Why the Super Bowl and secular spirituality are so popular

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When Tom Brady played in his first Super Bowl, there was no iPhone or Android. No Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Spotify, or Gmail. No Uber, Airbnb, or iTunes Store.

Jared Goff, the quarterback who will oppose Brady in this Sunday’s game, doesn’t remember watching Brady win his first Super Bowl. Goff can be forgiven–he was seven years old at the time.

If the Rams win, Sean McVay will become the youngest coach to win a Super Bowl. If the Patriots win, Bill Belichick will become the oldest.

It’s likely that more than one hundred million people will watch Sunday’s game. Last year’s Super Bowl was the most-watched television event in the US, tripling the highest-rated non-football program.

Why is secular spirituality so popular?

The Super Bowl was a metaphor for another very popular activity in the US.

Nearly 90 percent of Americans say they believe in some kind of deity or spiritual force. However, more than a quarter of Americans say they are spiritual but not religious. Their number has grown by 42 percent in the last six years. While nine in ten Americans claim to be spiritual, religious, or both, less than 20 percent regularly attend church services.

Clearly, spirituality is popular in America. Religion, less so.

Why the difference? Let’s examine the Super Bowl for insights into secular spirituality today.

Why is the Super Bowl so popular?

The extravaganza that is the Super Bowl is a welcome distraction from tragic problems that dominate the news. For example: While the US accounts for about 5 percent of the global population, our residents consume about 80 percent of the global supply of prescription opioids.

Virginia’s governor came under fire this week for supporting third-trimester abortions in a way that seemed to advocate allowing a child who has been born to die. And Catholic authorities in Texas have released the names of 298 clergy accused of sexually abusing children.

In such a chaotic culture, televised…

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