We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Sunday, March 12. 2017
I always thought the message was that God is not a tame lion, that he is power and neither a "nice guy" nor a cuddly grandpa. I mean, if "God is love" it's not of the human sort. But countless essays and books have been written about The Book of Job as if it were a riddle that man, with man's small and self-centered point of view, could solve.
Here's a pretty good one: MISERY - Is there justice in the Book of Job?
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I've long considered myself a devout Jobist - the lesson I take from the Book of Job is that expecting God to explain himself to you is like you trying to explain to a goldfish how a nuclear power plant works. If God made the Universe and everything in it - including me - I think it's a bit presumptuous to think He might need my help running the place or that I might have a clue as to what running the place entails.
The Book of Job is, I think, an explication of the First Commandment: "I am God" and its unspoken corollary - "You are not God". Keeping in mind God's chastisement of Job's comforters who claimed to understand how God works, I think anybody who claims to know what God wants is guilty of breaking that First Commandment.
I could be wrong.
In the Linux family of operating systems there is a program called malloc that assigns memory locations to different processes. How it does this is unimportant for this discussion, but be assured that this is one of those tricky things that has to run very fast and very reliably for a computer to work at all.
In the heart of the program there is a famous comment above the block of code that does much of the "heavy lifting". It reads simply, "You are not expected to understand this".
The Book of Job is this comment in the operating system that runs the universe.
The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,
Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words.
Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.
And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.
Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.
At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; Think Jerryskids got it right.
The moral of Job is simple:
God and Satan will do with us as They damn well please.
I always thought the moral of the Book of Job was: Blind love, obeisance and loyalty will get you no further with God than they will with any woman!
In the end, loving God or woman, they both kill you.
25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:
27 Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.
Also my favorite song by Handel.
I see the story of Job as yet another warning that man (no feminist grammar here!) had better remain humble. Hubris, claiming the sovereignty of Earth as belonging to the creature and not the Creator, invites destruction. (This is not just a Biblical warning; remember the myth of Bellerophon.) Hubris is at the root of the deconstruction of moral authority in the name of progress. For a more specific example, refer to the man-made (emphasis on this modifier) climate change charade.
For me the lesson is that I can find out from religious instruction, the Bible, reason, society, etc., what it is my duty to do. I cannot find out anything about what I'm entitled to demand from God, or (in a more secular sense) what I'm entitled to expect to happen to me.
When Job got over his self-righteousness G-d restored everything he had lost. Elihu was the only one in this story who got it right -- "Behold the whirlwind."
Another good book on Job explains the consistency of scientific evidence with scriptures. Hugh Ross's Hidden Treasures in the Book of Job (Reasons to Believe): How the Oldest Book in the Bible Answers Today's Scientific Questions. From the book's inside flap: Arguably the oldest book in the Bible, the book of Job has a surprising amount to say about some of the newest scientific discoveries and controversies. Far from a book that is just about suffering, Job is filled with rich insight into both ancient and modern questions about
the formation of the world
the difference between animals and humans
dinosaurs and the fossil record
global warming and how to care for creation
With careful consideration and exegesis, internationally known astrophysicist and Christian apologist Hugh Ross adds yet another compelling argument to the case for the veracity of the biblical commentary on the history of the universe, Earth, life, and humanity. Hidden Treasures in the Book of Job shows that the Bible is an accurate predictor of scientific discoveries and a trustworthy source of scientific information, and that the book of Scripture and the book of nature are consistent both internally and externally.
In the last year, I've lost everything, including my two children.
God is not just. I continue in my faith only out of fear He will allow the Deciever to do even worse to me.
The New Yorker commenting on Job reminds me of Samuel Johnson's remark about a dog standing on it's hind legs - it's not how well it's done, but the fact that it's done at all that's remarkable. A better article comes from Thru the Bible
For some reason, I'm reminded of this by P.J. O'Rourke:
"God is an elderly or, at any rate, middle aged male, a stern fellow, patriarchal rather than paternal and a great believer in rules and regulations. He holds men accountable for their actions. He has little apparent concern for the material well being of the disadvantaged. He is politically connected, socially powerful and holds the mortgage on literally everything in the world. God is difficult. God is unsentimental. It is very hard to get into God's heavenly country club.
Santa Claus is another matter. He's cute. He's nonthreatening. He's always cheerful. And he loves animals. He may know who's been naughty and who's been nice, but he never does anything about it. He gives everyone everything they want without the thought of quid pro quo. He works hard for charities, and he's famously generous to the poor. Santa Claus is preferable to God in every way but one:
There is no such thing as Santa Claus."
I always thought the story of Job was a parable about old age and death.
As we age we lose all we have, often including our wives and children and our wealth, and eventually our lives.