Not for anything would I miss reading my favourite columnists and reporters. Without their revelations, I might never have known what a miraculous age we live in. Consider, if you will, an engagingly reflective bit of writing that has to do with a late pope, a living cardinal and a chapel dear to both. The writer, a columnist I much admire, revealed that, “It is now the chapel of Cardinal Dziwisz, John Paul’s personal secretary for 40 years, who returned as archbishop of Krakow after his death in 2005.”
I’ve always known that Christ rose from the dead and continued to minister. I never dreamt that a cardinal could do it. Granted, membership in the College of Cardinals is an elevated position. But there’s no comparison between elevation and resurrection.
The columnist had a momentous scoop and mishandled it. So did his editor. Instead of leading with it, the columnist buried it. Instead of featuring it, his editor overlooked it.
A reporter betrayed a similar lack of news sense when he revealed that, “The judge sentenced the killer to die in the electric chair for the second time.”
Oh, I realize that a convicted murderer is not on the same social level as a consecrated cardinal, but surely their victories over death are equally newsworthy. Resurrection, whether of an arch criminal or an archbishop, is miraculous. Like the columnist, the reporter buried a major scoop, and another editor failed to notice it.
The media also mishandle revelations of bilocation, the ability to be in two places at once. But no amount of journalistic ineptitude can curb my enthusiasm for reports like, “While trying to cope with the heat and humidity in New Orleans, my friend in London phoned me to complain about the foggy, overcast skies there” or “Police and FBI captured an ex-convict suspected of killing eight people in two states as he smoked a cigarette outside of a southwestern Illinois bar Tuesday night.” If coping in New Orleans while complaining in London and killing in two states while smoking in one aren’t dramatic demonstrations of bilocation, I don’t know how else to characterize them.
Although rising from the dead is the greater miracle, being in two places at once is still hugely newsworthy. Usually only saints can bring it off. That ordinary folks can do so adds to its significance. There is no excuse for failing to highlight it.
Being one or more persons at once is as miraculous as being in two places at once, if not more so. But it’s no longer newsworthy. It happens so often it’s commonplace. Daily, I read with astonishment about people who are both singular and plural in the same sentence. However, few other readers seem at all surprised. I was amazed when I read,“These days, to change a racket into a rocket can be a scary illusion, but the magician who effected the change took care not to frighten their audience.” I wasn’t amazed that a racket turned into a rocket. I was amazed that one magician turned into two or more,
A columnist I regularly read revealed a similar change when he wrote, “Someone with real swagger would sooner fall on his sword than tiptoe into any court, Italian or otherwise, to discuss their feelings of inadequacy.” What’s unusual, and perhaps newsworthy, about this revelation is that the individual maintained his singularity until the last pronoun. Usually, he or she loses it at the first.
Lesser miracles abound. Quite common are inexplicable sex changes revealed in reports like, “As a young girl, her father sent her to the best schools in the country” and “One of three sisters, Hilda’s father was a butcher who ran four shops in Oldham.” Much rarer are inexplicable behavioural changes revealed in reports like, “One witness told the commissioners that she had seen sexual intercourse taking place between two parked cars in front of her house.”
If the inanimate mimic the living, I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised when the living mimic the inanimate, as revealed in reports like, “No one was injured in the blast, which was attributed to a buildup of gas by one town official” and “Thundering loudly over the lagoon and spraying millions of liters of water, I saw a huge tidal wave approaching the shore.”
Despite the failure of writers and editors to acknowledge them, miracles often reveal themselves in headlines. They include the poignant “One-armed man applauds kindness of strangers,” the intriguing “Dealers will hear car talk at noon,” and the astounding “Quarter of a million Chinese live on water,” among a great many others.
Headline chasers are vigilant in tracking them down. Writers and editors of little faith should heed their witness.