Friday, February 4, 2011

Parte 3: Challenging the Measure of Guilt in Job and Negri

The book of Job is essentially a challenge to unhealthy guilt in that Job withstands the judgments of his so-called theologian friends. For theorist Antonio Negri, the book of Job raises some fundamental philosophical questions. Negri's main goal is to challenge retributive judgment that is based on measure.

Job withstands at least three big ideas: 1) the logic of retribution (best seen in Eliphaz), 2) mystical over-determination and 3) transcendent providence or moralism. In all three methods, Job's friends try to answer back to Job's complaints. They claim that the reason that Job suffers has to do with some meaning: it is either retribution for something Job committed (reward/punishment), a mystery that Job must passively accept, or it is just part of some kind of master plan. In short, there is some underlying meaning, and Job must silently, passively accept that.

However, the surprise of the book is that God does come down for Job to see! Negri makes a great point to say that not even Moses could see God face to face, but here is God before Job the complainer! And as God appears, God basically takes Job's side! I love this fact because it shows that God creates a space for humans to actually complain about the meaninglessness of their suffering.

One of the best parts of the book is where Negri contrasts pain with fear. In one sense, pain brings us into community, it evokes our sympathies and passions and will perhaps produce a free, creative act. On the other hand, fear is dictatorial when it is made a realist foundation that silences humans for the sake of security. Negri is right on in that it is the best part of the human being to feel empathy and become angry when we see pain; it arouses our conscience to finally act and regard someone as a fellow human brother/sister.

Negri's final point from Job is to say that the Church has often taken the position of one of Job's interlocutors than standing with those that suffer (unlike Christ, right?). One of the lessons to learn is to look to act when we experience pain with another than to look for some kind of retributive key behind someone's pain. Again, I always reread the book of Job by saying what if Job's friends go to visit him, cry with him and then the book ends.

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