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January 23, 2012


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Speaking as half of a mixed-faith couple, I think you've nailed one of the key disconnects between Christianity and Judaism. Part of what is so interesting to me about Job is how much the story is used within Christian discourse even though the God that's portrayed in the story definitely falls on the "Judeo" side of the Judeo-Christian split.

Although I suppose any faith needs some declaration of how and why the world sometimes doesn't make any fucking sense.

Do you know the 18th-century novel Clarissa? The heroine escapes from her evil family with this classic Rake who then (of course) rapes her and she dies. The interesting thing is that she uses the text of Job as a rhetorical weapon against her actual evil dad, as proof that she didn't do anything to deserve being raped. Thoughts? Do you think a feminist repurposing of Job makes sense? From this perspective, Brad Pitt isn't God, but evidence of the capriciousness of the universe. Abusive dads are another part of the world that just doesn't make sense...


PS: I love this post.


Too often, I read something you wrote and say to myself, "well, that was just great." But I don't tell you. So let me just say, that was just great.


Anne, Sean:

Thanks! It's always nice to get some kind words about a piece of writing. I felt very inspired by the film... the bulk of this was written about forty five minutes after I watched it, so I'm glad that that paid off into a piece you both found well-written.

I do not know the 18th century novel Clarissa, but it's use of Job is fascinating (if I ever got a PHD, I'd probably write about uses of Job in literature, and this book would likely be on my list).

A feminist repurposing of Job is an interesting feat, not least of all because women are almost inconsequential to the text itself. After Job loses everything (except his wife and life) his wife says to him "Curse God and die" and then... promptly vanishes from the narrative, never to be seen again. When Job is restored by God, he's given a new wife (and new land, livestock and children) and the original wife is never mentioned.

But back to your comment, which sees a different role for Pitt, Pitt as evidence of the capriciousness of the universe. I certainly think this view on his character is valid, and I don't necessarily think Pitt represents the film/Malick's view of God, which is largely Christian in nature. What I do think connects the two is the rage in the film. From that rage's perspective-- and its a rage that envelops both the character of Jack and the film itself-- the two are kind of interchangeable. For the young Jack, God is to be hated because he acts like Jack's father, mainly through not finding some way of removing the father from Jack's life.

Tommer Peterson

I'm with Anne. This is a fine piece of writing. Thank you! Now I will see this film which I have previously ignored.

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