Ignorance is bliss

Started reading Ecclesiastes today. I often feel this is the most depressing book in the Bible. There is no real hope here, so I am hoping to be surprised by it, to read it anew.

1:18: “For in much wisdom is much vexation, and those who increase knowledge increase sorrow.”

I like learning new things. I like the idea of God granting wisdom. I tend to believe that God wants us to learn and grow. I also tend to think that God is omniscient (knows all), but that God is joyful and wants us to be joyful. The writer of Ecclesiastes bothers me. He tells us “the more you know, the less joy you’ll have” and I don’t believe him.

Yet, the more I learn about the world, the sadder I am in one respect. I remember not really knowing about hunger, and then doing the 30 hour famine as a teenager and being sadder at the world. I remember not knowing about the connections between consumption in the northern/western world and deprivation in the so called “developing” world, and be happier. It gets sad when we learn about the state of our world. With more knowledge comes more sorrow.

This might be the end of the story for Ecclesiastes (maybe not – I’ve only just read chapter 1), but this is certainly not the end of the story for Christians. There is huge hope. For me, it often seems that the bigger the problem, the more blown away I am by what God did in Jesus Christ in redeeming the world – not just the poor and the oppressed, but even the oppressor, even the ones who pollute, who put down, who destroy, who are complacent, who would rather turn a blind eye, who long for the ignorance of former days, even me.

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