This is a page that focuses on religious and theological issues, as well as providing comprehensive teaching from a classic Catholic perspective. As you read the articles, it is my hope they will educate and bless you.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Gospel of "The Land of the Lost"

Back when I was just a young kid, a children's Saturday morning sci-fy series premiered called Land of the Lost (this is not the awful parodic movie of Will Ferrell's from 2012 either, but is the actual TV show).  A creation of the Kroft Brothers (who also came up with two of my wife Barbara's favorite shows, HR Puffenstuff and Banana Splits) the show was somewhat cheesy, with a combination of low-budget props, psychedelic 1970's theme music on the end credits and a corny banjo-twanged theme song on the opening sequence, and honestly, I found it amazing that as that girl Holly grew throughout the show, so did her outfit!   You would think after all that being stuck in a strange primordial dimension would wear out your clothes after a while, but hers grew with her - ah, the magic of television!    Despite somewhat cheesy effects though, the series was actually fun to watch and you did kind of get involved in the story.  A few years back, I actually purchased the entire series on DVD, and on occasion I like watching them again just for the heck of it, and a few months back I did watch them.  As I re-watched this iconic, cheesy, yet entertaining children's series from the 1970's, I began to have some wheels turn.  

In recent years, there have been many ministers and Bible teachers who have utilized popular science fiction movies and series for spiritual application, and I have run across at least three who have done so effectively with Star Wars, as well as a Star Trek.  So, as I was watching Land of the Lost again, I began to get some inspiration of my own, and the thought occurred to me - why not create a Bible lesson around this concept?   Theologically, it even fits.  So, I want to do a teaching now for you based on Land of the Lost, and hope it will be both inspiring and fun as well.

If you know the backstory to this show, you will remember that Rick Marshall, a park ranger of some sort by trade, was taking his two kids, Will and Holly, on this camping trip out west somewhere.  As they are going down this one river - I am assuming it was the Colorado River, and they were in the Grand Canyon - there is an earthquake, and a rift opens up causing the Marshalls in their raft to go down a waterfall that suddenly appeared, and it obviously blacks them out.  When they come to, they are in "the Land of the Lost."   If we look at Genesis 3:23, it is apparent that we as the human race  are also in a "land of the lost."  We live in an imperfect world, and sin and death, rather than a waterfall and an earthquake, are what brought us into it and keep us here.  When Eve was persuaded by the serpent in the Garden to eat of the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, which we read about back in verse 6, it was as if a chasm opened and it catapulted Adam and Eve into a lost state, for the Bible tells us that "the Lord God sent him (Adam) out of the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken.  So He drove out the man, and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life."   This opened up the man and his wife to some new challenges they had never faced before, challenges that faced their very survival.

When the Marshalls came to in the "Land of the Lost" after the water dropped them there, they awoke to find themselves staring at this:

Imagine just having the chaos of going over a waterfall, which knocks you out, and then opening your eyes to see something like that looking at you like fried chicken on the buffet line of the Golden Corral!   This guy is a nemesis called "Grumpy" in the show, and he is a Tyrannysaurus Rex who constantly harasses the family at the cave they eventually make into their home.  "Grumpy" parallels a type of fruit of sin and death we have in our lives, and that is adversity - we face these types of things all the time, our own "Grumpies" if you will.  The loss of a job, a family member becoming terminally ill, the rent being due without a lot of money to cover it, etc. - these are all the "Grumpies" we face.  Psalm 34:19 reminds us in these circumstances that "many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all."   You will note that throughout this series if you have seen it, there are constant harassments from "Grumpy." but the Marshalls manage to survive and deal with his shenanigans.  And, so do we with the adversities in our lives.  God indeed will deliver us from adversity, even at the point where the adversity seems to consume us, and we also need to remember that we can take the good from such situations and use it as a growth experience -  Romans 8:28 after all reminds us that "all things work together for those who love God and are called according to His purpose," and it is that promise we need to hang onto.  

