“Woody Wednesday” ECCLESIASTES AND WOODY ALLEN’S FILMS: SOLOMON “WOULD GOT ALONG WELL WITH WOODY!” (Part 27 MIDNIGHT IN PARIS Part Z Ernest Hemingway 15th part Summing up Mark Twain “People ought to start dead, and they would be honest so much earlier” )

HEMINGWAY:You like Mark Twain?

GIL PENDER:I’m actually a huge Mark Twain fan.I think you can even make the case that all modern American literature comes from Huckleberry Finn.-

I think we never become really and genuinely our entire and honest selves until we are dead–and not then until we have been dead years and years. People ought to start dead, and they would be honest so much earlier.
Mark Twain in Eruption

This quote by Mark Twain reminds me of Ecclesiastes 7:1-4

A good name is better than precious ointment,
    and the day of death than the day of birth.
It is better to go to the house of mourning
    than to go to the house of feasting,
for this is the end of all mankind,
    and the living will lay it to heart.
Sorrow is better than laughter,
    for by sadness of face the heart is made glad.
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
    but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.

UP! Carl & Ellie

Favorite Pixar’s Up scene ever – Ellie and Carl’s relationship through time, Sad scene

Then I thought of an article by  called Living With Adversity (Ecclesiastes 6:10-7:14) March 06, 2011 and here is the first portion of the that article:

A couple of years ago I took my son to see the Pixar animated movie Up about the last adventure of a 78-year-old balloon salesman named Carl Fredricksen. I thought I was going to see a fun story. I wasn’t prepared for one poignant, four-minute scene.

The scene is wordless. The vignette starts with a brief glimpse of Carl and Ellie’s wedding day, and then moves to their first home and first jobs. The couple race up a grassy hill together, then look up at the sky and imagine pictures forming in the clouds. Then the clouds are all shaped like babies, and then Carl and Ellie are painting a nursery together. It’s an idyllic look at young love and marriage.

But this isn’t an idyllic life. The scene shifts to Carl and Ellie in a hospital room with pre-natal diagrams on the walls. A doctor is talking and gesturing. Ellie is weeping into her hands. Next, Carl comforts his wife by reminding her of an old dream they shared when they were children—traveling to a place called Paradise Falls together. Rejuvenated, Ellie creates a dream jar labeled “Paradise Falls,” and into the jar goes all of the young couple’s spare money.

Again, however, life happens. First their car pops a tire. Then Carl visits the hospital. Then a tree falls and damages the roof of their home. Each of these inconveniences necessitates the dream jar be smashed and the money spent. Soon, Carl and Ellie have gray in their hair. And in a flash they become elderly.

Near the end of the vignette, Carl remembers their dream of visiting Paradise Falls, and he purchases two tickets from a travel agency. But Ellie collapses on her way back up the grassy hill from their youth. We see her in a hospital bed, with Carl holding her hand and kissing her forehead. Then we see Carl sitting alone at the front of a church. He holds a solitary balloon in his hand. The vignette closes as Carl carries the balloon into his house, which has turned cold and gray. The balloon is a lone spot of color against the gloom, and then everything fades to black. In four minutes you see a lifetime come and go.

It’s a wonderful triumph of filmmaking. But more importantly, the series of clips and scenes is a portrayal of the human story. Our lives are fun, deep, tragic, and tender. But they are also brief—”a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14). The scene ends, and you’re left thinking about the brevity of your life. It’s brief, filled with both tenderness and tragedy. How do we live in a world that’s short and filled with so much beauty, but also so much that’s tragic and out of our control?

That’s exactly what the book of Ecclesiastes is about. We’re at the midpoint of the book. Let me give you the abridged version of what the Teacher has examined so far. He’s examined life to try to find meaning. He’s looked at all the ways that we try to find meaning and fulfillment in life – pleasure, work, riches, and even social justice – and he’s found that none of them provide the meaning we’re looking for. He calls it all vanity. Everything, the writer says, is fleeting, elusive, and very temporary.

