JŌB - a biblical tale for modern America
 
by James Hercules Sutton 

You know the plot. The Devil crashes a staff meeting and, when God mockingly asks him where he’s been, Satan says “around” and asserts there’s not one steadfast believer on earth. God takes the bet. How can he lose? He’s God.
    Satan gets cracking. Jōb gets boils. His sheep, camels, crops, servants and children die. He spirals into debt. His friends say he must have committed abysmal sins and indict him for not repenting. There’s a long give-and-take between Jōb and his false friends, but nobody knows anything about true righteousness except Jōb. He hangs in and doesn’t lose faith. God wins His bet.
    But Jōb is morbidly depressed and sorry for himself, so God shows up and gives him a lecture: Self-pity is its own woe, and Jōb has no right to feel more important than clay, which, by the way, no man had a hand in creating. Then as disgorgement or because He feels like it, God restores double of what was lost and grants Jōb sons, but not the ones he lost.
    When Jōb ponders God’s responsibility and asks for a debate, he dummies up when he gets it. This is wise, since anyone who debates God loses before he begins, particularly when God shows up in a dust devil.
    If he had been an Existentialist, Jōb would have realized that he’d been given the greatest gift of all, knowledge that God exists, but his comforter didn’t think of it. John Paul Satre could have profited from such knowledge, since he lived in doubt and was windy about it. For Jōb, his false friends, and Satre, the morals are obvious:
    (1)    Get on with it, and don’t blame God.
    (2)    Suffering is the human condition.
For us, there are more:
    (3)    God accepts collateral damage.
He’s willing to screw up a righteous man to win a bet He couldn’t lose.
    (4)    Sin consists of denying rightful choices to others.
Satan’s assault on Job is an assault on Free Will, which is an assault on God, which is why Satan does it. Unjust Dominion is sin for mortals, too, but we overlook it, since it’s the basis of Capitalism.
    (5)    The best suffer most. But being a little less righteous than perfect would have kept Jōb from being a target.
    The story’s premise is suspect: A perfect being wouldn’t stoop to being an accessory-before-the-fact. Then there’s Satan. He lost all powers, except speech, when tossed from Heaven, so his only power is power to tempt. This doesn’t present much of a problem, given the job he does on Jōb, but it raises the possibility that one could be tempted to blame Satan rather than getting on with God’s work. This has been known to fill pews.