Reputable Fame

“Quantitative analysis revealed that fame was the number one value, selected as the most important value for participants’ future goals,” according to a study done by psychology professors at the University of California at Los Angeles.

In C.S. Lewis’ book, The Screwtape Letters, it becomes obvious on a practical level that Satan’s most fatal weapon is subtlety. Literally, all that God created is good. ALL. Evil does not manufacture itself and is only observable relative to its opposite: Good. So it makes sense then, that to trip up a generally good person, someone mostly moral, someone rightly motivated, someone who would see right through blatant evil, Satan’s tack must be almost good.

In the Garden of Eden, Satan walked Eve up to a tree that probably looked just like the others. It looked good. It was almost OK.

Last month, in my town, three teenage boys were arrested for making sex tapes with six, unsuspecting teenage girls. Their goal? Fame.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to be recognized. Proverbs, the Book of Wisdom, tells us that a good reputation is desirable over  great riches (Prov. 22:1). And in Prov. 31:23, a man is honored to be known among the leadership of his city. It is a God given desire to be loved by others, to have something to offer society and to leave our heel print in the clay of time. So Satan takes this righteous quality and pushes it just a little too far, just slightly over the edge. As we over indulge in our good reputation, it becomes self admiration and suddenly our hearts are warped. Warped just enough to mar the beauty of God’s reflection in us.

Left to ourselves in a broken world, we cannot help but pervert the complete goodness of all God’s gifts. Sex into promiscuity. Beauty into idolatry. Reputation into fame. Honor into pride. Hope into fantasy. Food into gluttony. Drink into drunkenness. Hobby into addiction.

Besides the redemption of our souls, maybe that’s another reason that Jesus had to come. More than to die and rise again, perhaps this is why He came and lived 30+ years on earth. To show us how to use all God’s good gifts for His glory.

We’re So Vain!

As if gambling were not already enough of a social ill. As if it weren’t enough to encourage a society that can scarcely employ its population, to risk, barter and fritter its income on cards and electronic games. As if 90,000 teens getting plastic surgery in 2007 wasn’t a clear enough sign that America is beauty-obsessed. As if!

The Trump Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City is offering $25,000 worth of plastic surgery to one lucky winner. Gamblers can earn points throughout the month of October. On October 29, someone will be awarded the opportunity to look in the mirror, dissect and despise their body and then submit themselves to a surgeon’s knife for liposuction, breast implants, a nose job, ear tucks or any one of a number of procedures.

I heard this on the radio a couple days ago, and I had to Google it – surely it couldn’t be. And of course, if it sounds unconscionable, ridiculous and absurd – it’s probably real. One only has to watch the progression of reality TV shows to notice that American entertainers are in a vicious competition to be the most deviant and aberrant.

I am the first one to admit that I don’t often admire a picture of myself. Even if I appreciate what I see in the mirror at 9 in the morning, I’m likely to feel frumpy and disheveled by 10:30 a.m. I work at a gym, and daily I watch people struggle to thin their thighs, tone their triceps and trim their tummies. At least they’re trying.

I don’t advocate body disparity. The Bible says that we are each fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139). Instead of squandering our children’s college tuition on chance in the casino, what about investing in their healthy bodies, thirsty minds and malleable spirits? If we don’t we’re likely to find our teens spending their high school years sullen, self-absorbed and at odds with us. Rethink your priorities!!

As I read several articles about the Taj Mahal’s unique prize, a couple things struck me in addition to promoting discontent with our bodies.

It’s interesting: gambling is a get rich quick effort. (for some interesting statistics see http://www.overcominggambling.com) Plastic surgery is a discouraged individual’s attempt to perfect her body overnight. Americans want everything yesterday. Hard work and waiting are disappearing values.

Gamblers are more likely to be male than female. Is this an all-out effort to attract women to the “sport?” I guess luring women into surgeon’s chairs through unrealistic magazine spreads, billboards, runway models and TV ads wasn’t working fast enough.

It seems almost crazy that someone could be addicted to plastic surgery, but we’ve seen it happen. We already know gambling is addictive. Imagine combining the two!

According to an interview with The Associated Press, Dr. Eda Gorbis — an assistant professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine and founder of the Westwood Institute for Anxiety Disorders in Los Angeles — said she’s already seen cases of people struggling with excessive plastic surgery and excessive gambling, and has grown concerned about the connections.
“Definitely one thing reinforces the other one,” she said. “Both are addictions, and they’re bad addictions.”

First we’ll boost the casino’s business and keep the plastic surgeons busy. In a few more years we’ll be overwhelming Gamblers Anonymous and other 12 step programs.