"Having a blog is like wandering around your house naked with the windows open; it's all very liberating until someone looks in the window. However, while being caught unawares is one thing, it is quite another to stroll up to the window and press your naked, flabby body against the coolness of the glass in a hideous form of vertical prostration for all the world to see..." These posts are the smudges that are left behind on the window.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Solomon and Buddha

We went to a fundamentalist church yesterday for the first time in a long time. But, it was for a funeral. I was dreading the salvation message that typifies most funerals in fundy churches; fortunately I was spared the embarrassment of having to walk out (I don't think I actually would have, but in my mind I'm sure I would have walked).

Overall the sermon wasn't too bad. When I do go to church these days - any church - I have the habit of picking apart the sermon and reinterpreting any scripture readings (which I will get to in my next post). Part of his sermon was the famous section in Ecclesiastes were Solomon - the wisest man in the world - says there's a time for everything; a time to be born, a time to die; a time to sow, a time to reap etc. Think Bob Dylan. The point the Pastor was trying to make was that nothing is random: there's a purpose to everything. A very comforting thought at a funeral.

The trouble is he's missed the point, even if well intentioned.

Conveniently he's forgotten the statement at the end of Ecclesiastes where Solomon says that everything is meaningless. It's really too bad that this selective memory is all too common when people quote scripture. Although more prevalent in fundamentalist churches, it's not unique. In fact it's not unique to Christianity; Muslims do it too (think of the popular definition of Jihad - Holy war - as misread by a select few), as well as others.

The proper reading of Ecclesiastes - all of it - is actually more in line with the concept of Impermanence, which is a cornerstone of Buddhism. To a Buddhist everything is impermanent, both good and bad. All relationships, possessions, and life situations will eventually go away. Nothing lasts forever. The point is to enjoy the good you have today and don't worry too much about the bad. It also ties in with another of their cornerstones which is Mindfulness; to be present in the moment, not worrying about the past or the future.

Who knew Solomon and Buddha were twins.

This is yet more proof that there is value in all religions. That we have more in common with our Muslim or Buddhist brother than we think. That any differences we might perceive to have may actually be due to our misinterpretation of scripture.

Scripture may well be inerrant - as the fundamentalists believe - but our interpretation of it, is far from it.

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