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The Core Curriculum

“I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz, 2008.

Relates to: 

In this internationally pop song, Jason Mraz sings the following in the second verse: 

"I've been spending way too long checking my tongue in the mirror/ And bending over backwards just to try to see it clearer/ But my breath fogged up the glass/ And so I drew a new face and I laughed/ I guess what I'll/ be saying is there ain't no better reason/ To rid yourself of vanities and just go with the seasons/ It's what we aim to do/ Our name is our virtue" 

What’s interesting here is that Mraz seems to confuse the ancient and the contemporary meanings of the word ‘vanity’. It’s clear from the text in Ecclesiastes that the “vanity of vanities” is an empty pursuit, a laboring after the wind. It’s reasonable to think that obsession with one’s image--the way one appears to others--can be a similarly empty pursuit. But Mraz says “rid yourself of vanities and just go with the seasons.” He seems to mean by “go with the seasons” that we should just “go with the flow” and that by doing so we’ll rid ourselves of vanity. But in Ecclesiastes the seasons are an explicit case of vanity “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven” (3:1). Is “going with the seasons,” according to Ecclesiastes, the essence of vanity? On the one hand Mraz seems confused: don’t be vain and go with the season, he says, while Quohelet says that everything has a season. But the moral of Ecclesiastes is that thinking the opposite is vanity. To think that we can do anything but go with the seasons is to labor after the wind. Perhaps this is where Mraz misunderstands: no matter how frequently we “check our tongues in the mirror,” we’re always going with the seasons.