Lost seems to be pointing at this idea. That what is good and what is evil has less to do with what team you're on and more about the choices you make.

Just because the Man in Black is wanting off the island does not make him a force of evil. It may cause something bad to happen if he leaves, but really he is more selfish than anything else. He's not a malevolent being. He believes in the freedom of the individual to not be shackled into the duty of the community. He supports some good things. The idea that people should get to live how they would like and not live under tyranny. That's a good thing, however, it may come at a cost and that's the problem. He may be willing to sacrifice the good of many for the ideal of freedom for all.

We live in shades of grey and we are surrounded by people who are all trying to figure out what is good. People for the most part do not want to harm to come to others, but at the same time they are not willing to sacrifice themselves for others either. People are usually in the middle avoiding having to do either. Can you really call yourself good, if you are not willing to sacrifice things for other people?

Now, that I finally finished this, I can watch the new episode. I'm pumped.

Friday, March 19, 2010


In case you haven't heard, I have been let go of my job at Roger's. It is a little strange to be at home for the whole weekend instead of work. I never had to worry about making plans with anybody because going to work was my plans. I was surprised that it was me that they let go, but I understand their decision at the same time. Funny enough, I was telling one of my employees that "There is restructuring going on, but don't worry, our store is doing fine and our jobs will be safe." And it was me who had faith in our job security and it was me who got the boot.

I remember talking about the six life paths in a blog a few months ago and this event just seems to highlight my lack of movement on those points and now I don't even have my job which was the one I was doing the best in aside from being couched in the Bystander path. Now, that's what's left.

Fortunately, if I was to leave Roger's, this is exactly how I would want to leave. I get severance and I get time. I have the chance to move away and get setup somewhere else and I have time to find a new job there. I don't know what I want to do about school yet, but it just happened so I am still trying to figure that out.

I know I have usually been ridiculously busy for a good portion of my adult life and I always wished I had just a little more time in my week. That's why I find it so strange to have an abundance of time. In fact, it's feels like too much time. It's like I have been thirsty and suddenly I thrown into the ocean and I'm drowning. "Yeah, I wish I had more time. Ah, that's enough. No, I'm good. Oh, no, too much! Too much! Too much!"

I am planning on using this time to go out west and see some friends that I have not seen in a long time. Maybe this break will be something nice before I move onto the next stretch of my life.

That's all I really have to say for now. I am trying to rest and reflect on my position and go from here.

"Honey, aren't you ready?
Don't you get it?
Even if you got nothing to lose,
Then baby, you got it all"
- "Nothing to Lose" from the Operator album "Soulcrusher"

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Lost in Thought: "Recon"

Alright, this post will have less to do with tonight's show per se, but more on some ideas that solidified themselves after my post-show explanation with my friends, Mike, Allison and Dana. It largely consisted of me acting smart and inflating my already-oversized ego. Let me mention a couple of things in the episode and then I want to talk about the bigger ideas in the show.

The first thing that pops out to me, is Widmore's group on the island. It seems as though that they are a separate entity to both Locke's and Jacob's group. Interestingly enough, Widmore's group have set up shop in a manner sort of similar to the Dharma Initiative's approach to security. They have a submarine and are putting up a sonar fence to keep the smoke monster out. I am wondering if Widmore actually has a connection to the Dharma Initiative. Perhaps he was helping them all along as a mole. For those who don't know Alvar Hanso is the head of the Hanso Foundation who funds the Dharma Initiative. Alvar's ancestor is Magnus Hanso who was the captain of the Black Rock. It is possible that Magnus is Alvar if Magnus has the same longevity that Richard has, but that is a different tangent. Anyway, we saw Widmore bidding for the personal diaries of Magnus Hanso and so it might be possible that Widmore is working for or at least with the Dharma Initiative and Alvar Hanso in order help exploit the island for possible good or possibly selfish reasons.

We once again see the use of the mirror in this episode as well as a mostly redeemed Sawyer, but it is not perfect like the other stories we have seen in the other flash-sideways.

This is what I really want to dig into. My new thoughts came from the continual use of mirrors in this season and the possible significance. I am thinking that the flash-sideways is a reflection of what we are seeing on the island. It was not that the bomb created two possible worlds or two timelines, but rather the flash-sideways is a different entity altogether. It could be that the flash-sideways is the result of actions taken on the island that will redeem our lost. Redemption has been an important part of the show since the start and what the flash-sideways maybe are glimpses of a sort of heaven.

