04 September 2010

Sep 4

Reference links:
Old Testament

Ecclesiastes is very interesting but also very hard to write about. There is just so much going on. It is impossible to comment on everything that is interesting, so I have to choose just one or two things and give a high level scan of the rest.

Today's reading starts out with a listing of proverbs. As with the book of proverbs, some seem good, others impress less.

The passage I found most interesting in today's reading:
So don’t be too good or too wise! Why destroy yourself?  On the other hand, don’t be too wicked either. Don’t be a fool! Why die before your time? Pay attention to these instructions, for anyone who fears God will avoid both extremes
This passage implies that one should not be too wicked. Okay, that's bread and butter wisdom, but it also implies that one should not be too wise. For the author of Ecclesiastes, this seems to tie into the earlier stated idea that wisdom brings sorrow because it reveals how everything is meaningless, but I have a different application for it in this modern world. No one can care about everything. As I read in an unrelated article recently:
Some of us don’t care all of the time, but all of us don’t care some of the time.
In my mind, the modern application of the admonishment against being too wise is summed up by that quote. It is impossible to always care. There is too much to be wise about everything (or even about a significant portion of everything). Trying to do so would lead only to despair. So instead, practice moderation.

After the Teacher rants about the danger of seductive women, he gives this annoying statement:
Only one out of a thousand men is virtuous, but not one woman!
Hmph. I suspect the flaw lies in the Teacher's attitudes towards women, not in the women themselves. The implication that all women ultimately have no virtue is the same attitude that says a women who dresses provocatively was asking to be raped. Or that a Muslim woman who does not cover herself fully is responsible for the actions men take based on their desires. But that's wrong. It's the men's fault if they think of women as nothing more than their bodies. To imply that all women lack virtue because men are sexually attractive to women shows a vast misunderstanding of half of humanity.

Then we have more thoughts on doing one's duty, especially to the king, the honor enjoyed by the wicked and the sorrow suffered by the poor, the importance of punishing crimes quickly, the universality of death, and the lack of honor accorded to wisdom.

Yet in the midst of all that, the Teacher states once again that it is good to enjoy life. This attitude reminds me of one of my favorite XKCD comics, which I will close with:

New Testament

Paul talks about a harsh letter he sent the Corinthian church and how he is glad it had good effect.

Psalms and Proverbs

Today's proverbs reading seem like the opening to a new section. We are asked to listen to the words of the wise.