Reason for Being

One measure of a book's quality is the enjoyment I feel while reading it. Another, related, factor is my absorption in reading it (how thoroughly I lose track of time, for example). Another measure is how much underlining (or highlighting) and note-taking I do while reading. Still another is how it shifts or expands my thinking, understanding, and/or perspective. Another is how long and vividly I recall its words, scenes, etc., after reading it.

In all these respects, Reason for Being: A Meditation on Ecclesiastes by the French philosopher Jacques Ellul (translated from the French by Joyce Main Hanks) is among the best.

I don't often read books like this (I'm not that smart). Still less often do I read them to the end, savoring every page, every passage. But such was the case with Reason for Being. I made so many notes, it took six pages, single-spaced, to transcribe them all for my records.

Ellul's depth and breadth of thought and insight on Ecclesiastes, the Bible's most enigmatic book, amazed and delighted me. I learned much more than I expected.

It is a wise and profound book about a book that warns against writing books...or expecting to find reason and wisdom "under the sun." Quite an accomplishment!

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