Click on the quote below to read the article...

This is really an article about publicity... or at least various attitudes toward it.

Recently someone dug up a 20-year-old article from the Sydney Morning Herald, in which I was quoted as saying that "Christianity is all about publicity."  What I should have said, of course, is that "preaching the gospel to every creature" is all about publicity, or maybe even just that publicity is a big part of preaching the gospel to every creature, since the message itself is greater than the act of preaching it.

Nevertheless, the real thrust of the criticism was just that I should have mentioned publicity in a positive way at all.  After all, aren't all "publicity seekers" narcissistic psychopaths?  At least that is the way the critics reason.  And that same person managed to dig up a much older press clipping (45 years old this time) which included an article which I wrote for a newspaper when I was 17 or 18 years of age.  The article was produced to prove that even at such an early age, I was already a narcissist, obsessed with getting publicity for myself.

In fact, the article appeared in TWO HUNDRED newspapers, and it was written by request of the syndicate that sponsored the national newsboy of the year competition that I won in partnership with Rick Heidlebaugh, another newsboy from Davenport, Iowa.

Surely everyone who uses the mass media should not be considered narcissistic psychopaths.  Some rather respectable people and organisations pay millions, even billions of dollars to publicise various products and causes.

In my case I paid nothing.  In fact, the media gave me the space for free, and even threw in a free trip around the world, including personal visits with many celebrities at the time:  Miss World (Tania Verstak from Australia), Rock Hudson (who presented the prize to Rick and me at a gala function at Disneyland), the Bedsor Twins (English cricket stars at the time, who gave Rick and me some lessons in cricket), Michael Wendon (Australian Olympic swimming star), and more.

Of course, what bothered this particular critic about the 45-year-old article, is that it portrayed me in a positive light.  His primary argument against me as a person is that I have also received negative press over the years, so he wanted to make a big deal about the fact that this positive coverage was some kind of a lie that I had promoted over my own byline.  (The full truth is that I only submitted a report on the trip at their request, and it was touched up by a professional ghost writer; but they wanted to put my byline on it, because they felt that I was some kind of a celebrity in my own right.  The media has a tendency to do things like that when they think someone has done something noteworthy.)

But when it comes to bad press, many movie stars, beauty queens, big name athletes, and politicians have also received that at some time in their lives too.  In fact, the more successful one is in any field, the more likely it is that they will also receive bad press somewhere along the way.  It is more less because of their "goodness" that bad press about them sells so well!

But the important question will always be, "What other evidence can you produce for your slander besides the fact that someone else has said it?"

Some athletes have, in fact, been proved to be drug cheats; some beauty queens have actually posed for nude photos; some politicians have really had extramarital affairs.  But even with these scandals, some would argue that the media has made more of them than really makes a difference in the overall scheme of things.

For example, one of Australia's greatest footballers, Andrew Johns, admitted recently that he took recreational drugs.  Certainly it represents a bad example to young people, but considering they were not performance-enhancing drugs, they should not take away from the legitimacy of his performances on the field.

And so we have to ask, "What are the real charges, and what is the real evidence against us?"

Bringing it more back to the topic of this article, I think that the media can be one of the most powerful tools in the Christian armoury... even if it does screw things up along the way.  If we have something that is radically different to what is presently being offered, then the media is going to be interested in it.  What the media does with it may not be very fair (since the media generally represents the status quo, and the status quo generally doesn't like anything that is "different"), but that usually will not stop at least some of the truth from getting out.  (See Take up the Press and Follow Me.)

My favorite Bible verse as a journalist was, "They that do evil hate the light, neither come to the light, lest their deeds should be reproved; but they that do good love the light and come to the light that their deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God."  (John 3:19-21)

The mass media is far from the perfect Light of God, but it is a lot more accountable than the lies and evil that take place in secrecy every day.  So the more exposure that any issue gets in the mass media, the harder it becomes to cover up all of the truth in it.  Sure, they can all quote one another and say, "A hundred other newspapers could not be wrong when they say you are a cult," but all we or anyone else has to do is say one word, and the whole case against us will fall in a heap.  That word is "Why?"  One hundred liars do not turn a lie into the truth, if they do not have anything other than a long list of unsubstantiated lies to back them up, they have nothing at all.

A favorite Quaker word for God is Light.  It comes from the Bible (1 John 1), where it says that if we walk in the Light, we'll just naturally have fellowship with others who are walking in the Light. But it goes without saying that such a faith and practice will be totally incompatible with those who walk in darkness, those who operate in secrecy, those who run from accountability for anything that they say.  Those who follow the Prince of Darkness can even hire private investigators, hack into our computers, bug our homes, hire false witnesses to testify against us, and it will not obliterate the Light that shines from us.

The world today is sinking into more and more darkness.  So it is going to become more and more incensed against those who walk in the Light.  But God, the ultimate Light, will reveal all when he returns to judge the world.  The Bible says that that which is spoken in secret will be shouted from the housetops.  God's listening devices have been in place for a long time, and he will have the last say.

In the past, many have been, like Christ, executed for their faith, but even that has not stopped the truths for which they died from shining through.  And if some of these great heroes of the faith have NOT yet been discovered, then the Bible says that their resurrection will be even greater than the others when God sounds his final trumpet and reveals his final judgment on all those who walk in darkness and who war against those who walk in the Light.

So walk on, ye who are of the Light!  Let your light shine! and don't let Satan (or any of his puppets) blow it out!

Pin It
Don't have an account yet? Register Now!

Sign in to your account