Fellow Passengers: This week’s Poetry Passage* (Job 16) transports me to a summer Saturday afternoon in the mid 1980s streets of suburban Louisville, where my seminary roommate and I had just finished up a set of tennis and were walking back to the dorm. Along the way Ken and I passed Mom’s Music on Mellwood Avenue, and noticed a line of people outside the door. We figured something must be up, so we went and got in line. We were about as out of place as you could imagine, sporting our sweaty tennis attire while most people in line were decked out in various arrangements of 80s leather and lace. We found out that a bona fide rock star was inside signing autographs before his concert that night. We had never heard of Jon Bon Jovi, but thought what the heck, we might as well get an autograph. As we got inside and saw the big haired hero, we were amused at what people were giving him to sign. Along with the usual fare of posters and albums (this was the pre-cd era), there was one woman handing him a bra to sign, only to be outdone by the next woman handing him her little baby to sign. My recollection is that Ken found an old chapel service bulletin in his pocket and handed it over for what the rocker must have deemed the oddest item he signed that afternoon; I don’t remember what I came up with. We didn’t make it to the show, and thus missed Bon Jovi, who was relatively new on the scene and was the opening act for Ratt, give the audience their first taste of a new album and what would become a standard on classic rock radio: Shot through the heart, and you’re to blame, you give love a bad name. An angel’s smile is what you sell, you promise me heaven, then put me through hell.
Most pictures of Job portray him as a big-hair guy, and for more reasons that this I think he would have appreciated Bon Jovi. God indeed promised him heaven and then put him through hell. Today’s passage could have even served as the inspiration for the hair-metal hit. Job wasn’t exactly shot through the heart, though. In his rant about the treatment he had gotten at the hand of God, he speaks of other vital organs getting pierced by the saggitarian archer God. The holy one has made this man of deep faith a target; without pity God pierces poor Job’s kidneys and spills his gall on the ground. Yet Job’s heart is not violated; he says that even though his face is red from weeping and dark shadows ring his eyes, his hands remain free from violence and his prayer remains pure. He remains true to his heart, his core, despite getting galled with arrows through the liver and kidneys.
My seminary buddy Ken reminds me a bit of old brother Job. Like the tragic figure of the ancient story, Ken has suffered one senseless and undeserved tragedy after another in his life. And like Job, he has remained true to his faith through it all. I know of no one who has a bigger heart, a keener mind, or a quicker wit. Like Job, he has maintained faith in the Advocate of Heaven, and from what I can gather, God has indeed blessed him in the aftermath of some hellish times. I don’t know if he ever had to suffer through Job’s experience of having a set of friends laying a heavy dose of judgment on him. If he did, I imagine his version of Bildad the Shuite could have cataloged some of our irreverent antics and claimed this was to blame. At the top of Bildad’s list would have been our weekly phone call to Terry Meiners and Ron Clay’s Show With No Name on 95.7 WQMF, where each Monday morning we gave the latest installment of The Church With No Name and absolved the tri-county region of their collective weekend sins (Ken and I were the co-popes of this church and absolution was part of our job description). Our radio segments ranged from describing the latest pup tent revival at the scout camp and buddy system baptisms in Olympic-sized baptismal pools to a Matthew 25 clothing ministry to the naked campaign at the Toy Tiger strip club on Bardstown Road. No, I suspect that the Advocate of Heaven has a sense of humor and wouldn’t have held these shenanigans against brother Ken. I hold out hope that even the great archer God who spilled Job’s guts on the ground might have laughingly looked forward to Monday mornings and WQMF during the mid 80s.
How about you? Where does this Poetry Passage take you on your journey of faith? Feel free to comment, and share with friends on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, email, etc.