Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Solomon, the First Existentialist

Solomon, the first Existentialist. Ecclesiastes is a book for the weary, the hopeless, those with a bleak outlook on life. James W. Sire in his book The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog claims that Existentialism builds from Naturalism which, with its denial of any higher purpose than ourselves, leads either to Hedonism (the worship of pleasure), or to Nihilism (the denial of purpose) which if one has the guts to go on, leads to Existentialism. Existentialism seeks meaning in “Authenticity” of the self and the choices one makes. Existentialism's focus is Doing and Subjective understanding of truth. Hence, many aspects/elements of Postmodernism are just Existentialism writ large.

Solomon was despondent. He looked for meaning in "this miserable life" and found none in the several things that he searched for, all idols, workaholism, hedonism (my personal favorite), power, wealth, and its relative, materialism. All things that we also turn to instead of God for our comfort, our meaning, and all are just as empty today. Without God, what sort of purpose would make sense? The reason I say Solomon was an Existentialist, is that even when he gave it all up to God, there is still a pervading sense of melancholy and fatalism about it.

Do you know why he was so down? 300 wives. Add to that, 700 concubines. 1000 women. I can't even imagine. Sure, his flesh was happy but his soul was empty. Something happened between Song of Solomon, his passionate, explicit letter to his first love, and the end of his life with 1000 women. I can't help but think that if he had stuck with that one, life would have been fulfilling for him. One special person to share his burdens, to know him intimately, to meet his needs, to grow with him. I cannot express how wonderful marriage can be. To share a life with one other person and to grow together.

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