This is the third of what I hope will be a long-term series called Letters From David. The “David” is David M. Swindle former editor of political publications from 2009-2015 before “retiring” to focus on building a Bible-based counterculture. David was my editor at Newsreal Blog and has been my friend ever since. He is now the West Coast Editor for Liberty Island and lives in Los Angeles with his wife, counterculture feminist pop artist April Bey, and their Siberian Husky Maura. In 2006 he graduated from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana with a degree in Political Science and English-Creative Writing and still remains stuck at the fiery fault lines between politics, culture, technology and religion.
In this installment, David talks asks a question I have heard many Rabbi’s argue about, Is the book of Job real or is it a parable? There is no consensus as to when Job lived – or even if he ever actually lived at all! There is also a debate as to whether Job is a Jew or a non-Jew. The opinions on this also vary based in large part upon assumptions of when Job lived (if he did).
One thing is for sure, if someone saying he is Job comes up to you and requests that you cash a check for him, Don’t do it, unless he shows you a legitimate I.D.
I really enjoyed Dave’s latest letter, and I’m sure you will too.
I confess: I’ve failed you, my friend. I’m sorry.
I had hoped to keep to a regular blogging routine this fall — posts each week both for you and Rebel Media so I could keep my political knives sharp and weigh in when some hot cultural story inspired a rant. But I’ve fallen down a fictional rabbit hole the past few months, and the twists and turns of the political world now more inspire annoyance than a desire to try and influence the discussion in a positive direction. I haven’t been all that enthusiastic about any of the candidates ever since the only one I was hoping for – John Bolton – chose not to run. I remained open-minded about several but at this point none are really inspiring in me any confidence that they can even win, put aside the question of if they would even be a good president.
I had accepted in the fall of 2012 that the Republicans were not prepared politically to defeat Obama. I’ve accepted the same about 2016. Now that Governors Rick Perry, Scott Walker, and Bobby Jindal are out of the race no authentically “conservative” candidates remain — not that any of them had much of a chance of being able to defeat the Democrats. One of the lessons I learned during my years of editing political publications: it’s not the side with the better ideas that wins, it’s the side that’s willing to fight more viciously until their opponent is devastated and destroyed. Politics and war really are extensions of one another in tactics and principle.
So it’ll likely be Hillary in 2016 — her generation’s second coming of FDR, attempting to inaugurate the next New Deal, the further expansion of the Great Society. The current generation of mostly baby boomer political activists in charge of the Republican Party and “conservative” institutions are not prepared to fight enough to stop it.
The fictional worlds I’ve immersed myself in for the time being — writing my first fantasy novel and editing a slate of novels for Liberty Island across genres — have drawn my focus more. And now is a good opportunity for you and any of your readers to consider participating. There’s a holiday writing contest going on now accepting entries, with a religious theme:
Ever wonder what it was like to:
- witness the building of the Tower of Babel?
- be a soldier in Pharaoh’s army at the Red Sea?
- work as a builder on Solomon’s Temple?
- hear Jesus preach for the first time in the Galilee?
We certainly have–and now it’s your assignment to take us there. Your short fiction entry is set in Biblical times, broadly-defined as any time from Adam and Eve to c. 100 AD/CE. That’s a long time period however you choose to reckon it, and gives you ample opportunity to tell untold tales, shed new light on well-known sagas, and provide insight into history, human nature, and our ancestors’ relationship with the Divine.
You are welcome to make your story as religious (or not) as you choose; there’s no religious litmus test. What the judges want are imaginative and gripping narratives. Bonus points for experimenting with different genres–mystery, romance, even fantasy/sci-fi. Just make sure it ties into the time period and setting.
Entries should be 1,500-5,000 words long, and can be of any genre you like. The deadline is Sunday, December 6th. All the winning authors will receive a copy of the forthcoming novel, Eden: The Animals’ Parable signed by author Keith Korman. Additionally, we may publish an anthology of the best entries…so aim high!
Jeff, the novel that I’m working on right now is Biblically-themed. I haven’t written much yet about it, even though I’ve been working on it now for a few months. Until I get a good draft done of it I won’t be sure that it’ll work, so I’m trying to keep it under my hat a bit more.
One thing I will say, though, is that The Book of Job has been of my main inspirations and a text that I plan to dig into even deeper. I’ve come to regard it as one of the Bible’s hidden treasures and most under-appreciated books. One of the mysteries about the book: is the story factual history or is it a work of literature, a parable to illustrate theology? Does it matter? What are the implications of either? Jewish scholars throughout the centuries were divided on the questions, and so too Christians. (Maimonides took the view that it was a parable.) Heightening the mystery even further is this scholarly development too: that The Book of Job is the oldest text in the Bible, even older than Genesis. (See chapter 2 of Hugh Ross’s Hidden Treasures in the Book of Job.)
Wherever one falls on the Fact or Fiction debate of Job, its great value in my view comes in understanding it as a practical guide for how to live in this world. Job should come before Genesis because the story of The Garden of Eden (again where one falls on the Fact or Fiction question doesn’t matter) is not adequate to define evil and how to overcome it.
The story of Job is familiar and deeply disturbing if we focus on it the wrong way. It begins with Satan challenging God that the decent man Job is only loyal to him because of his blessings and comfortable life. Should Job lose all that he holds dear then surely he will curse his creator. So God consents to allowing Satan to inflict all evils conceivable on Job until all of his family have been murdered, his property stolen, and his body afflicted with illness. And then 3 of his friends come out to lecture him about how it’s all his fault when he of course knows that it isn’t. Eventually Job remains firm in his faith and God reveals the truth to him:
Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:
Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Dress for action[a] like a man;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.
Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
And rewards him:
And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.
I think part of the reason why The Book of Job is so difficult is that people get hung up on the dark side. They see God as somehow weak and cruel for allowing Satan to test Job. They miss out on realizing that the experience transforms Job and that he must first lose everything he has in order to become something bigger than he was.
I will endeavor to correspond more regularly moving forward.
Best wishes in your blogging,
P.S. Lid Readers: What do you think about Job? Have any ideas as I start to work more on Job-themed creative projects? Are you a writer working on a novel? Get in touch: DavidSwindle [@] Gmail [dot] com @DaveSwindle on Twitter
See the Previous Two Installments in this Series:
Part I, October 6: The Coming Rise of Judeo-Christian Values
Part II, October 18: Bloggers Should Embrace Fiction and Ben Shapiro Leads the Way