We had a discussion on why ecclesiastes was lncluded in the Bible. D says he has been told the Bible is the organized or authorized argument of the church. Is this telling us we don’t have control of our lives but this denys free will. But the human aspect is that we make mistakes and hurt others. Is vanity pointing to the end of life. N says he hopes for a continuity of knowing. But Jesus came and gave us hope. This book has a lot of Persian influence. This was a well developed strain of thought and occurred close to the time of the New Testament times. At the time of Jesus the main thought of the Jews was that probably life after death was Sheol, the valley of the dead. Memories go back at most 4 generations. Don Madsen died at age 95 and he made a motion that the church should have a lay president, rather than a pastor. Proehl was a long term pastor at Zion and had always been the president of the congregation and resigned the day after the motion passed. This chapter is a fatalistic point of view that got us off on this topic of the meaning of life.
This mornings Psalm was short and uplifting and refers to altars and thankfulness. Is vanity more like futility. In those days heart was the thinking part of a person which explains why heart is used rather than mind as is used in some translations. We had a long discussion about the origin of the ELCA and the various factions of Lutherans like Missouri synod, ALC, and LCA as well as the supporters of Seminex. There also was a discussion of Luther’s view on inclusion in the church. The background of Ecclesiastes came out of the struggle between the literalists and the interpreters and adapters of scriptures. Just like the interpretation of our constitution. Everybody has to figure out how to handle situations that are not directly addressed in the original document or its amendments. In the OT there was a sort of connection between belief in God and good fortune in life. There is an increasing emphasis on the concept of membership versus discipleship.
S. read a great comic about squirrels and churches. We talked about whether this was a downer or sort of medium. Sorrow is better than laughter. Is the tone of the chapter verse 26 which says I find something more bitter than death:the woman whose heart is snares and nets. Don’t stop too soon. It goes on to say that he who pleases God escapes such a woman. This probably was newer than the other OT, and was changed by Persian, Syrian, and Aramaic writings. Some think Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon, which would have placed it 1000 BC. There is more evidence to a later time of writing. We talked about verse 10, which says the old days are not necessarily better than today. Verse 3 and 4 present the idea of learning more from hardship than success. Do we learn more from mourning than by laughing about everything. R. says the dam lawyers fit into the last verse God made man upright but gave figured out many schemes to get an advantage.
a really short psalm. he says the dead who are already dead – is this profound versus redundant. this reminds us of Amway’s marketing process. maybe this is a way to approach a good way to view work. vs 8 suggests that one works for others. We can be called to a profession that can help others. it matters what we do with what we have. Bill Gates is an example of giving to help others. is every job just for getting things for oneself and not necessarily to help others. is it necessary to learn how to want to be helpful and think about others. is there a switch from seeking riches to seeking power. Is there a switch or is it just a continuation of their quest for riches. Do people have to be trained to give to others and to act not in one’s own interest all the time. there are various kinds of power and how it can be used. institutional, reputation, etc.