That’s been the message of the book so far. We’re now in the second half of the book. The second half of Ecclesiastes is about the conclusions that the Teacher is drawing. Given that we can’t find meaning in pleasure, work, or riches, how then should we live?


The problem is put in stark terms in 6:10-12:

Whatever has come to be has already been named, and it is known what man is, and that he is not able to dispute with one stronger than he. The more words, the more vanity, and what is the advantage to man? For who knows what is good for man while he lives the few days of his vain life, which he passes like a shadow? For who can tell man what will be after him UNDER THE SUN? (Ecclesiastes 6:10-12)

Here’s what the Teacher is saying. The future, he says, is largely determined by God. God is sovereign; his will prevails. Whatever happens has already been determined by God in the past. We are so weak that we are not able to contend with God about his will. God is the powerful Creator; he is in control; we are mere creatures who cannot dispute with the sovereign Lord of the universe. We don’t know what’s coming. We don’t even know what’s good for us. The things that we think are good for us are often bad; the things we think are bad often end up being good for us. What’s more, we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Will tomorrow be a good day? Or will tomorrow be a day of adversity? We don’t know. Will we be happy? Or will we be mourning? We don’t know. The future is hidden, and we’re not in control. How then do we live?


He’s been saying that God is in control of our lives, and not us. We can’t argue with God’s purposes, and we don’t even know what’s good for us. So how do we live when we’re not in control, and adversity may be coming our way? In chapter 7, the Teacher gives us the answer. He gives us three examples of things that could come our way that might be bad, and then argues that they’re actually good. The main point he’s making in this passage is this: God is in control, so look for what’s best even in what looks bad. There are two things that we normally think are bad, and that could come our way, but the Teacher says they can actually be good. These two things are death, and rebuke,  Nobody would choose to experience these two things, but the Teacher says that they are actually better than if we avoid them.

First, death. Read verses 1-4 of chapter 7:

A good name is better than precious ointment,
and the day of death than the day of birth.
It is better to go to the house of mourning
than to go to the house of feasting,
for this is the end of all mankind,
and the living will lay it to heart.
Sorrow is better than laughter,
for by sadness of face the heart is made glad.
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.

Here, the Teacher says, thinking about our death is better than living in denial. This is surprising at first. We can understand the first part of verse 1: “A good name is better than precious ointment.” Nobody would debate that. You know the value of a good name. You can buy ointment; you can’t buy a good name. But then he says that in the same way, the day of death is better than the day of birth. How does that make sense? One would think that there’s more joy at a birth than there is at a death. He goes on to say in verse 2 that it’s better to go to a house of mourning than to a house of feasting. Is it really better to go to a funeral home than to a wedding reception? Few would say so. Then the Teacher gives us the reason why this is so: “for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.”

Here’s the reason: because we can’t afford to live in denial of death. Everything in us wants to believe that we’ll never die. It’s so easy to buy into this, and there are a lot of products at Shoppers Drug Mart that will help you perpetuate this belief. We can’t afford to live in denial about the fact that our life is short, and that we will die.

A family from our church visited a crypt (Capuchin Crypt) in Rome this past summer. The crypt displays the skeletal remains of over four thousand bodies of its friars buried in its order. At first they were scandalized by this. As they were leaving the crypt, they came across a sign that explained the display: “What you are now we used to be; what we are now you will be.” All of a sudden it made sense. The display is a silent reminder that this is our future too.

Charles Spurgeon said this about death:

It is much nearer to us than we think. To those of you who have passed fifty, sixty, or 70 years of age, it must, of necessity, be very near. To others of us who are in the prime of life, it is not far off, for I suppose we are all conscious that time flies more swiftly with us, now, than it ever did. The years of our youth seem to have been twice as long as the years are, now, that we are men. It was but yesterday that the buds began to swell and burst—and now the leaves are beginning to fall and soon we shall be expecting to see old winter taking up his accustomed place. The years whirl along so fast that we cannot see the months which, as it were, make the spokes of the wheel! The whole thing travels so swiftly that the axle thereof grows hot with speed. We are flying, as on some mighty eagle’s wing, swiftly on towards eternity. Let us, then, talk about preparing to die. It is the greatest thing we have to do—and we have to do it soon—so let us talk and think something about it.

