What's on my mind?
This story's gotten quite a bit of play recently. In the original script for LOST's pilot episode, J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof had their main character, their hero, die at the conclusion of the second act. Jack Shepherd was going to be an early sacrifice to "the monster."
When they sent the script to a few friends and executives, the reaction was universally negative. "Kill Jack in the pilot," they were told, "and your audience will never trust you again."
I don't know when in the process of working out the mythology of the show Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse worked back to that original idea. But when they did, you can be sure that they were thinking of that trust, and how to honor it. For LOST's story, for the story of its characters, for Jack's own story, he had to die. He had to sacrifice himself, in the name of what he believed without knowing to be true. He had to give himself fully over to faith, fully embracing what John Locke knew couldn't be easy.
But how could the end of a series that was about redemption, about life, death, and rebirth, about love and community and relationship, how could that end be the singularly depressing event of its central character's demise?
The creators, in complete care of their audience's trust, decided to give us time to process his death. Though we wouldn't know it until the final moments of the final episode, what at first appeared to be a parallel universe spawned by Jack's desire to control was actually the natural consequence of Jack's hard-earned capacity to let go.
In so doing, the creators reinforced their one inviolable rule: whatever happened, happened. There would be no changing the past. Oceanic 815, despite Jack's plan, would have to crash on the island. And the story we watched take place for five years would remain unchanged. Did it work? Juliet thought it did. We, the audience, thought it did, in those first few moments of season six. But instead, the creators let us know right away, in the voice of Rose, that it's ok to let go. We just wouldn't learn how important that was until quite some time later.
As the final episode progressed, the characters, one by one, discovered or "remembered" their connections. They remembered the relationships that mattered most to them, and the growth they had to go through to enter those relationships. I don't claim to have any special insight into the creation of the show, but I have to think that Damon and Carlton were sending us a message. Yes, of course, it's ok for us to let go. But it's ok because even though the show is over, even though the journey we've been on for six years is done, the relationships we developed in those six years don't have to be. And just as our characters relived their journeys in the timeless instants of the flash-sideways, so we to can relive those instants whenever we want to, whenever we need to.
I first watched LOST shortly before Season Two premiered. Like many others, I watched one episode, and couldn't put the DVDs away. I watched the first season in a weekend, working long hours overnight at the DTS library. I introduced the show to my first friend in Dallas, my best friend in Dallas, Garrett Mathis. Not to be too overwrought, but the show's stories of redemption paralleled my own personal story of redemption. The show's great loves paralleled my own great love.
So, with that, I'm saying thank you to LOST. Thank you to all those who've gone on the journey with me these past few years. Thank you to those of you who have stuck it out, and read along with me on this blog. I'm not going far, but this blog is done. It was enjoyable while it lasted, but when a post from a friend couldn't raise me, I realized it was time to end things. So, good-bye.
I've switched my blogging almost entirely to Twitter. Apparently, most of what I have to say can be said in 140 characters or less.
If, however, there's something that I feel needs explanation, I've put up a Tumblr account. The RSS feed is here. If you're still reading, check it out.
Dualism permeates LOST to its core.
Each season is constructed around a binary explored through the characters and their interactions:
Along with those binaries, each season of LOST asks a fundamental question.
"How will we stay alive?"
"Having learned how to survive, in what should we place our trust?"
"What motivates us?"
"How did we get where we are?"
"Do I control my own destiny?"
In the question of Fate vs. Free Will, Season Five's organizing principle was Daniel Faraday's maxim: "Whatever happened, happened." Try as they might, the time travelers could not change their destiny. Sayid's decision to shoot a defenseless 12-year-old boy affected who Sayid is, but it would not result in a Ben-less future. Similarly, Ben and Sun were left in 2007, impotent to affect their goals, reduced to blindly following John Locke.
But somewhere along the way, that organizing principle (as well as Faraday's own attitude) changed. Though Faraday would lose his own life to "whatever happened"
Jack was emboldened to find a "something big enough" to alter history's (and his story's) course.
So, with the explosion of an atomic bomb (Jack has never been one for subtlety), we're left in the same boat as Ms. Hawking: for the first time in a long time, we don't know what's next. In that way, Season Five's finale most resembles the mind-freak of Season Three.
