A Man Named Job

This section contains all of Luigino Bruni's editorials of the series entitled "A Man Named Job" published in Avvenire from 15th March 2015

The Song With No End

A Man Named Job/17 The first and last hour of the poem of our life are always a gift given to us

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 05/07/2015

logo GiobbeIn Job I am the one who sings, it is the man who exists and, if you will, it is the man himself who can seek the light that he is looking for with the help of this book - a book that is absolutely his. Because, after Job, there was nothing new said by any man about the problem of our lives.

David Maria Turoldo, Da una casa di fango – Job (From a Mud House – Job)

There once was a righteous man named Job. He had many properties, daughters and sons, he was blessed by God and men. One day a terrible calamity hit him and his family, and the man accepted his misfortune with patience: "Naked I came into the world, naked I shall leave." When they found out about his bad fate, knowing his righteousness, his friends and relatives joined him in his mourning, to comfort him and help him. But in the end it was God himself to intervene in his favour, by giving him back double what he had lost, because Job proved faithful and upright in the test.

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There Is No Curse in the Meeting

A Man Named Job/16 - As long as we are able to ask questions we are free, even with God

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 28/06/2015

logo GiobbeI returned to Job, because I cannot live without him, because I feel that my time, like all times, is that of Job; and that can only be left unnoticed because of a lack of consciousness or because of illusion.

David Maria Turoldo, Da una casa di fango – Job (From a Mud House – Job)

It is not uncommon that the poor are so deprived of their dignity that they are not even asked why they are poor. We tend to convince them that the fault lies not in our lack of answers but in their questions that are wrong, cheeky, arrogant and sinful. The ideology of the ruling class convinces victims that seeking reasons for their misery and for the wealth of others is illegal, immoral, perhaps even irreligious.

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A God Who Can Learn

A Man Named Job/15 - The soul is alive as long as we seek Him who has not answered to us yet

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 21/06/2015

logo GiobbeAt the end of his fight that he knows to be lost from the start - how can man hope to win over God? - Job discovers an ingenuous method to persevere in his resistance: he will pretend to give in before even engaging in the battle. ... So we understand that, despite appearances, or because of them, Job continues to interrogate the sky.

(Elie Wiesel, Biblical characters through the Midrash).

When, having waited and hoped for it for a long time, the decisive encounter arrives, it usually lets us down. That imagined and hoped-for meeting was too great to be satisfied by a real encounter. We had dreamed of it and 'seen' it a thousand times in our soul. We had already pronounced the first words in our thoughts and chosen the dress for the other, glimpsed him/her, felt his/her smells and heard the sounds he/she makes.

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The Other Hand of the Almighty

A Man Named Job/14 - In the sky of faith even the clouds help us sense God

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 14/06/2015

logo GiobbeThe sacred order, separating by the atoning sacrifice the infection of blame that always accompanies man from its catastrophic consequences, makes the idea of ​​sin as something not only and necessarily bad, not a disease of life, but as a moral indictment possible. Guilt becomes a desperate artifice, a cage to be able to coexist with the merciful Almighty and his compassion for pain.

Sergio Quinzio, Un commento alla Bibbia (A Commentary on the Bible).

The happiness and pain of a civilization depends very much on its idea of ​​God. This applies to those who believe but also for those who do not, because every generation has its own atheism deeply attached to his dominant ideology. Believing in a God who is like the best part of the human is a great act of love for those who do not believe in God. Good and honest faith is a public good, because being atheists or non-believers in a god made trivial by our ideologies makes everyone less human.

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The real sense of suffering

A Man Named Job/13 - Dialogue, even the most unexpected type, helps understand life and God

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 07/06/2015

logo GiobbeIob says that the good ones do not live and that God makes them die unjustly. Iob's friends say that the bad guys do not live and that God makes them die justly. The truth is that everyone dies.

