Thursday, July 24, 2008

Get a Job

Playing off of yesterday's post on devil's advocates, let's advocate for the devil. I've always been baffled by the Book of Job. It is bizarre and interesting on so many levels.

It is one of the first places where Satan shows up. He comes off less as God's evil twin than as his enforcer/drinking buddy. They're hanging out in Heaven when God says, "Look at that Job, man, he's one righteous dude." "Nah, he's just been lucky. Bet he'd be like all the rest if he had a tougher lot." "You think Lot was tougher than Job?" "That's not what I'm saying. I mean if you mess with him, he'll turn on you." "Twenty bucks says your wrong." "Give me odds and your on." "Two to one?" "Done."

So, God has Satan kill Job's livestock, destroy his livelihood and then murder his kids. When Job does not curse God, God wins the bet and pays off Job by giving him back everything tenfold. And that's supposed to make everything all better?

First, who bets against God? O.k., the whole omniscience thing is only inserted once the Greek influence kicks in, but still. How could anyone take seriously the idea of picking a different bracket from God in the righteousness version of March Madness?

Second, how do those who buy the omnibenevolence thing make sense of this? He puts out a contract on innocent children. Sure, Job is rewarded tenfold, but then he gets ten new kids for each one who was murdered. What about the original kids? I don't want ten new kids, I want the ones I loved, but you killed them. Who are these kids anyway? They ain't Job's, he didn't make them and if he did, man, would his wife be cursing God. Wouldn't you be completely pissed if you were one of those kids. "Wait a minute. Let me get this straight. You murdered me to win a bet? And now these fake brothers and sisters get to grow up in a life where they are ten times richer and me, I'm here murdered."

Third, when God orders all the nastiness, how does Satan end up with the bad rap when he was just following orders? Is this the theological version of My Lai?

Fourth, what a peculiar sense of justice. If I give you lots more stuff, it's ok to mess with your head, destroy your livelihood, and kill your family. Who looks at the old guys in Trading Places and thinks, "Hey, now there's Godlike behavior. If only more people acted like that."?