Nothing New Under the Sun: An Excerpt

NNUTS coverAn excerpt from the first chapter of my recently released book, Nothing New Under the Sun: A Blunt Paraphrase of Ecclesiastes:

Chapter One

Privileged, loved, educated, wealthy, this is what I saw: emptiness, futility, vanity. Everything is ephemeral. Everything crumbles to dust in your hands. Everything passes away. There is no escape.

What good does it do to work hard and get ahead? Whole generations are born, suffer, work themselves to exhaustion, and die with nothing to show for it—all while the world spins in place, unmoved by their coming or going. The sun rises, the sun sets, and then it rises again. The winds, indifferent, rush past. Rivers empty endlessly into a sea that will never be full.

All of this, relentless, repeats again and again. It uses me up. No matter how many stories I’m told or how much beauty I see, it’s never enough. I’m still left wanting more.

The present repeats the past and the future repeats the present. Nothing is new. Nothing on God’s green earth or under God’s blue sky—nothing under the sun—moves us to shout: “Look, it’s new!” Everything is an iteration of what went before. Things only seem new because our memories are short. No one remembers what happened last week, let alone last year. We forget everything and our children remember even less.

I ruled in Israel. I made things happen and got things done. I pledged my heart to understanding what God requires. I considered all the things that people build and achieve and, in the end, I was forced to confess their futility. God has given us nothing but busywork. All our efforts only lead in a circle. Nothing changes. Everything is empty and futile and vain. Two steps forward and three steps back.

Time erodes every gain—and time cannot be stopped. Trying to stop time is like trying to bottle the wind. The wind cannot be bottled. What is crooked cannot be made straight. The holes in our hearts can never be filled.

Then I thought: but I’m special, the normal rules don’t apply. I’m smarter and stronger than other people. I can see more clearly and I’ve read more books. What wisdom there is, I’ve gathered it. So I tried to determine what advantage wisdom had given me over madmen and fools—but, again, it was futile. There’s no lasting difference I can tell. All of my learning has only made me feel more alone. My wisdom is all hot air. More knowledge just means more heartache.

3 comments for “Nothing New Under the Sun: An Excerpt

  1. Has there ever been a time when there was no discrimination in society? No racism, no sexism, equal opportunity for all, at least under the law. Many countries are close to this now.
    I think this is new.

  2. Why would I buy a book called “Nothing New Under the Sun”? Sounds like a rehash :)

  3. I stood on the beach with the early morning sun on my back and my surfboard in my hand gazing out on the 6 – 8 foot waves churning up white water in the foreground of an indigo blue sea. This was a new day. There were other days before this day but not exactly like this day. I had built up my skills over 5 years and now, at 15, there was the anticipation of something new. I was going out in perfect conditions to *create* something I had never done before; to concur the waves that I knew so well; to do something new that only existed in my mind. Someone else may have done something similar to what I was going to do, but I had not.

    I paddled in from the peak and dropped in to a glassy wave going left. I pulled up into the middle of the face and ducked down as the wave curled over my head for several seconds. I heard the sound of the wave change signifying I was encircled in a tube of water. The wave at my heels collapsed and a rush of wind and water spit me out onto an open face. Part of the wave in front of me already broke, but instead of kicking out as I usually did, I went up over the top of the white water and dropped a good 6 feet down into the white water and managed to stay on my board. I skirted under the white water to get back onto a clear face and continued my ride.

    I had that wave wired. There are tons of new things under the sun for me every day.

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