Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The story of Job

Via Twitter. Written by Curtis Perry, with inspiration by Joseph A. Howley (reproduced with their permission): 
There was a person in the land of grad school, whose name was Job; and that person was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil and had written 4 of 5 chapters. Job's substance also was two peer-reviewed journal articles; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east. 
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them. And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From the search committee. 
And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a published and an upright man? 
Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Hath Job submitted an application? If so, he will come to curse thee to thy face. 
And there was a day when the search committee met  
And there came an automated email unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them: so send a writing sample, a teaching statement, a cover letter, and a dossier of recommendation immediately. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, your funding is running out and and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, There is only one position in your field, so good luck with that. 
Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and tweeted. 
And said, unpublished came I out of my mother's womb, and unemployed shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.
In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly. 
Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the Lord. And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth 
And Satan answered the Lord, and said, The committee hath not completed its deliberations. So went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord, and smote Job with delaying. 
And he took him a group office to comfort himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes. 
Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they were secretly hoping that they could get the interview with Satan instead. 
After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day. And Job spake, and said,
Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived.
Let the day of my first seminar be remembered in darkness; let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it.
For now should I have lain still and been quiet, or just played video games, or gone to law school.
I have seen the foolish taking root and earning tenure: but suddenly I cursed his habitation.
I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause:
What is my strength, that I should hope? What is my methodological innovation that I should hope to be noticed?
Is there iniquity in my chapter? cannot my heuristic discern perverse things?
When I lie down, I say, When shall I arise, and the night be gone? and I am full of tossings to and fro unto the dawning of the day.
Doth God pervert judgment? or doth His rec letter misrepresent my defense date?
I will say unto God, Do not condemn me; shew me wherefore thou contendest with me.
Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made me rewrite chapter 3 and change annotation style; and wilt thou bring me into dust again?
Hast thou not poured me out as milk, and curdled me like cheese? 
Then spake Zophar the Placement Officer, and said,
Canst thou while searching call out God? hast thou edited thy materials as I said?
If thou prepare thine dissertation abstract, and stretch out thine hands toward him
then shalt thou lift up thy face without spot; yea, thou shalt be stedfast, and shalt not fear:
But the dossiers of the wicked shall fail, and they shall not escape, and their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost. 
And Job answered and said
I am as one mocked of his neighbour, who calleth upon God, and he answereth him: the just upright man is laughed to scorn. The tabernacles of unpublishing full professors prosper, and they that provoke God are secure; into whose hand God bringeth abundantly. 
ye are forgers of lies, ye are all theoreticians of no value. 
And where is now my hope? as for my writing sample, who shall see it? 
Then answered the Lord unto Job out of the whirlwind, and said, 
Gird up thy loins in a newly purchased and not too ostentatious suit; I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. Canst thou describe 3 years of hard thinking in 5 minutes of high-stakes interview? Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? 
I shall give thee an interview, though it shall cost all thou hast left to attend it. 
Then Job answered the Lord, and said, 
I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. 
Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes. But I say unto you "my dissertation intervenes in.."
After this lived Job an hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his sons' sons, even four generations. And surprisingly few daughters. Especially at the rank of full Professor.
 Thank you to Curtis and Joseph for their permission. 


  1. It's not funny but I liked this Job poem:

    1. OT: "Don't confuse activity with achievement." (John Wooden) is a good related aphorism.

    2. I don't think whoever wrote it actually expected anyone to take it as literal truth. I suspect the book started as a stage play: look at the intro, the servants come to Job and tell him about all these catastrophes. You don't see the Sabeans, the Chaldeans, or the tornado. Most books of the Bible are all like 'and the Earth opened and swallowed up Moshazzaz in a torrent of fire'. Job isn't. It reads like a script for a low-budget movie.

    3. It makes some sense that it was not literal and that it may have been some sort of play, but even if you don't mean the story to be literal, the pieces sort of have to fit. To people now, the idea that "in the end, everything's good" doesn't really work. It may have been reasonable when the story was written - when kids died early, late, and often and were a way of getting security for your old age (cheap labor and care when old). It works less now when we treat children as more valuable; they aren't necessarily a retirement plan, and are expected to survive longer so that their dying is something we are less prepared for) and not exchangeable.

      I never really understood Job very well, even after my pastor preached on it four Sundays in a row. The God there seems too much like the God of Star Trek V to take much comfort from in suffering. Maybe the lesson should be that some things make sense in a particular context and some don't, but a lot of people seem to have mapped to this context better than I can.

  2. It took a while to translate to 1984 NIV, but it was worth it.


looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20