The blood hadn’t dried and the bodies were still warm when Job’s visitors arrived. A few immediately took the classic lines. Condolences and all that, but really Job its your fault. You didn’t take the threat seriously, manage security for your children, close the borders to the foreign pestilence, and of course cleanse your own heart of the sins we see so clearly in retrospect.
Others took a more modern approach. We are with you Job, they said. We all have made mistakes that led to this tragedy. We’ve all fallen short. It was our sin too. Sorry it fell on you to suffer most, but don’t worry, we’ll be right beside you in the confessional, and calling on God to have mercy. Believe us, we’ll drown the Divine ears in contrition and never make you stand alone in your failure.
Then the angry doubters arrived at the door. They too blamed Job, but most of all his other friends for their feckless credulity in believing that God existed at all. If only these naive fools would give up on their silly religion we could all get on the with work of building a rational social order in which well adjusted people neither created such horrors nor visited them upon themselves by their injustices.And that is when the fight started, with the bodies still unburied and Job’s widow still weeping for her children. Angry atheists versus the believers, either guilt-wracked or strutting as virtuous agents of God’s condemnation of sin. And the believers fighting among themselves over who was more to blame; Job, themselves, or those angels of death whom God apparently gave free reign.
Even as Job sobbed, face buried in his hands, the arguments grew fiercer about whether to exact a righteous revenge or seek to convert with love, whether to act or to repent of failing to act. More and more voices were heard in the house of sorrow; pundits, preachers, theologians, think tank scholars, and politicians all weighed in. Angry words, claimed to have been heard once from heaven or perhaps a recent news report or poll were shouted back and forth in a cacophony that rose like the rippling roar of artillery fire or the blast of a drone borne bomb, or the beating of breasts like swords against shields in the legions of the righteous.
God, assuming God had anything to say, could not at this report be heard above the din. As usual.