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This is a question This book changed my life

The Goat writes, "Some books have made a huge impact on my life." It's true. It wasn't until the b3ta mods read the Flashman novels that we changed from mild-mannered computer operators into heavily-whiskered copulators, poltroons and all round bastards in a well-known cavalry regiment.

What books have changed the way you think, the way you live, or just gave you a rollicking good time?

Friendly hint: A bit of background rather than just a bunch of book titles would make your stories more readable

(, Thu 15 May 2008, 15:11)
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The Book Of Job
When I was quite young we used to live next door to a family whose daughter volunteered at a local Sunday school, so it was only natural that me and my brother would go along to give my parents an hour of peace every weekend. We all happily joined in the brainwashing because we got free orange juice and got to draw pictures, mostly of Jesus obviously. In exchange all we had to do was listen to bible stories and be gently conditioned with the occasional "good boy!" when we said we agreed with it all. Everything proceeded happily until one day the leader made the mistake of reading us The Book Of Job.

For those of you not familiar with this particular book of the old testament I'll quickly and roughly paraphrase. Job is one of God's most loyal and pure believers. One day Satan wanders up to God and bets him that if he punishes Job unfairly he'll renounce God. God agrees to the bet but says the devil can't touch Job himself, just those around him. So God watches as the devil slaughters Job's cattle and takes away his wife and children and tells him they've all been killed. When Job doesn't renounce God Satan bets him that if he can punish Job directly he definitely will. God agrees and watches as the devil smites him with boils leaving him grief stricken and in constant agony. Three people visit Job and they explain to him that he must be being punished for his sins. Unable to think of anything he can repent for Job can only wait, mourning the loss of his family and living in constant suffering until Satan admits to losing the bet. Having never renounced God, Job's sanctimonious visitors are punished, his boils are cured, his wife, children and cattle are returned (in some interpretations he's given the cattle of his sanctimonious friends and, bizzarely, his children are doubled in number and made wealthy) and he get's to "live and die in happiness".

The Sunday school leader handed out the orange juice and the crayons as he talked about how God will sometimes test people but if we keep our faith in Him we'll be rewarded. Everyone nodded and agreed and got on with drawing pictures of Job's suffering and I just sat there dumbfounded. This God, this 'man of love' sat back and watched one of his most faithful tortured, mocked, humiliated and nearly destroyed to prove a fucking point? He listened to Job being told his family had all been killed to win a bet? Forget dumbfounded, I was furious. It didn't take long for the leader to notice that one six year old boy wasn't happily colouring like the rest but was, instead, fighting back the tears. He sat down with me and tried to reason with me or, as actually happens a lot with the religous, repeated his views in exactly the same way hoping that this time I'd agree with them. When he realised that this wasn't going to work he told me to go home and think about it and see how I felt next week.

I did. I went home and thought about it. Thought about it in ways that six year olds probably very rarely do; I started questioning it. All of it. He got his answer the next week when I didn't turn up. Tantrums, tears, begging and pleading with my parents let them know there was no way I'd go back there. I remember crying with relief when my parents said I didn't have to go, didn't have to listen to any more of that horror and pain somehow dressed up in a fake message of love and hope. Skip forward ten years and I became friends with a kid called Peter. He was a friend of a friend in a different year at school so I knew little about him until we started hanging out together. It was then that I learnt two things; Peter was very religious and his Dad was a local vicar.

Inevitably the question of religious beliefs eventually came up and sparked an amazing two years of conversation and debate. His father turned out to be one of the most outstandingly opened minded religious people in existence. He never tried to preach to those that didn't want to hear it and actually openly admitted to not believing in everything The Bible had to say. His raison d'etre seemed to be that the message of love and hope that Christianity in it's entirety desperately tried but failed to encapsulate was such a beautiful ideal that it was worth compromising to preach it. It wasn't something to live by it was something to always aspire to. And he was right.

So right I really wish I'd met him.

See, our views were so diametrically opposed, or so I believed to begin with, I never trusted myself to talk to him directly for fear of violent arguements. Instead, with Peter telling his father what I was saying and then telling me what his father had said in return we, unbelievably, conducted a two year theology debate through his son. It was a testament to his open-mindedness that not once did he try and stop me despite knowing that I was slowly eroding his son's faith. He was happy to know that someone was challenging his beliefs knowing that more than one opinion would help his son find his own way. By the end of the two years I held this man I'd never met in such high estimation it was unbelievable. My opinion on the inherent evil nature of God never wavered but I think given more time and more debate it may have done. Severely. I couldn't stop thinking that maybe if he had been my Sunday school leader things could have turned out very differently. Not in a blind belief way but in a well thought out, rational longing for an ideal rather than a fairy tale hero way. His willingness to not believe oddly made his belief all the stronger.

