Tuesday, January 05, 2016

The Importance Of Being Paris

We will spend considerable time on the Sermon on the Mount in my Gospels' classes: Jesus gave us enough material for a solid semester, if not a year, in his most famous teaching. What the Savior taught as important is not as fashionable in our culture as being stylish and celebrated. The following is a look at my cousin, Paris Hilton. Before you scoff at the claim of kin, just note that her grandmother's last name was Hawley and I have only met one family with my last name who is not in my family tree! The following is from January 17, 2006. Remember, I wrote this ten years ago. I hope I've changed for the positive in ten years!

Recently, I saw an article that typifies our news these days. Forbes Magazine published its annual roster of the highest US incomes. One sub-set of this list is the Top-earning Celebrities Under 25 Years Old. The names were familiar. I was surprised that of the twelve, only two were male; basketball superstar LeBron James and actor Frankie Muniz. Beside each income was listed the occupation of the millionaire. For example, Maria Sharapova was described as Athlete and Actor/Singer was next to the name of Hilary Duff. My favorite of the dozen young millionaires was Paris Hilton. Her occupation? Personality! I am not totally sure what that means but my best guess is that she is famous for being famous and well-compensated for being famous. She earned over $6 million last year with, at least to my uneducated eyes, no discernible talent. Don't get me wrong. Her last name has been instantly recognizable in American culture for generations. She is attractive and apparently a shrewd business woman. She has made being Paris Hilton a big industry. I asked my classes to define her and one young man told me she was an actress. I inquired as to what she had starred in and his reply was the reality show The Simple Life. When I asked him what character she played, he told me she played herself. That is my point. Her public persona is that she is a rich, spoiled brat and the more she perfects the role, the more the public laps it up. She doesn't come across as being particularly likable. Maybe she's the anti-celebrity. We love her because we despise her. One thing is certain. The old proverb, THE RICH GET RICHER, has found vindication. This heiress of the Hilton hotel chain would be fabulously wealthy even if she had remained obscure. I doubt the other eleven youthful celebrities could make the same claim. They all seem to have capitalized on a talent or skill and parlayed it into, with wise investments, a lifetime of wealth.

I don't want you to think I begrudge Paris Hilton one penny she brought in. In some ways, there is similar prejudice against the rich in America as there is against the poor. Most of us, while not in the same ballpark as this young lady, have been blessed in some way by our family of origin. She is portrayed as having questionable morals but she would have company among other entertainers, athletes, and socially elite of the cultural landscape. When I asked my eighth grade girls if they thought Paris Hilton would be a good wife/mother, they overwhelmingly said no. When the question was if she would be easy to get along with, the negative response was the same. But, when given the choice of trading places with Paris Hilton, almost all of them agreed they would make the swap. Fame, fortune, and glitz attracts even the most-level headed at times. In the Beatitudes of Matthew 5, Jesus has his own list. In the preamble to the Sermon on the Mount, the Savior enumerates nine groups considered blessed, or as we would put it, happy. Nowhere to be found are the possessors of beauty, power, or wealth. Instead, we are expected to believe bliss comes from sorrow, poverty, gentleness, and persecution. Philip Yancey translates the section with the phrase, Lucky are the unlucky. The hope of the poor is that roles will be reversed in the afterlife, a hope Jesus reinforces in the parable of the unnamed rich man and the beggar, Lazarus. Did you see the incident last week with the homeless man being beaten to death by boys with baseball bats? Two thousand years ago, the victim might have been Lazarus but we know he ended up with the Lord! There is a lesson for us in that scenario. We want the end result- we just don't want to have to endure the suffering part. We want to end up in Paradise like Lazarus but we want the Paris Hilton lifestyle on this side of eternity. It's hard to have it both ways but we still are going to try.

 Applicable quote of the day:
"The celebrity is the person who is known for their well-knowness."
Daniel J. Boorstin

God bless,
Luke 18:1

E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com


Jon said...

I got the bonus right...

Devin Turner said...

Sorry but i cannot stand Paris Hilton, she's just so..... ugh.....She throws away her friends and her boyfriends like used papertowels! hey have you been watching American Idol?