An Easter Miracle (Job 38-42)

Since Easter is a time of miracles, I’ll mention something I consider to be a miracle: my gargantuan appetite. Here’s what I ate last night at my parents’ place:

– a 16-ounce steak

– 2 large sweet potatoes

– copious amounts of salad and asparagus

– 2 large pieces of cheesecake

– 1 large glass of red wine

Impressive, n’est pas? Even more so considering that I’m shorter than Natalie Portman. I tend to brag about my sizeable appetite fairly openly because I think most women feel like they have to pretend to have a small one in order to appear dainty and feminine, lik Melody Wilkes from Gone with the Wind. I’m starting a dialogue right now and encouraging ladies to “take back the plate,” so to speak. I’m not joking.  

Anyways, I’ve polished off the Book of Job, which culminates with God bragging about all the cool stuff he can do like hasten dawn and call the wind and shit like that. One thing which I thought was worth bragging about was his control over two bad-ass beasts: the Behemoth and the Leviathan (one, the inspiration for a roller coaster and the other, the inspiration for a 1989 underwater horror movie… the best kind of horror movie in my opinion). This is something that the Church should focus on if it wants to remain popular among the youth of today – monsters. More sermons on monsters, for sure.

At the end of the day, God has pity on Job and gives him his life back (and then some) and everyone has a big party for him. I guess that’s good but the guy’s been through a lot and probably has severe post-traumatic stress disorder. I mean, at this point it’s kind of like throwing a pizza party for a Vietnam veteran.

Published in: on April 8, 2012 at 8:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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No More Whine-a-tribe: Job Finally Shuts Up (Job 30-37)

Job has been a trying chapter for me to read. I’ve given it some thought and I would say the reason is that Job is a major whiner and I hate whiners. I really do. Most people I know complain about the stupidest shit, like why they don’t own condos or how expensive organic avocados are. I usually cut off such whine-a-tribes (I’m working off of diatribe here – get it?) with statements like, “Well, you weren’t born with AIDS into a nearly inescapable prison of poverty and illiteracy.” Perspective, folks. If I’m feeling really edgy then I might also bring up female circumcision.

Job bellyaches about how God has “cast him into the mire” (Job 30:19) – which sounds bad – and how he’s “a brother of jackals and a companion of ostriches” (Job 30:29 – which doesn’t sound that bad to me since I’ve always wanted to ride an ostrich. Ostriches would be fun to ride in the same way those old-timey bikes with the huge front wheels (penny-farthing) would be fun to ride; because you’re high up and they’re just wobbly enough to make things exciting… will I crack my head open on the pavement… or won’t I? 

After Job finally shuts up the old guys who he’s speaking to tell him that God’s right and he’s wrong although they can’t cough up a satisfying argument. This one guy named Elihu goes on and on about all the wondrous things in the universe that God is responsible for (n.b. these thing have since been explained by SCIENCE) and how these wondrous things make it impossible to question God at all. His argument comes to the conclusion that Job just doesn’t “get” God, which makes Elihu sound like some desperate girl who wants to date God.

Hup hup hup.

Published in: on April 1, 2012 at 3:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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You Can Run But You Can’t Hide… (Job 25-29)

… from the female body.

Unless you happen to be a test-tube baby. It’s a plain fact that we’re all dependent on the female body for our transition from embryo to bean-shaped fetus to bawling infant. This has never sat well with the men responsible for formulating most major religions, and their icky feelings towards XXs are apparent in writings like the following passage from Job: “How can he who is born of a woman/be clean?/Behold, even the moon is not bright/and the stars are not clean in his sight;/how much less man, who is a/maggot,/and the son of man,/who is a worm!” (Job 25:4-6). As newborns, they all would have slid right out of their mothers’ birth canals into the shower if they’d been unhindered by umbilical cords and able to walk.

Women and their functions are supposedly more closely linked to the animal kingdom than men and their functions. I’ve never understood this since I’ve smelled a teenaged boy or two in my time (this is not a current practice). Periods, giving birth, breastfeeding – all these were obtrusive reminders to dudes like Aristotle that we’re not pure mind, but animals (newsflash!). The best thinkers like him could do was to create a hierarchy in which women were more animal-y than men, at least. While I was reading through some of this stuff, I came across a particularly hilarious tidbit from Plato who, in his limited understanding of anatomy, believed that a woman’s uterus was an actual animal unto itself. Not an organ. An animal. With its own sense of smell and ability to roam the female body like a grazing cow. All I can say to that is, “Wow.”

It kind of looks like it's doing one of those ready-to-strike kung fu poses. You know?

Published in: on February 21, 2012 at 1:21 am  Leave a Comment  
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Judaism aka Low-Self Esteem Club (Job 23-24)

The Book of Job is basically a long, protracted rant by Job, a man who God has battered like a 50s housewife. In these particular chapters, Job talks about how terrifying God is. God IS terrifying; his actions have never squared with the supposed loving and compassionate persona later Christians perpetuated. Love and compassion are Jesus’ bag but most definitely not God’s. Here’s what Job has to say about God: “…I am terrified at his presence;/when I consider, I am in dread of him./God has made my heart faint;/the Almighty has terrified me;/for I am hemmed in darkness,/and thick darkness covers my face.” (Job 23:15-17).

None too uplifting. I think it says something about the Israelites collective self-worth that they’re willing to settle for a god who’s so shitty. At the time there was a veritable cornucopia of gods to choose from. Remember Baal? He was so bad-ass. In Carthaginian worship of Baal, people grooved together in orgies, in celebration of reproduction (as far as rituals go, that one was prett literal – not a lot of symbolism there). In another ritual – and this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea – people would sacrifice their own children. After taking in “We Need to Talk About Kevin” this past weekend, this seems like a sensible way for society to get rid of bad seeds. I’m for it.

Baal fist-pumping.

Published in: on February 16, 2012 at 11:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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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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