There are very few things that one is not supposed to talk about in polite conversation: Politics and religion are the two big ones. Even though these two topics are supposedly taboo, it is what keeps people talking. It is not polite, yet it is always relevant. What one believes and how he or she chooses to believe in it is fascinating to all people. Whether you are Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Pagan or any other religion, people want to know what a person believes. It is a measure of a man (or woman) to find out if he or she believes in hell or heaven; whether adultery is a sin or whether stealing is okay. People are also interested in what others believe is on the other side. Is there really a heaven? What happens to a person’s soul after death? Will one be met by his or her ancestors at the pearly gates?
There are those who fear if one does not believe in religion or have a religious belief system, that individual is going to go hell for sure. But, what if there really is no hell? What if there is only an after life made up of what someone did right in the his or her previous life? If an individual committed horrible and heinous acts while alive, that person would be reminded of those acts for an eternity and not find the peace he or she was looking for death to bring. On the opposite side; if an individual had a good life and attempted to be a good, honest person maybe he or she would be reunited with those who had gone on before and those who will move on after. Now of course this is all supposition, no one really knows what is on the other side. Yet for all the talk of religion and death and all of the fire and brimstone sermons some preachers like to give on the subject, no one knows. Even the Pope, who is said to have God’s direct number does not really know what is on the other side. He could be completely wrong and honestly, he probably is. The entire concept of hell was thought up in the dark ages to get people to pay a penance so they would be allowed into heaven. Back then, there was no confession; a person would pay 1 gold piece and in exchange he or she was guaranteed to be allowed into heaven. That’s quite a scheme!
The afterlife is of particular concern to people because it is unknown. No one knows what is there. It is the one thing no one in the world knows about. The only time a person gains first hand knowledge is by dying. Thus, we only have what people believe is on the other side. A great example of this is in the television series Lost. There are many ways in which one could interpret this show. However, if one were to look at the entirety of the series all the way up to and including the finale, one could see that this show
was a journey to find inner peace and faith of the main character, Jack Shepherd. It is presumed that Jack dies at the end of the series, when he finds that inner peace and faith. But the whole show looks at this journey and how it affects, not only the main character, but the lives of the other characters he becomes involved with. Of course they are on their own journeys and those journey’s intersect when Oceanic Flight 815 crashes. What this show can teach us is this: It does not matter which God we pray to, all that matters is that each individual person is able to find his or her own inner peace. That inner peace will allow someone the ability to move on past death and continue with his or her life. Or it will comfort someone facing death, which will allow him or her to die peacefully and without regret.
At the end of the series, Jack finds himself at the church where his father’s funeral was to be held. Outside of the church is a statue with open arms, welcoming all. Inside the church, in an anti-room, is a beautiful stained glass window. In that window are symbols representing the six major monotheistic religions of the world. He is facing death, he is facing his own death. The juxtaposition of the church scene with his father and the scene on the island where he is slowly dying represents his acceptance of death and faith and what it was he was supposed to do and why the island would not let him go. The stain glass represents the openness of the church and how everyone’s beliefs can be different, at the end we are still all the same at death. There are various themes this show touches on throughout the six seasons it was on the air, yet the two biggest themes are: Good vs. Evil and acceptance of and being at peace with death. How these are interpreted is up to the viewer. What he or she takes away from the show also depends on the individual. However, if one were to think of this as just another television show; he or she would be gravely mistaken.
For many people, this was a religious experience and the end of the show proved to be more profound than anything one may have found in a church or synagogue or mosque. The acceptance of death and the realization that one is dying is profound in any religion. How one uses the realization is entirely up to the individual. In the end, Jack Shepherd is reunited with the people who joined him on that journey, as his father says, “some died before you, some after…” but they are all there. They shared something special in their lives and that needs to be celebrated.