Apr 28: The Things That's You're Liable to Read in the Bible

Why is Ecclesiastes even in the Bible?
So I hated life, because the work that is wrought under the sun was grievous unto me; for all is vanity and a striving after wind.

And I hated all my labor wherein I labored under the sun, seeing that I must leave it unto the man that shall be after me.
Just one of them days, I guess, but who knew that such a bus-driver level attitude was canonical? To be sure, the Preacher ends his speeches with a "stay in school"-like message: "There is nothing better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and make his soul enjoy good in his labor. This also I saw, that it is from the hand of God." (He says a variant of this four times in the five chapters to read tonight.) But I've worked in advertising, and I know the phrase "nothing better" is slippery -- it means "just as good." There's nothing better than eat, drinking, making (another interesting word choice) your soul enjoy, etc. etc., but it just means that there's nothing better than the moment when Life switches from grinding lit cigarettes out on your skin to the cool, sunlit uplands of merely punching you in the gut.

You don't get that sense at all from that Byrds song they set to some of these verses: "as a song they are commonly performed as a plea for world peace," says Wikipedia. Well, all due respect for Pete Seeger, but I think the Preacher is more accurately conveyed later in the same chapter: "And moreover I saw under the sun, in the place of justice, that wickedness was there; and in the place of righteousness, that wickedness was there."

As the DRG itself says, "Sophisticated and modern is this writer of 2,300 years ago."

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