Even today, with all the weight of our educational apparatus and cultural propaganda against bowing to “the absolute” and accepting our natural awe of the transcendent, the vast majority of humankind still adhere to what the sages of the ages have told us about the spiritual foundation of reality and the presence within it of mystery and things we are intended to seek, but from which we are estranged.
Kohelet’s wisdom has never been outdated. It stands as strong and solid today as it did when he first recited it to the cynics and skeptics of his own time. Hear him once more: “Being human starts, and ultimately ends, with knowing we have a Creator. The Creator has made us to live and care for His/Her world according to the “commands, ways, principles, manner of being” the Creator has established. “Being human” can only be achieved within these simple parameters.”
“Your faith tells you that you need not fear any god or God to whom you will give an account for the things you have done, said, and thought during your very short time on this earth. But you really do not know whether you are right or wrong. You are taking a great gamble, like staking everything, absolutely everything, on a single flip of a coin.”
Thing is, the nature of love demands a universe where evil is possible because free creatures made for love must have the freedom to choose not to love but to do evil in its stead. But to avoid blame, guilt, and responsibility we must then blame God, or deny Him/Her altogether, because we don’t want to look ourselves in the face—especially since, as we are told over and over these days, humans are not fundamentally flawed in their nature. Nevertheless, as we have just observed, in all the greatest evils inflicted on the human race throughout its history, it was other humans doing the accusing and condemning, then wielding the swords, guns, and machinery of destruction one upon another, expending incalculable energy and creative imagination to find new and better ways to pile evil upon evil and body upon body in the name of vengeance, justice, or plain old avarice, power-hunger, and blood-lust.
Kohelet’s diagnosis of the boomer age (“too many dreams, aimless activities and words”) would be no different for the generations following with a whole new list for “authentically self-actualizing” themselves and their potential, and denouncing the evil establishment which perpetrates and perpetuates the current world-crisis of climate change. His prescription for “getting real” (really just staying real) is ultra-simple and ultra-relevant, then and now and through all the centuries in between: “God takes no pleasure in fools…
Solomon-Kohelet does not defend the Creator, even though he continually acknowledges Him/Her. Instead, he observes (very dispassionately, like a modern social scientist) the world as it is with all its apparently random outcomes. The “good and just” sometimes suffer evil and calamity in the same way as fools and criminals; the unjust and wicked too often seem to live easy, fat, comfortable lives while the innocent, the good, and the just suffer. He never facilely resorts to blaming God for this state of affairs, nor does he ever mention a ‘devil’, a demon, or any other supernatural entity as an instigator; such things just are. But he still has something to say as to why they are as they are, and his insights are right on target to this day.
the fundamental missing link in any hope for our quest is to find, to go back to, the only worthy and reliable starting point—the Creator and the nature of what He/She has made. And, from there, to confess, to agree, that what He/She has done, which reflects His/Her inevitable nature, is “unfathomable from beginning to end”.
Having acquired everything wealth, power, and ambition could give him, he finds it empty. Yet, as he predicted, three thousand years later we still find these pursuits to be the main goal of life for masses of folk all over the world. Granted, most people do not usually chase these goals on the same scale as Solomon (although the several hundred wealthiest people on Planet Earth today could probably directly relate to a great deal of what he said), but from the USA to China, India, and Kenya, people are still seeking “more and better” of whatever peculiar portion of Solomon’s universal lust for ever more has “turned their crank”. All modern economic theory is built on this covetousness.
The one (very important) difference with the typical post-modern seeker is that the ‘Teacher’ simply declares that there is a Creator. Yet even assuming that there is a God, the whole business of existence still seems meaningless when we get down to the nitty-gritty of what life is like for most of us. As we have seen repeatedly in this blog, multitudes today reject a Creator as a starting point, thus making their quest for meaning that much harder, perhaps even truly and finally “meaningless” and “futile” in the spirit of Solomon’s opening thrust.
My belief or disbelief in His reality has no more effect on Him than the ant believing I am here has on my being here. That is why Qohelet says “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth (KJV Translation).” After all, youth may be the only days you ever have.