Friday, October 11, 2013

Making waves

A day after my date with radio destiny I'm settling back into ordinary life, but it's been a weird day. I think it's the strange sensory dislocation involved. In that solitary studio I was responding to voices I heard only over headphones - voices in my head! - along with my own voice, but I realized later that people far away, some known to me and others not, had been hearing me, some live and others later. It was intoxicating, my first real experience of the remote action made possible by, well, the age of mechanical reproducibility. To be honest, I wasn't quite willing just to be here, in this body with its physical limits - as if I'd found I was secretly capable of telekenesis or being in two places at the same time. Of course I was just one segment of a weekly chat show, but I think can see how people get carried away by the scale difference of fame.

In the meantime, the segment has produced 178 responses on the program website. The first to comment were haters, saying sadly predictable things which, also sadly, always produce enough responses to keep them at it - even as there's no evidence they actually listened to the program. For instance:

Please, next time you talk about the bible, please label it the Book of Hooey. Non-believers don't need readings from the bible to tell them about the stark reality of living today. And you and most interviewers on NPR rarely interview the famous atheists about these very things. And we don't need any "Sky God" to guide us or save our lives.

It always amazes me that anyone would worship the despicable deity of the Book of Job. A god that makes a bet, and part of the bet involves the death of innocent people and the suffering of an innocent man. For a bet! But, and here's the kicker, all is well folks, don't you feel sorry for poor Job having lost all his children because, are you ready for it... he has MORE children. And since children as we all know are interchangeable, they all lived happily ever after. One needs to wonder about the mental competence of anyone who thinks that is a stellar example of divine goodness and love. I could introduce you to plenty of human beings who are much better people than this god. And they don't demand to be worshipped either.

Others are a bit better informed, and a few even reference the program! (The subtler points I made were missed, at least by some.) But why do they let themselves get sucked into exchanges with the sad haters? Why bother? I suppose they're all experiencing action at a distance, too.

I should include some of the helpful, indeed illuminating comments too.

I sometimes teach Job in the Judaism section of my humanities class, and it provides a very necessary moral statement to the Tanakh, encouraging a deontological ethic when so much of the Torah demonstrates a teleological ethic. If stories like Adam and Eve demonstrate that it's important to obey God for the potential reward or punishment, Job shows that reward and punishment are irrelevant, that being good is important for its own sake. The frame story of the bet is only morally problematic if taken literally & obscures the much more important moral lesson at the center, that being good must have no relationship with reward. In humanities, we parallel it with the Bhagavad Gita where the importance for today's world is not that killing one's cousins is okay but that karma is only a function of dharma. One must first do his/her moral duty without self interest and not consider the "fruits of action."

All this research and discussion, and no mention that Job is also a prophet in Islam, and his story is mentioned in the Quran? It's not only 'two faiths' that have this story. (I don't think there's any wager in the Islamic version.)

It's fascinating that so many ignore all the people who've died and come back. The research shows how consistent the experiences are, and what they discover is that WE CHOSE THIS LIFE with all its potential for negative experiences, so we might grow. WE achieve goals thru suffering, and thinking of God as an external being that tortures is incorrect. No more whining - you chose it. Listen to their accounts on YouTube (Gordon Allen , Joe Geraci). They have learned some of the secrets, and it's mind-blowing, and it feels right.

Job is from the East? There is clearly a Buddhist connection here. Job's patience can be seen as acceptance and acceptance leads to Enlightenment, or what God perceived to be better than S/He.

I'm a lifelong believing Catholic. My faith has seen me through some tough times and as a physician who understands the definition of stress as a situation where we're not in control, I believe that without my faith and the sacraments (the same as grace) I would be dead. I read the book of Job years ago when I was every bit as blessed as Job. That was due to my family and the tremendous faith of my Irish mom and old world Prussian father. Evil comes into the world as a result of our free will. We make the choices and in a just world suffer the consequences either in this world or in the next. None of that rules out the possibility of reincarnation as an underlying truth. I can see how we might be in purgatory (a matter of semantics) now. The world goes it's way with the wheat growing with the chaff until that final trumpet sounds and we are judged by our deeds in the cold light where "nothing" is hidden. Every action, good or bad, begins at the level of intention. That is an ultimate abstract (either intellectual or spiritual) thing which makes mankind unique among creatures. We are the only creatures who regularly die for some abstract idea. It's very important for the world and mankind as a whole that "good" intentions are at the root and beginning of every action. Faith hope and charity and "the greatest of these is charity". Ultimately the best of "humanism", science and religion must come together.

The tribulations Job goes through are part of his journey and relationship with God. His steadfast faith enables him to experience God within the end of the text. Like Thich Nhat Han states "No Mud, No Lotus".

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