Thursday, January 14, 2016

The man who got a ticket

The Book of Job illustrates dramatic irony. Alfred Hitchcock once illustrated dramatic irony by using the example of some folks sitting around a table making idle conversation. Beneath the table is a briefcase with a ticking time bomb that will go off in five minutes. The element of suspense derives from the fact that the audience knows something the characters don't. The characters are oblivious to their imminent peril. 

By the same token, the reader knows something Job doesn't. The prologue makes the reader a fly on the wall. He's allowed to eavesdrop on the conversation between God and Satan. By contrast, Job has no idea why the bottom just fell out of his life. It's as if the universe suddenly developed a personal vendetta against him, and he doesn't know why. Moreover, there's no appellate process. His experience is Kafkaesque. 

A secular analogue to Job would be a totalitarian state that decides to pick on a private citizen. Hound him to death. Years ago I saw George C. Scott in "The Man Who Got a Ticket" (NBC, Bell System Family Theatre, 1972).

He played a nameless driver who got a penny-ante traffic ticket. He went to the police station to pay it. Put it behind him. 

He didn't think it was a bid deal. He'd be in and out in a few minutes. Yet the police began to question him. He got in deeper and deeper. It dawned on him that he walked into a trap. It was a mistake to admit to anything

That's how many Americans are beginning to feel about the government. Both the Federal government and sometimes state and local government. Increasingly, the government treats ordinary citizens as the enemy. The government is an occupation force. Consider how Obama weaponized the Federal bureaucracy to use against political opponents. Or consider the tactics of local police. For instance:

In many instances, people have been unaware that the police around them are sweeping up information, and that has spawned controversy...For years, dozens of departments used devices that can hoover up all cellphone data in an area without search warrants.

It's a terrifying thing when the full resources of government are turned on ordinary citizens. When the government is after you, what can you do? You are alone, isolated, and defenseless against a malevolent, impenetrable, unaccountable bureaucracy. Your friends may abandon you for fear they will be targeted by association. 

That was Job's nightmarish experience. He knew that God was ultimately behind his ordeal, but if God is the enemy, then your situation is truly hopeless. Job felt like a hunted man. As if the Furies were tailing him, only Job had done nothing in particular to merit his ordeal. 

It's good for Bible readers to project themselves into the situation of the characters. Imagine what it would be like to be that character, be in their situation.

One entry point for the Book of Job is to consider political analogies. Kafkaesque dilemmas.


  1. Don't know Franz, haven't read his writings. Can you cite a couple examples from his work that captures a real existential narrative the people of the United States are experiencing right now?

    The only one I think of who might be surrounded by what appears to be trouble but not tantamount to the Kafkaesque dilemma would be Hillary Clinton, whose pit seems to deepen each and every time a tranche of her emails emerges from the darkness of the State Department.

    For us, the Elect, our minds are set or should be set on Him, thus:::>

    Isa 26:1 In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: "We have a strong city; he sets up salvation as walls and bulwarks.
    Isa 26:2 Open the gates, that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in.
    Isa 26:3 You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
    Isa 26:4 Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.

    And all because:::>

    Rom_8:6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

    1. Kafka's "The Trial" would probably ideal.