This past week while reading Ecclesiastes, we encountered one of the most popular Bible verses in the Old Testament, and a very personal favorite of mine. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 has always been a very reassuring section of poetry for generations of Bible readers. In what ways have others conneted these famous lines?
To start off, “Turn! Turn! Turn! (to Everything There Is a Season)” a song written by Pete Seeger features the poetic lines of Ecc. 3:1-8 adapted into lyrics. The most famous version of the song, a cover by the influential 60’s, American rock band The Byrds, has been featured in Forest Gump the movie and the opening 12-string guitar chords are very recognizable. We mentioned it in class, and for those of you unfamiliar by name, check it out:
In an Interview with Pete by Wendy Schuman, when questioned about the popular lyrical adaptations, he states: “I was leafing through it when I came on that poem. I just leafed through it by chance. Maybe God led me to it. Who knows?”
Similarly, Donnie McClurkin, an accomplished gospel musician, states that it was God who started showing him things in the Bible. In an extended interview with PBS, he cites these verses in Ecclesiastes as a great turning point in his understanding and dealing with love and hate, after struggling with many difficult circumstances in his lifetime. Members of the Glenwood Christian Fellowship, who read the entire Bible in 90 days, stated that it was also very comforting to encounter familiar passages, such as the Ecclesiastes poem among many verses they were not so familiar with while reading.
Stephen Prothero, a religion scholar at Boston University, uses the first line of the chapter in an article regarding contemporary U.S. economics to argue that now is indeed not the time to worry about certain, financially minor problems amongst the growing economic crisis that is the national debt. Along the political lines, politicians such as Senator Trent Lott and Senator Joe Lieberman both separately use the Ecclesiastes verse to justify their retirement within the political realm.
In The Capital’s “House of the Week”, writer Wendi Winters strategically provides allusions to both the verses, as well as the Byrds’ song. She felt it described the transformation of Eric and Jodi Pika’s home successfully. In other ways, as Klint Lowry writes about a hospice program involved with the youth, the lines can be closely related understanding the passing of loved ones and many of nature’s ways.
In a collection of words of comfort posted in the Seatle Times, the verses in Ecclesiastes are placed among a series of other infamous quotes from cultures are the world, including Buddhism, Sioux prayer and even Shakespeare. Due to its extremely encompassing subject “a time for everything”, justification for its constant usage and illusion can easily be understood.