God is an Anarchist
Vanity of Vanities, All is Vanity
Written by Darrell Anderson.
“What profit has a man of all his labor which he takes under the sun?”
The Biblical story of Ecclesiastes is a philosophical essay, attributed to being written by Solomon. Many people do not like this book because Solomon provides no “name it, claim it, get rich” secrets. Instead the book deals directly with the struggle of human existence.
Many people, not only religious people, often ask, “What is life all about? Why am I here?” In Ecclesiastes Solomon shares his own life’s search. The man had wisdom, riches, horses, armies, and women. Lots of women. Yet, in the end Solomon declared everything to be vanity, that life is generally pointless.
Much like the Biblical story of Job, Ecclesiastes is a philosophical exercise asking the simple questions, “What is life all about?” and “What do I have to do to get some answers around here?” Both stories teach that answers are not always coming and often, asking is futile.
Sometimes I have asked these or similar questions. Like many people, I see and witness the travesties, the evil, and the suffering of humanity. Does God exist? Does God hear? If God exists then why does he remain silent? Why doesn’t he intercede? If God exists then how about a few occasional shakedowns to remind humans? Yet, more than many people like to admit, there is nothing but silence — providing foundations for those people who claim that God does not exist; and providing doubts to those who believe.
As I grow older and continue my own personal journey, more and more I arrive at the conclusion that understanding is not the key. I am leaning more toward accepting rather than understanding.
One of the great all-time conversations is from the Lord of the Rings story when Frodo the Hobbit declared that he wished the ring had never come to him and that none of the events had happened. Gandalf the Gray responded that nobody wished that, but that is not for anyone to decide. All people can decide is what they will do with the time they are given.
If the God of the Bible exists, then perhaps those well-known words are correct — God’s ways are not our ways, nor his thoughts our thoughts. Perhaps a never-ending search is nothing but vanity.
However, there is a contributing reason why Solomon saw nothing but vanity. Solomon was the epitome of statism. Solomon realized that the philosophy of statism was futile. Statism is an illusion of power and grandeur, and violates the simple and straightforward natural boundaries of human relationships. Of all people who saw statism as vanity, Solomon should have — and he did. According to his story, Solomon actually began his reign with much humility, seeking wisdom instead of power and riches. Because of his humble choice, the Biblical stories teach that Solomon was awarded with both wisdom and riches.
Yet, John Acton correctly observed that power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Acton’s famous saying would be more correct if had said that political power tends to corrupt and absolute political power corrupts absolutely. The Biblical stories teach that because of corruption, Solomon died a despised and hated man. His corrupt political power was grasping at the wind. Before drawing his last breath, Solomon realized the futility of such power — all is vanity.
Next: The Problem of Evil