Speaking of Suffering
So we're asking why some people won't stop it, and why others who don't deserve it must suffer. I guess the moon is in that phase, or something, because driving around running errands today, I caught a few minutes of this guy on the radio. Ehrman's journey is one I can completely understand: from teen evangelical who converted to save himself from "hell," to ministry student and biblical scholar, and finally to atheist. I guess he's written some famous books too; they said Misquoting Jesus was a bestseller and that makes me glad. Today, he was talking about the book of Job (among other stories) and although I didn't catch all the show, I wondered if he considered that part of the story that has always increased my atheism. Specifically, Job's wife and kids.
If the ancients had known how powerful the monotheistic religions would prove to be, I bet in a do-over, they'd rewrite that part about "all-loving." Because without that part, it becomes a lot easier to believe that there is a god for this horrible world of ours. Back then, monotheists were a minorty, mocked and oppressed and not always very powerful politically. So it makes sense that their god would be described as loving them, as no one else did. Today, it's one of the odder things about the monotheists, the way they seem so insecure and in need to constant proof of that love. Or worse, telling people like me that I can't really know love, unless it's their kind. Love, Love, Love...and please don't pay any attention to those starving children over there. God hates shrimp, as well as amputees.
Anyway, to me the story of Job contains everything that's wrong with religion. He's a patriarch (ick); he's loyal to his god beyond all measure (loyalty above all else, hmmm, where have I heard that before?); he's "righteous" (stuck up towards those who don't share his faith); and most importantly, he doesn't seem to have the same kind of "love" for his family that he has for his god. Yes, the narrative includes a description of how much he suffered when god struck down his first batch of kids. But it sure doesn't say much about the wives or their feelings, except to include a passage in which the wife counsels Job to give up his faith. Great, yet another woman made out to be the faithless harpy. I guess that stereotype is older than the written word.
The whole idea that a god would strike down a man's children to prove a point is just sick. If we're talking about suffering, what about the times when the women were giving birth to those children? Is it at all relevant that after Job got his big reward, those women had to give birth ten times again? Ask any mother about how much she suffers, from the birthing bed to the day that child leaves her care; she does plenty. And the dead kids, what about their plans, their dreams? Why isn't that a point of analysis in the construction of the 'loving god?' Sure, they're all 'in heaven' with the same god that slew them on a bet. Wow, what a reward.
I'm glad NPR gave some face time to an atheist. So this is a reward good behavior sort of post. Golf clap. I'm not even really bitching about the guest or what I heard him say, he was fairly direct in his lack of belief. Still, I wish people would ask why we're still giving serious consideration to the construction of the Right of the Patriarch in this day and age. The story of Job should be a model for why monotheism fails to answer our most important questions. But I guess a lot of the answers depend on who "we" are.