Thoughts inspired by the death of Anna Nicole Smith

This morning in my sermon I briefly made reference to the incredible amount of coverage being given to the death of Anna Nicole Smith on t.v. networks.  I referred to her as a symbol of the remarkable superficiality of which our culture is capable.
In the midst of the ongoing news coverage, I stumbled onto a quote that seemed the perfect antidote to this phenomenon. The quote came from another woman of physical beauty and fame, the actress and humanitarian, Audrey Hepburn.  Several years ago Ms. Hepburn responded to a fashion magazine’s request for her “beauty tips” by writing the following:
“For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For poise, walk with the knowledge you never walk alone.
If you ever need a healing hand, you’ll find one at the end of each of your arms.”
Someone objected that my words came across as attacking Anna Nicole Smith personally. I agree, that wouldn’t be appropriate. She was, in a way, a casualty of our superficial culture that showers enormous attention upon people for their physical beauty, wealth, and fame without any concern for whether the person has actually done something that is truly admirable.  Women in our culture are encouraged to turn physical beauty into a livelihood, while being discouraged from pursuing fulfillment in other, more significant ways. But as my wife pointed out to me when I mentioned this whole discussion to her, if I am going to criticize public individuals, I would do better going after the likes of the former Enron Chief Executive Jeffrey Skilling, whose distinctly masculine lust for power had a hand in robbing tens of thousands of their pensions.
Maybe I would do best of all focusing on heroes.  Here is one:  Wesley Autrey, the so-called “Subway Superman” who earlier this winter made headlines for an act of great bravery.  Here’s how US and World News put it: “Autrey is the selfless Harlem construction worker who last week let go the hands of his two young daughters and jumped onto the Manhattan subway tracks to save a fellow New Yorker.  The man, a film student named Cameron Hollopeter, had suffered a seizure and fallen onto the tracks.  Autrey, 50, pulled Hollopeter to a small trough between the racks, covering him as a train screeched to a halt overhead — with horrified onlookers assuming he was dead.” I suspect that Wesley Autrey’s two daughters will grow up realizing that something more is expected of them out of life than looking beautiful and making lots of money.

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