Content warning: descriptions of physical and emotional abuse towards a child.
I was inspired to re-read the Book of Job after reading a minjung theologian’s unique interpretation of the meaning of God appearing in the whirlwind. I remembered that, growing up, Job was one of my favorite books in the Bible — likely because of the fantastical creatures mentioned. But as I read Job with new eyes, I was struck — and rather disturbed by — some of the language God uses to justify certain actions. I wanted to tease out why the language was bothering me. So I decided to reimagine the conversation between Job and God at the end of the book as a conversation between a child and her abusive father. Each and every quotation below is directly from the Book of Job’s text. While I am sure some might read this as idle sacrilege, I believe that sometimes sacrilege helps us see through more faithful eyes.
The Child cried out in pain, “How long will you torment me and break me in pieces? Are you not ashamed to wrong me? Behold, I cry out, ‘Violence!’ but I am not answered.”
The Father’s face reddened with fury at the little one’s insolence. “Why do you talk without knowing what you’re talking about? Pull yourself together! Up on your feet! Stand tall! Now what do you have to say for yourself?” He sneered, saying, “Are you going to haul me into court and press charges?”
His sudden outburst terrified the Child. She quickly began to apologize, afraid of provoking her Father to more violence. “I should never have opened my mouth!” she exclaimed. “I’ve talked too much, way too much. I’m ready to shut up and listen.”
“Do you presume to tell me what I’m doing wrong?” her Father shrieked. “Are you calling me a sinner so you can be a saint?
He raised his hand. “Do you have an arm like my arm?”
The Child flinched, causing him to laugh in disgust at her.
“Go ahead, show your stuff,” he finished, satisfied he had put her back in her place. “Let’s see what you’re made of, what you can do.”
The Child, however, knew she was once again trapped. Deflated, discouraged, and afraid, she backpedaled. “You are right,” she said quietly. “You can do anything and everything.”
She continued: “I was the one at fault. You told me, ‘Listen, and let me do the talking. Let me ask the questions. You give the answers.’” She began to cry. “I’m sorry—forgive me. I’ll never do that again, I promise!”
He laughed. He knew he had once again won.