Paris is going to jail. Thank God…at least that is what she should be doing.
First the social policy picture. Paris Hilton will now be just one of the 7 million Americans who are incarcerated or on probation or parole. When she enters that jail she will be just another number in the statistics that give America the highest per capita incarceration rate in the world – 1 in every 32 people. I doubt that this will stick to many people’s memories, however. It is just a bit too overwhelming to grasp let alone know what to do with.
Now the personal point – God is sending Paris to jail in hopes of getting better acquainted.
God? Paris? Jail? Yes. Since I believe that God is the author of our lives, it makes sense that God would be actively at work in Paris’ life – to the point that he would allow her (or put her) in jail…for her own good.
The great Quaker writer and theologian Richard Foster begins his classic book, The Celebration of Discipline, this way, “Superficiality is the curse of our age…. The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.” By “deep people,” Foster means people who have explored “the inner caverns of the spiritual realm.”
Maybe I am wrong but I am guessing that Paris hasn’t spent all that much time in those inner caverns. Jail is a great place to start. Her sentence, as it stands now, is for 45 days. A lot can happen in that period of time. Consider:
- The Flood of Noah lasted for forty days.
- Moses spent forty days on Mount Sinai, getting the Commandments.
- The spies from the Exodus spent forty days in Canaan.
- Ninevah was allowed forty days to repent.
- Elijah and Jesus both fasted for forty days.
- Jesus spent forty days on earth after the resurrection.
Paris gets another five days beyond 40. Imagine the possibilities. When she walks into that jail without a lawyer or a publicist or her dog; when she does her work alongside her fellow offenders; when she goes to sleep at night, she will have those crisis moments that have drawn people into deep places. And all along, God will be there for her to talk to if she wants.
In a way Paris is to be envied. She is to be envied not because she will be in jail but because that time in jail will afford her a unique opportunity to reflect and to change. Jail will also give her the chance to read if she would like. So to aid her journey, a reading list:
Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster
For finding a way deep into the soul
Paul for Everyone: The Prison Letters : Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon by N.T. (Tom) Wright
For an example of how time in jail can change the world.
Letters from a Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Confessions by St. Augustine
For the greatest spiritual memoir ever
Crossing the Threshold of Hope by Pope John Paul II
A reminder that God has given every person dignity, something that Paris, for all her glamour, may have forgotten about herself.
The Complete Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson
Because it is a beautiful look at childhood wonder, adventure and much, much more
Paris has a choice even now. Fight jail or embrace it and what she might learn there. Embrace it Paris, it could change your life and deep down I am guessing you know you want your life changed.