New every morning is your love, great God of light, and all day long you are working for good in the world. Stir up in us desire to serve you, to live peacefully with our neighbors and all your creation, and to devote each day to your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

"A Liturgy for Morning Prayer," Upper Room Worshipbook

Used by permission from the Book of Common Worship, © 2018 Westminster John Knox Press. All rights reserved. This prayer appears in “A Liturgy for Morning Prayer” in Upper Room Worshipbook.

Against the Grain

Unconventional Wisdom from Ecclesiastes

Ray Waddle • August 2005

BUY Print $7.99

BUY eBook (Available in ePub or Kindle) $4.99

You won't hear many sermons preached on Ecclesiastes. The plainspoken skepticism and raw weariness expressed in Ecclesiastes make many people of faith uncomfortable.

But, as Waddle points out, this book is in the Bible for a reason. The message of this against-the-grain biblical voice offers an emotionally honest view of the meaning of life.

"Despite his reputation, Ecclesiastes marks the surprising arrival of consolation and hope," writes Waddle. "This book is about the neglected themes of Ecclesiastes: the goodness of creation; the fingerprints of providence; the frustrations of spirit in a world of affluence and suffering; the beauty of everyday pleasures; the duty to remember the dead; the duty, indeed, to be happy. It's about feeling the wind in your face, the wind of being alive."

This poet teaches, toughens, and spans the ages to address very contemporary issues. By giving us permission to admit troubling spiritual moods, Ecclesiastes invites us to grow in wisdom and to accept all of God's gifts—including doubt and dissatisfaction.

Waddle mixes contemporary reflections with insightful scholarship on Ecclesiastes—especially on the topics of biblical authority, politics, grief, wisdom, and spiritual trends in contemporary society. The 12 chapters parallel the 12 chapters of the biblical text.

Become better "equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:17) and for the inevitable periods of spiritual doldrums through the renegade-but-faithful realism found in Ecclesiastes.

Ray Waddle is the editor of Reflections, a magazine of theological and ethical inquiry published biannually by Yale Divinity School. Waddle, a nationally known religion writer, has written on the subject of faith and society for more than two decades. He has been a lecturer on the adjunct faculty at Vanderbilt Divinity School, a retreat leader and a columnist for Interpreter and Presbyterian Voice magazines. As religion editor for the Tennessean from 1984–2001, he won awards for his work and traveled on assignment across the United States and to Europe and Israel. Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, Waddle earned a journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and a master's degree in religious studies from Vanderbilt University.

ISBN: 978-0-8358-9813-3

Kindle ISBN: 978-0-8358-1243-6

EPub ISBN: 978-0-8358-1244-3

Imprint: Upper Room

Pub Date: August 2005

Trim Size: 6 in (w) x 9 in (h) x 0.347 in (d)

Page Count: 160

BISAC Categories: RELIGION / Biblical Studies / Old Testament / General

BISAC1: REL006210

BISAC2: REL012120

BISAC3: REL012070

"As always, Ray Waddle's take on scriptures is fresh, intelligent, and provocative — and highly accessible to the thinking lay reader. In reflecting on Ecclesiastes, he reminds us that despair, rage, hedonism, and doubt are all part of a believer's journey and that God has always fully understood the human condition — yet loves us anyhow. In a time when many of us so-called religious readers would draw the circle to shut people out, this is indeed good news."
— Garlinda Burton Author and General Secretary General Commission on the Status and Role of Women The United Methodist Church

"Welcome to Ecclesiastes — one of the most crabby, irksome, beautiful, and challenging books in all of scripture. Wander through Ecclesiastes with Ray Waddle as your guide, and you'll discover buried treasure, stunning insight, and spiritual gifts at every turn in the journey."
— William H. Willimon Bishop, The United Methodist Church, and Author, Remember Who You Are and Sunday Dinner

"Ecclesiastes is the most unusual and enigmatic author in the Bible. The result of Ray Waddle's musings on the thoughts of this lovable curmudgeon is a book that is both profound and entertaining."
— John McQuiston Author of Always We Begin Again and A Prayer Book for the Twenty-first Century