After a while, maybe for a bet, maybe to prove a point and stroke his ego some more, God decided to intervene. Peter's father developed terminal stomach and bowel cancer. That was his reward for being loving, caring, understanding and downright inspirational to family, friends and strangers alike. In one of those weird coincidences it was around the time BBC Three was promo'ing that Vic and Bob Catterick series which they did using a song that got stuck in my head so much I downloaded it. It was called The Sire of Sorrow by Joni Mitchell and, despite being pretty overblown, it really moved me. It wasn't until I heard the full version that I realised it was a musical interpretation of The Book Of Job. For the next few months I saw Peter pretty regularly. We talked about religion (or Peter's lack of it these days), his father, listened to the song a few times and had debates like we used to. Sometimes it became too much for him and I just held him while he cried, knowing that his father was enduring untold suffering, dying in pain and, due to the type of cancer, being robbed of his dignity as he did so. I kept thinking 'God is love' and the fury of that six year old me would return, intensified.

When Peter's father finally succumbed to the cancer his family sorted through his stuff and Peter brought me a book they'd found. It's from the early 1800's and is sitting in the drawer next to me. I've never touched it and never will except maybe one day to hand it back if I think he needs it. All I have to do is look at that book and I'm filled with such righteous anger that there's nothing I can't or won't do to step into the lives of the people I love to help them in any way I can. The way that, up until the age of six, I believed God would always do.

It's The Book Of Job.
(, Fri 16 May 2008, 9:55, 17 replies)
Went on a bit of a rant there. Very cathartic though so thanks. More thanks if you managed to read it all.
(, Fri 16 May 2008, 9:56, closed)
'My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle'
beautifully conveyed. *click*
(, Fri 16 May 2008, 9:59, closed)
Every Now And Then
Every now and then I come across something that makes me sit up and pay attention. reading this was one of they moments. Well conveyed.
(, Fri 16 May 2008, 10:05, closed)
is a superbly written tale and very much deserves to win this week.
(, Fri 16 May 2008, 10:07, closed)
Bloody hell. I have actually got a tear in my eye.
(, Fri 16 May 2008, 10:08, closed)
Good yarn
*click* earned
(, Fri 16 May 2008, 10:09, closed)
is the best post I've ever read on here.

Superbly written, I'm hugely impressed.

*EDIT* So impressed was I that I re-read your old posts and guffawed once again at the'ooooh those bloody rebels' tale. I'd click on that one every day if I could.
(, Fri 16 May 2008, 10:10, closed)

(, Fri 16 May 2008, 10:11, closed)
*repeats sentiments of above posters*
(, Fri 16 May 2008, 10:12, closed)
Although I enjoy the tomfoolery and silliness on here, it's writing like this that keep me coming back day after day to hang out here and read people's stories.
(, Fri 16 May 2008, 10:24, closed)
i got sidetracked
by your previous posts as well. always a pleasure to read your rants. have you ever thought of writing a book?
(, Fri 16 May 2008, 10:28, closed)
nuff said.
(, Fri 16 May 2008, 10:28, closed)
Well written
"His raison d'etre seemed to be that the message of love and hope that Christianity in its entirety desperately tried but failed to encapsulate was such a beautiful ideal that it was worth compromising to preach it."

This ideal is not restricted to Christianity, or for that matter, religious people. I’ve often come to the conclusion that religions are nothing more than a philosophy with a culture stapled to them. Faith, love, hope and generally not being a dick are purely abstract concepts that are best expressed through the use of creative writing and storytelling. The Bible is just a collection of such stories.

Your friend’s dad sounds like one of the ‘good Christians’ (the ‘bad Christians’ are the sort that will think you’ll go straight to hell unless you accept Jesus into your heart (another concrete-ised abstract concept)). He seems like he did his job as a means of preaching his ideals, which were consistent with the underlying philosophy of Christianity. More Christians and people of other religions need to be like him.

And no need to apologise for length, it said what needed to be said and I enjoyed reading it.

@BGB: My sentiments too.
(, Fri 16 May 2008, 11:22, closed)
Now that ladies and gentleman...
...is a post.

[Tips hat to Gleeballs and departs to pub with express intention to raise glass too]
(, Fri 16 May 2008, 12:14, closed)
This is worth all of my click
and more.

A fantastic tale, delightful narrative and- dare I say it- your post may well have changed my life, too.
(, Sat 17 May 2008, 23:10, closed)
You might want to try reading Answer to Job
By CG Jung - it's basically a psychoanalysis of Yahweh ('The problem with Yahweh is he thinks he's God') through this book. I'm sure you'd find it interesting.
(, Mon 19 May 2008, 10:04, closed)
If I never read another post on b3ta beyond this one...
...I'll be a satisfied man. Magnificent story.
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 10:34, closed)

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