You’re not in control of your life, and you wouldn’t choose to encounter death. But it’s a good thing, because it keeps us from living in denial about our own future death, says the Teacher.

But there’s more. There’s a second thing that we’d rather avoid, but that can be very good for us.

Second, rebuke.

In verses 3 and 4, the Teacher has already told us that sorrow is a better teacher for us than laughter. Verses 5 and 6 continue this theme:

It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise
than to hear the song of fools.
For as the crackling of thorns under a pot,
so is the laughter of the fools;
this also is vanity.

The Teacher is drawing a contrast. On one hand you have boisterous laughter, the songs and the laughter of fools. You can picture the silly laughter of a group of friends who have had a bit too much to drink, or the locker room antics of a bunch of guys acting goofy. He compares this to the sound of crackling thorns under the pot – in Hebrew it’s a rhyme, sort of like saying that it sounds like “nettles crackling under kettles” (Phil Ryken). If you burn thorns, it will make a lot of noise, but it won’t last long, and it won’t give much heat. You can laugh and sing at a party, but it’s not likely that you’ll learn anything.

On the other hand, the Teacher says, is the rebuke of the wise. If you had to choose between door number one (laughter and singing) and door number two (the rebuke of the wise), which would you choose? The Teacher says that it’s far better to hear the rebuke of the wise. We need this. The rebuke of the wise can save our souls.

Adrian Rogers in his sermon on hell talked more about this issue of A KIND REBUKE:

It makes no difference if all the scholars, preachers, scientists, statesmen, politicians and liberal theologians put together say there is no Hell, it wouldn’t change one letter of what the Word of God says.

Often the minister who preaches on Hell is accused of being unloving. With a sneer the world loves to call him a “hell-fire and damnation preacher.” The late, great Dr. Robert G. Lee said,

I know some people call the preacher who stands squarely upon the teaching of Christ and His apostles narrow, harsh, and cruel. As to being narrow, I have no desire to any broader than was Jesus. As to being cruel, is it cruel to tell a man the truth? Is a man to be called cruel who declares the whole counsel of God and points out to men their danger? Is it cruel to arouse sleeping people to the fact that the house is on fire? Is it cruel to jerk a blind man away from the rattlesnake in the coil? Is it cruel to declare to people the deadliness of disease and tell them which medicine to take? I had rather be called cruel for being kind, than to be called kind for being cruel.

The cruelest thing we could do would be to fail to warn people about Hell and what the Bible has to say about it. To ridicule a preacher who warns of Hell is like ridiculing a doctor who warns of cancer. Hell is not a pleasant subject, but it is a reality.

Sometimes it can be a shocking reality. Each day we hear of someone who met a sudden, unexpected death. In a recent news event, one minute people were alive and well and the next split second they were in eternity, facing Almighty God. For many of us, death is not way out there in the future. The only thing between some people and a literal, burning Hell is a heartbeat. Thank God, between me and Hell is the cross of Jesus Christ.

Between May 1889 and August 1890 Mark Twain wrote the witticism in one of his notebooks. A footnote to Twain’s entry states “Clemens included this anecdote in a political speech of 1901.” So Twain did use the remark before an audience. The entry is close to another entry dated February 1, 1890 [MTN3]:

Dying man couldn’t make up his mind which place to go to—both have their advantages, “heaven for climate, hell for company!”

