About Schmidt & Ecclesiastes

About SchmidtConfession: I have been surprised how well Hollywood understands the Book of Ecclesiastes (although unknowingly).

Think about the movie About Schmidt (2003). Context: Warren Schmidt (Jack Nicholson) is a recent retiree from Omaha, Nebraska. Throughout the movie Warren Schmidt’s inner struggles are heard through the letters he writes to Ndugu, a young African boy whom he supports monthly. As he returns from his daughter’s wedding in Denver, Colorado he stops by a roadside exhibit that highlights the early pioneers who crossed Nebraska heading West. He then expresses his frustration at not having done anything that might make his life significant. In a voice-over, he reads a letter that he has written to Ndugu.

My trip to Denver is so insignificant compared to the journeys others have taken … I know we’re all pretty small in the big scheme of things, and I suppose the most you can hope for is to make some kind of difference. But what kind of difference have I made? What in the world is better because of me? When I was out in Denver, I tried to do the right thing, tried to convince Jeannie she was making a big mistake, but I failed. Now she’s married to that nincompoop and there’s nothing I can do about it. I am weak, and I am a failure. There’s no getting around it. Relatively soon I will die … Once I am dead and everyone who knew me dies too, it will be as though I never even existed. What difference has my life made to anyone? None I can think of. None at all. Hope things are fine with you.

Yours truly, Warren Schmidt

It is true. Ecclesiastes 2:22–23 (ESV) — What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? 23 For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity.

Ecclesiastes 3:19–20 (ESV) — For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity. 20 All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return.

So we are encouraged in wisdom … Ecclesiastes 3:12–13 (ESV) — I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; 13 also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.

Are you getting excited for our study through the Book of Ecclesiastes??


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