The Doctor Is In

in Poetry

Dr. Wes

Mother and the Book of Job

The other day I got into an argument with a vendor about whose mother was worst. From my understanding, it boiled down to the fact that her mother both looked and acted like the Wicked Witch of the West, so I should give up, cry Uncle, and admit that her mother was by far the worst.

That whole Book of Job was really underdone, in my own disinterested, impartial, and objective opinion.

I'm sorry, but the Wicked Witch of the West was a pushover compared to my mother. My mother would not send flying monkeys to do her dirty work. My mother would go do it herself, because she thought the hands-on approach was more fun. My mother was no ugly cackling witch, either. She was pretty and personable, so she could get away with just about anything. My mother was more along the lines of your basic conniving, manipulating torturer - the kind that never leaves permanent marks as evidence. My mother made Joan Crawford (Mommie Dearest) look like Mary Poppins.

As usual, such thoughts made me think of Job. I thought what I always think when I think of my mother, that Job didn't really have it so bad. He didn't have my mom.

That brings up one of my chief complaints about the Bible. That whole Book of Job was really underdone, in my own disinterested, impartial, and objective opinion. I mean, I personally didn't write that Book, so it's no skin off MY nose if it's 30 chapters short of being done. I'm just saying that if it HAD been one of mine, I wouldn't have skimped so much on the details, that's all.

Maybe there just wasn't enough space for the full treatment. OK, I can see that. But really, do you think that if the author had insisted on the extra space, the editors wouldn't have slashed a few reams of begats to make room? Of course they would have.

First of all, the trials and ordeals of Job are just so understated. So, big deal, his servants were killed. He should have been happy he HAD servants. So, big deal, the fire of God burned up his sheep and dead servants, and a great wind killed his sons and daughters, and Job himself was covered head to toe with hideous sores. So what?

We all have bad days. There needed to be more detail in that part.

Maybe it should've said, "And oh yes, the Lord God sent unto Job Wes Browning's Mom, and everyone did see that his suffering was great." And sent irritable bowel syndrome. And Job should have had to endure late Sunday night TV programming, without the benefit of cable.

But the part where the Book really skimps is the part where Job and God are arguing. If I were writing it there'd be a lot more said on both sides.

Right off, I'd have God try this angle: "So Job, you think you shouldn't have things so bad 'cause you're so good. Did you ever think that was where you went wrong? Maybe I'd treat you better if you didn't think that being good automatically entitled you to it, huh?"

So then Job would go away and work on that, and then he'd come back and say, "I see your point, God, and I've mended my ways. I don't anymore believe I am entitled to good treatment for being good. So how about restoring my fortune now?"

"Good try, fleshy one! But you still expect your fortune restored, so you don't really believe what you are saying, do you? Hah! Catch 22!"

They could go back and forth like that for 20 chapters or so. Then finally Job would get smart. He'd say, "Hey! Wait a minute, underlying all this is the premise that you, God, determine the Good. But suppose the Good is independent of you. Then being good, you must treat me well if it would be unjust otherwise."

At this point I would break all the conventional rules of a Biblical Book and have my ultimate protagonist (God) say, "What do you want me to be, good and just, or do you want me to be powerful enough to restore your fortune? You can't have both in this world."

I would have God spend a few chapters badgering Job into answering this question. Finally Job would give in, and true to character, he would ask God to be good and just. I would then have God turn Job into a good liberal Democrat under an evil Republican administration.

© Dr. Wes Browning:
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