I finished watching the tv series "24" on dvd recently. Season 7, I think it was. All 24 hours of it. As you know "24" was a breakthrough show that follows the action over a 24 hour period, in real time, as they say. You can't imagine how much stuff can happen in 24 hours. The country totters on the brink.... You can get into a lot of trouble if you don't sleep. Much of the action that goes wrong may be because everyone is sleep deprived. No one sleeps on this show! No one is chugging 5 hour energy drinks either. Come to think of it, no one takes any kind of break! Eugene Peterson has said that God made us to need 8 hours of sleep so he can put the world back together after we have been up for 16 hours making a mess of things. That is one of the lessons of 24.
Up until the end of this series I had never seen anyone pray, either. You would think with the world near destruction, year in and year out, someone would be praying. But, no. More shouting, and shooting but not praying. However, at the end of this past year's series (spoiler alert!), someone prays. Jack Bauer, our hero, is dying after ingesting a toxic biological agent. He got hit with it about hour 12 and struggles to save the day the rest of the way. Until, he is coma induced in the last hour to relieve his pain and waits to die. Before that happens, he makes a call to a spiritual leader, who he met earlier in the series, and who talked to him briefly about spiritual things. The spiritual leader shows up at the hospital and they sort of pray or have a moment of silent spiritual meditation together (what do you expect? It is still tv!). The point seems to be that Bauer, at life's end, seeks some kind of spiritual closure. He wants forgiveness. Actually, he wants to be able to forgive himself, as well as know he is forgiven, for all the bad stuff he has done in his life (so is he praying to himself? Its kind of hard to tell, but I am not quibbling here.) My point is that there is prayer. And it comes because Bauer is at the end of his life and he feels the need to get some things in his life sorted out. Once he does this he is able to die, peacefully (although there is a reason to believe he will be around for season 8!).
We should not expect too much spiritual depth from tv and this series, in particular. But it was interesting that as Bauer had time to consider his own death, he reached out to spiritual realities beyond himself. Bauer is the ultimate I - can - do- it - myself - hero. He is the only savior this program has needed. But even Jack Bauer cannot save himself from death. There is a hint here (and in President Alison's character who says in the last segment of this series that justice may not come in this life but it will in the next one!) of spiritual truth. As tv mirrors culture, it keeps showing us that no matter how secular we try to become, there is some part of us that keeps reaching out to God.