Guido Ceronetti  Il libro di Giobbe (The Book of Job)

Job has ended his speeches. His 'friends' have humiliated and disappointed him, but they also allowed us to find more and more profound reasons for his innocence. In moments of deep discernment on the justice of our life and that of the world, dialogue is an essential tool. We may only manage to understand the deepest questions of our existence and penetrate the darkest depths of our soul in company, by performing a dialogue.

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The Innocent Waits

A Man Named Job/12 - Nostalgia about the future where God's sky and man's horizon meet

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 31/05/2015

logo GiobbeAs they are repeated, the cries of the victims increase their strength. In his final speech Job continues to repeat his questions and his cries, once again he defends his innocence, and launches another scream into the sky: the poor is not poor because he is guilty. A man may be poor, unfortunate and innocent. And if he is innocent, someone has to help him up. God should be the first one to do so, if he wants to be different from the idols. The real crime that often stains religions, too, is to kill poor people by convincing them that they are guilty and that they deserved their wretched conditions; and so we are justified in our indifference that we try to associate even with God.

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The mine of wisdom

A Man Named Job/11 Let's find the sky in ourselves, faithful to the truth that is in us

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 24/05/2015

logo GiobbeJob continues to interrogate the sky. Thanks to him we know that man has been given the capability to transform divine injustice into human justice. Once upon a time, in a distant land, there was a legendary man, just and generous, that, in his loneliness and despair, found the courage to face God. And to force him to look at his Creation.

(Elie Wiesel, Biblical Characters Through the Midrash).

The history of religions and peoples is the unfolding of a real struggle between those who imprison God within ideologies and those who try to free him. The prophets belong to the category of the liberators of God who perform the essential function of criticism of all the powers in every age and overcome the invincible, tempting charm of using religions and ideologies to strengthen their dominant positions.

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Faithful to the God of the "Not Yet"

A Man Named Job/10 - Those who accept the wrong type of logic and words will not be saved

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 17/05/2015

logo Giobbe...on Judgment Day, God will have to account to mankind for all the suffering he has allowed.

Ermanno Olmi, Centochiodi (One Hundred Nails)

One day a sparrow ended up in a big, bright house and flew in there free and happy. At one point, someone closed the window from which he had entered, and all the other windows of the house. Beyond its transparent glass the bird could see the sky: it kept trying to reach it but only beat its head on the closed windows. The little bird tried several times, until it saw, on the opposite side, a door into a corridor that was dark, very dark. Desperate, it realized that if there was a way out for its return to the sky that could only be through the darkness, beyond the dark door. And so it dashed down towards the black stairs. It was hit by many corners, got hurt, broke the tip of a wing, but did not stop to continue sinking, did not let itself be won by the fear of darkness and pain. Finally, at the bottom of the great darkness, it glimpsed a light: it was the same light he had come from.

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The Poison of False Mercy

A Man Named Job/9 - Through the eyes of the poor, beyond the night of man and God

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 10/05/2015

logo Giobbe"I'm a wounded man. And I'd like to leave, pity, / And finally reach a place / Where a man who is alone / With himself will be heard. / (...) Show us a hint of justice. / What is Your law? / Dash my wretched passions / Release me from anxiety. /I am tired of my voiceless screams."

Giuseppe Ungaretti, Pity (La pietà - English translation: Diego Bastianutti)

Each generation produces its own gap between the new and difficult questions of the victims and the insufficient answers of Job's friends. Sometimes this gap becomes a loophole that we observe trying to see a broader human horizon and a higher sky. Many other times, the space of this gap is denied and cancelled, erasing the painful but fruitful questions of the poor. To hope to meet "Job and his brothers" we should simply learn to live in this inevitable vacuum, by listening quietly. There may flourish a new type of solidarity with our time and perhaps, finally, fraternity.

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Listening as Revolution

A Man Named Job/8 The truth in life is found in the ever renewing questions of the poor

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 03/05/2015

logo Giobbe"... And I am not waiting for anybody: / Between four walls / Astonished of space / More than a desert / I am not waiting for anybody: / But he must come; / He will come, / if I resist, / To blossom not seen, / He will come all of a sudden, / When I least realize: / He will come almost pardon / Of what he makes die, / He will come to make me certain / Of his and my treasure, / He will come as a relief / Of my and his pains, / His whisper / Will come, perhaps it is already coming."

