Sassy (Job 21-22)

Job’s got a lot of sass. On a slightly unrelated note, does anyone remember that now-defunct teen magazine Sassy from the late 80s and early 90s? Decidedly less condescending than, say, Seventeen, it was aimed at female weirdos who liked indie music before it was cool and tried to do things like pee standing up and maintain the popularity of the query, “What’s your damage?” I loved it, personally. It had stuff on looking good too, but it was more in the vein of “How to Sharpen Your Black Eyeliner with a Hunting Knife” than “Get that Perfect Pout”. Scanning through some old Sassy covers on the Internet, I came across the following ACTUAL feature title: “Feeling Alienated? Make it Work for You!”.

In Job 21 and 22, he gets going on the issue of fairness. In particular, why is it fair for shitty people who do shitty things to have a great life? Good one, Job. Religion has failed to come up with no better answer to that than, “hell,” which is lame because it’s pretty easy to skip out of, if you ask for forgiveness. And  God has to give that, I think.

“Why do the wicked live,/reach old age, and grow mighty in power?” Job asks (Job 22:7). The standard answers fall short; he calls them “empty nothings,” which are far less persuasive than sweet nothings.

This girl totally carries a rape whistle in her backpack.

Published in: on January 24, 2012 at 2:32 am  Leave a Comment  
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No Restaurants for the Wicked (Job 15-20)

This post is going to be pretty short. Basically, we’re in the middle of a back and forth between Job and miscellaneous others which follows this pattern of sentiments:

Job: God ruined my life and made me horribly disfigured. God sucks. 

Others: No, he doesn’t. 

Lather, rinse, repeat.

I tend to side with Job. I mean, he makes a good point. Ostensibly, God does suck. The miscellaneous others try and persuade him otherwise. In Job 20, Zophar the Naamathite tries to convince him that the godless get punished in the end; for example, the godless man supposedly “swallows down riches and vomits them up again” (Job 20:15). The godless man supposedly gets nothing in the end: “he will not save anything in which he delights” (Job 20:20). He supposedly winds up hungry, poor and impaled by a bronze arrow (seriously).

To counter that, here’s a list of atheists who’ve done not bad:

Robert Altman

Javier Bardem

Richard Dawkins

Bill Gates

Christopher Hitchens

Eddie Izzard

Stieg Larssen

Simon Napier-Bell (manager of WHAM!)

Joyce Carol Oates

Brad Pitt (BRAD PITT!!!)

Dan Savage

Matt Stone

Mark Zuckerberg

You said it.

Published in: on January 18, 2012 at 3:08 am  Leave a Comment  
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Who Sartred? (Job 10-14)

Every now and again I like to brag that I have a Masters degree in Philosophy. I figure I ought to allow myself this pretentious pleasure since I get a lot of flack for succumbing to the philosophy student stereotype: winding up doing something totally unrelated with my life (times were tough… they weren’t hiring down at ye old philosophy factory). Anyways, I found these last few chapters of Job particularly existential, which is great because I can now throw around some terminology I haven’t used in a while.

Job is quickly becoming one of my favourite figures in the Bible. He calls God out on his shit. First of all, he clearly points out that God is responsible for all the good and the bad in the world. He questions why God has chosen to make bad stuff happend to him, a man who previously had played by all the rules: “Are thy days as the days of man,/ or thy years as man’s years/that thou dost seek out my iniquity/and search for my sin/although thou knowest that I am not guilty,/ and there is none to deliver out/of thy hand?/Thy hands fashioned and made me; and now thou dost turn about/and destroy me” (Job 10:5-8).

Then Job starts depressing everyone by talking about how there’s no hope in this world because we’re all going to die one day. I imagine that his audience probably got a little uncomfortable and fidgety. No one likes to talk about death and when we manage to do so, we talk about it in generalities. Heidegger thought that death was cool and special because it’s one of the only things that is truly unique (“non-relational”). Only you can experience your own death. The scariest thing about death for me is that, despite what I map out, I won’t have total control over the funeral arrangements and the quality of the deli meats and coffee served at the reception.

