“I had no idea how cynical the Book of Ecclesiastes could be,” I told my writing group a couple of weeks ago. “It also contradicts itself over and over again: Life sucks, and then it’s beautiful. There’s no reward in heaven, but God cares about us. Rich people can’t be trusted, yet they are chosen to rule. It just doesn’t make sense.”
Despite my frustrations with the book, I have to say I love it. It’s so dang human. I’m cynical too, so I can relate to the cranky narrator Qoheleth. I too wonder why God appears so often to be AWOL. And I have traveled the life-sucks-but-it-is-beautiful carousel more times than I can count.
Ecclesiastes tells us that for everything, there is a season. There’s a season for all of the contradictory things mentioned in chapter 3: both mourning and dancing, destroying and healing, persisting and giving up, loving and (even) hating. This is one of the Bible’s most life-affirming passages, and it points to contradiction as a necessary source of life and vigor.
I will take that on my spiritual journey. Or maybe I won’t. Or sometimes I will, and other times I won’t. Whatever. It’s all good, according to Qoheleth.
#Twible overview of Ecclesiastes: Grumpy pundit Qoheleth dishes on life, wisdom, vanity, etc. He’s dead now, as he predicted. Ah, futility.
#Twible Eccl 1: “Been there, done that. Same old, same old. I got nothin’. Life sucks & then you die. Eat, drink & be merry.” Inspired yet?
#Twible Eccl 2: Q shocks all by saying that wisdom’s overrated: The wise die, just like fools. Ironically, his book’s branded as wisdom lit.
#Twible Eccl 3: For everything, turn, turn, turn, there is a season . . .Except for orange plaid. There is absolutely NO season for that.
#Twible Eccl 4: “The dead are luckier than the living, but the REALLY blessed are those who were never born at all.” Isn’t Q a cheery guy?
#Twible Eccl 5: Q says that rich people don’t sleep well b/c of guilt over their extra wealth. FYI, he’ll totally contradict this tomorrow.
#Twible Eccl 6: “What few days remain in your vain life are best spent enjoying wealth.” The Bible has stepped out to Saks. Back in a mo.
#Twible Eccl 7: Q says he’s been around the block a bit in his utterly meaningless life & warns: Don’t be too good OR too evil. A fine line.
#Twible Eccl 8: Q looks on as Mr. Wicked Evil Neighbor’s buried w full honors & a sumptuous funeral. And…Q’s back on the vanity train again.
#Twible Eccl 9: The dead are lost forever; they have no reward. Enjoy life while you can, since you’ll be forgotten. Bottoms up, mate!
#Twible Eccl 10: The anti-Magnificat. Q tsk-tsks princes walking on foot while slaves ride on horseback. The rich deserve to rule. Hmph.
#Twible Eccl 11: Q says we don’t know much about history. Don’t know much theology. Don’t know much about NOTHIN’, so…Don’t worry. Be happy.
#Twible Eccl 12: Of making many books there is no end, & most are a waste of trees. Of course, that didn’t stop Q from writing 1 of his own.