The Book of Esther – Three Roads to Success

Are you obsessed with success? Make sure that you are defining success as God does.

Washington DC is the most success-obsessed place that we have ever lived. Growing up in Southern California taught me a relaxed pace, and moving years later to DC from El Paso, TX was a culture shock as big as any in America. The first priority for many people seems to be to demonstrate how important they are. Even children compete in everything, from traveling sports to amateur dance to yearbook design. More than any place we have ever been, parents push their little Einsteins from the cradle through high school to get the tiniest advantage, the “best schools” and most prestigious careers.

Such competition can be dire. Our obsession with success makes us stressed and intolerant. Elizabeth Lauten, a communications director for a member of Congress, recently resigned after making some ill-advised, but true, comments about the President’s daughters. Was this an overreaction? Such stress and unbridled competition can even make us suicidal. Self-destruction is a risk even for those who have “won” the competition. For example, female physicians have a 250-400% higher suicide rate than other females, and male physicians’ suicide rate is 70% higher than other males.

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Song of Songs – The Mystery and Majesty of Human Love

A commentary on the Song of Solomon

Interpreted for centuries by most Jews and Christians as an allegory about the love of God for His people, modern commentators hold that this is a story about human love, which secondarily reflects the perfect love between God and His people. Though God is never mentioned, His presence permeates the book. There is widespread mention of the wonders of His creation as well as the constant restraining (and liberating) presence of His moral code. Notably, in the Song of Songs the woman did most of the speaking. It is magnificent poetry with extensive use of olfactory imagery. Remarkably, it never mentioned having children as the purpose for marriage. Romantic love was beautiful and desirable for its own sake.

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