Here’s what Job has to say on death: “For there is hope for a tree,/if it be cut down, that it will/sprout again,/and that its shoots will not cease… But man dies, and is laid low;/man breathes his last, and where/is he?” (Job 14:7-10). This is the first time the question of what happens when we die is raised in the Old Testament (the New Testament is all about the afterlife and its rewards). It’s about time. I think a lot of people cling to religion and vague notions of life after death not necessarily out of fear, but from ego (“how can the world just keep on turning without me?). It’s sort of like those friends you have that don’t want you to have a party on a night they can’t make because they don’t want to miss anything.

Notification from Match.com: existenceprecedesessence1944 has winked at you!

 

Published in: on January 14, 2012 at 9:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Leviathan Versus Behemoth (Job 3-9)

Not made of stone, Job freaks out, like any normal person would do given his situation. Job “opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth” (Job 3:1). And how!

Job goes on and on about the day he was born and how it should be consumed by darkness so that it never came to pass at all. It’s such a protracted and poetic speech that I think Job actually believes it’s possible to alter the past. Maybe he believes in time travel. I don’t know. It hasn’t been mentioned in the Bible (yet) but I’ve been suprised by lots of other things (giants, for example).

In the midst of cursing the day he was born, Job does a shout-out to Leviathan, a scary monster. I’m not exactly sure what a Leviathan is, unless we’re counting Thomas Hobbes’ political treatise or the 1989 underwater horror movie (a genre I quite like). I remember watching that movie as a kid. It’s one of those movies in which a crew of misfits has to go do some dangerous task together and things go horribly wrong and they all turn on each other. One of them usually has a stupid nickname; in this case, it’s “6-pack”. Here’s the trailer (best line = “Whatver got 6-pack and Bowman, it’s still out there”):

As far as the biblical creature goes, a Leviathan is a large sea serpent, a much less friendly version of the Loch Ness monster. The etymology is such that the name “Leviathan” comes out of the Hebrew word(s) for twisted, or coiled. Apparently it gets described later on in Job. Reading through some very unreliable online sources, I learned that Leviathan once has a lady friend (aw!) named Taninim but God killed her because if they got around to mating they’d do all kinds of damage. How sad for him. Poor Leviathan. Leviathan will also do battle with another imposing creature called the Behemoth, which is kind of like a large, vicious ox. This would be good to see – evenly matched but very difference strengths, like Alien vs. Predator. I also learned that Leviathan eats exactly one whale per day.

He just wants his lady friend back.

Published in: on January 13, 2012 at 2:25 am  Leave a Comment  
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Stand Up for Yourself, Poindexter! (Job 1-2)

In this particular chapter of the Bible, we get to meet Job, a real goody-two-shoes and all-round doormat. At the start of the Book of Job, he’s got a lot going for him: tons of livestock, seven sons, three daughters, and probably a hot wife (relatively hot considering the decathalon of childbearing she’s endured). He’s done no wrong in his lifetime and God’s made something of a pet of him. In pops Satan who spends the majority of his time roaming the earth looking for trouble. God introduces Job to Satan as his start pupil and Satan says, “Oh yeah? No wonder he’s done no wrong. Look at all the good stuff he has. Take it all away and see what happens”. Job, standing idly by, allows God to take this wager. Soon, his lifestock get stolen and the house that all his children are partying in collapses on them and they all die.

Drag.

Surprisingly, Job doesn’t freak out on God for causing his life to implode. Some time passes and Satan pops in again. God’s like, “See? See? This guy’s good. Look at all the shit we did to him and he’s not even pissed.” So Satan tells God that what they did wasn’t bad enough. God lets Satan afflict Job with digusting, oozing sores all over his body.

Drag.

Still, Job says nothing; he does not “sin with his lips” (Job 2:10). In my estimation, Job is a severely repressed individual who has some mental issues. This describes most, if not all, fundamentalists out there today.

No big deal.

Published in: on January 10, 2012 at 2:50 am  Leave a Comment  
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Comeuppance (Esther 9-10)

Comeuppance is one of my favourite words and one that I get to use all too rarely. In the last two chapters of Esther, the Jews get to give all the people who’ve recently thwarted them their comeuppance. It’s the most obvious kind of comeuppance: they kill them.