Throughout the whole run of the series, the Marshalls also faced these guys as constant adversaries:

For those who have seen this program, these were called Sleestaks, and they were some weird insect/lizard space aliens who ended up in the "Land of the Lost" some time earlier.   They carried out their reign of intimidation and terror from a series of underground caves near where the Marshalls lived called "the Lost City," and they too have an interesting parallel in our lives.  In Ephesians 6:12, we are reminded in this life that "we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places."   So, just who are these "principalities and powers" this verse is talking about?   Ephesians 2:2 calls Satan "the prince of the power of the air," and John 3:20 tells us that "everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds be exposed."   If you remember in the series too, the only way the Marshalls could contain the Sleestaks when they were being pursued was with a bright light of some sort, a lit torch usually - Matthew 5:14-16 tells us something about this as Christians when it first exhorts us that "you are the light of the world," and that we should as Christians "let our light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."  Where does our light come from?   Psalm 119:105 tells us that Jesus, the Logos of God, is "a lamp to my feet and a light to my path," and therefore His Holy Spirit within us illumines the darkness and drives away evil.  In summary, the Sleestaks are an example of how Satan and his demons harass, tempt, and manipulate mankind, and that only the light of the Gospel can overcome the darkness, dispersing it and causing the demons to flee from us.  Only with the light of Christ can we overcome the "prince of darkness" and his minions.  

Despite threats from the Sleestaks and Grumpy the T-Rex, the Marshalls soon found that living in this "land of the lost" was not necessarily all bad, and they began to adapt and take advantage of the surroundings they were compelled to live in.  In the process too, they made some valuable allies.   The first of these was this interesting little creature:

This little guy, who bore a resemblance to a dwarf Sasquatch and was supposed to represent a race of primordial humanoids called the Pakuni, is Cha-Kah.   Like the Marshalls, Cha-Kah and his people were sort of dumped into the "land of the lost" against their will too, and they had to learn to survive.  Although some skepticism existed at first due to communication barriers, Cha-Kah eventually became a valuable friend to the Marshalls.  For our application, Cha-Kah represents our fellow Christians, who are often struggling with us in this life and therefore we need them as much as they need us.   This is also reminiscent of Romans 12:4-5, as well as reminding us of the mandate we are given in Hebrews 10:24-25, which admonishes us to "consider one another in order to stir up love and good works," and in doing so we are to "foresake not the assembling of ourselves together," but rather to "exhort one another."   As Christians, we cannot fight the battle alone, but we need each other, and we need something else too, a very important ally.

As time progressed in the series, and as the Marshalls began to acquire the means of successfully containing their adversaries, in particular those bothersome Sleestaks, they began to venture and explore more, and in doing so they found this guy to be a valuable ally as well:

This was Enik, who like the Marshalls, the Sleestaks, and the Pakuni, was stranded in the "land of the lost" against his will.  Enik was part of an ancient race called the Altrusians, and as you can guess by his appearance, he was somehow related to those bothersome Sleestaks.   It turns out that Enik's civilization was the ancestoral people of the Sleestaks, and for some reason the Sleestaks devolved into their adversarial nature from their more enlightened Altrusian past.   Enik for us as Christians can be viewed as an example of the Church - throughout the Land of the Lost story, Enik has the way home, and is the guardian of this knowledge.  In the same way, the Church is the guardian of the Gospel, and is responsible for preserving its message and communicating it to those who are lost too.   And, like Enik, the Church is not always perfect - some within it tend to be too guarded, or they tend to miscommunicate the truth they are charged with as a steward, and often it takes a serious confrontation from those who are "lost" to compel the Church to share it.   But, in the end, Enik does help the Marshalls, and he eventually takes his obligation to do so seriously.

As the series ended, it was never known how (or if) the Marshalls made it back, but we have a more certain outcome as Christians.  God provided our way out through Jesus Christ (John 3:16) and He is our only way of escape from our own "Land of the Lost."  And, unlike Enik, who was at times reluctant to share this information, God desires that all have the opportunity to participate in this "escape plan," and has provided the Church, as well as Christians as individuals, to share that message with us so that we have the choice of accepting that generous offer or rejecting it.  Therefore, if adversity or temptation is harassing you, Jesus calls you to Him, and He can show you the way out of the mess.  It won't be easy, as threats do exist, but like the Marshalls were able to prevail against these fictional adversities, we can through Christ who strengthens us do even more so in real life.   God bless until next time.