Five Minutes After Death

Luke 16:19-31 (Program: 2217, Air date: 06.28.2015)

    1. Man is the only creature who knows that he is going to die, and he is trying desperately to forget it.
    2. No one is ever ready for life until he is no longer afraid of death.
    3. Humanity seems more interested in the origin of the species rather than the destination of the species.
    4. There was a time when you were not, but there will never be a time when you will not be. Your soul will continue to exist either in Heaven or in Hell.
    5. Jesus told a story in Luke 16 that deals with the three great issues we all face: life, death and eternity.
      1. This is a story of contrasts. Jesus tells of the contrasts between two men in their lives, deaths and destinies.
  1. A CONTRAST IN LIFE (Luke 16:19-21)
    1. The rich man and Lazarus the beggar described in Luke 16 were very different.
    2. Life is full of inequities.
      1. Congenital inequities
        1. We are born with inequities.
        2. We are each born with different gifts and abilities.
      2. Material inequities
        1. Some are born into great wealth; others are not.
        2. Psalm 62:10
      3. Social inequities
        1. Those who are rich and those who are poor are often perceived differently.
  1. A CONTRAST IN DEATH (Luke 16:22)
    1. Both the poor man and the rich man died.
    2. The Bible states that the rich man died and was buried.
    3. The Bible doesn’t say that the beggar was buried. The beggars of that day were often discarded when they died without a proper burial.
    4. 1 Samuel 20:3
  1. A CONTRAST IN ETERNITY (Luke 16:22-23)
    1. The beggar died and was carried by the angels to Heaven.
      1. Heaven is referred to in this passage as “Abraham’s bosom.”
      2. The man who had been feeding on crumbs is now feasting at a banquet at the highest place of honor.
      3. The glories of Heaven:
        1. Heaven is all that the all-beneficent loving heart of God would desire for you, all that the omniscient mind of God could design for you, and all that the omnipotent hand of God could prepare for you.
        2. Heaven will be just right.
    2. The Bible says that the rich man was in torments.
      1. Many scoff at those who believe in Hell. Mark Twain is reported to have said, “Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company.” But the Bible teaches it and gives other examples of those who were mocked for proclaiming God’s Word.
        1. Noah Genesis 7:22
        2. Lot Genesis 19:24-25
        3. Daniel Daniel 5:30
        4. 1 Peter 1:25
      2. Why I believe in Hell:
        1. The words of Jesus teach it.
          1. There are at least 162 texts in the New Testament that speak of Hell and the judgment of the lost. Over 70 of these texts are issued by Jesus Himself.
          2. Matthew 5:29-30
        2. The death of Jesus demonstrates it.
          1. If there is no Hell from which we need to be saved, then why did Jesus die?
        3. The justice of God demands it.
          1. There must be a time when things are made right.
      3. The agonies of Hell:
        1. What will Hell be like?
          1. It is a place of sensual misery.
            1. Luke 16:23-25
            2. Matthew 25:41
          1. It is a place of emotional misery.
            1. Luke 16:25
            2. One will remember in Hell.
          2. It is a place of eternal misery.
            1. Luke 16:26
            2. Hebrews 9:27
          3. It is a place of spiritual misery.
            1. Luke 16:27-29
            2. Once in Hell, the rich man was concerned about his loved ones’ spiritual destiny; but it was too late for him to warn them.
    1. Don’t put off salvation. Acknowledge Jesus as your Lord today.
    2. Romans 10:9-10
    3. Romans 10:13

This series deals with the Book of Ecclesiastes and Woody Allen films.  The first post  dealt with MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT and it dealt with the fact that in the Book of Ecclesiastes Solomon does contend like Hobbes  and Stanley that life is “nasty, brutish and short” and as a result has no meaning UNDER THE SUN.

The movie MIDNIGHT IN PARIS offers many of the same themes we see in Ecclesiastes. The second post looked at the question: WAS THERE EVER A GOLDEN AGE AND DID THE MOST TALENTED UNIVERSAL MEN OF THAT TIME FIND TRUE SATISFACTION DURING IT?

In the third post in this series we discover in Ecclesiastes that man UNDER THE SUN finds himself caught in the never ending cycle of birth and death. The SURREALISTS make a leap into the area of nonreason in order to get out of this cycle and that is why the scene in MIDNIGHT IN PARIS with Salvador Dali, Man Ray, and Luis Bunuel works so well!!!! These surrealists look to the area of their dreams to find a meaning for their lives and their break with reality is  only because they know that they can’t find a rational meaning in life without God in the picture.

