Jacob is Good, All the Time

In the CaPC Water Cooler, our writers discuss the implications of the latest cultural events. These days, we’re discussing Lost.

Previous Installments:

Pre-season: Lost’s Biggest Question.

Pre-season, part 2:  Lost’s Free Will Dilemma.

Season Premiere: ‘Lost’ Patience.

What Kate Did: Poor Jack.

The Lighthouse: Sawyer’s Choice

Warning! If you are not completely caught up with Lost, you won’t want to read any further.

Drew wrote,

As Rich so humorously pointed out last week, there have been some pretty heavy handed indications in Lost of a dualistic relationship between Jacob and the Man in Black, but I am beginning to wonder if the relationship is truly dualistic.

Jacob is dead, but he is still clearly at work.  The end of last season and last week’s episode make me wonder if Jacob doesn’t have a master plan.  So here is a short list of reasons why Jacob might just be . . . holy:

1.  Clearly he has worked out some very complex circumstances by which the Oceanic 815 passengers end up on the plane and consequently on the island.

2.  The “Others,” especially Ben and Richard clearly fear him.

3.  He has given Richard long life, healed John Locke from paralysis and healed both Rose and Juliet’s sister from terminal cancer.

4. It seems that Jacob had a part in saving young Ben Linus when he was nearly shot to death.

5.  In last year’s finale–the MIB claims that he will find a “loophole” by which he will be able to kill Jacob. Jacob responds by saying, “when you do, I will be right here my friend.”

That is certainly not a comprehensive list.  The objection that I suspect will be brought up is that Jacob ordered the extermination of the DHARMA Initiative, but I think it is now unclear as to who was really influencing Ben–Jacob or the Man in Black?  Further, did not God order the ban on the Ammorites when “their iniquity [was] complete” (Gen. 15:16).

I know people draw Biblical comparisons unnecessarily all the time with shows like Lost, but I think there may be a significant one at play with Jacob. When Ben confronted Jacob at the end of last season, Jacob tells Ben he has a choice, but Jacob knows Ben pretty well by this point and when Ben berates Jacob for ignoring him, Jacob responds in a way that he surely knew would set Ben on the course of action that would result in his death: “what about you?”

It seems a willful death on Jacob’s part at the hand of a supposed servant and friend.  Now Jacob seems poised to break down Jack to the point of making him the protector of the island.  I need to stop making predictions, but I suspect that Jacob is going to work on Jack and turning him from “annoying irrational Jack” into “wonderful hero Jack.”

Is Jacob holy?  Probably not, I can’t imagine Lost giving credit to an all powerful and good God, but right now it kinda seems that way.

Richard wrote,

Wow Drew, you’re really really going out on a limb there! I like it! Your five reasons, though I’m sure many fans will say are somewhat questionable, are nonetheless a convincing case for Jacob’s omnipotence and general goodness.

The omnipotence thing is something I’ve been wondering about for a while. Lost did such a good job building up the mythos of this “Jacob” before we even met him, that I just assumed that the logical Lost-style twist would be the startling fact that he was in fact just some guy. I was basically settled on this opinion until I read your email, and now I’m not so sure.

I get a lot of criticism for reading too much biblical stuff into Lost, and with most popular culture, I think this would be a correct criticism. Our site is certainly not about reading spiritual messages into cultural artifacts when there are none. In this case though, I think Lost has made it pretty clear that Biblical thought and imagery is a big part of the show.

And so, it’s entirely possible, and I would argue probable, that Jacob either represents or in some sense is, a Judeo-Christian God figure. And of course, just as in the Bible there are all sorts of questions about the character and nature of God that, even when understood as best we can, provide us with an opportunity for debilitating confusion and questioning.

Maybe I’ve written about this too much in these water cooler posts, but I’m getting more and more worked up about it every week. Since Drew was such a trooper, making all sorts of predictions, I’m going to stop beating around the bush and make a pretty bold claim of my own: Lost is simultaneously about the necessity and near impossibility of faith. It’s Job’s story arc. And Christian’s need to embrace this because it’s the most honest representation of the Christian faith I’ve seen on television that I can remember, even if not specific.

If you’ve never wanted to take God to task for his choices concerning your life, you viewed Ben’s act at the end of last season as unforgivable and villainous. If you’ve never tried to fix situations that make no sense on your own, you will struggle to relate to Jack. If you’ve ever been frustrated by your lot in life and found it hard to be content with your own lowly circumstances, then you won’t be able empathize with Locke. If you’ve never felt as if you had no choice but to do the wrong thing, and then run from those consequences all your life, then you probably are just annoyed by Kate.

As for me, the more this season goes on the easier I am on these characters, and the more invested I am in their journey. And like them, sometimes I want to make God answer for – or at least answer – these mysteries.

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  • http://electexiles.wordpress.com/ Drew Dixon

    Rich you laid out much of why I am really enjoying Lost right now. I think I find the show more compelling this season than ever before–probably because I had this revelation about Jacob–that could very well be wrong, but I still think I may be on to something.

    I think the human tendency is to assume that mystery is a bad thing. And mystery is at the heart of the vast majority of the plight of the Oceanic 815 survivors. I think most people watching the show distrust Jacob and really distrust everyone, because of that reason, we don’t like mystery. But there certainly is mystery in God, there must be if He is truly holy. I have finally been putting some peices together to see this and I think the show is very intriguingly setting up Jacob to be just that a mysterous and omnipotent Judeo-Christian God figure.

    As indicated in my initial article above, I do half-expect Lost to end with Jacob being a jerk and/or something altogether different just to keep with their theme of completely throwing people off track.

    Again, I am probably wrong, but I think I currently “understand” Lost better than ever and I like it.

  • J Keeven

    Great thoughts.

    Maybe a small thought, but when Jacob told the man in black that he would be right here, I took it as when the loophole is found, I will still be here on the beach, by the place where Jacob eventually died, and so will you.

    Now that we have seen Jacob “back from the dead,” I am still having trouble embracing that he meant though the loophole be found for you to kill me, “I AM” still going to be involved in the events of the people on this island.

    Anyone want to offer clarification / further explanation?


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