state to another bv day and eruised therninternational meat raeks b night. Inrnfaet, as a praetieing CathoHe who is alsornan aetive homosexual, and a eonservativernwho has spent the last 11 yearsrnworking for the federal bureaueracy, hernis perpetuating it. In the role of gav aetix’ist.rnhe makes even greater hash ofrnCatholie moral theoiogv than he doesrnof eonscrvativc thought and politics.rnPathetieally, Liebman sought thernChureh out of an overwhelming needrnto feel loved; tragieally, having oneernexperienced the divine charitv, he convincedrnhimself that the “Lord . . . acceptedrnme as I w a s . . . a naked child beforernIlim, a gay child.” Liebman adds,rn”Unfortunately (or fortunately for myrnconversion) I never learned all the dogmasrnother than faith. Certainly, I wasrnnot really aware of the church’s deeprnaversion to the practice of honiosexualit’.rnIf 1 had realized it then, I might havernhad some second thoughts.” Secondrnthoughts came later—not in the formrnof doubt but of blithe asseveration, asrnon the subjects of hierarchy and authority:rn”From the time I quit the CommunistrnParty, I have been a firm belie’er inrnthe importance of the individual overrnany state, political party or religious hierarchy.rn. . . ‘[Djo your own thing’ sornlong as you don’t hurt anybody else.”rnPeople—including fellow Catholics andrnconservaties—who disagree with himrnare simply dangerous bigots. “The threatrnto America no longer comes from thernU. S. S. R. It comes again from within,rnfrom organizations that advocate racismrnand sexism and preach discriminationrnagainst Jews, blacks, Mexicans, Asians,rnand homosexuals. Their bigotry is growingrnalong with hatred and fear of anythingrndifferent.” For a gentler, kinderrnAmerica, substitute Marvin Liebman forrnPat Buchanan at the Republican NationalrnConvention in 1996.rnOn the day of Liebman’s baptism inrnSt. Patrick Cathedral in New York City,rn”Pat [Buckley], tall and resplendent inrnher fur, waited outside the baptistry. Arnwoman came up to her and plucked atrnher sleeve. ‘Oh, madam,’ she said, ‘theyrnbaptize such beautiful babies here at St.rnPatrick’s.’ Pat looked down at her withrnher special look and said, ‘Madam, waitrn’til you get a load of this one.'”rnIn The First Dissident, William Safircrntries to account for the fascinationrnthat the Book of Job has held for artistsrnand intellectuals jn the 19th and 2l)thrnceirturies. Safire, a former Republicanrnspecehwritcr and publicist and (for thernpast 20 years) a columnist for the NewrnYork Times, is, in spite of his reputationrnas a self-described “language maven” (arnreputation, by the way, not substantiatedrnby this book), essentially a political animalrnwho turns in Temple, no matterrnwhat the day’s reading, to Job for his privaternenjoyment. Although the Book ofrnJob has for millennia been interpretedrnas an exhortation to patience and pict’rnin the face of tribulation. Sabre rejectsrnwhat he calls a “numbing misreading.”rnJob, he insists, is about “power-sharirrg”:rnthis “sore thumb sticking out of thernBible” is actually a dissertation on man’srnright to take to task a frecjuently unjustrnGod by demanding justice of Ilim,rnwhile acquiescing in the “tension” betweenrngood and evil that maintainsrnthe world in existence. In his role asrn”theopolitician,” Safire explains: “Thernstruggle to understand the creator’s obligationrnto command and his creator’srnpower to obey, we call theology; the unendablerncontest for control between Authorityrnand Subject, we call polities.rnThe common denominator of thesernjoint ventures in governance is power.”rnTo the question “Does man have a rightrnto challenge God, and thus a divinelyrninspired right to confront any authority?”rnSafirc gives an unqualified “ves.”rnA first objection to a political readingrnof Job is that it does indeed raise therntext up like a sore thumb from the Oldrnand the New Testaments, whose thematicrndevelopment is otherwise cumulativelyrnrepetitive. If the message of JobrnrealU is political, why is this theme notrntaken up elsewhere in Scripture but confinedrnsolely to the Book of Job? A secondrnis that Safire’s interpretation restsrnon a literal acceptance of the poet’s anthropomorphicrnportrait of God, a deityrnWho is neither omnipotent nor omniscient,rnlacks iirfinite goodness, and is asrnmuch in need of His worshiper as thernworshiper is of Him. (It is not Fundamentalismrnthat is dangerous to religiousrnunderstanding; it is Literalism.) Anthropomorphism,rnin fact, is The FirstrnDissident’s primary weakness, sincernSafire’s “power poles” (as the authorrnmight term them) are not the Divinernvs. Man but Superman vs. Man, allowingrnSafire the absurd equation of Godrnwith the Soviet court of law that triedrnAnatoly Shcharansky for treason.rnSafire’s God is the raging Patriarch ofrnthe Old Testament, and it is pointlessrnin these circumstances to argue for thernNew Testament reading that is the onlyrninterpretation to link the Book of Jobrnwith the rest of the Bible. (Safire arguesrnthat the text of Job has been bowdlerizedrnby scribes, Jewish and Christian,rnover the last two-and-a-half millennia inrnorder to make the Uzite’s challengernseem less blasphemous. The answer tornthis is that scribes and bowdlerizcrs arernas open to supernatural inspiration asrnare original authors.) For the Christianrnreader, Flihu—the young man who interruptsrnthe debate between Job and hisrn”consolers” Bildad, Eliphaz, and Zopharrnto insist that suffering is not a sign ofrnsinfulness but a means of purification—rnis a pre figuration of the New Covenarrtrnand of the Intercessor whom Job seeks tornplead in his behalf before God. Accordingrnto this reading, the message ofrnthe Book of Job is that God’s justice isrnnot man’s justice unless the Redeemerrnagrees to make it so. Unfortunately forrnSafire’s thesis, God makes no politicalrnprescriptions and the Bible offers none.rnChrist Himself had nothing to say aboutrnpolitics beyond the famous remark thatrnmen should render unto Caesar whatrnbelongs to Caesar and went obedientlyrnand patiently to His death as it was demandedrnby the Sanhedrin and orderedrnby the Roman Procurator. AlthoughrnSafire believes that “the great politicalrnquestions of our age are Joban ones” andrncredits the defiance of the refuseiiiksrnwith the ultimate collapse of the SovietrnUnion, it seems plain that, with its demandrnfor justice in this world, his is arndistinctielv Jewish understanding of historyrnthat ma’ nevertheless have becomerna majoritarian view in the West, evenrnamong many Christians—and ex-Christians.rnIn the penultimate chapter of hisrnbook, William Safire discusses a numberrnof what he considers to be contemporaryrnJoban figures: Shcharansky, McnachemrnBegin, Andrei Sakharov, the Chineserndissident Wei Jingsheng, VaclavrnHavel, “Dr.” Marfin Luther King, Jr. Nornmention anywhere of Marvin Liebman.rnFEBRUARY 1993/29rnrnrn