One of the older theories of the show back from Season 1 was that the island was purgatory. The writer's dismissed the theory, but perhaps it's not that far off. It is starting to really fit the bill as it draws closer to the end. Perhaps it is not purgatory per se, but rather a place that represents reality. There have been a lot of parallels and metaphors comparing places to spiritual realms. For instance, Christian referred to Australia as hell in season 1 in his conversation with Sawyer. Locke referred to the island as a place for a second chance. Los Angeles is known as the city of angels. The passengers of flight 815 crashed in between hell and heaven. What I'm starting to think is that the island really is a place of redemption and that our lost are going to go through the last trials and do something that allows them to redeem themselves as a community.

I think the best way to describe it would be to use Christian spirituality to explain it. In a lot of regards, what we do in this world is going to determine what our afterlife looks like. Our eternal selves' fates are linked in with what we do here in the reality of this dark world. Locke called the island a place for a second chance, but that does not mean that the second chance is easy. It harsh and difficult and deadly. In the same way, the characters are facing challenges and harsh circumstances not to save their lives on the island, but rather their other selves, their eternal selves who are off the island in Los Angeles. The characters will face an apocalypse of sorts where they may have to lose their lives to literally save them.

Now, I do not claim that Lost is a Christian show by any stretch, but it is interesting how the show seems to head that way. Perhaps, it's more of an agnostic approach to heaven and the afterlife. I don't know.

I am starting to think that the other thing that is being shown is that salvation for the folks are not going to be individually saved, but rather as a community. The characters are going to be dependent on each other in order to bring about a communal salvation. In the flash-sideways, we see this happening as characters are coming into contact with each other and are depending on each other.

Finally, I am beginning to wonder about the Monster and Jacob. I am beginning to think that the conflict is less of a good versus evil kind of thing, but rather opposing ideologies. Back in the first season, it refers to backgammon being the oldest game in the world. One side dark, one side light. It is always implied that dark is evil and light is good. But perhaps what we have are merely two opposing sides. What makes white team good in backgammon and what makes the black team evil? Nothing. It's merely two opposing sides.

Maybe that is where Widmore, Hanso and the Dharma Initiative come in. Perhaps it is a third group that is going to come in and be the true evil in the show. What would make them evil? It may have to do with the concept of control because the initiative was all about discovering how to control and change the end of the world. Perhaps, it is the idea that they need to know everything that marks them as the villains in the story. In the Lord of the Rings, Saruman is considered evil because he was wanting all the knowledge in the world when it is something outside of human grasp. There is nothing wrong with knowledge and power, but when you need to have power beyond your means or drive for knowledge that only God knows, you step outside your place as a person and claim divinity and you will ultimately begin to be better than other people and God himself.

It may be that the two sides have been warring over the wrong thing the whole time. Both have good intentions, but both are missing the point. I still think that Jacob is the closest thing to a divine character and knows the nature of people and is working towards an end that will save the world. But even his followers don't know what he is doing and are getting caught up in the wrong fights. Hmm, sounds familiar doesn't it?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Compassionate Mediator

I was asked the other day to describe myself in two words. It was an interesting exercise, but the answer came fairly easily. I was thinking about my role as a mediator. I tend to find myself in a place where I do not like to take sides. I will not vehemently declare my allegiances in conflicts very often. For instance, I have found that when a friend complains about a situation that they feel another person is being unfair, I rarely jump in and side with my friend. I don't accuse them of lying or anything, but rather I tend to go to this place of trying to see the larger picture.

You see, I believe that in general, people are not out to get other people. I tend to give the people on the other side of the conflict the benefit of the doubt. I want to believe that people are not proactively hurting others. Does that mean I think that people do not commit wrongs on others? Absolutely not. I know it happens a lot. People are greedy and selfish and even people who are good people will make choices that best suit them over others. However, those kinds of decisions are rarely with the idea of hurting someone directly. For instance, a common person would not hold some one up for money or verbally attack another for no reason, but they may cheat here and there in games or download music for free or buy cheap food over organic varieties or not give money to the poor or avoid the annoying people or what have you. They may even do something wrong actively if they believe that it is not hurting anyone. (If you call yourself a follower of Christ, I would say that you should be looking to make more moral choices even when it doesn't hurt anyone, but that's really a tangent to what I'm getting at here) The thing is the common person doesn't want to hurt other people. They are selfish and opportunistic, but they are not hurtful.

