Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Reader's Diary #627- The Good News Bible: Job

The frame story of The Book of Job reminded me of Chris de Burgh's Spanish Train. Remember that song about God and the devil playing poker and then chess for souls? To make matters worse, God didn't notice the devil cheating and kept losing. Not surprisingly, the song met with some controversy, even being banned in such countries as South Africa-- who, in 1985, you'd have thought had bigger fish to fry than Chris de "Lady in Red" Burgh, but that's another issue.

However, I'm not sure that God's portrayal in the frame story of The Book of Job is any more favourable. Again God and Satan are hanging out at the local pool hall when God casually asks Satan's opinion on Job, three ball corner pocket. Satan, ever the cynic, says that Job is only pious because he's prosperous. That sounds like a wager to me, says God, and in Chris de Burgh fashion, lets Satan shed Job of his possessions and destroy his home. Job, however, remains faithful to the Lord and it looks like God has won this bet, eight ball side pocket. However, if there's one thing we've learned from Chris de Burgh is that strippers can't be tried for public nudity since they're in their working clothes. Oh wait, I guess there are two things de Burgh has taught us; also that Satan doesn't give up easily. Fine, fine, Satan says, so he's still pious without his possessions, but come on, you didn't let me take away his health. Feeling confident over his first win, God puts another loonie on the table, and says, have at him-- just don't kill him (after all, that'd be cruel.)

I'm not crazy about this beginning. Why would God care what Satan's opinion is? Why he allow Satan to walk all over Job's life just to prove a point?

But the rest of the story continues with this theme. In a series of discussions between Job and his three, no wait four friends, (The fourth friend suddenly starts talking though there's no point of introduction, no "oh hey, Elihu, when did you get here? I didn't see you come in.") and finally with God, the issue of why God lets bad things happen to good people is addressed. Addressed, but not answered. There's no point when God says, "See I got carried away with this bet with Satan, bad." Instead we get the message that God controls all and knows what he's doing, so trust him. What may not seem to be in an individual's best interest, may be the greater interest in the grand scheme of things.

All in all, I enjoyed this story. It was one of the more thought provoking stories so far, even if there were problems with continuity (the initial frame story isn't revisited and again, Elihu could have been sent ahead a rsvp) but seems to foreshadow where the Bible is heading overall.

1 comment:

John Mutford said...

Read Megan's synopsis here.