Chasing after the Wind

C. S. Lewis’s book, Till We Have Faces, is very similar to another one of my favorite books, Ecclesiastes.  The reason I like both is they so eloquently describe the human condition.  To understand the world and our place in this world, it is critical that we understand ourselves.  As Lucian of Samosata says, “the only study of mankind is man”. [1]

One lesson both books teach us is that we most often pursue what is unimportant.  Orual states that we do and do and do but then asks:  Does all our doing really matter? [2]  We learn and learn and learn but does it really change anything?  We acquire and acquire and acquire but are we any happier?  If we honestly look at our lives, much of our lives are a “senseless repetitions of days and nights and seasons and years”. [2]

As Ecclesiastes says:

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.  Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”?  It has been already in the ages before us.  There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to be among those who come after. [3]

The author of Ecclesiastes discovered we humans consistently chase after things that do not matter.  We seek pleasure, wisdom, wealth, and honor but ultimately they are immaterial.  We are so good at ignoring what is important and emphasizing the irrelevant.

We pursue advancing our technology because it can and has helped to relieve so much suffering in our world but it has also brought so much pain.  Through our technology we can eliminate starvation in our world but through our technology we kill millions in our struggles for power.  Our technology is not the answer; it is just a tool.  What matters is the use to which we put our technology and that is determined by the type of person we are.

After the Preacher had heard and experienced all, his conclusion was that our main duty is to “Fear God and keep his commandments. . .” [4]  It is our moral choices that determine what type of person we are and will become.  And who we are will determine the world in which we live.


[1]   H. W. Fowler and F. G. Fowler, Works of Lucian of Samosata, Vol. 1, Public Domain Books, Kindle edition, Location 375.

[2]   C. S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces (San Diego:  Harcourt Brace & Company, 1956), p. 236.

[3]   Ecclesiastes 1:9-11 ESV

[4]   Ecclesiastes 12:13 ESV

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