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What Lies Beneath

Crises have a way of bringing people together. The case of the Chilean miners who were trapped 2,300 feet underground for over two months provided further proof of this principle. Their successful mid-October rescue was a feat not only of human ingenuity but also of what many believe to be divine intervention. The spiritual overtones of the interment and rescue were unmistakable — even jaded secularist mediots couldn’t help but notice.

It seemed as though the whole world was tuned in to the dramatic events taking place at the San José mine. Television crews from as far away as Russia, Japan, Iran, and North Korea came to Copiapó to capture the moment for home audiences eager for good news about the buried miners’ fate — yes, even members of the so-called Axis of Evil were on hand. The entire ordeal was colored by the intense faith of the miners, their families, and their rescuers; it was indeed a triumph of hope, one of the foremost theological virtues. Not coincidentally, the makeshift camp set up for the miners’ families was dubbed Camp Hope, and one of the miners’ wives who gave birth while her husband was trapped underground named their new daughter Esperanza, Spanish for Hope.

It was a jubilant moment when the last of the thirty-three miners reached the surface. Chilean President Sebastian Piñera was present and addressed him: “The country is not the same after this. You were an inspiration.” Not to be outdone, U.S. President Barack Obama said the rescue “inspired the world.” The resultant euphoria reinvigorated, however temporarily, a sense of the common bond of humanity and, among believers, led to a renewed sense of our common faith in the providence of God.

Or so it seemed.

While Catholic News Service trumpeted the occasion with the headline “As Miners Are Rescued, Chileans Unite in Prayer” (Oct. 14), beneath the pomp of camaraderie, togetherness, and a general sense of good will, a different, more sobering picture began to emerge, one that brought into bold relief the deep divisions that have rent Christendom for the past half-millennium. London’s Guardian ran an article with the headline “Chilean Miners: Rival Churches Claim Credit for the Miracle” (Oct. 11). Evangelicals, Adventists, and Catholics, the Guardian reported, “are vying to stamp their own particular faith” on the “surge in religious fervor” that accompanied the miners’ rescue.

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