Clemente Rebora, Canti Anonimi (Anonymous Poems, English translation by Roberto Filippetti)

In people, communities, civilizations and faiths, there is a cycle that alternates between faith and ideology, religion and idolatry. At the beginning of the journey we are seduced by a voice that calls us: we believe, and we set out. But after travelling a certain stretch of the road, which is sometimes very long, we find ourselves almost always inside an ideology, if not idolatry. It is a most likely, perhaps inevitable outcome, because ideology and idolatry are natural products of faiths and religions. The honest and naked reading of the Book of Job – it comes as no surprise that it is in the middle of a Bible whose chief enemy is idolatry - is a powerful treatment of these serious diseases of religions, because it forces us to quit the answers that we have matured and acquired by hard work for the good part of our life in order to return, humble and true, to the first questions of youth.

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The Word that Defeats Death

A Man Named Job/7 - The redeemer of the poor serves both the brother and the God of the living

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 26/04/2015

logo GiobbeMy last desire will be for you, who hold my whole life in your name: mother. I am at peace and I am innocent. Never be ashamed for the reason why I'm dying, rather, say that your child did not fear and that he died for freedom and now I forgive everyone, bye Mum, Dad, Stefano, Alberto, bye to all, everything is ready, I am at peace. Farewell Mum, Mum, Mum, Mum ...

(Letters from the death row of the resistance fighters, Domenico, 29 years old)."

Many faiths have been reborn from the supportive context of fraternity that were able to accompany the man shouting towards a sky that appears to be blank or hostile all through his experience of the dark. But around the desperate people sitting on piles of manure in the world, the gossip and persecution of non-supportive “friends” are no less frequent. They do not see that the truth is often hidden in the silence of faith and the “fights” with God, and they want to fill the empty sky of others by their empty words. And so the lament of Job continues to resound in our lands: “How long will you torment me and break me in pieces with words?” (Job 19,2).

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The Living Memory of the Earth

A Man Named Job/6 To do justice means not to "cover" the suffering of the righteous

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 19/04/2015

logo Giobbe"Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth (...)
Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death"

(St. Francis, The Canticle of the Creatures)

Guilt and the debt are the big issues of life for everyone. In German they are almost the same word: schuld and schuldig. We are born innocent, and we can stay so for all our life. Just like Job. The death of any child is innocent death, but also many deaths of old people are just as innocent. And God, unlike the idols, must be the first to "raise his hand" in our defence, to believe in our innocence despite all the accusations of our friends, religions and theologies. The prisons are still full of slaves accused of nonexistent debts, and the jailers who get rich by trading with their innocent victims for panting liberations.

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Beware of the Adulators of God

A Man Named Job/5 - The false love of those who defend the Lord to praise themselves

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 12/04/2015

logo Giobbe"Let's go from here. Let's ask for all this sickness to pass. Whom shall we ask? The vineyard that is ̀all
a burst of new leaves,
the acacia branch with its thorns, the ivy and the grass
empress sisters that are
a lying mantle and a powerful throne"

(excerpt from the poem Ai miei maestri immensi - To My Immense Masters by Mariangela Gualtieri)

There are many economists, philosophers and intellectuals who build theories to legitimize misery in the world, about which we are told that it is a result of the laziness of the poor, and may be something coded in their genes. Job and his great pleas for explanations are marginalized, they are not listened to, but ridiculed, and the one who tries to defend the truth of the poor and their reasons is surrounded by thousands of the 'friends of Job' that condemn and mock him. The false friends of Job are not extinct, and they are always with us with their ideologies, to humiliate, despise and condemn the poor.

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God's Responsibility

A Man Named Job/4 – He who is righteous can say it out: no son deserves to die

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 05/04/2015

logo Giobbe“You did not come down from the cross when they shouted to you, mocking and reviling you: "Come down from the cross and we will believe that it is you." You did not come down because, again, you did not want to enslave man by a miracle and thirsted for faith that is free... I swear, man is created weaker and baser than you thought him! ... Respecting him less, you would have demanded less of him, and that would be closer to love, for his burden would be lighter.”

