"Faith, hope, unity, blah, blah, blah. Quit talking and show more rescues."
So said a friend's Facebook status, referring to the drama unfolding in Chile. It's obvious that something absolutely incredible is happening as miners trapped below ground for 69 days "ascend to the surface," as The Associated Press describes it.
But is there a religion angle to this miracle? That depends, it seems, on which news account you read.
The New York Times' original "Chile Rejoices as Miners Taste Freedom" story from today's PageA1 seemed to ignore the faith angle. But maybe that can be blamed on the late-night timing and print deadlines. Click the same link now, and two of the top five paragraphs offer strong quotes from rescued miners who mention, yes, God:
SAN JOSE MINE, Chile -- With anxious anticipation increasingly yielding to exuberant celebration, more than a third of the haggard men trapped under a half-mile of rock for more than two months have emerged to the arms of their families and an electrified nation.
The second miner to reach the surface, Mario Sepulveda, left the rescue capsule in a kind of victory dance, hugging family members and officials. He embraced the Chilean president, Sebastian Pinera, three times and presented people with gifts: rocks from the mine. He punched fists with the crowd and led a cheer: "Chi, Chi, Chi, le, le, le," they shouted. "Miners of Chile!" The refrain echoed as subsequent miners reached the surface.
"I've been near God, but I've also been near the devil," Mr. Sepulveda said through a translator. "God won."
The 12th miner -- Edison Pena, 34, known for running miles in the mine tunnels every day -- stepped from the escape capsule to rapturous cheers and the embrace of his girlfriend, and then another from Mr. Pinera.
"Thank God we're alive," Mr. Pena said. "I know now why we're alive."
Likewise, the Los Angeles Times' main story references the miners' faith up high:
Reporting from Copiapo, Chile -- The 15th man trapped for more than two months in a Chilean mine was pulled to safety Wednesday as the sounds of rejoicing filled the camp in the Chilean desert where hundreds of international media were holding vigil along with family members of 33 gold and copper miners entombed half a mile below ground.
"I never doubted. I always knew God would rescue us," Mario Sepulveda, the second miner to be rescued, said in a television interview.
And the Washington Post, too, includes religious imagery in its lede:
SAN JOSE MINE, CHILE -- After 10 weeks in a dark, hot purgatory 2,000 feet underground, the first of 33 trapped miners were hoisted to freedom early Wednesday, a rescue marking the beginning of the end of a drama that captivated people worldwide.
Again, Sepulveda's reference to "God and the Devil" takes top quote billing, this time in the Post:
"I think I had extraordinary luck," Sepulveda later told reporters. "I was with God and with the devil - and God took me."
Even before the rescues, CNN highlighted the role of hope and faith in the miners surviving below ground for so long. Time reported Tuesday on what it called "Chile's Mine Rescue: Media Circus and Religious Revival." For a rundown of the religion angles, check out this story from Christianity Today.
So, let me ask again: Is there a religion angle to this miracle? Undoubtedly, there is. Kudos to the media for a decent job so far of allowing that angle to unfold in the breaking news coverage. Feel free to share other links, insights, questions and concerns in the comments section.
Then again, as my friend suggested, "Quit talking and show more rescues."