Of course, there are plenty of exceptions to this rule. People who make their living off of others by robbing others, or people who are in a terrible environment of survival or those with warped sadistic minds due to background or mental instability or people who are racially intolerant who commit violence in the name of protecting their families. Even then, I think these individuals have evil intentions to hurt others. They may have an unfortunate view of the world that requires them to lash out in order to protect themselves. In the case of racists, they believe that others are less than human and are out to destroy what they consider important which the most tragic part of racism, because they believe they are actually doing something good for the world. These are all exceptions. I am talking about most people.

That is why when I hear a friend complain I try to dig a little further and actually understand the problem. Frequently a disagreement or a disappointment with another person is a result of an unfortunate misunderstanding or unforeseen circumstance that lead to the dispute in the first place. Most often, we are blind to what we have done in the situation and look to others to confirm our biased opinions of the events. Usually people will side with their friends especially if they don't know the other person in the conflict. But I don't do that. I will not do that. I will support my friends, but I try to avoid giving them a free pass and say "Yeah, that guy's a total jerk." In fact, I first try to see what my friend has done in the situation. I try to allow the unknown party as much leniency as I can give. It is the rare exception that it is all one person's fault.

I try to comfort my friends, but I also try to challenge them. Encourage them to make the situation, to see what the other person may have intended. I want to repair broken relationships. Not just my own, but in the lives of my friends. I think forgiveness and restoration of relationships is vital to bringing peace to our lives. We can not allow hate to dwell in our lives because it will sour us.

When my friend asked me to describe myself in two words, I said, "Compassionate mediator". I believe in being fair in how we deal with each other. Loving our friends and family is good for our spirit, but forgiving our enemies is what will save us all.

However, this extends past conflict. I see it in whenever someone has an opinion of something. Especially when you don't like something. There's a difference between not liking something and really despising it. There's a lot of things I don't like, but that is a matter of personal taste. I am not drawn to country music no matter what the caliber of musician or quality of composition. There's exceptions as there always is, but in general I don't care for it. I shouldn't have to defend that. However, if I said I hate or despise country music or say it sucks, that is a much different thing because now I need to defend that. I need to bring a reasoned explanation of my opinion if I want it to be considered valid. It's easy to say that something sucks (especially when it concerns matters of entertainment or art) but that is not allowing me to value your opinion. It's ok to have the opinion that something sucks, but I think you need to be able to articulate that otherwise you really need to say "I don't like it".

We are growing up in a culture of opinions that cascade through blogs and videos that tear into other people's hard work. It takes a whole fleet of people and a years worth (or more) of time to produce a film and only 10 minutes and a connection to the internet to express that you think it sucks. It's so easy to hate something, but it's admirable to see the value of it as a whole.

Don't get me wrong. There are plenty of bad films and bad albums out there and you can come to the conclusion of that objectively, but I do not think that people like doing that. They like to be able to just ridicule something or stand out because "the common folk like something, but not me, because I'm not like the rest of the several million other people and they're dumb for liking something so terrible". If you're going to say that something is terrible, especially popular things, you better be able to defend yourself or just admit that it was not your cup of tea.

I've worked at a video store long enough to realize that an opinion is exactly that. An opinion. Even if I don't like something, doesn't mean that someone else can't. Or if I do like something, it doesn't mean that other people should as well.

The thing is I found that it is important to recognize the good in something. It allows you to enjoy so much more. For instance, I know that G.I. Joe was a movie with a ridiculous plot, thin characters, campy dialogue and way too many explosions, but guess what, sometimes a movie can just be fun. It doesn't need to change the world. It was just trying to have fun and that's perfectly ok. I believe that Crash is a much better film. It is amazingly written with stories interconnected and scenes that can stand on their own as insightful glances into the stark honesty of the troubled realm of racism in North America today. But not everyone will like it. Some people are just going to be reminded of the harsh reality that we live in and will leave the movie disheartened. Maybe they just want to relax and turn off their brain for two hours and forget worries for a little bit. Guess what? G.I. Joe is for them. Actually watch Die Hard, if you haven't yet, but you get my drift. I have both recommended and told people to avoid the "Watchmen". Maybe they're not in the mood. Maybe they like dark movies. Maybe they like smart movies. Maybe they mistakenly think it's a fun superhero movie for the whole family. I can explain the merits and downsides for a given movie.

