Before the spectacle we refer to as the Super Bowl (with its own display of vanity) – before the freezing temperatures, the ice, and the snow – Cowboys Stadium (speaking of vanity and excess) was the site of another vanity focused event. The Great Plate auction at Cowboys Stadium a couple of weeks ago was more than a little over the top. They are called vanity plates after all, but the term originally applied to simply having your name – or some form thereof – on your license plates, announcing to the world that the car belongs to you. In many cases, the car was a rather expensive one, adding to the sense of sheer vanity.

Thirty-three speciality (read “vanity”) license plates were up for grabs at the auction. A woman bought T BIG TEX for her husband and DIAMOND for herself for a total of $4,500. She reportedly said that it was “for a good cause.” Not quite true – the majority of proceeds from the auction goes toward the general revenue fund. The rest of the proceeds is to go to charities, the Department of Motor Vehicles, and MyPlates – the company designing and marketing the plates.

Not surprisingly, sports teams brought a few of the largest bids. DRAGONS (Southlake Dragons) went for $7,750. Which is quite a sum to show off around town for a high school team. Rangers sold for $10,000, GO HORNS for $10,500, and COWBOYS for $11,500. The largest bid was for FERRARI, which brought in $15,000.

Granted, the “winners” are allowed to keep the plates for 25 years and can sell them for a profit at any time. But who can imagine spending enough for them to make a profit? Unfortunately, I think there are some people who could. People to whom vanity is priceless.

Qohelet would have been appalled. In all of his searching, with times of serious excess, I believe this example would take the proverbial cake. What Qohelet did he did with the goal of knowledge and wisdom in mind. True, it was excess, but it was practical excess – to coin a term. Qohelet considered efforts to improve oneself and serve a purpose in this lifetime, vanity (or meaningless, or vapor). He did give into pleasure, but only to find out if it led to knowledge or wisdom on some level. To actually give into vanity for its own sake would have given Qohelet a heart attack. It would have made Jesus, himself, pass out.

People are free to spend their money on whatever they choose. But – and you saw that coming, did you not? – would not giving $15,000 to a charity be more beneficial to the recipients than what is left over after everyone gets their piece of the auction price. Of course, they would not have the supposed popularity (or notoriety, as it were) of driving around with a $15,000 license plate (which is hard to even say or write). And how much will their insurance payments increase to include damage or loss of the plate?

If I was them, I would install the plates in such a way as to seriously discourage theft. On the other hand, if they were me, they would never have bid on the plates in the first place. I have enough problem curbing my own impulses towards vanity without announcing to the world that I am insecure enough to pay $15,000 for license plates so that I will be noticed.

Peace be with you.

[The picture and information were taken from a WFAA.com article by Chris Hawes]

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