Monday, November 19, 2007

Baptism in Lost - Josh's comments

Ok all,

I know I pr0mised this a long time ago, but it's finally here. Beore I begin I want to lay down a few ground rules, and such.

First, I do not want my feelings and thoughts about Fire + Water to be taken as anything other than my feelings about the episode, and the inclusion of baptism. It in no way shape or form is an attack on christians nor christianity. Please do not take it as such, and if Pat Robertson is reading this, I welcome all your hate mail, but please direct it to me, and not to Amanda.

Second, any discussion that follows must be civil. Not that I expect it, but I will not tolerate any attacks, or fights. If that happens, we will shut down the topic, and no more posts will be allowed.

Third, what follows may soon take the form of a rant. If that happens, do not feel the need to read it all. As many of you know, I tend to ramble, and repeat myself.

Finally, and most important, what is said here MAY offend, or upset some people. If that happens I am sorry. But please post why, or e-mail us. If you feel the baptism is totally neccesary please let me know. You may change my mind. :) If you are really worried about getting upset, but want to know what I think anyway, you can go to the second paragraph. That one's about my thoughts on the episode and series, rather than the religious aspect.

Here we go.

OK, in Lost season 2 episode, Fire + Water there is a lot of talk about baptism. First, I'll discuss why I don't like it being in the show, then I'll go into more detail about why I don't like it in terms of the series. I have no problem with the idea, or the practice of baptism, nor do I have a problem with it being discussed in the show. Lost is about people, and many people believe in baptism. I also enjoy many of the religious refferences in the show. I do however have a big problem with someone telling me which religon is right and wrong, and almost trying to convert me. Now, I know, Lost is not trying to convert anyone, they simply are telling a story. That is true, but listen to what is said in that episode. They don't say, "I believe" or "Many Christians believe(I don't know if all christians believe in baptism)". They make it seem like it's a FACT that if you don't get baptised you won't go to heaven, or as the show seems to put it, something horrible will happen to you. As a Jewish person I'm actually offended by that notion, that unless you get baptised, and something happens to you you won't see your love ones when you die. And as a non-religious person, I'm offended by the idea that what I consider to be superstition, and make beleive be treated as solid fact. Even worse in my eyes, is that according to them, if I get married to someone who was baptised, and I was not. She is taught she will not see me in the afterlife, and I will go to hell, or whatever. That's horrible! As a person who don't beleive that it doesn't bother me what someone else thinks will happen to me, but it definetly bothers me that someone I love is taught they won't see me when we are dead simpoly because I didn't get a silly ritual done. And if I have kids someday(and I hope to)? What about them? Shouldn't they get to choose to be baptised, and not told all the stories? I mean kids believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy(if you beleive in those two don't listen to me, I'm an evil godless liberal, what do I know?). I'm getting off topic here, baptism is fine if you beleive it, but don't try to tell me horrible things will happen if I don't get it done, I'm looking straight at you Dalton!

In more specific terms of the episode and series. They act like this baptism NEEDS to be done or something horrible will happen, as if Charlie hadn't had that insane dream and some how came to the realisation of a baptism, that Aaron would be dead. If all the crazy, creepy shiznit on the island can be stopped by a non-priest(and yes, in terms of the way God would see it, I don't think he's a REAL priest) and some water, then I'm done with this show. If at some future date something is about to happen to Aaron, but he is then saved by some miricle and they claim it's cause the long dead Eko bapstised him, I will be so pissed, you have no idea. I feel Fire + Water is a waste of an episode. Charlie has dreams, goes crazy, Claire beleives him, Locke doesn't, Locke then beats the crap out of him. On the other side of that, it's NEVER metioned again. They make an entire episode about getting the bah-bee baptised, but so what? Eko dies, and so does Charlie!!!! So basically, the deal is...if you get baptised you're ok, but the guy that baptised you, and the guy that told you you should do it, they are goners.

For those who don't get it, imagine if there was an episode where Sayid was trying to get everyone to convert to Islam because he told them it would protect them from the Others, and some DO! That's a little more extreme, but the idea is the exact same.

Well friends, I hope you all get what I'm trying to say. Any questions, comments or otherwise would be excellent. A discussion about this issue would be nice.


elias said...

Wow! You definitely have strong views about this.

Maybe because I'm Christian (Eastern Orthodox no less!) this completely passed me by. I never thought the episode was particularly pushing baptism as Aaron's only salvation, because it is Charlie's hallucination which drives the story. We don't know where the visions come from (the island? Charlie's withdrawal from Heroin?) so we still can't tell how important it was that Aaron be baptised, other than for Claire's peace of mind. It would have been more overt for Claire or Eko to have had the vision - perhaps a bridge too far.

In more general terms there is a disparity between the separate portrayals of religion on Lost. We see Sayid praying once, some references to Buddhism and whatever the Others are all about. I can't recall any mention of Judaism on the show, nor any Jewish characters (please correct me if I'm wrong). It's reasonable that they address this in the remaining episodes but I doubt they will. I predict the only religious material we'll get will be about the Others, unless somebody finds religion off-island in a flash-forward.

Thanks for sharing your views because it'd be boring if we all agreed - we'd be pod people ;)

Lauren said...

Good for you, Josh! I am a Christian too (Eastern Orthodox as well, actually lol) and I definitly believe in baptism. however, I agree with you about the way the show made it look.

If people aren't Christians or of they don't believe in that sort of thing, it shouldn't be forced on people.

I'm glad that you voiced your opinion! I respect you very much for that!

Timothy said...

I totally hear what you're sayin' on this. I never really had any strong opinion on it one way or the other.

I grew up as a Lutheran, both my sister and I were baptized long before we had the capacity to make a choice about it. I was pretty much told for the first 10-12 years of my life that it was because of it that I would be saved and go to Heaven. But it's been so long since I took it seriously (or literally or what have you) that I never even noticed the show was following the same kind of mentality.

