‘Lost’ and the Millennial Task

Just when we leave town for a few days for Son No. 1’s college graduation in Tennessee, key events occur; not in the Punjab, Iraq or Washington, D.C., but closer to the mythical core of our American being — on the strange and timeless island of J.J. Abrams’s long-running TV show “Lost.”

This is important to us because, like J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, set in the background of an ancient European tribal and ethnic conflict with religious overtones that expands to every corner of the world, the “Lost” hero is given a task that much be successfully completed before the endless conflict and confusion can stop and the world can begin again. Frodo must kill the Golem in the Tolkien series. In “Lost,” John Locke. Man of the Enlightenment, must kill Jacob, the spirit voice of the island’s ancient temple, before the new millennium, identified in the mythology as the first Aquarian millennium, can awaken. In this week’s episode, Locke goes to kill Jacob.

This is the essential myth at the base of all human culture, writes Sir James Frazer in The Golden Bough. Every new generation and every new historical movement must find the hero who will silence the ancient voices and cut down the father’s tree, as George Washington did, so its own tree can come to life.

Frodo’s tale and our own goes back centuries to Rabbi Loeb, the last of the great Western mystics, who tried to conjure a redeemer but found only a Golem. The light of the age had gone out and as William Butler Yeats expressed it in his great and famous poem of the Rough Beast slouching toward Bethlehem, Christendom’s center no longer held.

Until our good time when Frodo appeared to kill the Golem. The tree of life could grow again and the new king, Aragorn, proudly wore it on his chest as his emblem.

This is our quest and our necessity as well. The “Lost” temple sweeps through “timeless time” to bring the same challenge to every generation and here it has come to bring a new millennium. The old sources of myth must be broken lest the churches become prisons and the priests inquisitors; the old tree must die and the new one must grow again if the new generation is to find its way and enter its millennium.

“Things change because things change,” Howard H. Baker Jr., Republican senator emeritus from Tennessee and one of two figures who brought the change of Watergate, wrote this past week in The Washington Post, “not because of any ideological primacy or purity on a particular end of the political spectrum.”

’Twas ever thus.

The new generation must find the tree and, as George Washington did, must cut it down. Otherwise, it will be locked — lost — in ancient contention; contention not even of its own making but one inherited, and one which runs back through millennia entrancing the mind of the king and imprisoning his spirit from Templar wars in the 12th century to those today in the Punjab.




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