Thursday, July 07, 2011

Reader's Diary #732- Good News Bible: Ecclesiastes

I'm a positive pessimist. Yes, I agree the glass is half empty, but what was in that glass? You probably didn't want it anyway.

John the Positive Pessimist found himself quite vocal while reading Ecclesiastes. So much so that he caught himself talking in the third person.

I was surprised actually. All I knew of Ecclesiastes before now was the Byrds' version of Turn! Turn! Turn! which, thanks to Pete Seeger's added line, "a time for peace, I swear it's not too late," I took to mean Ecclesiastes was an optimistic book. In reality the theme of Ecclesiastes could be summed up as "why bother?" Or, if you want to keep with 60s folk songs: finding meaning in anything, in fact even trying, is futile; you might as well try and catch the wind.

Ecclesiastes shows a human side to a philosopher working through his thoughts on life. And sure he acknowledges that money can't buy happiness, but I appreciated how awesomely that thought was hammered home. I've often felt that it's only us privileged folks-- us with enough food to eat, clothes on our back, and a roof over our heads-- that even engage in something as pointless as philosophy. Yes, if Ecclesiastes has taught me anything it's that we're predestined to be a miserable species, forever trying to climb Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Well, not forever. And that's the good news! We die!

See? Defeatism is no match for my positive pessimism.

1 comment:

Ordinary Reader said...

Excellent! I have never been able to decide which side of the optimist/pessimist coin I land on, but that conundrum is now forever settled: I am a positive pessimist. Thank you.

PS - Commenting on a book of the Bible is one of the bravest things I've ever seen. Nicely done!