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July 7, 2006


I'm new to the wonders of Koheleth, the cynical wise man who speaks in Ecclesiastes, and his version of carpe diem:

There is nothing better for people than to eat and drink and enjoy their toil.

It gets tougher:

Enjoy life with the wife whom you love all the days of your meaningless life, that is, all the meaningless days he has given you under the sun, for it is your reward in life and for the toil that you do under the sun.
All that your hand finds to do, do with your power, for there is no action or thought or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going. (Translation by Tremper Longman III)

Ellen F. Davis reports that one Vietnam chaplain said this -- the term "meaningless" (hebel) appears in more than 30 passages -- "was the only part of the Bible that his soldiers were willing to hear."

Posted by Mitchell Stephens at July 7, 2006 11:49 PM


One of the least communicable experiences is war. Months that drag on with nothing but bugs and sweat and more bugs, then moments that last forever internally, with no way to share anything close to the essence of those moments.

And, for me, it left my eyes wide shut, a cram course in human nature.

Not once did anything supernatural happen to me, everything was quit frighteningly natural if not hyperbolically surreal.

Posted by: Jay Saul at July 8, 2006 2:21 PM

That brought tears to my eyes, Jay Saul.

How sad I am for you to have felt that isolation and something very nearly worse than fear, a dismal abyss of hopelessness.

Those are the kind of accounts that break my heart, and cause me to question God too.

Posted by: Bonnie Kim at July 8, 2006 9:59 PM

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