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Against the Grain: Unconventional Wisdom from Ecclesiastes [Paperback]

By Ray Waddle (Author)
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Item description for Against the Grain: Unconventional Wisdom from Ecclesiastes by Ray Waddle...

You won't hear many sermons preached on Ecclesiastes. The plainspoken skepticism and raw weariness, by turns cynical and sensuous, expressed in Ecclesiastes make organized religion 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 21st-century 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. Be 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.

Publishers Description
The skepticism, questioning, weariness, and outbursts in the book of Ecclesiastes make organized religion uncomfortable. For this reason, Ecclesiastes is often overlooked or ignored. But in doing this, we miss an important message found in this unusual voice in scripture. Ecclesiastes gives us permission to ask the questions surrounding our understanding and knowledge of God. But then it takes us further by challenging us to affirm the goodness of creation, to preserve the awe of God, and to see questioning and weariness as gifts from God. Writing in accessible language and in a straightforward manner, Waddle mixes contemporary reflections with insightful scholarship on Ecclesiastes and its meaning for us today, especially around the topics of wisdom, humility, and gratitude. Twelve chapters parallel the twelve chapters in the biblical text. In essence,

Citations And Professional Reviews
Against the Grain: Unconventional Wisdom from Ecclesiastes by Ray Waddle has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Christian Century - 05/02/2006 page 42

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Upper Room
Pages   160
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.26" Width: 6.26" Height: 0.39"
Weight:   0.6 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Aug 1, 2005
Publisher   Upper Room Books
ISBN  083589813X  
ISBN13  9780835898133  

Availability  0 units.

More About Ray Waddle

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Ray Waddle, an award-winning religion reporter for

Ray Waddle was born in 1956.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Old Testament > Old Testament
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > Ethics

Christian Product Categories
Books > Inspiration > Motivation > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Against the Grain: Unconventional Wisdom from Ecclesiastes?

Ecclesiastes - my favorite book in the Bible  Feb 10, 2007
Against the Grain: Unconventional Wisdom from Ecclesiastes by Ray Waddle caught my eye on the Upper Room website. Waddle's book bases each of his chapters on a chapter in Ecclesiastes that ties in both his personal experiences as they relate to this particular chapter and religious interpretations that he has studied over his lifetime. Waddle clearly believes that Ecclesiastes digresses from the majority of the Bible and takes a more practical approach to human experience and life while reminding us that humans are to enjoy life because it is so fleeting. One of the interesting things that I learned from this book is that the Bible has four books that are considered "wisdom literature"- Ecclesiastes, Job, Proverbs and Song of Solomon. This was something I'd never known and found very enlightening. As you read Ecclesiastes, you will find many verses with which you are familiar and I advise everyone to take an hour or so and read the entire book at one sitting. When you read the word "vanity" which is found 38 times in Ecclesiastes according to Waddle, please know that "the Hebrew word for vanity, hebel, is closer to vapor, wind, breath, something ephemeral and wispy, insubstantial, gone in a moment." (22) I believe that a one-sitting reading is the best way to reflect upon and enjoy this particular book of the Bible. After reading Ecclesiastes, please take a moment and read Against the Grain for a further discussion.
Thoughtful, thought-provoking book  Nov 21, 2006
A very accessible book that explores one of the most controversial books in the Bible. Waddle writes in an unintimidating way, yet goes beyond the surface to explore the hidden depths of Ecclesiastes. Nicely broken up into verses, the book is easy to dip into. Makes a great gift, too.
Lectio Humana  Nov 10, 2005
Note: the author is a friend of mine.This is a wise reflection on an unconventional piece of 'wisdom literature'-namely the book of Ecclesiates, designed not to portray scholarly learning but to generate human insight into the difficult art of practical living.Trying to steer a clear path between impatience and nostalgia it considers the strangeness of Ecclesiates as it relates to the deeper conventional wisdom of the rest of the Bible as it relates to the 'duty to be happy'. The chapter on the hiddeness of God is in particular of interest as is a most important and, to my knowledge quite original, reflection upon the importance of maintaining a distinction between God the father and Jesus the human/divine son. Also under consideration is the issue of "eternity in Man's mind' and the importance of not devaluing the present-which is the only time in which we live. This is the second of Mr Waddle's books. The first was also on a book of the Bible, namely The Book of Psalms.I can't help but to wonder which book he might next seek to illuminate.

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