If you're new to GetReligion, "holy ghosts" are — as our own Terry Mattingly explained at this journalism-focused blog's beginning — those "facts and stories and faces linked to the power of religious faith" that so often fail to show up in mainstream news reports.
Need an example? The piece shared by the reader above is, unfortunately, a classic one.
Let's start at the top:
(CNN) Dr. Given Kachepa strides confidently into his practice, greeting a 17-year-old patient who's come in to have her braces tightened.
"Hello. How are you?"
Life in the United States is quite different now for the 29-year-old Kachepa, compared to how it started as an 11-year-old orphan.
From his office, filled with fading family photos and handicrafts from his native Zambia, he reflects on how he first bought in to the allure of the American Dream.
"I came to the United States without a dollar in my pocket," says Dr. Kachepa. "The only thing I had was hope."
Keep reading, and CNN shares how Kachepa fell victim to a pastor who turned out to be a human trafficker. But eventually, his shattered hope was restored by a loving foster mother:
The kindness has made a lasting impression on the young Zambian.
"To have a wonderful family take me in and say we're willing to see you as our son. You make look different, but we're willing to see you as a son and provide you with all the things you're going to need to be a success, that was inspiring to me," says Kachepa. "The only way I could pay them back was by working hard and trying to be the best person I could be, so that when I reach my goal I could provide the same opportunity to someone else."
Reading between the lines, one can't help but wonder if the foster mother's faith motivated her response. But CNN never says.
Throughout the piece, vague hints here and there make one curious if Kachepa has been not just on a "journey of hope" but on a "faith journey" whose "hope" includes God.
However, CNN totally ignores the religion angle until the very end. Then the news organization drops in a bombshell spiritual quote that it leaves hanging and unexplained.
Holy ghosts, anyone?:
Dr. Kachepa is now starting his own practice in Dallas, with plans to eventually return home to build dental practices in Zambia.
"That's the way I can give back to the disadvantaged people of the world," says Kachepa. "God brought me this far, not to let me fail at the end of it.
Besides the ghosts, CNN appears to have a factual error, reporting that Kachepa received his dental degree on May 27, 2016. A Dallas Morning News story (equally haunted by ghosts and published in June 2015) put his graduation a year earlier, as did a Dentistry Insider feature on Texas A&M College of Dentistry's website.
The dentistry website piece, by the way, has a terrific quote from Kachepa on his faith.
Take note, CNN:
Kachepa: The thing that keeps me going is my faith in God. If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have gotten this far, and he wouldn’t have brought me this far only to let me fail at the end. God has carried me through thick and thin, and he continues to be my guiding rod. He carried me when my parents passed in Zambia. He carried me when I went through a horrible trafficking situation, and that’s why I plan to keep going in my endeavor of returning to Zambia to help the disadvantaged people.
I sure would love to know more. And I know @mrsangrygrandma would, too.
Image via Texas A&M University College of Dentistry