"Through the Looking Glass" was so unsettling precisely because it was the first time that we (the audience) couldn't know what was to be next. Until that point in the show, we were assured that no matter how bad things appeared in the flashbacks, eventually our lostaways would be on the island, walking...
But all that would be set aside when it became manifest destiny that our Losties would escape the island.
Unfortunately, that's where "The Incident" fails to resemble the Season Three closer. We're left with no clue of what's to come next. All we can speculate upon is the paradox created should answer yes to this simple question:
"What if it worked?"
If Jack really did succeed in disrupting the events that lead to the crash of Oceanic Flight 815, then the plane landed in LAX from Sydney as planned on September 22, 2004. However, if the plane landed in LAX, how would Jack have traveled back to 1977 to set off the atomic bomb? Mustn't it be simultaneously true that Flight 815 crashed on the Island and that it did not? This is LOST's Schrodinger's cat, on a much grander, mythological scale.
Certainly, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse built in smaller scale conundrums. John Locke's compass...
is an artifact without provenance. Richard Alpert's investigations into the young John Locke...
function precisely the same way. Richard never would have looked into the young John Locke, had Locke not told him to. But Locke never could have told him to had Richard not looked into him first.
Such puzzles are only the beginning. LOST's final season has its work cut out. But, to the many questions we might ask:
The smoke monster
The island itself
We can go on these few things: The writers have pointed out on numerous occasions that their interests reside in the characters. The mythology of the show is just a method of exploring those characters. So, we can expect to continue to learn about Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley, and the rest. Perhaps we will even get the opportunity to re-acquaint ourselves with some old friends...
And some friends reborn...
What will be Season Six's question? I'm sure we will revisit Faith vs. Reason.
I'm sure we'll see more about Fate vs. Free Will
Perhaps Season Six will really be about Jacob vs. The Man in Black
But I know in just a few hours, we will know the answer to at least one question.
"What if it worked?"
 In this way, the early part of LOST's fifth season followed the Harry Potter school of time travel.
In Prisoner of Azkaban, Hermione is given a locket with the ability to turn back or "rewind" time. Its initial purpose is to allow Hermione the extra time necessary to complete her over-loaded course schedule. But, as Dumbledore intimates to Harry and Hermione, it can be used for other reasons. What's interesting about the conclusion of the story is that, as Harry and Hermione travel back in time and help their past selves out, they don't "change" what has already happened. They merely become aware, through their more knowledgeable perspective, of events that were not at first what they appeared. This was most explicit in Harry's bittersweet discovery that it was not his father who sent the Patronus that saved both he and Sirius, but he himself.
 This was part of the beauty, at least initially, of the producers' decision to follow the Harry Potter school. Not only was Sayid powerless to prevent Ben from becoming Ben, but any action he did take would only end up being a part of why Ben was the way he was. Even the choice not to act (i.e., Jack's) would prove full of consequence. This was one way I thought the producers' actually dropped the ball when they pulled the whole "if I save Ben, he won't remember any of this" card. I WANTED Ben to remember. I wanted his attitude toward Sayid, which engendered Sayid's attitude toward him, to be dependent on Sayid's choice to shoot Ben as a boy. Alas, they decided not to take it quite that far.
 This might be called the "Back to the Future" school of time travel.
Marty McFly can travel forward and backward in time, seeing to it that the universe changes in (to him) necessary ways, even as he does not.
Dear Intrepid Google-searcher:
Title: From “God” (θεός) to “God” (ⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ): A New Discussion and ProposalThe 2010 meeting will be in Dallas, so if you're around, come out and see us!
