This post is part of a blog tour around John Caputo’s latest book – The Insistence of God: A Theology of Perhaps. Check out this link to see lots of other folks weighing in on this book.My post engages Chapter 4 “The Insistence of God.” I was sent copy of the book as part of participating in this blog tour. It was made out of paper.
As per usual I was too lazy to condense my thoughts into the written word, so a video (in four parts) is what you have.
[These links go into the video itself if you want to skip around]
First Part: Contextualizing this book in Caputo’s trajectory
Second Part: Discussing the broad content of the chapter itself
Third Part: Caputo’s use of theopoetics in the context of his “theology of perhaps”
Fourth Part: My commentary on the nature and Caputo’s (possible) intent for this project.
The “Richard” I reference in the interview is Richard Kearney of Boston College, and the book being referenced is his Anatheism, the official site of which is here, and a good (independent) engagement of which is here.
A series of conversations between Caputo and Kearney are archived here from the 2007 Emergent Village Philosophical-Theological Conversation.
A series of recordings of lectures from Caputo are found here.
Relatedly, Caputo asked that I try to promote the Call for Papers for an upcoming conference he is co-hosting around the future of philosophical thought. He is particularly interested in younger voices being present, so lets send him a whole host of interesting things to read!
Alrighty… So I am trying to get in the habit of doing things that nourish me before 9am, when I start doing the things that (a) get errands done and/or (b) earn me income. Who knows how long this pattern will last, but it has, at least for today, brought out another vid. While not a direct response to anything other folks said, it is certainly prompted by the thinking going on in the comments (and Blake Huggins' post) responding to the vid I posted earlier this week.
As far as I can tell, the thrust of the thinking that is emerging is that while a physical science like, say, geology is about understanding the present state, process, and components of various geological systems and formations, theology cannot be restrained to the present. Of course, at some level, science must also be able to predict future effects, for example, we like to know in advance if an earthquake is coming, and we attempt to learn new, more detailed things about systems under study; the difference here seems to me to be that science is about predicting the future as it emerges from what has come before while theology (writ large) is invested in the exploration of that which arrived, is arriving, and has yet to arrive again fully. God is unpredictable: the realities of human life (not just biological functioning) are bewilderingly not something we can predict. Why do good people die and not others? Why does some art make us cry? How exactly does a poem manage to evoke so much in so little? While there may be precise scientific answers to some of these, the truth is that that science cannot (perhaps cannot yet) predict how or when that will happen again and/or what the human response to it will be. All the more crazy it all becomes when the humans involved are attempting to live into the Kingdom of God in which things are all topsy-turvy (Kraybill's The Upside-down Kingdom is awesome by the way). Insert the study of God into all this swirl of not-quite-predictibleness and we start to get to the point from which I jumped off.
I would want to put a highly eschatological gloss Deleuze’s claim that “theology is now the science of nonexisting entities, ”radicalizing Moltmann’s insistence that eschatology must be the heart and soul of theology from beginning to end. A theology of the event, then, is not so much about what is but what is yet to come in the future. It is a discourse of possibility, a poetics of the (im)possible, one might say, which locates itself in the interstitial space of the Pauline already-not yet.
This kind of poetics of the (im)possible such as Caputo addresses in his book and that Blake points toward are interesting and yet they make me wonder about what has come before. If we are always pointing (Moltmannically) toward the hopeful future yet to come, some significant questions are raised about the inbreaking of the future that has already arrived: what do we do with the Christ event? Both in terms of the ministry and crucifixion of Jesus and the presence of the Holy Spirit as some kind of experiential phenomenon we are left with our theological hands in the air if we can only look toward that which is yet to be.
Perhaps this is why I am so fascinated by incompleteness: to hope for the completed future of some holy eschaton is to hope for some cosmic get out of jail card. Instead, I think we are called to live in the nexus of becoming the impossible. It is easy to become an idolitrous cult of the impossible, because the idea of the "crazy-and-Just-yet-to-be" is so appealing, but unless that ideal "lavishly flings us forth" into some engagement with that which already is, I'm not sure that what we're doing is Christian Theology. Interesting to be sure, but perhaps not Christian Theology. We are called to that sloppy, in-between place of almost-but-not-quite. We are in this world to be sure, and have access to that which is beyond at the same time, yet hoping for, and attempting to live into, something which has not yet come in its fullness.
Woah. Writing takes me soooo much longer than blathering into a camera.