Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Five Steps to How Richard Alpert “LOST” His Religion

Hell is in the mind, not a place, at least according to LOST episode, “Ab Aeterno”. Sure, Richard Alpert certainly journeyed through some hellacious places in his back story, but the telling exchange between Alpert and The Man-in-Black in response to the question, “Is this Hell?” followed by, “Yes,” leads one to believe that Hell may be more of a state of mind than an actual location. And It has to be a little unsettling for a group of people sitting around the camp fire on a mysterious Island with its very own Smoke Monster to hear an ageless man blurt out, “We’re in HEEEEEEEELLLLL!! And we’re all dead….you…and you…and YOU! Dead! Did you hear me? DEAD!!!”

You could almost hear U-2’s “Losing My Religion” playing in the background of that scene. But, before that mental meltdown, what exactly contributed to Richard Alpert losing his religion? Following is the five step process to Alpert losing his religion.

5) Lack of adequate, affordable health care: Apparently, this concept is as ageless as Alpert himself. Your wife is dying, so you ride half a day’s distance in the pouring rain only to be rejected because your credit card has inadequate funds and you're bartering for treatment. Not only that, but the doctor totally lacks people skills or empathy, and refuses to provide medical care.

Running out of options, you do what most of us would like to do in a desperate situation like that…kill that son-of-a-bitch. OK, make it look like an accident and ride home with the prescription, but then it’s too late. If Alpert didn’t lose his religion right then, it’s only because he lost faith in the health care system first. But, the law enforcement system appears to be on the ball...

4) Lack of spiritual support from your religious institution: In one’s time of need, it is generally accepted that comfort can be found in your religious institution ….unless you’ve got a priest like poor Alpert. It’s bad enough that you’re in prison, waiting to be hanged, but to have your spiritual leader look down at you and tell you to, “go to Hell” has GOT to suck.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, he steals your Bible. That’s would be enough to make most people lose their religion on the spot, but not Alpert. Oh, no, he’s a real glutton for punishment. Besides, he let a perfectly good opportunity to scream, "I'll see you in Hell," slip by.

3) Being sold into slavery: That's what is termed being a "contract worker" in this century. Granted, it beats the sh*t out of hanging…well, at least theoretically after you’ve been told by reasonable authority that you’re going to Hell when you die. Talk about a dark cloud hanging over your head that’ll probably affect the quality of your work. But, then it gets worst. After being shipwrecked (i.e. in an "economic downturn") , the Boss comes down and starts laying off your co-worker’s with a sword. “Consider yourselves retired, suckers!”

It’s bad enough being unemployed, but you’re still on that express elevator to Hell, remember? At that very instant, any religion most people had left would evaporate into a mindless stream of babbling and begging for their lives. So it was with Alpert. But somehow, even that unfortunate incident didn’t completely make him lose his religion. Apparently there was an opening in the file room...

2) Slowly dying, chained in the hole of a banged up ship: They call that "survivor's guilt" in the corporate world. Surviving a lay-off, no food or water, a mysterious Black Smoke killing off upper management willy-nilly and watching wild boars eating your shipmates generally precedes the exasperated cry, “There is no God,” but Alpert is still hanging in there. Literally.

So to further shake things up, the ghost of your dead wife shows up telling you that you’re both in Hell…before screaming as the Devil drags her off. That’s pretty much my limit, but I digress. Granted the day can’t get much worst, but then a Man-In-Black shows up and verifies that, yes, you’re in Hell. Then he offers you a job and frees you so that you can go and kill The Devil. Hey, at least it’s work.

1) Having someone kill your Guru: Meet the new boss, not quite the same as the old boss. After making a leap of faith to a new Company, you've become the boss's right-hand man. And thanks to a case of immortality, you might actually be able to retire. It's a pretty decent life (especially after what you've been through), advising tourists in your tropical paradise. Life isn’t perfect but it beats the hell out of going to Hell.

Your new Guru promises to reveal the corporate plan to you in return for your faithful service. All you have to do is wait…and wait…and wait. So, you pass the time popping up out of nowhere when people call for you like some kind of cosmic camp counselor. Get your amusement where you can because any day now, you’re going to know the secret to the universe and everything and then…AW CRAP. THEY KILLED KENNY! Those bastards have finally blown your little mind to smithereens. And they actually have the freaking nerve to start asking you questions about what to do next? That high-pitched noise is the sound of you screaming....

Thus is the five step program Richard Alpert took to lose his religion. It can work for you too. There is little wonder after everything Alpert has been through, he finally loses it and storms off into the jungle. He didn't even take the box full of his office contents. But, you have to give the old boy credit. Most of us would be toast at Step 1.

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