Saturday, September 25, 2010

Vanity of vanities

Today's first reading ends with this famous quote,"Vanity of vanities. all things are vanity." It strikes me that when we use the word vanity in modern American English we tend to think of it in the sense of the old Carley Simon song, You're so vain. The fact is this is not the sense in which the word is meant in this passage. Here it is meant in this same sense as when we say we did something in vain.
The best translation I have found is the German one. The word the German Catholic Bible uses is "Windhauch", literally a breath of wind. In the great scheme of things all of the things over which we seem as a nation to be so intensely angry today are a mere breath of wind, a puff of air.

Perhaps we need this sense of perspective now more than ever.