GetReligion reader Mark Burke spotted a holy ghost in a CNN feature on a George couple who adopted seven kids — all at once.
Regular readers know that we define ghosts (as they relate to mainstream media coverage of religion) this way:
Day after day, millions of Americans who frequent pews see ghosts when they pick up their newspapers or turn on television news.
They read stories that are important to their lives, yet they seem to catch fleeting glimpses of other characters or other plots between the lines. There seem to be other ideas or influences hiding there.
One minute they are there. The next they are gone. There are ghosts in there, hiding in the ink and the pixels. Something is missing in the basic facts or perhaps most of the key facts are there, yet some are twisted. Perhaps there are sins of omission, rather than commission.
A lot of these ghosts are, well, holy ghosts. They are facts and stories and faces linked to the power of religious faith. Now you see them. Now you don’t. In fact, a whole lot of the time you don’t get to see them. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t there.
The CNN story, with the headline "The Clarks just went from a family of 3 to a family of 10," hints at a ghost way up high:
(CNN) From the photographs, you can tell they are already a family. There's Jessaka and Justin Clark, and their biological son, Noah. Then there are seven other smiling faces: Maria, Elizabet, Guillermo, Jason, Kristina, Katerin and James; the newest additions to a clan brought together by a little bit of good timing and a lot of courage.
The Clarks, who live in Rincon, Georgia, were exploring adoption options when their caseworker brought them an unusual proposition: Instead of one or two children, what about seven, all at the same time?
"We prayed about it for one night before we said yes," Jessaka Clark told CNN.
Burke said in an email:
I don't think there's anything controversial about this story. It's just a standard story with a ghost. Why would these people adopt these children? The wife says they prayed over it for one night, but there's nothing specific about their religious beliefs.
It sounds like Burke is suggesting that perhaps — just perhaps — faith in God influenced the couple's decision.
But CNN never follows up on the prayer quote or returns to the family's faith in what is admittedly a relatively short story.
Curious, I went Googling and found a few other major media reports on the Clarks. Like CNN, ABC News mentions the couple's prayer, as does CBS News. ABC also includes an additional tidbit related to the family's religious background:
Clark, a stay-at-home mom, and her husband, who works in the finance department of a local motorcycle dealership, have been embraced by their friends and church community, who donated nearly everything they needed to bring all seven children home.
Still, the "why" ghost haunts both the ABC and CBS reports.
She said they prayed about it.
“We didn’t sleep well,” Jessaka Clark said. But by morning, they made a decision. “God’s plans are greater than we ever would have imagined.”
The paper doesn't point it out, but the wife is paraphrasing Scripture.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Undoubtedly, this family is not done making headlines. Here's hoping that — at some point — a journalist who gets religion will give the Clarks an opportunity to talk about their faith.