Abstract: The Sahidic Coptic version of the New Testament is among the most important early versions of the New Testament. It is regarded as an excellent representation of the Alexandrian text-form, and in turn serves as a significant resource for textual criticism and the history of interpretation. Because of this significance, this article will explore the Sahidic Coptic's translation of the Greek nominative singular θεός. No current publication examines whether Sahidic Coptic translators uniformly translated the nominative singular θεός, particularly with respect to the issues of definiteness and the Greek article. This article will attempt to answer two distinct but interconnected questions: (1) Did the Sahidic Coptic translators uniformly translate the nominative singular θεός? (2) How can the assessment of the Sahidic Coptic translators inform a discussion of history, transcription, and translation of John 1.1c. We will begin by establishing criteria for the relevant texts in order to form a database of New Testament references. From that database, we will evaluate four possible solutions with respect to the Sahidic Coptic translational patterns and John 1.1c: (1) were the Coptic translators attempting to indicate the presence or absence of the Greek article without making an interpretive distinction; (2) were they trying to make an interpretive distinction regarding the definition of θεός in John 1.1c; (3) were they trying to clarify a syntactical issue; or (4) were they making a stylistic distinction.
in a few minutes, a post will go up for admissions officers who might be searching about me in the coming weeks. i've been applying to phd programs, and the deadlines are finally coming 'round. in a decision as much as for my own sanity as anything else, i won't be posting anything else until i begin to hear back from those programs. hopefully, i'll have good news in a month or so!
should i be using quicksilver? i've tried before, and just couldn't get it down.
A few things lighting the biblioblogosphere on fire this cold month of December:
- I'm a couple days late with this, but Doug did a fantastic job putting together this month's BSC (48, for those counting at home).
- However, based on the amount of work he had to put in for it, Doug's unsure how much longer the current paradigm can hold.
- Dan Wallace posts on some of the difficulties evangelicals can have being taken seriously in the academy. 270 comments and counting at Parchment and Pen, in one of the most civil comment threads I've read in a long time, along with a host of reactions (I like James McGrath's, and there's an interesting comment thread on Joel Watts). I've had a couple thoughts since I first read the post and some of the comments:
(1) Everybody's got stories. You'll read about the evangelical student who was dismissed without even a thought to her extensive education and preparation, followed by the rogue professor dismissed from his conservative institution for having the temerity to deviate from the company line. The liberal institution that judges applicants solely on merit, regardless of their beliefs, and the conservative seminary that prevents students from graduating because of theirs. There's no reason that such stories can't ALL be true. The best light to read Dr. Wallace's critique, in my opinion, is that there is a particular irony in the fact that some scholars (SOME) who claim to be so open-minded can nevertheless hold inaccurate prejudices against a certain set of people (in this case, PhD-pursuing evangelical seminary students). Furthermore, it would be better for everyone if this weren't the case.
(2) Similarly to the discussion of women in the biblioblogosphere from a few months ago, if someone were to make me aware of how my prejudices have affected them negatively, I don't want to list for them the ways in which I think they are wrong and ought not to have taken offense. Instead, I want to find a way to understand where they are coming from, what their struggle is, and how I can make that just a little bit easier.
(3) In that line, I am happy to report that my own experiences in the PhD application process have thus far been overwhelmingly positive (in this way, I echo Mike). I've had some great interactions with various professors via email, and I hope to be able to report some positive news in a couple months!
(4) As a bit of a side note, I was surprised by how many people focused on Dr. Wallace's definition of "Christian." Do people not know that Dr. Wallace is an evangelical Christian? 'Cause that's how most evangelicals define "Christian." He wasn't saying that anyone had to accept his definition; he was just describing the state of SBL for the readership of a blog that is quite conservative. Is anyone arguing that he wasn't describing the membership of SBL accurately?
- Finally, the word of the day for this blog is vindication. Vin-di-ca-tion. (Reax: Mark Goodacre, Stephen Carlson, Jason Staples, James McGrath, Jim West, Pat McCullough [who I think was the first to notice])
What's an I-Phone?
Makes me wonder if Logos will be coming out with Mackintoodle PC software anytime soon.
I was doing dishes tonight, and I discovered that I could do that thing with wine glasses. Needless to say, I wasted the next 45 minutes. Have a look!
With everyone off at SBL, carelessly having fun without me, I thought I would try to start a meme. What's your biggest grammar foible? For me, I always want to write "I wanted to try and start" rather than "I wanted to try to start." Gets me everytime.
How about Nick, Joel, Jim (if he can step away from all the fun), Mike and Rob (they can discuss theirs together), and Doug.