The fourth post looks at the solution of WINE, WOMEN AND SONG and the fifth and sixth posts look at the solution T.S.Eliot found in the Christian Faith and how he left his fragmented message of pessimism behind. In the seventh post the SURREALISTS say that time and chance is all we have but how can that explain love or art and the hunger for God? The eighth  post looks at the subject of DEATH both in Ecclesiastes and MIDNIGHT IN PARIS. In the ninth post we look at the nihilistic worldview of Woody Allen and why he keeps putting suicides into his films.

In the tenth post I show how Woody Allen pokes fun at the brilliant thinkers of this world and how King Solomon did the same thing 3000 years ago. In the eleventh post I point out how many of Woody Allen’s liberal political views come a lack of understanding of the sinful nature of man and where it originated. In the twelfth post I look at the mannishness of man and vacuum in his heart that can only be satisfied by a relationship with God.

In the thirteenth post we look at the life of Ernest Hemingway as pictured in MIDNIGHT AND PARIS and relate it to the change of outlook he had on life as the years passed. In the fourteenth post we look at Hemingway’s idea of Paris being a movable  feast. The fifteenth and sixteenth posts both compare Hemingway’s statement, “Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know…”  with Ecclesiastes 2:18 “For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.” The seventeenth post looks at these words Woody Allen put into Hemingway’s mouth,  “We fear death because we feel that we haven’t loved well enough or loved at all.”

In MIDNIGHT IN PARIS Hemingway and Gil Pender talk about their literary idol Mark Twain and the eighteenth post is summed up nicely by Kris Hemphill‘swords, “Both Twain and [King Solomon in the Book of Ecclesiastes] voice questions our souls long to have answered: Where does one find enduring meaning, life purpose, and sustainable joy, and why do so few seem to find it? The nineteenth post looks at the tension felt both in the life of Gil Pender (written by Woody Allen) in the movie MIDNIGHT IN PARIS and in Mark Twain’s life and that is when an atheist says he wants to scoff at the idea THAT WE WERE PUT HERE FOR A PURPOSE but he must stay face the reality of  Ecclesiastes 3:11 that says “God has planted eternity in the heart of men…” and  THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING! Therefore, the secular view that there is no such thing as love or purpose looks implausible. The twentieth post examines how Mark Twain discovered just like King Solomon in the Book of Ecclesiastes that there is no explanation  for the suffering and injustice that occurs in life UNDER THE SUN. Solomon actually brought God back into the picture in the last chapter and he looked  ABOVE THE SUN for the books to be balanced and for the tears to be wiped away.

The twenty-first post looks at the words of King Solomon, Woody Allen and Mark Twain that without God in the picture our lives UNDER THE SUN will accomplish nothing that lasts. The twenty-second post looks at King Solomon’s experiment 3000 years that proved that luxuries can’t bring satisfaction to one’s life but we have seen this proven over and over through the ages. Mark Twain lampooned the rich in his book “The Gilded Age” and he discussed  get rich quick fever, but Sam Clemens loved money and the comfort and luxuries it could buy. Likewise Scott Fitzgerald  was very successful in the 1920’s after his publication of THE GREAT GATSBY and lived a lavish lifestyle until his death in 1940 as a result of alcoholism.


In the twenty-third post we look at Mark Twain’s statement that people should either commit suicide or stay drunk if they are “demonstrably wise” and want to “keep their reasoning faculties.” We actually see this play out in the film MIDNIGHT IN PARIS with the character Zelda Fitzgerald. In the twenty-fourth, twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth posts I look at Mark Twain and the issue of racism. In MIDNIGHT IN PARIS we see the difference between the attitudes concerning race in 1925 Paris and the rest of the world.

The twenty-seventh and twenty-eighth posts are summing up Mark Twain.


