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the meaning of suffering and theological BS

the meaning of suffering and theological BS April 16, 2013

bullshit meter cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward
click on image to shop for David’s art

This cartoon speaks for itself. But I have a few words to add.

After the bombing at the Boston Marathon yesterday, as expected, the theological BS started to flow. What is even more remarkable to me is that every theological chunk of BS resembles the theological pronouncements of Job’s comforters. Job’s comforters and their theologizing only added to his suffering. Stupid theological statements add to ours. We should know better.

You suffer because there’s sin in your life. And even if there isn’t any sin really outstanding, you’re still not perfect. And even if you do call on God for help, the fact that you are proud prevents God from answering. And even if we don’t understand it fully, we can count on the fact that you are suffering in order to make you a better person because even though God is just he is also a God of love. Blah blah blah.

The whole point of Job, which I consider to be the most honest book about suffering, is that there is no meaning. Job never gets an answer. He never finds out why he suffered. In fact, his comforters are rebuked! Even though their theology is sound it is wrong. And Job is vindicated! He was right to claim his innocence and cry “Unfair!” Because it was unfair. He never discovers the why. Maybe that’s a good thing because we, the readers, know that it was just a wager between God and Satan. It was all just a game. So even the meaning is meaningless.

I think the point of Job we should walk away with is that we cannot understand suffering. If there is meaning, we cannot know it. But what we can do, like Job and his comforters, is be friends and help one another.

People suffered yesterday. We can’t understand why such things happen. But we can bring comfort and help one another. As was so admirably done.


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