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.

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Published in: on January 14, 2012 at 9:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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