“Woody Wednesday” ECCLESIASTES AND WOODY ALLEN’S FILMS: SOLOMON “WOULD GOT ALONG WELL WITH WOODY!” (Part 28 MIDNIGHT IN PARIS Ernest Hemingway 16th part Summing up Mark Twain )

Today summing up Mark Twain’s life and drawing comparisons to Solomon and Gil Pender.

Mark Twain at his "Stormfield" home in Redding.

Mark Twain at his “Stormfield” home in Redding.

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.-

In the movie MIDNIGHT IN PARIS we see the lead character Gil Pender unsatisfied in his life and he had achieved fame and riches in his life but he is still looking for the GOLDEN AGE to bring him satisfaction. As the film develops Gil realizes that life itself is unsatisfying no matter when you live  and he describes the world as existing “in this  cold, violent, meaningless universe.” Mark Twain seemed to have that same experience in his life. Today we will look back over all the posts done in the last few weeks on Mark Twain and sum them all up.

 

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.”

The Life Of Mark Twain

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.

Francis Schaeffer noted that King Solomon took a look at the meaning of life on the basis of human life standing alone between birth and death “under the sun.” This phrase UNDER THE SUN appears over and over in Ecclesiastes. The Christian Scholar Ravi Zacharias noted, “The key to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes is the term UNDER THE SUN — What that literally means is you lock God out of a closed system and you are left with only this world of Time plus Chance plus matter.”

(Francis Schaeffer pictured below)

Mark Twain was searching for meaning in life in what I call the 6 big L words just like King Solomon did in the Book of Ecclesiastes. He looked into  learning (1:16-18), laughter, ladies, luxuries,  and liquor (2:1-3, 8, 10, 11), and labor (2:4-6, 18-20).

Ecclesiastes 2:4-11 English Standard Version (ESV)

I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. 8 I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines,[a]the delight of the sons of man.

So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. 10 And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. 11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained UNDER THE SUN.

In this passage  we see Solomon amassing great wealth, and having many women, and increasing his learning and building more than any King of Israel before him and when he concluded, “Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained UNDER THE SUN.” 

Solomon expresses his despair and pessimism  because of his search for meaning and satisfaction UNDER THE SUN without God in the picture. (In chapter 12 of Ecclesiastes he brings God back in the picture). Mark Twain also tried life as an agnostic and he too was a pessimist and even a nihilist because of his experiences in life UNDER THE SUN without God in the picture.

The man who is a pessimist before 48 knows too much; if he is an optimist after it, he knows too little….There is no sadder sight than a young pessimist, except an old optimist.
Mark Twain’s Notebook, 1902-1903

In the paper, “The development of pessimism in the works of Mark Twain,” Jan Therese Smith asserts:

Twain is a figure of exceptionally wide significance in relation to the issue of pessimism as a general tendency in the 19th century. In part, this is because of the explicitness with which Twain expresses his growing pessimism. In this he resembles Tolstoy, for by the end of their careers both writers had reached a position of explicit, cosmic pessimism; a position registered particularly forcefully by their readers because it seems, at least superficially, to contrast sharply with their best known works – Anna Karenina and Huckleberry Finn – which are particularly beloved by all readers for their rendering of some of the simplest and most deeply felt of life’s pleasures and values. But in what his pessimism reveals about the times in which he lived Twain is of more direct significance than Tolstoy. For although his later years were marked by exceptional difficulties and sorrows in his personal life, it is not in terms of private suffering that he develops his pessimistic outlook, but in terms of his beliefs about nature and society.

Shortly before his death Mark Twain wrote in his autobiography:

Men are born; they labor and sweat and struggle for bread;… age creeps upon them; infirmities follow; those they love are taken from them, and the joy of life is turned to aching grief… Death comes at last—the only unpoisoned gift earth ever had for them—and they vanish from a world which will lament them a day and forget them forever.1

Let me show you some inescapable conclusions if you choose to live without God in the picture. Solomon came to these same conclusions when he looked at life “UNDER THE SUN.”

  1. Death is the great equalizer (Eccl 3:20, “All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.”)
  2. Chance and time have determined the past, and they will determine the future.  (Ecclesiastes 9:11-13)
  3. Power reigns in this life, and the scales are not balanced(Eccl 4:1)
  4. Nothing in life gives true satisfaction without God including knowledge (1:16-18), ladies and liquor (2:1-3, 8, 10, 11), and great building projects (2:4-6, 18-20).