Why have I switched from talking about something serious as conflicts about people to something superfluous like movie reviews? Because I think there's a connection. Looking for the good in things and people is what will keep us balanced. If we are ready to be dismissive about things and people in our lives, then it is going to lead us to a very negative place.

I want to help people seek understanding in others and the world around us because if you can't see the good, then you're going to turn into a bitter, old crank and I'll have to listen to you complain when I'm trying to play Bingo.

"When something's broke, I wanna put a bit of fixin' on it
When something's bored, I wanna put a little excitin' on it
If something's low, I wanna put a little high on it
When something's lost, I wanna fight to get it back again"
- "The Fixer" from the Pearl Jam album "Backspacer"

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Lost in Thought: "Dr. Linus"

I am not going to have much in terms of theories this time around, because this episode was not about background or plot. It didn't even really answer any questions and I am perfectly ok with that because what this episode of Lost dealt with is really what this show is about. It is about redemption. There is nothing hidden away and it was not distracted with the plot and the questions and I thought it may be one of the best episodes to date.

Lost is veiled in mystery as way to draw the audience in and push the story forward. It uses elements of fantasy and science fiction in order to be able to create analogies and examples of the bigger questions of what it means to be human. And that's what good science fiction should do.

The beauty of the flash sideways was really apparent in this episode. It was pretty much the second chance that Ben wish he had with Alex on the island.

What we saw in tonight's episode will most likely win Michael Emerson a second Emmy and he completely deserves it with that scene with Illana in the jungle. After being asked why he would go to Locke and he's voice falters as he responds, "Because he's the only one that will have me." Here is the man who has done terrible things in the name of the island and he admits his guilt and knows what he deserves and then he is given the only thing that would save him and that comes from the gracious words of Illana, "I'll have you."

Lost, you get me in the heart. This episode found a good place in the story. We have just come off a depressing, dramatic encounter at the Temple last week, ending the first act of the season and the second act begins with this peaceful story of redemption, giving us a glimpse of hope in the midst of what could be a grim season.

Now, let's get back to the meat of the mystery. Right after I get this sawdust out of my eye. Trust me, it's nothing. I wasn't crying. It's nothing.

There are three interesting notes in this episode in terms of what is going on. One being the fact that Ben and his dad have both been to the island and were apart of the Dharma Initiative. It brings about the question of what actually causes the island to sink. It could not have been the bomb that set it off. Which would also imply that in the sunken island realm, that Jack and the others did not go back in time there in order to detonate it. What the sunken island realm could be is a parallel universe that is a mirror of the Lost realm.... oh my. It could very well be that the show's name is about this whole universe (not just the strange island) that is lost because it eliminates itself for the good of the sunken island realm. And because it does sacrifice itself, it also gives the sunken island realm the possibility of redemption. Still doesn't answer how the island is sunken, but I'll think about that in another post.

Another interesting event is Jack and Richard almost blowing themselves up, but they cannot because they were touched by Jacob. The rule surrounding it seems to be that if you are touched by Jacob, you are not able to die by your own hand. Thus why the dynamite did not go off because Jack cannot kill himself. Another rule we can assume from being a touched candidate is that the Monster cannot kill them either. The Monster was warned that he cannot kill Sawyer and had indeed saved his life.

The other event that is noteworthy is the appearance of Widmore which was not a surprise at all, especially since he is the new complication to introduce in the second act. The next piece of the story will be revolving around this third party and what that means for the island's struggle between Locke and Illana.

I think that once you can figure out the connection between the Lost Realm and the Sunken Island Realm, then I believe you are going to reveal the majority of the mystery of Lost. I know aliens was an idea that was floated around by some and I was starting to think that that would have to be a possibility as well, but it may not be the case anymore. I think Lost may stick to a non-extra terrestrial answer and I hope it does because otherwise it may be a bit too deux ex machina. We shall see.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Your Will Be Done

A few weeks ago, I posted something about prayer and how I feel like I shouldn't ask for things because it is assuming I know what I need. Perhaps I just need to go through tough times so I can become a stronger person. Anyways, Gavin in the comment section asked about my thoughts on the Lord's prayer and I thought it would be an interesting idea. I would like to think that my ideas on prayer line up with this because if it doesn't, I should be excommunicated. I will say this before I start. Many smarter people have written more in tune ideas about what you're about to read. I'm a fake intellectual.

"Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name..."
This statement puts everything where it should be. It is a wonderful statement of you are God and I am not in the same league as you. It is important to revere God and sometimes I think that especially with some modern Christians, it is popular to bring God down to our level. That He's our buddy, which I have always felt uncomfortable with. I wrote about this idea a while ago, but it still holds true. God is not one of our human peers. He is the creator of the world. I don't want to hang out with Him at the pub and shoot pool.

"...your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven..."
This is where I see that we have to submit our ideas to what God would have us do. Now, I take this fairly broadly. I once again do not believe that we have to funnel every decision through God and wait for a magic sign for us to proceed on something. That said, we know what God's will is. It is to love God and love others. I'll take a side note and say what I believe it means to love God. The biggest one is respect. When we are talking about loving someone who is in authority, we usually don't mean a romantic love or even a friendship kind of love. Usually, it is a love that shows respect. Like you would to your parents. You show love to your parents by obeying them and valuing their input. You want to love God? It's not by merely saying that you love God, it is also about trying to lead a discipline life.

This prayer reminds us that we want to submit to God and that we want to follow his will. It is also admitting that God's idea of what should happen is not dependent on what I think needs to happen. For the individual, showing respect to God and showing kindness, generosity and compassion for our fellow humankind is our way of backing up our words.

"...give us today our daily bread..."
This implies to me that God is not some magic machine, but rather keeps it simple. I think it also opens us up to being able to make plans. We can make decisions on our own and we can set up our goals as long as we follow God's will of loving Him and loving others. It also puts it on us to actually execute our plans. The prayer does not say that "give us today our daily bread and $40,000 and a passport" but rather just keeps it to what we need. Bread is something we need. God also knows what we need. God knows that if we need $40,000 and a passport and we are working towards it and it is something that needs to happen, it will happen. However, I think we sometimes whole-heartedly believe that we need something specific and maybe it just simply isn't meant to be. Am I saying that it's wrong to ask for something specific? No. I am saying that we need to approach it with humility. That we approach God saying that "This direction seems to be where I need to go and/or where You are calling me next and yet I am not sure how to overcome this obstacle. Help me to find the best way to bring this about whether it is by my hand or with Your help or by Your grace." To me, it seems bizarre that I would declare to God what He should give me.

However, this prayer also admits that we can't always do it on our own, but if God is there to give us the basics, then that is still giving us the ability to do His will.

"...forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors..."
This is, in my mind, an admission of who we are. We are broken and we screw up. It is also a vital reminder about how we need to see our common humanity and how we need to show grace. If this phrase was one that the world could learn to live by, it would be a wonderful thing. It is so difficult to have mercy on those around us when they do something wrong, but somehow we always have a justification for what we do wrong. It is a call to take responsibility, a quality that is elusive to many people. If we do not own up to our own wrongs, then we can never attain the true ability to forgive others and fix broken relationships.

"...and lead us not into temptation..."
This, to me, is one of the most interesting phrases in the prayer. I do not believe that God would lead us to temptation in the first place, so it's a bit curious. In the end, it comes back to the line before it and the line after it and that context is needed. It is another admission of who we are. We are so susceptible to putting ourselves first, that we need God. We need to have it infused into our character to be people of compassion and love, which are not focused on the self but rather outwards. It is a reminder for us that we should not turn in on ourselves but rather keep God's will in mind.

"...but deliver us from the evil one."
Some transcripts say "evil" and not the "evil one". Call me a heretic if you will, but I have been reluctant to admit that there is a devil. In fact, I would even say I don't. Because even if he did exist, it really should not affect how we live our lives. I think that some times when people believe that a devil is trying to get them to do evil things, that it sort of gives people a scape goat for their bad behavior. They tend not to fully own up to their decisions. The fact is, whether it is the devil, another person or our own selfish desire, we still make the decision. It is not anyone else's fault that we make our decisions the way we do. That's why I don't mind not believing in the devil. Just like I don't mind not caring about how Jesus is going to come back because it shouldn't affect how I should live now or even in the future. In some regards we are our own devil. The fight of good and evil is mostly inside the individual. I tend to think that you really can't change people, you can only really change yourself. What is a good decision and what is an evil decision comes down to whether we are others-focused or self-focused. Our temptations are all around us to put ourselves first and maybe some devil is trying to push us in a direction he wants us to go, but he never makes our decisions for us.

