A Response to Robert Cargill

Bob has a very, very interesting post today on Job’s application of social justice.  It’s must reading, if you haven’t already.

What I find so interesting is that I’m not so sure Job is all that thrilled with how things worked out in the backwash of that application of just compassion.  A glance at Job 30 paints quite an interesting picture indeed and in it Job repudiates (or ‘refudiates’ if you’re one of THOSE people) the entire enterprise. I embolden the bits which seem to demonstrate most clearly Job’s disgruntledness:

1 And now I am the laughing-stock of people who are younger than I am and whose parents I would have disdained to put with the dogs guarding my flock.
2 And what use to me was the strength of their hands? – enfeebled as they were,
3 worn out by want and hunger, for they used to gnaw the roots of the thirsty ground — that place of gloom, ruin and desolation-
4 they used to pick saltwort among the scrub, making their meals off roots of broom.
5 Outlawed from human company, which raised hue and cry against them, as against thieves,
6 they made their homes in the sides of ravines, in holes in the earth or in clefts of rock.
7 You could hear them braying from the bushes as they huddled together in the thistles.
8 Children of scoundrels, worse, nameless people, the very outcasts of society!
9 And these are the ones who now make up songs about me and use me as a byword!
10 Filled with disgust, they keep their distance, on seeing me, they spit without restraint.
11 And since God has loosened my bow-string and afflicted me, they too throw off the bridle in my presence.
12 Their brats surge forward on my right, to see when I am having a little peace, and advance on me with threatening strides.
13 They cut off all means of escape seizing the chance to destroy me, and no one stops them.
14 They move in, as if through a wide breach, and I go tumbling beneath the rubble.
15 Terror rounds on me, my confidence is dispersed as though by the wind, my hope of safety vanishes like a cloud.
16 And now the life in me trickles away, days of grief have gripped me.
17 At night-time sickness saps my bones I am gnawed by wounds that never sleep.
18 Violently, he has caught me by my clothes, has gripped me by the collar of my coat.
19 He has thrown me into the mud; I am no more than dust and ashes.
20 I cry to you, and you give me no answer; I stand before you, but you take no notice.
21 You have grown cruel to me, and your strong hand torments me unmercifully.
22 You carry me away astride the wind and blow me to pieces in a tempest.
23 Yes, I know that you are taking me towards death, to the common meeting-place of all the living.
24 Yet have I ever laid a hand on the poor when they cried out for justice in calamity?
25 Have I not wept for those whose life is hard, felt pity for the penniless?
26 I hoped for happiness, but sorrow came; I looked for light, but there was darkness.
27 My stomach seethes, is never still, days of suffering have struck me.
28 Sombre I go, yet no one comforts me, and if I rise in the council, I rise to weep.
29 I have become brother to the jackal and companion to the ostrich.
30 My skin has turned black on me, my bones are burnt with fever.
31 My harp is tuned to dirges, my pipe to the voice of mourners.

Not exactly a ringing endorsement of his kindness to others: a kindness – it has to be confessed – which is turned against him at the first opportunity.  No good deed goes unpunished.  Job would agree with that, it seems.  And so he repudiates the brats and worthless less-than-dogs he had previously aided, seeing that it didn’t do any good at all.  So much, then, for Job the patron saint of social justice.

4 thoughts on “A Response to Robert Cargill

  1. irishanglican ~ Fr. Robert 13 Aug 2010 at 1:00 pm

    An amen from me here! BTW, note, the Roman Hippolytus today (13th of Aug.) Wish we had him around today!


    • Jim 13 Aug 2010 at 1:08 pm

      sorry- not a fan of the hippo


  2. irishanglican ~ Fr. Robert 13 Aug 2010 at 1:28 pm

    Too bad, his works speak for themselves! A real defender and apologist for the Christian and Trinitarian faith, he put some real knots on those Monarchian heads! Seems like I know one of those modern Monarchian’s? A big fellow known around this parts! lol


  3. bobcargill 13 Aug 2010 at 3:04 pm

    i love it (that is, the dialogue, the challenges, the exchange of varying viewpoints between two real people 😉


    i’m not sure whether i/we disagree or not.

    this is the beauty of wisdom: one’s experiences can always cause one to rethink one’s previously held beliefs.
    this is the way life (including scholarship!) should be: a constant re-examination of the facts in light of recent experiences/evidence. sometimes we rely on the old ‘tried and true’ wisdom, and other times we update this wisdom to meet new realities. in some areas, new models and paradigms come to replace the old, while in other areas, the ‘old wisdom’ still holds true. the struggle of all things – politics, ethics, world view, science, theology, and personal relationships – is summarized by this single question: when do we cling to traditional wisdom, and when should wisdom be updated to reflect our present situation.

    in the truest form of hebrew wisdom, after articulating how one should ‘do’ social justice, and how the one ‘doing’ acts of social justice ought to be received (as depicted in job’s recollection of his ‘former days’), job articulates quite beautifully the real consequences of actually standing up for justice – that is, you will be ridiculed, criticized, persecuted and wholly taxed by those will resist the changes you seek to make (and their name is legion!) there is a real consequence when one sticks one’s neck out to take on something that is, simply put, unjust (even if not illegal). this consequence comes not only from the wrongdoers, who turn and train their destructive energies toward the social justice advocate, but also from bystanders, who tacitly harm the advocate with their silence and inaction. but this does not mean the struggle is not worth fighting(!), for social justice is the right thing to do whether its popular or not, and whether it brings personal harm (physically, emotionally, or professionally) or not.

    you will note that job does not end his suit against god after acknowledging that his righteous efforts have been repaid by god with punishment, but, job in fact includes this stunning injustice in the suit against god. for some reason, the dreamers and prophets are always harassed and killed by those whose actions they are attempting to reform. i believe the point of the author is to show that true wisdom is not only advocating for social justice in a world that does not appreciate it and persecutes its reformers, but that lamenting to god himself about god’s injustices is just as much a part of wisdom.

    of course, the fact that god never answer’s job’s questions is a tacit endorsement of job’s claims of the unfairness of god, which are later made explicit in job 42:8 when god is recorded as saying, ‘for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant job has.’ this verse demonstrates that in job’s accusations against god, in which job called him every name in the book (unjust, unfair, apathetic, etc.), that job was, in fact, speaking the truth about god – a truth that god acknowledges! in fact, god’s response to job is not to justify his own actions, but to question job’s authority to question god’s governance. (that is, god responds, ‘where were you when…,’ as opposed to, ‘here’s why i’m actually not unjust.’) the author is stating that true social justice is true wisdom, and that part of true wisdom is acknowledging that the world persecutes its reformers, prophets, and dreamers, and that god allows this! the other part of true wisdom is a steadfastness in this social advocacy, even at times when it seems that god himself is opposing your efforts.


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