By now everyone would have heard of the premature passing of Anna Nicole Smith at only 39 years of age. She's shown (at left) with her most recent companion, Howard K. Stern, and her now 5 month-old daughter Dannielynn. She died on February 8 from as yet unknown causes. Her life is a sad story that just keeps on getting sadder - even after her death.
She went from a small-town girl in Texas to topless dancer, to Playboy Playmate of the Year, to the bride of oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall, who was over 60 years older than she was. A law-suit is still ongoing over how much money she will receive from Marshall's estate. At issue is a lower court's ruling that she receive $474 million. This is where the story turns very sad, very fast.
Anna's son, Daniel, passed away in September at the age of 20. A jury inquest is still under away over the circumstances surrounding his death. So, Anna's death has left a 5 month old as the potential heir of an estate approaching half a billion dollars - now here come the vultures. So far three different men have lined up to say that the child is, or could be, theirs. First is the obvious one - her most recent companion Howard K. Stern. Next was Larry Birkhead, an ex-boyfriend who has gone so far as to obtain an injunction holding Anna's body for ten days in case DNA evidence is necessary to prove that no-one switched babies! The latest in the story is 59 year old Prince Frederick von Anhalt, Zsa Zsa Gabor's husband, who claims a ten year affair with Anna. Let the lawsuits begin.
"People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction."
- 1 Timothy 6:9
Why do people think that money buys happiness? What is it that convinces us that more is better? If we look around and ask some questions, we find that the wealthiest people are often the most miserable. Jesus said in Luke 12:15: "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
The Bible teaches us that money and possessions are means to an end, and not an end in themselves. A worldview which sees this life as all there is tends to keep us focused so much on what we're trying to get that we forget, or never bother to think about, why we're here. It reminds me of the old Epicurean philosophy "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die."
This is the dark side of the American Dream, that a beautiful young lady like Anna feels that she has to do whatever is necessary to "make a name for herself." Sadly, she died young and seemingly unhappy, much like her heroine and role model, Marilyn Munroe. Now the drama being played out around her resembles a tragic comedy - but there's nothing funny about it. Let's hope that this baby grows up with someone who actually will love her, and not simply see her as a meal ticket. The odds don't seem very favorable right now.
Jesus taught in "His Sermon on the Mount" that we shouldn't amass treasures on earth, but should lay up treasures in heaven. It was the martyred Christian missionary Jim Elliot who said, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." We'll end with these words of advice from Albert Einstein: "Try not to be a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value."