There are many variations of the “report of my death” quote. The original note was written May 1897:

death note


It has been reported that I was seriously ill–it was another man; dying–it was another man; dead–the other man again…As far as I can see, nothing remains to be reported, except that I have become a foreigner. When you hear it, don’t you believe it. And don’t take the trouble to deny it. Merely just raise the American flag on our house in Hartford and let it talk.
– Letter to Frank E. Bliss, 11/4/1897

Death is the starlit strip between the companionship of yesterday and the reunion of tomorrow.
– on monument erected to Mark Twain & Ossip Gabrilowitsch

All say, “How hard it is that we have to die”– a strange complaint to come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson and the Comedy of the Extraordinary Twins

Whoever has lived long enough to find out what life is, knows how deep a debt of gratitude we owe to Adam, the first great benefactor of our race. He brought death into the world.
The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson and the Comedy of the Extraordinary Twins

The Impartial Friend: Death, the only immortal who treats us all alike, whose pity and whose peace and whose refuge are for all–the soiled and the pure, the rich and the poor, the loved and the unloved.
– Mark Twain, last written statement; Moments with Mark Twain, Paine

Pity is for the living, envy is for the dead.
Following the Equator

Death, the refuge, the solace, the best and kindliest and most prized friend and benefactor of the erring, the forsaken, the old and weary and broken of heart.
– Adam speech, 1883

Life was not a valuable gift, but death was. Life was a fever-dream made up of joys embittered by sorrows, pleasure poisoned by pain; a dream that was a nightmare-confusion of spasmodic and fleeting delights, ecstasies, exultations, happinesses, interspersed with long-drawn miseries, griefs, perils, horrors, disappointments, defeats,humiliations, and despairs–the heaviest curse devisable by divine ingenuity; but death was sweet, death was gentle, death was kind; death healed the bruised spirit and the broken heart, and gave them rest and forgetfulness; death was man’s best friend; when man could endure life no longer, death came and set him free.
Letters from the Earth

Manifestly, dying is nothing to a really great and brave man.
– Letter to Olivia Clemens, 7/1/1885 (referring to General Grant)

It is a solemn thought: dead, the noblest man’s meat is inferior to pork.
More Maxims of Mark, Johnson, 1927

[I am] not sorry for anybody who is granted the privilege of prying behind the curtain to see if there is any contrivance that is half so shabby and poor and foolish as the invention of mortal life.
– Letter to Mary Mason Fairbanks, 1894


To die one’s self is a thing that must be easy, & light of consequence; but to lose a part of one’s self–well, we know how deep that pang goes, we who have suffered that disaster, received that wound which cannot heal.
– Letter to Will Bowen, 11/4/1888

Favored above Kings and Emperors is the stillborn child.
– Notebook, #42 1898

All people have had ill luck, but Jairus’s daughter & Lazarus the worst.
– Notebook #42, 1898

No real estate is permanently valuable but the grave.
– Notebook #42, 1898

Death is so kind, so benignant, to whom he loves; but he goes by us others & will not look our way.
– Letter to W. D. Howells, 12/20/1898

A distinguished man should be as particular about his last words as he is about his last breath. He should write them out on a slip of paper and take the judgment of his friends on them. He should never leave such a thing to the last hour of his life, and trust to an intellectual spurt at the last moment to enable him to say something smart with his latest gasp and launch into eternity with grandeur.
– “The Last Words of Great Men”, 1869

Death….a great Leveler — a king before whose tremendous majesty shades & differences in littleness cannot be discerned — an Alp from whose summit all small things are the same size.
– Letter to Olivia Clemens, 10/15/1871

editorial cartoon
Editorial cartoon from Baltimiore American, April 23, 1910 following Mark Twain’s death featuring a grieving Uncle Sam.

The Life Of Mark Twain


The Characters referenced in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” (Part 4 Ernest Hemingway)

The Characters referenced in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” (Part 3 Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald)

The Characters referenced in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” (Part 2 Cole Porter)

The Characters referenced in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” (Part 1 William Faulkner)

MUSIC MONDAY Cole Porter “Let’s Do it, Let’s Fall in Love” in the movie MIDNIGHT IN PARIS




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