Captain Tom Moore is a bright ray of hope bursting upon a gloomy landscape. The exploits of this 99 year old army veteran have taken the country by storm. A great example that age is never an impediment to action. And action never needs to be imagined upon the grand scale to make a significant difference. I trust each one of us whose been inspired has also contributed to his cause. I’m personally pleased as Tom and I share the same birthday, April 30.

Of course, whilst this is a brilliant story, it also highlights the power of the media. What semed to him and his family an ambitious goal of £1000 for his walk of one hundred 25m lengths in his back garden has, at time of writing, grown to a massive £26,479,945; and still growing. Media attention has also led to the launch of his first single, a collaboration with Michael Ball, and this has charted at #1. And a public petition launched requesting the honours office to Knight Tom has received 852,000 signatures and is growing by the moment.

Good News

So a great ‘good news’ story at just the right time. Yet, it is a story fuelled by news media. Without this media hype, then perhaps Tom’s efforts would have remained at a very creditable £1000. It shows just how important the media is, and how easy it can be to seek to manipulate media for some personal advantage. In Tom’s case this has been accidental, not manipulativr, and is for the general good, both as regards our sense of well being and for the NHS, which is the most highly regarded institution in the UK, scoring higher than the monarchy in every opinion poll.

24/7 media remains infatuated with endless reporting of coronavirus, much of it not news but tedious ‘expert’ opinion. The majority of this opinion is ‘finger in the wind’ prediction, since the very nature of an unknown virus means it’s unknown, so all predictions must be subject to a high percentage of doubt.

This reveals both how negative and limited our news reporting is. We must become increasingly skilled at discerning fact from opinion; this latter is never news. Perhaps one lesson from this period is that we would be more highly motivated and the national mood lifted if an equal amount of news coverage were given to upbeat everyday stories such as Tom Moore’s.

Two Grave Errors

As those who pursue Jesus in our everyday lives, we must also learn to steer away from an abuse of media. Today it is easy to make two grave errors. The first is to conceive of something as ‘good ‘ purely in the light of how well it wil play on the media. In other words we are looking to generate the audience through the means of some good, saleable Christian end. I’d suggest that the idea, if it is of value, is worthy of practising regardless of whether anyone else notices or not. For is it not God alone whom we serve? And is it not God alone who oberves our activities?

So beware, for media has made us assume that only if an activity is scaleable and becomes established in the marketplace of ideas and activities is it of proven value. Not so. God has little interest if our activity is known anywhere beyond ourselves and the Trinity. For what larger audience can there be but the Trinity, within which the entirety of existence is contained?

Beware the deception that popular success is the equivalent of Kingdom impact. That is the lie from the enemy of truth itself.

The second great error to which our media consciousness directs us toward are the fear of ending shipwrecked upon rocks of financial ruin. Every project or programme is assessed upon its financial viability. Much of which is in meeting the costs of those people designing and managing said projects and programmes. Tom has it right, he takes not one penny for himself for the only investment he needs to make is his human effort required to walk, with the aid of a frame, 250 metres (10x 25m); the bite sized chunks that made up his epic pilgrimage. Bite sized is a better approach than financial viability.

Great Ideas are Priceless

It was Oscar Wilde who is reported as saying that, ‘People know know the price of everything and the value of nothing‘. Fortunately in this season of Easter, God demonstrates that value is of far more importance than price as the Crucifixion makes plain.

A great idea requires neither an audience nor an income stream. And great ideas are always those that benefit another rarher than myself. So inspired by Captain Tom, look to see how in this Lockdown season you might do some very simple things to support and encourage others. For this is the heart of what Tm has done. And whilst his story has enjoyed media magnification, it is so that millions of great ideas birthed throughout the British Isles, and around the world, might celebrate the fact that God is the God of the great ideas.

And for each one of us the only audience that matters, and indeed counts, is the Trinity of Father Son and Holy Spirit. Ideas expressed through action are the channels along which God’s mercy and love flow. And this is priceless as well as much needed in our world.

It is not yor business to succeed, but to do right;

when you have done so,the rest lies with God‘.

C. S. Lewis