Mark Twain said of his daughter Susy:

The summer seasons of Susy’s childhood were spent at Quarry Farm, on the hills east of Elmira, New York; the other seasons of the year at the home in Hartford. Like other children, she was blithe and happy, fond of play; unlike the average of children, she was at times much given to retiring within herself, and TRYING TO SEARCH OUT THE HIDDEN MEANINGS OF THE DEEP THINGS THAT MAKE THE PUZZLE AND PATHOS OF HUMAN EXISTENCE, AND IN THE AGES HAVE BAFFLED THE INQUIRER AND MOCKED HIM.

In his autobiography Twain wrote,   “Mamma, what is it all for?” asked Susy, preliminary stating the above details in her own halting language, after long brooding over them alone in the privacy of the nursery.”

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born . . . and the day you find out why.    — Mark Twain”

(Mark Twain below with his family in 1884)

In his article “The Incomparable and Unending Mark Twain,” Vincent Valentine wrote:

Olivia Susan Clemens died of spinal meningitis. She was only 24 years old. Just as he held himself guilty for his younger brother’s death, just as he had blamed himself for the loss of his 19-month old son Langdon in 1872, Clemens now blamed himself for Susy’s death. The strain of his bankruptcy and the world lecture tour that tore his family apart were his own doings, and he was sure that together they had killed his beloved daughter. Meanwhile Livy was on a boat halfway across the Atlantic still unaware of Susy’s death. It was August 19, 1896 when he poured his heart out into a stream of letters to his wife.

Dearest Livy,
Oh my heartbroken darling. No not heartbroken yet for you still do not know. But what tidings are in store for you. What a bitter world, what a shameful world it is. I love you my darling. I wish you could have been spared this unutterable sorrow.
Samuel

Dearest Livy,
I have spent the day alone thinking bitter thoughts, sometimes only sad ones, reproaching myself for laying the foundation of all our troubles. Reproaching myself for a million things whereby I have brought misfortune and sorrow to this family. It rains all day. No, it drizzles. It is somber and dark. I would not have it otherwise. I could not welcome the sun today. Be comforted my darling. We shall have our release in time. Be comforted remembering how much hardship, grief, pain she is spared and that her heart can never be broken now for the loss of a child. I seem to see her in her coffin. I do not know in which room, in the library I hope for there she, Jean, Clara and I mostly played when they were children together and happy.
She died in our own house not in another’s. She died where every little thing was familiar and beloved. She died where she had spent all her life ’til my crimes have made her a pauper and an exile. How good it is that she got home again.
Give my love to Clara and Jean. We have that much of our fortune left.
Samuel

 

How could have things turned out different for Mark Twain to possibly make him an optimist? Mark Twain like Hemingway was raised in a Christian home but later became an agnostic. In fact, Twain wrote, “Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.” Here is the key to Twain turning to pessimism because if he truly understood the nature of Christian faith then maybe he would given Livy’s Christian outlook a better chance. Christians have  real historical evidence that indicates the Bible is historically accurate and one may examine that evidence and put it to the test. If the Bible is true then it must be obeyed and that is where faith in Christ comes in.

Below is a piece of that evidence given by Francis Schaeffer concerning the accuracy of the Bible that was actually unearthed during Mark Twain and Ernest Hemingway’s lifetimes.

TRUTH AND HISTORY (chapter 5 of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE? which was written by Francis Schaeffer and Dr. C. Everett Koop, under footnote #94)

So the story goes on. We have stopped at only a few incidents in the sweep back to the year 1000 B.C. What we hope has emerged from this is a sense of the historical reliability of the Bible’s text. When the Bible refers to historical incidents, it is speaking about the same sort of “history” that historians examine elsewhere in other cultures and periods. This borne out by the fact that some of the incidents, some of the individuals, and some of the places have been confirmed by archaeological discoveries in the past hundred years has swept away the possibility of a naive skepticism about the Bible’s history.And what is particularly striking is that the tide has built up concerning the time before the year 1000 B.C. Our knowledge about the years 2500 B.C. to 1000 B.C. has vastly increased through discoveries sometimes of whole libraries and even of hitherto unknown people and languages.

There was a time, for example, when the Hittite people, referred to in the early parts of the Bible, were treated as fictitious by critical scholars. Then came the discoveries after 1906 at Boghaz Koi (Boghaz-koy) which not only gave us the certainty of their existence but stacks of details from their own archives!

