Lately LOST has been creating time loops, and at least since Locke spotted “tall Walt” after having been shot, there were hints that individuals might move around in time.
A recent MAJOR spoiler suggests that some characters who have been in the background all along, but have increasingly come into the foreground in recent episodes, have been acting to try to do something about things that happened in the past – or perhaps are trying to prevent tampering with the past that not only failed to change history, but made things worse in some way. It is not clear who currently believes that the past can be changed, and who doesn’t, except for Daniel Faraday, who seemed to change his mind on this subject, at least as far as Desmond is concerned.
I wonder whether we don’t catch glimpses of the same person (at different ages) in these pictures below:
Why does Jacob do what he does? To be rescued from the limbo in which he has been trapped. Why does he do so? Because he knows he must, because he meets his son and his grandson before he becomes trapped, and thus knows he must be helped to escape, since if he does not do so and travel back to an earlier time and place, then the things he has already experienced will not have happened, creating a temporal paradox that could destroy the universe. Or perhaps (like Harry Potter summoning a patronus for the first time) he knows he’ll succeed because he already encountered himself and or others who travelled through time to bring these things about.
Lest I leave theological questions to the side entirely in this post, these time loops in LOST provide a great opportunity to reflect on one of the theological issues raised by the view of God as fully knowing the future and influencing or even controlling it to bring about his purposes. This results in what I’ve sometimes called the “bored view of God”, in which God spends eternity doing what God always knew God would do, with no surprises, no genuine decisions, and in one sense no freedom, since God will presumably always do what God perfectly foreknew God would do. This is certainly a possible way of thinking about God, but it is important to observe how different it seems from the depiction of God as one that interacts personally with human beings in the Bible and other texts and traditions both within and outside Judaism and Christianity.