Friday, August 22, 2014

Ecclesiastes: a Book Report

The following is from a work-in-progress called "The Bible: a Book Report" in which I read each book of the Bible, summarize it in my own words, and occasionally give some commentary.  I will also include biblical artwork by famous artists.

These are the words of the Teacher, the son of David, the king in Jerusalem:

1.

Futile!  Everything is futile!  What does a person gain from all his work?  Nothing.  Generations come and go, but the earth keeps spinning and not giving a shit about what we do.  Everything causes weariness.  Everything's been done.  There is nothing new.

I sought to find wisdom.  It's a futile task, like chasing after the wind.  You can't change anything.  I became the wisest man in the world, and it only brought me confusion and pain.

2.

I thought, what the hell, life is short, I'll just try to have a good time.  I built myself huge houses, gardens, vineyards.  I even had slaves.  I was the richest man in the country.  I had non-stop entertainment.  I had lovers galore.  I lived in absolute luxury.  Guess what?  It was futile.

Wisdom may be better than folly, but the same fate awaits the wise man and the fool...death.  So I hated life.  I hated all my stuff.  It doesn't last.  I found only despair.

3.

In life, there is a time for everything: birth and death, planting and harvesting, killing and healing, tearing down and building up, weeping and laughing, mourning and dancing, throwing stones and gathering stones, hugging and not hugging, searching and losing, keeping and throwing away, tearing apart and binding together, silence and speech, love and hate, war and peace. 

There is a time for everything.  But eternity?  Who can grasp that?  Yet still we try.  It is perhaps best to seek joy and do good.  But life is baffling, with all its injustice.  We are, after all, animals, doomed to die like all living things.  Yet still we try to be happy.

4.

I carefully researched all the cases of oppression in the world.  I saw the tears of the oppressed who had no one to comfort them.  So I thought, "What good is life?  It's better to be dead.  Why struggle like this?"

But then I saw friendship and love between human beings.  I saw that it's good for people to work together, to sleep together, to keep each other warm, to help each other.  Even if, in the end, it's all futile.

5.

When you speak to God, let your words be few and honest.

Wealth doesn't bring happiness.  It is fleeting.  Hoarding wealth is especially harmful.

It's best to eat, drink, and be happy with the few years of life you are given.

6.

Life is ultimately futile.

7.

Do not flee from suffering and mourning.  They are better teachers than happiness and pleasure.  Don't say, "I miss the good old days."  They never existed.

In this wold of injustice, it is good to seek wisdom, as hard as that is.  I am still seeking.

8.

Basically, you can't understand God.

9.

I guess all you can do is live your life.  Eat, drink, and be merry.  Find love.  Whatever you choose to do, do it with all your heart. 

10.

And try not to act like a fool.

11.

Sunlight is good.  Live your life.

12.

In this world of danger, remember God. I have tried to speak as truthfully as I can, and here's my conclusion: fear God, and keep his commandments. 

"Vanitas" by Pieter Claesz (1625)

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