It’s been an interesting few days in the news – very sadly, footballer Fabrice Muamba collapsed during a match, stopped breathing and was rushed into the London Chest Hospital.
The result? A wave of spirituality across the British nation and press, showing that in times of panic and need people still turn to the supernatural for comfort and help.
Another footballer, Gary Cahill, wore a shirt with ‘pray for Muamba’ on it.
The Sun and the Metro both featured front pages with a call to prayer and the statement ‘God is in control’.
Twitter reports that between March 17th and 19th there were 685,721 tweets with the Hashtags #PrayForMuamba and #Pray4Muamba - now that’s a LOT.
Even the Humanist Society tweeted this:
What does think this mean, if anything? Are we still a spiritual – or even, Christian – nation? Do people in our society still turn to God when they are in desperate circumstances? Or is this language of ‘prayer’ just a synonym for ‘please think about Muamba’? Do people believe really still believe in prayer?
I know we are so far into the realms of post-Christendom that to most non-religious people ‘prayer’ probably just means thinking about someone and drawing on the goodwill of a Higher Power (if any) to help.
But nonetheless it’s still interesting to see that when disaster strikes, human beings tend to reach beyond themselves to ‘heaven’. I don’t think we can see this as a sign that Christian spirituality is suddenly flourishing. But it does prove a point that supernatural and religious language is often used in times of crisis. And that people still need something beyond themselves when they face life and death situations.
Right now, “Thank You God Always” is trending worldwide…. again, interesting stuff.
One BBC News piece on Muamba said that even the non-religious felt moved to offer prayers for his critical, life and death situation:
So what role does prayer have in the lives of people who generally never profess a faith? Is it like playing the lottery – gambling that if God is up there it can’t hurt to throw a few pleas heavenward? Or is it a sign that reaching for God in our helpless moments is woven into the very fabric of our DNA?
I never thought I’d see this headline splashed all over the front page of The Sun, but here it is:
Do you think all this mention of prayer in the media shows that deep down, people still have an innate need for and belief in something beyond themselves and our finite universe? Or is this just an example of superstition and old habit dying hard when people are faced with tragedy? Technology and spirituality have some interesting overlap and this recent trend around Muamba demonstrates that.