Tuesday, 8 January 2013

The Joy of Ecclesiastes

Reading Ecclesiastes is such a joy. I'm taking my time through it at the moment, savouring the labour of reading it (the toil, if you prefer that translation). It has some gems hiding in there, just like this one.

For the fate of humans and the fate of animals is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and humans have no advantage over the animals; for all is vanity. All go to one place; all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knows whether the human spirit goes upwards and the spirit of animals goes downwards to the earth? (Ecc 3:19-21)

The utter materialism of this passage makes me smile. Yes, even with the mention of spirits I read it that way. It's refreshingly honest about the question of life after death and reminds us that the life that counts is the life lived now.

I'm also fond of the Kierkegaardian stages throughout the book. There are viewpoints for the aesthetic, the ethical and the religious (only A, of course). Thankfully, like a good piece of wisdom, the whole book requires contemplation. Taking a verse here or there doesn't do it justice and removes the prospect of wrestling with the problem of life.

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