So What

Ecclesiastes is a doctoral dissertation on ambivalence (see my last post). The Teacher is in two minds about life because of the certainty of death:

Light is sweet, and it pleases the eyes to see the sun.
However many years anyone may live, let them enjoy them all.
But let them remember the days of darkness, for there will be many.
Everything to come is meaningless.

Light and darkness chase each other around the globe. People come and go but have no effect on this infinitely recursive circuit despite what they accomplish or accumulate. The ancients saw time as cyclical, changeless and mindless. But the writers of the Bible approached reality with different presuppositions:

  • There is a personal Creator.
  • Time has a purpose, ergo a beginning and end.
  • Life is mortal but not in vain.

These hypotheses can’t be irrefutably proved—or disproved—this side of the grave. The evidence is ambiguous: sunsets and tsunamis, birthdays and funerals, miracles and unanswered prayer. Every joyful experience has its dark antipole (Ecclesiastes 3).

I choose the biblical view of reality—but not all the interpretations attached to it. I can’t explain the ambiguity or avoid the ambivalence. What I can do is resist them festering into apathy: “the absence or suppression of passion; a lack of interest in things others find exciting.” Apathy spawns depression, which drains the life out of life.

I still have character to develop, dreams to pursue, relationships to nurture, adventures to share, sorrows to endure, books to write. I want to make something “so beautiful” out of life’s “so what,” a sentiment Paul Simon captures in his song by that name.

I’m gonna tell my kids a bedtime story
A play without a plot
Will it have a happy ending?
Maybe yeah, Maybe not
I tell them life is what you make of it
So beautiful or so what


2 thoughts on “So What

  1. Thanks Mike,

    You hit it right on the head. I still have character to develop, dreams to pursue, relationships to nurture but i have no energy left to do it. I’ve like so many others have endured major health loss and financial loss and people loss and don’t know how much more i can take. I even lost my Christianity which started at the age of 32 when i was baptized in a creek in the middle of winter. Jesus was my life until i realized that there were way to many contradictions and realized what a crock Jesus and Christianity was and is. I’m a Jew who thinks Christianity which represents 33% of the worlds population is not the answer. If it were true there would be a hell of a lot of people going to hell. This is not a loving God. I believe in a creator but i guess I won’t know for sure until I’m dead. I will either die into darkness and emptiness or i will have a great time in eternity. If Jesus is such a loving God then how can he condemn the majority of the worlds population to eternal hell. I dare anyone to prove to me that Jesus is the way the truth and the light. Guess what, if you need that then, good luck because you won’t know crap until you die and may be it will just be darkness. When a person leaves this world all they leave is memories, which are wonderful. I love you Mike as your a great inspiration to me and I know many others. Keep on writing because that is your great gift. Keep on keeping on!


    1. I’m almost 60 years old. The bulk of my productive life is past. Careers come and go, and never more so than right now. Families are born, grow up and go out to start their own. But in those nearly 60 years, I’ve come to see that life is entirely about faith. People have faith in all sorts of things: science, medicine, positive outlooks, friends and lovers, evolution and even religion. For me, my faith is in Jesus Christ. It is not a religious experience, it is because I know Him and He me. I have been a disciple of His for most of my adult life and He has taken me through things that even great men would cringe at. And I have seen my faith in Him has been very well founded as a result. As we have obeyed the Lord Jesus in our lives, He has shown us the darkest side of humanity where people beat on children to the point where they rip eyes out of sockets, or break every bone in their bodies and leave them for dead in city gutters. In obedience, we adopted more than a dozen children coming out of some of the most heinous situations and we saw the hand of God move in their salvation and healing. We saw Him perform grand miracles after miracle that were completely beyond our ability to influence in any way. And we have seen the heart of God expressed towards them and us in very real ways, as well as His heart opened to us through His Word.
      Mike, it was the home flock that met at your house that taught us to trust Him completely. As we studied Sheldon’s ‘In His Steps,’ we, for perhaps the first time in our lives, began to see that faith without obedience (or works) is meaningless. As we obeyed His Word, it became alive in us and opened our eyes to those who were most desperate and most desired in God’s eyes. If I hadn’t seen the truth of His Word worked out in my life, I most certainly would have abandoned my faith in Him. (On a counter note, I have NEVER heard anyone else ever testify to the greatness of their god and how he had made himself real to them, whether Hindu, Buddist, Muslim, or anything else. Only Christians testify to such things).
      Ambivalence aside, even the writer of Ecclesiastes ends the book with, “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.” You are correct when you write: “Apathy spawns depression, which drains the life out of life.” Christ came that we have life.

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