Ben Linus on St. Thomas’s Faith and Doubt

Since this Sunday’s Gospel reading tells the story of St. Thomas doubting the resurrection of Jesus until he can personally see Him and place his hands in Jesus’s wounds, I’m posting a great scene from the TV series “Lost” which dealt with issues of faith and doubt better than any other show (in my humble opinion). The scene takes place in a church, and is motivated by Caravaggio’s painting, “The Incredulity of St. Thomas” which depicts Thomas putting his finger in the pierced side of the resurrected Jesus.

Ben Linus (Emmy winner Michael Emerson who currently stars on “Person of Interest”) is one of the show’s primary villains at this point and seems to be irredeemable. However, he does believe that there is a power greater than himself at work on the island where the characters have been living. In fact, he believes this power has some cosmic significance for the whole world. It’s the one area of Ben’s life in which he appears somewhat humbled, though he tends to justify his sins by thinking they’re purpose is for the greater good.

On the other hand, Jack Shephard – the show’s primary hero – has always had a problem believing in anything other than proven science. Based on this scene, Jack hasn’t had much of a religious education since he doesn’t even know how the story of St. Thomas ends. Jack’s resistance to faith throughout the show is much more understandable in light of this scene because it shows he has no foundation on which to build it. His journey, therefore, from doubt to faith – and Ben Linus’s journey from sin to redemption – is all the more impressive, and rests at the core of the series. And if we open our eyes to the wonders of the world around us, this brief but memorable scene can teach us something too.

About Tony Rossi

After graduating from St. John's University in New York with degrees in Communications and English, Tony Rossi found a job at the Catholic media organization, The Christophers, that allowed him to indulge his interest in religion, media, and pop culture. He served as The Christophers' TV producer for 11 years, and is currently the host and producer of the organization's radio show/podcast Christopher Closeup, writer and editor of their syndicated Light One Candle column, and producer/scriptwriter of the annual Christopher Awards ceremony.

  • Rebecca

    I adore the character of Benjamin Linus, but just so you know, he was doing this to manipulate Jack to return to the island. If Jack returned, the others would follow, thus allowing Benjamin to go too. He wasn’t trying to convince Jack about faith or religion, he was being selfish (as usual).

    • Tony Rossi

      I see your point, Rebecca, but I felt his motivations here were a little more complex. To me at least, the way Emerson played the scene reflected that there was something genuine in what he was saying. The manipulative self-interest is still there, but it seems tempered by a spiritual truth that Ben seems to understand while Jack doesn’t.

  • M. Swaim

    Even the devil can quote scripture to his own benefit :) This scene was among my favorites from that season. What a great show! I miss it still…

  • M. Swaim

    BTW, during the final season of LOST, some fellow Catholic bloggers and I shared thoughts on the spiritual dimensions of the show. You can check out all of the entries in the series here:

    • Tony Rossi

      Great insights at your website, Matt. I especially agree with your assessment of some things staying a mystery on the show. I think my least favorite episode was the backstory of Jacob & the Man in Black in Season 6. I also agree that the closing scenes of the finale in the Church were outstanding. I realize I’m imposing my Catholic worldview on it, but I’ve never seen a better artistic interpretation of the Communion of Saints and reuniting with our loved ones in the afterlife. If you’re interested, I have a couple of “Lost” articles in my past as well. They’re at:

      Any thoughts on “Once Upon a Time?” I’m finding a lot to like in that show.

  • priest’s wife (@byzcathwife)

    LOST- how I miss thee!

  • Allison

    Will there ever be such a show again? So much symbolism…

  • Dan Lord

    Thanks, Tony–that choked me up a little bit. I’d forgotten about that scene. God bless.