Posted by: donnatallman | November 7, 2011

Wanna Buy a Tooth?

Somebody just paid $31,200.00 for John Lennon’s tooth?

They’re kidding, right?

No, they’re not. Somebody in England really bought it.

It’s a tooth, people!

It’s not often that I find myself truly shocked by our cultural choices anymore. I guess I’ve lived long enough now that I’ve become numb to the outrageous around us, but this one did me in. People have the right to spend their own money any way they want; they’ve earned it. I don’t have a problem with that. It’s not the use of money that got my fur all fuzzed up this morning, but the stewardship of it.

Apparently Lennon’s tooth, his $31,200.00 tooth, was too fragile to be tested for authenticity. The auction house couldn’t do a DNA test on it because it might break apart, so they just trusted the word of the person who presented the tooth to them that it was, indeed, Lennon’s tooth.

You mean somebody sank that much money into an artifact they didn’t even verify was real?



They bought it.

Hook, line, and sinker.

Unbelievable. It could be a fake and they have just plunked down 31k for a white elephant. Now they’ll add Lennon’s Tooth to those History Channel specials that investigate the world’s great conundrums, like the search for Holy Grail and the origin of the Shroud of Turin.

I can hear the narrator now: “Is this really a Beatle’s back molar? We may never know, but a believer from the 21st Century was so convinced it was John Lennon’s tooth, that the Fab Four fanatic forked over the family fortune for it.”

You know, it’s really not so unbelievable. I’ve bid on a few “Beatle’s teeth” in my day; maybe you have too. I’ve exchanged things of precious value in my life only to realize that what I received in return was totally worthless. I’ve exchanged the integrity of my word to gain others’ esteem, patient waiting for self-promotion, a peace-filled heart for an anxiety-ridden one, and kindness to my family for controlling belligerence. I’ve exchanged the truth for lie.

“Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” 1 Peter 1:18-19 (NASB)

My life was rescued with something far more valuable than money; it was purchased with the blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ ransom, His payment for my soul was not merely the expense of one life for another; it was an investment. Jesus didn’t purchase a Beatle’s tooth when He sacrificed Himself for me on that cross; He had done His homework. Jesus believes my soul has value and was willing to pay the price for it.

My life is that valuable?

Yep, He bought it.

Jesus invested in me, and I’ve been willing to exchange His precious sacrifice for a Beatle’s tooth?

How grateful I have been for His grace and forgiveness!

 “Buy truth, and do not sell it, Get wisdom and instruction and understanding.” Proverbs 23:23 (NASB)

Wanna buy a tooth?

©Copyright, 2011 by Donna Tallman.



  1. OMG. I have no words. I want to slap something.

  2. Let’s not feed the hungry or help alleviate ANY of the worlds MANY hurts, no let’s buy a TOOTH! ‘Cause that’s a good use of money! Good grief, that we should all have such a tooth fairy.

    I guess I found my words.

  3. Okay, Beth, I’m game. How do we know the seller didn’t feed the hungry or alleviate some of the hurts of the world with the money she got for selling the tooth? Maybe she traded her “tooth of great price” for something bigger, better, greater, or grander and used that to provide tangible help to others? We don’t know, we can only speculate…or try to apply wisdom…

    If you were the seller, what would you do with $31,200.00?

  4. Wow – Donna you just turned this whole question on its head and it becomes suddenly more fascinating. We are always tempted to think of the foolishness of the buyer – but what about the (possible) shrewdness of the seller.

    Luke 16:1-15 has the very odd parable of the unjust manager. The parable wraps up with this uncomfortable sentence: “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly…I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.”

    If the wealth of the wicked is indeed stored up for the righteous presumably there is a transaction in which that wealth is transferred…perhaps this is just such case. If so, should we congratulate the seller for turning a nasty ol’ tooth (lets assume its genuine and this isn’t a scam) into a fat pay check?

    • Nice reference, Chris. You’ve given me lots to think about – now I’m completely captivated by Luke 16. I must away to muse and ponder some more on it. Being characterized as “shrewd” certainly has not been something enviable within the Christian community. It’s truly an intriguing passage. Thanks for your input!

      • Well I owe this insight into the book I just finished – John Eldrege’s new Beautiful Outlaw. I highly recommend it for pointing out a whole slew of things that Jesus clearly values and exhibits (like shrewdness, fierceness, directness) but that we have largely shied away from in the church and expunged form his typical presentation.

  5. The t(r)ooth be told;
    The tooth got sold
    and none of us can be so bold
    to assume the tooth was not filled with gold.

    • okay, Jane, you win! Thanks for your reply! Made me laugh.

      • Is this our Jane? I am still laughing.

      • It is!

  6. @Donna: clearly (or perhaps not) my comment was about the foolishness of the buyer. That’s what I meant when I wrote: “no let’s buy a TOOTH! ‘Cause that’s a good use of money!” And foolish buyer and shrewd and (I’m sure) philanthropic seller aside my disgust is largely for a world where a rotting body part could be valued so high.

  7. Right, I got you, Beth…which is why I was indignant at first as well. How do we steward the resources we have in a world full of heart-wrenching, desperate need?

    I was surprised to learn that the buyer is, of all things, a dentist who has a collection of celebrity teeth. He’s also written a book about them. So, at least he purchased something consistent with his arena of interest and expertise. What intrigued me about the dentist’s motivation, however, is how he views his new relic. This is what Michael Zuk is reported to have said in an interview:

    “This is perhaps the last piece of John Lennon’s DNA, so it’s pretty well priceless in my mind. Even though it’s a rotten tooth, the genetic material inside it is a storage house of the most popular person that ever lived.”

    The genetic material of the most popular person who ever lived is “priceless.” Really?

    Zuk is not the only one who has forked over a fortune for something “priceless.” The internet is full of strange things people have spent thousands of dollars on – $28,000 for a sandwich that appears to have the Virgin Mary’s face etched into it, $1,350 for a corn flake shaped like the state of Indiana, $14,000 for a piece of gum supposedly chewed by Britney Spears, and the list goes on.

    After thinking about John Lennon’s tooth for a week now (!), I guess I’m still of the mindset to focus on my own motivation for doing what I do. What makes me attracted to the “Beatle’s teeth” in my life? Why would I be willing to throw my limited resources at something so temporal? Why do I expend so much time and energy on things that are passing away?

    This morning I’m captivated by Matthew 6:20-21; “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

    Where is my heart? Am I investing my time on earth for eternity, or am I simply spending my time on earth for myself?

  8. You had me laughing out loud at the History Channel paragraph and re-examing at Matt 6:20-21.

    My expecation of the purchasor would differ based on whether he was or was not a follower of Christ.

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