Sister Y. has written an article entitled The Empirical Nature of "Meaning" that everyone should check out. One particular comment in the thread so resonated with my own feelings that I thought I'd post it over here:
Chuck G. said...
Regarding the book of Job: I've been in three separate classes now wherein the professor or TA mentioned that there was once an alternate version of Job floating around in which the eponymous main character gets nothing at the end save for being left alone with his festering boils and ruined estate. God doesn't even give him a pat on the back for trying to figure things out - he just leaves. Of course, that kind of honesty doesn't sell, so the *real* book of Job didn't make it into the final cut.
It's too bad that this alternate version of Job, the one that didn't make it into the Tanakh, is probably the only honest take on monotheism that there ever was. If anyone dives deeply enough down the spiritual rabbit hole, the only thing they get in the end is crushing surrender, the absolute and final end of all hope, period. Disillusionment is the only gift one should ever expect from God. Thus I think it's interesting that, at the end of the alternate version, Job still retains his faith. Why, aside from the faith of the author sneaking in, should he still believe in God?
Absent a translated reading copy of the text, I can only speculate as to what exactly Job's retention of faith in the alternate version looks like - it seems wholly implausible that it would be the kind of faith one sees being sold like a drug at the tax-exempt megachurches that hawk drive-thru salvation. I imagine Job would feel something like the Zen master who finally woke up one day and burned all his scriptures and cursed the day he heard the Buddha's name, after wasting decades trying to square the spiritual circle. Your enlightenment may come, that is for sure, but it won't be the cheap dopamine perma-fix you thought it would be. Happiness is a high, but Truth is Truth. And the handmaidens of Truth are disenchantment, disillusionment, and death-awareness.
I say that for the truly faithful, God must be seen as nothing other than a yawning void in place of an answer, an untouchable mystery which for no reason at all churns out gasping life, then drowns it in final eternity. This is not the God that anyone would ever go looking for, but the ones who look, who *actually* look instead of just trying to trap their cognitive dissonance in yet another layer of spiritual nonsense, will find this one. Only seek this God if, like Job, you have absolutely no other choice - if you're not ready to throw your entire terror management apparatus out the window, with all the suffering and despair that entails, you're better off at the megachurch.