Saturday, January 8, 2011

Confucius meets King James

Last week I had lunch at a Chinese restaurant. I snapped my fortune with my iPhone. In case you can't read all of it, it says, "The joyfulness of a man prolongeth his days."

I am not a superstitious person, but I'm betting that I'm like most people in that I always pay at least a microsecond of attention to a fortune-cookie fortune--whether or not it's trying to tell me something, or whether I believe the sentiment expressed. (The only fortune I ever saved long-term was one I got right before leaving for Africa for the Peace Corps. It read, "You are about to go on a long journey.")

I decided, after that microsecond, OK, this is something I believe. But what I gave much more thought to was the "prolongeth." Why the heck is a Chinese fortune trying to sound like the King James edition? When I got back home, I Googled the phrase. It does not appear to be a Bible verse, although I got bogged down trying to determine how an ancient text called "Eccesiasticus" is different from the Biblical book of Ecclesiastes. Several Internet sources cited verse numbers for the phrase, but when I fact-checked using online Bible sources, none proved correct. After a half-hour I decided I didn't care enough about the source to keep researching.

But I am proud of the fact that I thought to snap the photo. When I came upon the "prolongeth," I thought: I'm gonna blog about this.

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