I guess, in reflection of the Lord's prayer as a whole, it really has given the outline to my theology. It's interesting because I think that is almost the point of the prayer. This is an outline of what is important in this shared relationship with the heavenly Father. God has given us incredible freedom but we also have the responsibility to a live a life that is in the moment and full of love and grace which is the most difficult life. However, through the grace of God we can live up to it and make it so His will will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

"Too many men
There's too many people
Making too many problems
And not much love to go around
Can't you see
This is a land of confusion.
Now this is the world we live in
And these are the hands we're given
Use them and let's start trying
To make it a place worth fighting for."
- "Land of Confusion" by Genesis from their album "Invisible Touch"

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Lost in Thought: "Sundown"

I will start off by saying that I was not really surprised by the episode. Everything that happened has been alluded to in the last few episodes and it turned out as expected. Sayid has now given into Locke's side and has killed the only two significant Temple-dwellers, putting the focus once again onto the original crash survivors.

The thing I am unsure about in terms of what happens next is Locke's plan. The most obvious idea to me would be tracking down the rest of the candidates and either making them join him or be killed. Perhaps he is trying to pursue Jack and Hurley.

Next week's episode is "Dr. Linus" and it will have to be a Ben centric episode and we will see Ilana's next move. I love Michael Emerson's performances because of his amazing ability to creep you out and make you laugh at his macabre humor at the same time.

Speaking of great performances, Martin Keamy's return was very satisfactory. He is really intimidating and oddly charming at the same time. Sort of like Ben.

Before I start getting into some theories and reflections, I should point out to you that I am writing this as I go. I don't plan it out, I just sort of put my thoughts on paper. It's important to realize this because it is very much a stream of consciousness. Some of the thoughts may linger and other I will immediately take back. As I said, I do not have the benefit of knowing everything since they have not given us enough pieces to really put it all together.

Now, what can be gleaned from the episode? Once again, reflections are used in the episode and the flash sideways contrasts with the on island character. However, in this episode something was different than the previous flash sideways in that Sayid has somewhat of a dark ending. The other episodes with Jack, Kate and Locke have generally turned out positively, showing a positive change compared to their on island persona. Sayid is distinctly different in the alternative timeline, but he still gives into killing Keamy again.

One of the ideas that I have heard is that the two timelines will have to converge once again at some point. The other is one where the actions of the folks on the island actually lead to what happens in the flashsideways. I am prone to putting my stake with the former, because once again last week's episode, I believe Jack saw where he was in the alternative timeline. As well, there is a interesting incident from the start of the season when Kate woke up and it sounded like she was underwater. With the recurring images of water and reflections and parallels, I am wondering if the two timelines are actually not two timelines at all, but rather parallel consciences. Sort of like the souls of the people are fighting for their for their souls and outcomes for their off-island analogs. That the two are intertwined with each other. Ok, that's starting to sound too strange. I'm going to put that one on the back-burner.

This next piece is going back to last week and the Lighthouse. One of the important things about traveling to and from the island has been the bearing. When Michael left the island he had to follow the bearing of 305. Same for the freighter people to go to and from the island. If they wavered at all, it would be have dire consequences. However, if the bearing 108 is important (of course Jacob could have been lying about that and arbitrarily chose a number because ultimately he just wanted Jack to smash the mirrors) then maybe there is something to leaving out the different bearings. If anything, maybe the more important number of candidate is 305. Whose number is assigned to that? Is it Michael's? Is it someone else really important?

When Desmond tried to leave the island he wound up coming back perhaps because he could not find the right bearing and maybe there are only a handful that will actually lead you off the island. And if there is only one or a few that do, it would be interesting to know which bearings they line up to and what number they correlate with the candidate list.

Well, that's where I have to leave it for now. We're right in the middle of the season and this is where they are really pulling out all the guts of the mystery, so it's hard for me land on a solid theory right now. But of course, that is what the writers are trying to do. So good job?