(Fyodor Dostoyevsky, "The Grand Inquisitor", The Brothers Karamazov).

Biblical humanism does not ensure happiness to the righteous. Moses, the greatest prophet of all, dies alone and outside of the promised land. There must be something more real and deeper in the search of happiness of the righteous. We ask a lot more from life, above all the meaning of our unhappiness and that of others. The book of Job is from the side of those who are stubbornly looking for a true sense for the disappointment in the big promises, the misfortune of the innocent, the death of the daughters and sons, the suffering of children.

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The Ark of Hardships

A Man Named Job/3 The suffering of the innocent seen and understood as the start of resurrection

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 29/03/2015

logo Giobbe"Stunned, Job turns to God and says: »Master of the universe, can it not be that a storm has raged in front of you and made you confuse Iyov (Job) with Oyév (the enemy)?« Strange as it may seem, of all the questions asked by Job, this is the only one to deserve an answer."

(Elie Wiesel, Biblical characters through the Midrash).

The highest and truest words rising from the earth are those of the poor, whose wounded flesh contains a truth that the treaties of the professors cannot know. It is the truth of Job that gives strength to what he says even if it is cursing and swearing. His big unanswered questions are much more convincing and true than the answers of the experts of his time and ours - that come without big questions. Today, if we were able to listen to the questions - often mute ones - of the poor who are wounded by life and our structures of sin, we may have some glimmer of light to illuminate the many crises of our time that we will not understand until we re-learn to read the words etched into the skin of the victims.

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The Answer of the Untouchable

A Man Named Job/2 - Persisting without cursing, discovering the "freedom of the manure"

by Luigino Bruni

published in Avvenire on 22/03/2015

logo GiobbeOur civilization that descended from the North and the West has seen the sun and the blue sky; however, it has not seen the darkness of the sea, the dried mud, the deserts of yellow sand, the split rocks, the dry streams, the dusty tangle of bushes, the cruelty of light, the salt and sweat, the screams and silence or rapid decay. Our culture is in a state of this kind of poor eyesight, in this illusion, where - for the same reason - it becomes the image of impotence in facing death and therefore, life.

Sergio Quinzio, Christianity of the Beginning and the End

Richness, all human wealth, all our wealth, is first of all gift. We come into the world naked, and begin our journey on earth thanks to the generosity of two hands that receive us when we reach the world. We receive the gift of the inheritance of thousands of years of civilization, brilliance and beauty that are donated to us without any merit on our part. We are born inside institutions that had been there before we arrived, ones that take care of us, protect and love us. Our merit is always subsidiary to the gift, and it is much smaller. However, we keep creating more and more injustice in the name of meritocracy, and living as if wealth and consumption could cancel the nudity we come from and that always awaits us faithfully at the crossings of all roads of life.

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In Dialogue with God - Naked

A Man Named Job/1 - Moving beyond the “retributive” vision of faith

by Luigino Bruni

published in  pdf Avvenire (65 KB) on 15/03/2015

logo GiobbeWhat are you doing? Tell me, I want to know”. I didn't answer her. The blind man said, „We're drawing a cathedral. Me and him are working on it. Press ̀hard,” he said to me. That's̀, right.̀.. That's̀ good,” he said. „Sure. You got it, bub. I can tell. You didn't think you could. But you can, can't you? You're ̀cooking with gas now. You know what I'm saying? We're going to really have us something here in a minute”.

Raymond Carver, Cathedral

The world is populated by a countless number of Jobs. However, very few of them have the gift of crossing through their misfortunes in the company of the Book of Job. The reading and meditation of this masterpiece of all literatures is also a spiritual and ethical company for those who find themselves going through the experience of Job: a righteous person, honest and upright, who at the height of his happiness is struck by a great misfortune, without any explanation.

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