Real meaning of 'winning' lost on Charlie Sheen

March 15, 2011 

Even if you're not one of the more than two million people following Charlie Sheen on Twitter, you're probably aware of what he's been up to.

I admit, while I usually don't pay much attention to celebrities, when Sheen's rants show up on TV or the Internet, I can't look away. On his profile, Sheen states that he is an "unemployed winner" and says things like, "Winning! Bring it!"

Overnight, "winning" has become the go-to word to describe every ridiculous idea that people choose to act on. I'm not saying it's the end of the world, but Sheen is a blatant example of what St. Paul described in his letter to the Philippians when he warned that many "conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction. Their God is their stomach; their glory is in their 'shame'" (Philippians 3:18-19).

Sheen, sadly, seems to be living this out almost to the point of parody.

What I find more disturbing than Sheen's actions, though, is the way the world is looking at him as a sort of example -- affirming his claim that he is "winning." While most of us probably will never live quite as fast as Sheen has, we all have moments in which we confuse "winning" with, well, the opposite.

Since the original sin of Adam, we struggle against temptation. For most of us, those temptations are minor, like gossip or laziness. But it's these small sins that start to lead us away. Sheen probably did not wake up one morning and decide to use cocaine (or, excuse me, "buy it," as he's been quick to point out in interviews), but whenever we allow our "god" to be our stomach, we set ourselves up for more trouble.

I write this with ashes smudged on my forehead. By the time you read this, we will be one week into Lent. When I received my ashes this morning, I was told, "Remember... you are dust and to dust you will return" (Genesis 3:19). For the next 40 days, we focus on acts of prayer, fasting and almsgiving (sharing what we have with others) to remind our stomachs -- our desires -- that they are not the boss of us.

Pope Benedict XVI states that because we constantly "strive for emancipation from God's will in order to follow himself alone, faith will always appear as a contradiction to the world."

While Sheen is an extreme example, we need to be constantly aware of the ways that the world defines "winning" as contrary to what we are called to as those made in the image of God, called to be with him forever in heaven.

The pope continues that Christ alone "is the reference point of the righteous life, its goal and its center." When the world ends, there will be "winners." Don't miss out on the opportunity Lent provides to truly understand what this means.

Alison Griswold is the director of youth ministry at St. Francis By the Sea Catholic Church. Follow her on Twitter @alisongriz. Read her blog at www.teamcatholic.blogspot.com.

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