Living with the Truth Stranger than Fiction This Is Not About What You Think Milligan and Murphy Making Sense

Sunday, 6 March 2016


The Blasphemer

I cursed God
and there was nothing.
He must be dead.

I never thought
he might have been waiting –
to see how far I'd go.

26 September 1988

I assume most people are familiar with the story of Job. I’m probably wrong in this but I’m going to assume you are familiar with the story of Job. It forms the central core of my new book—haven’t mentioned that for a week or two—but I’m not giving away any secrets. I would expect most people—most people who know the story of Job—to get that from the opening exchange between Joe and Lucien. There are a few puzzlers in the account but the one that always jumped out at me was Job 2:9:

His wife said to him, "Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!"

People curse God every day. They take his name in vain. They call out to him in the throes of ecstasy. I always wondered how that would go with Job. Would he get struck with a bolt of lightning or something? It seemed a bit easy. Maybe it was too easy which is why it doesn’t work nowadays. It would save all those suicides so much effort and trouble if they could just say the magic words and ZZZT! that would be them, fried to a crisp.


Kass said...

This seems like a simple poem, but it gives rise to a lot of questions for me. Do we damn ourselves based on our concept of God? Does it all go on in our minds? Even if we don't believe, can we still be zapped?

My husband was a Recovered Alcoholic and used to talk about how important it was for addicts In A.A. to believe in a power outside of themselves. He would often say, "It doesn't matter if you believe that power is The Light Switch, you just have to believe." Are we all in some kind of recovery, needing outside influences to guide us to some kind of salvation?

I ask these question, not invested in whether or not you have an answer, but just to point out the route I took reading and re-reading your poem.

Jim Murdoch said...

Do I believe in a power outside myself? Yes. There are so many powers out there that I have no control over and that control or at least affect my life. Physics imposes limits on me as do governments. Hell, if my local supermarket stops stocking my favourite brand of fizzy water there’s not a hell I can do about it. None of these powers are interested in me personally though; they don’t even know I exist or care. My wife and daughter exert some influence over me. It’s arguable I granted them that power and could easily take it away but where emotions are involved there’s not much we can: they have the power to hurt me and that’s that. Hell, you have the power to hurt me, delicate wee soul that I am. But I don’t believe in a benevolent or malevolent force out there who has any vested interest in my wellbeing. I can tell you for a fact none of the light switches in this flat could care less if I lived or died. From what I’ve heard about addiction you can’t give up for anyone other than yourself. There is a part of me that exerts control over me that I have no access to, my subconscious. That’s the only external force I believe in. Odd to talk about something that’s clearly internal as if it was external but it does so often feel as if it’s apart from me even though it’s most definitely a part of me.

Kass said...

You're so deep.

Jim Murdoch said...

And murky, Kass. Don't forget murky.

Ping services