Hittite Lion Gates seen below

In 1978 I heard the song “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas when it rose to #6 on the charts. That song told me that Kerry Livgren the writer of that song and a member of Kansas had come to the same conclusion that Solomon had. I remember mentioning to my friends at church that we may soon see some members of Kansas become Christians because their search for the meaning of life had obviously come up empty even though they had risen from being an unknown band to the top of the music business and had all the wealth and fame that came with that. Furthermore, Solomon realized death comes to everyone and there must be something more.

Livgren wrote:

All we do, crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see, Dust in the Wind, All we are is dust in the wind, Don’t hang on, Nothing lasts forever but the Earth and Sky, It slips away, And all your money won’t another minute buy.”

Take a minute and compare Kerry Livgren’s words to that of the late British humanist H.J. Blackham:

On humanist assumptions, life leads to nothing, and every pretense that it does not is a deceit. If there is a bridge over a gorge which spans only half the distance and ends in mid-air, and if the bridge is crowded with human beings pressing on, one after the other they fall into the abyss. The bridge leads nowhere, and those who are pressing forward to cross it are going nowhere….It does not matter where they think they are going, what preparations for the journey they may have made, how much they may be enjoying it all. The objection merely points out objectively that such a situation is a model of futility“( H. J. Blackham, et al., Objections to Humanism (Riverside, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1967).

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Both Kerry Livgren and the bass player DAVE HOPE of Kansas became Christians eventually. Kerry Livgren first tried Eastern Religions and DAVE HOPE had to come out of a heavy drug addiction. I was shocked and elated to see their personal testimony on The 700 Club in 1981 and that same  interview can be seen on youtube today. Livgren lives in Topeka, Kansas today where he teaches “Diggers,” a Sunday school class at Topeka Bible Church. DAVE HOPE is the head of Worship, Evangelism and Outreach at Immanuel Anglican Church in Destin, Florida.

Those who reject God must accept three realities of their life UNDER THE SUN.  FIRST, death is the end and SECOND, chance and time are the only guiding forces in this life.  FINALLY, power reigns in this life and the scales are never balanced. In contrast, Dave Hope and Kerry Livgren believe death is not the end and the Christian can  face death and also confront the world knowing that it is not determined by chance and time alone and finally there is a judge who will balance the scales.

Solomon’s experiment was a search for meaning to life “under the sun.” Then in last few words in the Book of Ecclesiastes he looks above the sun and brings God back into the picture: “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: Fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.”

Kansas, circa 1973 (Phil Ehart, Kerry Livgren, Steve Walsh, Rich Williams, Robby Steinhardt, Dave Hope) (photo credit: DON HUNSTEIN)

Kansas, circa 1973 (Phil Ehart, Kerry Livgren, Steve Walsh, Rich Williams, Robby Steinhardt, Dave Hope) (photo credit: DON HUNSTEIN)

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You can hear DAVE HOPE and Kerry Livgren’s stories from this youtube link:

(part 1 ten minutes)

Kerry Livgren

(part 2 ten minutes)

Dave Hope

Kansas – Dust In The Wind

Uploaded on Nov 7, 2009

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There is evidence that points to the fact that the Bible is historically true as Schaeffer pointed out in episode 5 of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACEThere is a basis then for faith in Christ alone for our eternal hope. This link shows how to do that.

The Bible and Archaeology – Is the Bible from God? (Kyle Butt 42 min)

You want some evidence that indicates that the Bible is true? Here is a good place to start and that is taking a closer look at the archaeology of the Old Testament times. Is the Bible historically accurate? Here are some of the posts I have done in the past on the subject: 1. The Babylonian Chronicleof Nebuchadnezzars Siege of Jerusalem2. Hezekiah’s Siloam Tunnel Inscription. 3. Taylor Prism (Sennacherib Hexagonal Prism)4. Biblical Cities Attested Archaeologically. 5. The Discovery of the Hittites6.Shishak Smiting His Captives7. Moabite Stone8Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III9A Verification of places in Gospel of John and Book of Acts., 9B Discovery of Ebla Tablets10. Cyrus Cylinder11. Puru “The lot of Yahali” 9th Century B.C.E.12. The Uzziah Tablet Inscription13. The Pilate Inscription14. Caiaphas Ossuary14 B Pontius Pilate Part 214c. Three greatest American Archaeologists moved to accept Bible’s accuracy through archaeology.

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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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