Yes, King Ahasuerus gives the Jews a rather loose lead and lets them kill five hundred of their enemies. And that’s just a warm-up – they go on to kill another seventy-five thousand, which is a noticeable spike in activity. I guess he’s trying to make it up to them for briefly passing those anti-Jew edicts. In my last post, I mentioned that the man behind those edicts, Haman, was going to be hanged. As it turns out, he not only gets hanged but gets hanged alongside his ten sons. It’s a real red-letter day for the Jews. I was amazed to learn that this – THIS – was the basis for the holiday Purim, a day of “feasting and GLADness” (early product placement) (Est 9:17). Don’t get me wrong: I’m not in love with soft stance of the New Testament. There’s something in the simplicity and toughness of the “an eye for an eye” rule that appeals to me.

Esther, who has her place in the Bible for championing the Jews, fixes the practice of Purim so that all Jews can celebrate the day they watched a man and his whole family die together.

This Irish baby is confused.

Published in: on January 8, 2012 at 3:54 am  Comments (1)  
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It’s Nice to Know Someone’s Paying Attention (Esther 6-8)

It would seem that King Ahasuerus, in going along with Haman’s harsh prescriptions against Jews, had a momentary lapse in judgment. He loses sleep and starts to question his decision-making, which is little more than saying, “Okay,” to any and all ridiculous suggestions. Point in case: eradicating Jews.

It’s a good thing that King Ahasuerus keeps something special in his nightstand. It’s not what I keep in my nightstand; it’s better. It’s a book of memorable deeds. I guess he’s been keeping tally of all the good stuff people have done for him. He looks up Mordecai, a Jew, and lo and behold, there are a few feathers in his cap. One time in particular, Mordecai protected the king from attack by two vicious eunuchs. They couldn’t have been that hard to fend off, on account of their paltry amounts of testosterone and general lack of Muay Thai at that time in history.

So King Ahasuerus does an about-face and, to punish Haman for leading him astray, he makes Haman lead a procession in celebration of Mordecai, announcing him loudly as the “man whom the king delights to honor” (Est 6:11). Burn. Then Haman gets hanged in gallows he had constructed to execute Mordecai. Double burn.

Good day to be a Jew.

 

Published in: on January 6, 2012 at 2:50 am  Leave a Comment  
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Little Help? (Esther 3-5)

It’s the worst when you see some incompetent dick get promoted over you. In Esther 3, King Ahasuerus takes a shine to a guy named Haman the Agagite (let’s bring back specific qualifiers to our names, okay? It’s better than having to say, “Yeah, Steve. He’s… black”). Haman is promoted over all these other princes and he’s a terrible person who really, really hates Jews. He gets super-pissed when Mordecai (a Jew) doesn’t cow-tow to him when he sees him so he decides “to destroy all the Jews” (Est 3:6). Talk about a short fuse.

Haman must have some amount of influence over the king because he convinces him to send an edict out commanding the annihilation of all Jews, male or female, young and old. Mordecai, being a Jew, unsurprisingly takes issue with this. He does that thing that everybody does in the Bible when they get stressed: he tears off all his clothes and walks around wearing a sack. Then he adopts a more effective problem-solving strategy. He goes to Esther, who has the king’s ear due to her extreme sexiness, and is like, “Can we do something about this?”. Though apparently, Esther is in a bit of a bind because she can’t just go talk to him; anyone who speaks to the king must be summoned with a ridiculous golden scepter. While they wait, she suggests that Mordecai get all the Jews together and fast. So much bloody fasting. Maybe this is how eating disorders got started (if not, it’s definitely supermodels… definitely).

When Esther talks to the king she suggests that everyone get together for dinner: her, the king, Mordecai and Haman. It’s like a blind date that she naively thinks will resolve all prejudice if the food, wine and conversation is good enough. Predictably, Haman arrives (probably with a $12 to $15 bottle of Shiraz in hand), takes one look at Mordecai and is like, “What the fuck?”.

Cliffhanger! OMG!

Please pass the Anti-Semitism.

 

Published in: on January 2, 2012 at 1:33 am  Leave a Comment  
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