Chasing After the Wind
By: Thomas E. Brewton
The atheistic materialism of socialism, embodied in the United States in so-called liberalism, once again frequently called “progressivism,” is a meaningless pursuit of false gods.
I was privileged this Sunday morning to hear another inspired sermon by the pastor of our Long Ridge Congregational Church. The sermon was one of a series explicating the Book of Ecclesiastes.
With apologies again to our minister, I offer my interpretation of additional implications of his sermon.
The writer of Ecclesiastes, presumably King Solomon in his old age, declares:
“I thought to myself, “Look, I have grown and increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.” Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.
“For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.” (Ecclesiastes 1:16-18)
King Solomon enjoyed wealth, royal dominion, and sensual pleasures beyond the imaginings of ordinary mortals. Yet, having experimented with everything the world (“under the sun”) had to offer, he found all of it meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
Among the things with which King Solomon experimented were knowledge that might empower him personally to control earthly events, along with constructing magnificent palaces and political structures, precisely the all-consuming pretension of today’s liberal-socialists.
All of this, Solomon realized late in life, is meaningless, because whatever he did would be taken over and changed by someone after his death. God-created human nature and the nature of the world are beyond the reach of the most presumptuous scientism of the Al Gores of the world.
Only God endures, because the universe is God’s creation, and humans can do nothing to control the cycles of nature ordained by God.
Happiness, King Solomon concluded, is a gift of God to be found in worshipping God, in living our individual lives to the best of our abilities, in seeking God’s guidance, and giving thanks each day to God for the many blessings He has bestowed upon each of us. It is, looking at it from a different perspective, taking joy in the beauty and grandeur of God’s awesome universe.
This corresponds to the Platonic and Aristotelian distinction between pleasure and true happiness.
Pleasure is a product of the senses and is produced by externalities, ranging from sexual promiscuity, to drug abuse, to pursuit of wealth. We are slaves to these externalities.
Happiness comes from opening the soul to God and seeking his guidance for moral wisdom. The soul and this pursuit are the only truly distinctive human characteristics. In chasing after the meaninglessness of sensual pleasure, we reduce ourselves to a state no better than that of dumb animals.
Yet this is precisely what the scientism of atheistic socialism rejects, in effect decapitating humanity and civilization. In place of the human soul, liberal-socialism gives us the totalitarianism of Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, and Mao, whose iron-handed political state seizes control of every aspect of our personal lives.
For Plato and Aristotle, as for King Solomon six centuries earlier, the best political regime is one governed by moral precepts in which the leaders seek divine guidance by opening their souls, or in Biblical language, softening their hearts, to rule decently and justly, in accord with the precepts of Divine morality.
This is the opposite of liberal-socialism’s preoccupation with condemning the God-given human condition and hubristically presuming to right all wrongs on earth, to control the weather of the entire earth, and to transform human nature through purely materialistic measures.
Thomas E. Brewton is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets. His weblog is THE VIEW FROM 1776 (www.thomasbrewton.com)
Thomas E. Brewton is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.