"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd." ~Flannery O'Connor

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

To her who has, more will be given...

Jesus said: "To the one has, more will be given; from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away" (Mark 4:25). Bracing, that. Many years ago, I thought of writing "Mark 4:25" as a bit of graffiti above the doors of banks and other financial institutions. I thought myself very clever in a worldly, cynical sort of way for noticing how "the prince of this world" apes spiritual truth in this fashion. Everybody to whom I've ever said: "They should post that verse at the doors of every bank" has gotten the joke. But the latest bit of aping outstrips even my worldly cynicism.

As tout le monde surely knows by now, Paris Hilton is going to jail for 45 days. Apparently, she violated her probation on a previous conviction. Something to do with drunk driving. It hardly matters, really. As a Hollywood publicist quoted in my news source says: "The premise of her fame is being naughty. This is a career move for her. It simply fuels the fascination. She can only win with this." Indeed. If you're rich and famous enough, going to jail for the right sort of crime can only make you more famous and, in consequence, richer. To her who has, more will be given. But can you imagine what would happen to an ordinary person, without fame or riches, after finishing such a sentence? She or he will have lost their job, if they had one, and will have quite a hard time landing another—or at least another decent one, for a good while. Even what little they had will have been taken away.

To be fair, another publicist admitted that the Paris' latest career move will serve as such only "in a sick and demented way." Deep down, the worldliest among us know what's over the top even when they can't resist flogging the spillage. But it doesn't stop. Heck, you don't even have to be an airhead to profit from this sort of thing: Martha Stewart did time for lying about a stock deal and has since launched a successful TV show. Nor is the phenomenon new: the Borgias got even richer from making a mockery of the papacy. And anybody who's read Catullus knows that the Romans had perfected the art long before the Church became legal.

It has been said that original sin is the only mystery of faith that is empirically verifiable. Intellectual purist that I am, I never used to believe that. But I'm starting to.

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