I think more than anything else, the writers are toying with hypotheticals. Much in the same way that the movie "Ghost" explores the possibility of an afterlife, comes out and says "Maybe this is what the afterlife is. Maybe this is what happens." But as a work of fiction, "maybe" is the extent of its credence. Same with LOST, I guess.

I know I'm a little bit beside the point, this comment just kind of wrote itself.

Eve Phoenix said...

I agree pretty much with what you say about the way baptism was portrayed in the show. The way Eko explained it was incorrect as far as what I was taught (I was raised Catholic, btw.) But I was conflicted over how we were supposed to take it. For example, I always understood that even if someone is not a priest, if a person of any age was in immediate danger of death, the lay person could baptize that person. Again, in terms of Lost, I don't think Eko or Claire thought Aaron was in immediate, imminent danger of dying. But if they did, again, that would make a little more sense to me.

Yes, Eko was not a real priest as far as the Catholic Church would see it, but he was called a priest on the island and never corrected anyone. I don't remember whether he referred to himself as a priest either. So, when he explained baptism to Claire, I guess I thought he was speaking as a priest, as far as she knew. And, no offense to anyone, but priests can have an incomplete understanding of Catholic or Christian theology, and there are good ones and bad ones too, just like there are good or bad ministers or clerics in any religion. And, I have personally met priests and religious (nuns) who have some, in my opinion, pretty wild ideas! But, in terms of Lost, if Eko was just speaking as Eko, and made that clear to Claire, (and if he was going to perform the baptism, he really wasn't), I could accept that a little easier.

I also was under the impression that Claire had some familiarly with Christianity in general, but it seemed like her knowledge wasn't that solid either, based on the questions she was asking Eko. But I distinctly got the impression that Eko and Claire believed that whatever danger Aaron was in, baptism would somehow protect him, in this life and afterwards. It seemed like they did believe it was some kind of spiritual talisman, and that's not my understanding of baptism in general either.

Anyway, I believe that people, real or fictional, are entitled to believe whatever they want. What I have a problem with is people giving incorrect information and passing it off as correct based on who they claim to be. And, if given the chance, would someone like Claire, take the time to investigate her newly-professed faith? Maybe. Of course, she could not be blamed for believing something she was told by someone she thought was a priest.

Anyway, that's my three cents.

geeky tom said...

Unless it's revealed within the series that Aaron made into heaven, I don't think the writers are making any definitive statement about baptism. For me it 's just an act of faith that's consistent with the characters, like Locke and the button.
As for Eko, I agree he didn't make a good priest, but he made a great character. I loved his conflicted nature complete with a blood stained scripture stick, and his virgin Mary statues filled with heroin. It's great dichotomy but probably not meant to promote any religion or religious practice.

Josh said...

Geeky Tom, I want to clear something up. I love Eko, and think he's one of the most complete, and complex characters on the show. I love the religious refferences they do with his character. But never before had they been so outwardly trying to express one religious view, and how correct it is.

With Locke and the button, that's not a real life religion, and having "faith in the island" is not an actual religion. AND, most people I would think, thought Locke was slightly crazy. But somehow thinking water will save you seems fine and dandy, and is talked about as fact. I know many don't share my thoughts, but I think the baptism thing has serious problems, on many levels.

geeky tom said...

I guess what I meant was with such a well-rounded, well-written character like Eko I didn’t really feel preached at. I might have if he was a white guy in a $500 suit and perfect hair.
Locke doesn’t represent any particular religion, but he fit’s nicely into the context of faith and questioning what you believed in. I think you can play ‘which one’s the Skinner Box’ with a church as well as a Dharma hatch/station.
Don’t get me wrong, you make some excellent points and brought up a great discussion. Having never been baptized I hope it’s only symbolic and not a necessary get out of hell free card. Even those who believe that you need to be baptized to get into heaven are divided on weather or not you should baptize infants, weather you should be sprinkled or submerged etc., etc.
I remember that great scene in ‘The Cost of Living’ where Eko stands defiant and refuses to repent for the love of his brother and what he needed to do to survive. For me that’s a much stronger profession of faith than any ritual. The whole looking down the barrel of a gun thing.

ash said...

Josh, I agree with most of what you said. But I don't think Darlton meant to portray it as fact but were rather just showing how strongly each character believed in it.

Although I think they just got lazy and chose Baptism as the theme, it's one of those things we won't see now that we have a set number of episodes left. I could barely get through it even the first time.

Dawn said...

As a Jewish Atheist (Jewish by heritage, Atheist by disbelief) I pretty much regard all matters of religious nature as fiction, and all matters of christian beliefs as 'outside the realm of what I believe".

As far as baptism goes, of course I think its unnecessary, but I'm no more offended by the beliefs attached to it than any other crazy thing some people believe that I don't.

I think this rant has a lot more to do with Josh taking real life offense to the idea that you must be baptized to lead a fufilling afterlife, or perhaps the idea that people think he's a doomed soul because his beliefs are different, regardless of what kind of man he is and what kind of life he leads.

For me, I consider all matters of religion fictional, and although I do recognize that many real life people really believe religion.. well for me I was watching a TV show.

I accept that Charlie is a religious man in the context of the show and I saw the baptism as a plot point. I saw the point as showing Charlie getting back in touch w/his religous self, the guy he was before he became a junkie. The real Charlie before it all went wrong for him.

And that the baptism was about Charlie in the context of who he is protecting the child from hellfire and damnation, not so much a commentary on the importance of baptism.

Yeah I know I'm behind you, but I'm not gonna stop now that I've come so far w/you guys.

I think Bernard is Jewish. I don't know why. I just do.