Is life worth living?
Baptist elder's thoughts on the message of Ecclesiastes
Is Life Worth Living? Some Thoughts on the Message of Ecclesiastes
By Christopher Brearley
Zaccmedia, Milton Keynes
Reviewed by Alec Gilmore
A Baptist elder with 40 years of teaching experience invites us to join him in 'a great journey of discovery' based on Ecclesiastes, using our eyes and ears and travelling with those who have made the journey.
Chapter 1, however, ('Going Nowhere') leaves some uncertainty as to whether it is a mystery tour, a walk in the park or a serious journey. It is none. It is 'Some Thoughts', with no attempt, either here or in Ecclesiastes, to address the question posed in the title, but that is no excuse for dismissing his message.
Ecclesiastes is a sadly neglected book. When did you last read it, hear or preach a sermon on it? Read one way (and there are others) its message is the futility of life — a response for that moment when life gets you down and with a sigh (but not much more) you say, 'is life worth living?'
Usually a rhetorical question, and Brearley reflects on the variety of circumstances that lie behind it by putting some 21st century flesh on the ancient text. He chooses his texts and his contemporary 'moments' will be familiar — money, wealth, fairness, the rat race, debt, the search for happiness, satisfaction and the like — but uses them as little more than jumping off points for the sermonettes which follow in a world where little has changed over 2,000 years.
Though good at drawing parallels to today, a little more graft on the biblical text and a recognition of other interpretations going beyond the futility of life would have been been an improvement.
So too an acknowledgement that when we 'sigh that question', we don't usually want an answer, and in a post-prandial atmosphere among likeminded friends it is easy to say Amen to it all and then leave contentedly, knowing that we are not going to do anything about it.
Hardly 'a journey', but an interesting prospectus with a 'moment of truth'.
Alec Gilmore is a Baptist minister