Brothers and sisters:
As you excel in every respect, in faith, discourse,
knowledge, all earnestness, and in the love we have for you,
may you excel in this gracious act also (2 Cor. 8:7).

What is this gracious act of which Paul speaks? I am having a difficult time concentrating, as I hope to be able to announce soon that I have been chosen to star in a new reality series on a major television network - or at least one of those networks you find in the 200s or 300s on DirecTV - in which the foibles, fears and desires of a 21st century Catholic theologian is put on display for mass consumption. Everyone wants to join that newly identifiable group, which crosses ethnic, class, and gender lines, known as Celebrity-Americans! All lines are crossed but financial; I hope to make a killing by putting my life on display. And fame - I want fame. Wait until you see the theologians in my department argue over the Mission Statement and when the Biblical scholars go after the Systematic theologians. Nothing is really solved in either case, but it will be great TV.

For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that though he was rich, for your sake he became poor,
so that by his poverty you might become rich (2 Cor. 8:9).

Oh, the gracious act was Jesus'? Awesome. I love Jesus. Jesus is my homeboy. Jesus is my buddy. And Jesus wants me to be rich? I knew it. He became poor so I could be rich? To each his own, I guess. I was hoping that as the greatest of Celebrity-Americans, Jesus would be rich too. I mean so many people know Jesus, and by his first name too, like Heidi and Spencer, and Jon and Kate, and Farrah, and Michael, and Madonna. You know the one I mean.The singer. Why when you have the world at your fingertips, do you give it up? Better marketing dude. Get yourself an agent. Plus, you have to be willing to do it all, go for it. Did you give all? I think we might deny someone tenure on my show; not that they don't deserve tenure, but TV needs tension, and the tension of seeing someone's dreams crushed is too much to pass up. Wait for the teases before that episode airs.

Not that others should have relief while you are burdened,
but that as a matter of equality
your abundance at the present time should supply their needs,
so that their abundance may also supply your needs,
that there may be equality (2 Cor. 8:13-14).

I'm not sure where Paul is going with this whole "equality" thing, but it sounds suspiciously like a gracious act is required of me. My abundance should supply their needs? Who are these people? If I give them support - relief - they will help me? I'm not expecting any needs; as a Celebrity-American, I am hoping that my needs will always be met. Wherever a camera is, there I will be, teaching that Jesus wants us to be rich. If they want equality, they should get their own show. Everyone's doing it, and it's not like you have to do anything, at least not anything in an academic vein. Just be meaner, slyer, louder and ruder - give it in abundance.

As it is written:
Whoever had much did not have more,
and whoever had little did not have less (2 Cor. 8:15).

Seriously, where do you get this stuff? The Bible? I know I should know that, but show prep has taken so much time I haven't had time to concentrate much on the Bible; like I said earlier, I have had my mind on other pursuits, other things. Shallow? Really? Shallow? Look, this might have played in the first century, act on behalf of others, support them in their needs, imitate Christ by giving of yourself to others, strive for equality, but we have progressed so much now. Look at our culture today. Look at how far we have come. What if Paul had a Blackberry? What if he could have used Twitter? Facebook? A blog? He could have had his own reality show too! How many times was he in jail? The street cred would be huge.

For God formed man to be imperishable;
the image of his own nature he made him.
But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world,
and they who belong to his company experience it (Wisdom 2:23-24).

This is from the Bible too? Look, man, I'm dying here. You're asking for a lot. You're asking me to think "imperishable", and it's a bit of a downer. After all, celebrity doesn't die does it? Fame is what matters! Can't I just enjoy the moment? (By the way, Billie Jean is not my girl, that was just a rumor started by one of the moral theologians; you know what they're like.)

John W. Martens