The Insistence of God

  • by John D. Caputo
  • Narrated by Ron Dewey
  • 16 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The Insistence of God presents the provocative idea that God does not exist, God insists, while God's existence is a human responsibility, which may or may not happen. For John D. Caputo, God's existence is haunted by "perhaps," which does not signify indecisiveness but an openness to risk, to the unforeseeable. Perhaps constitutes a theology of what is to come and what we cannot see coming. Responding to current critics of continental philosophy, Caputo explores the materiality of perhaps and the promise of the world. He shows how perhaps can become a new theology of the gaps God opens.

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What the Critics Say

"John Caputo has done it again with his latest work of radical theology... a real tour de force... It is difficult to know which to admire more his great erudition or his remarkable courage." (Patrick Masterson, University College, Dublin-Patrick Masterson, University College, Dublin)

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Customer Reviews

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Grace and chance w/o teleology gives us our world

Writers should always assume that their readers really want to understand the topic presented in their book and should never talk down to their readers because the reader probably is interested in the topic and has read other books on the topic. This author does that and never holds back in his telling of his story and assumes that the reader really does want to better understand our place in the universe and what our being really entails. I get tired of reading the same old retreaded bromides in most pop science books or philosophical books, but this book is a happy exception to that rule. The author has a lot he wants to share and he is not shy about assuming that his reader really wants to understand.

The author will slip into philosophical speak and slip in a highly dense paragraph or two where he assumes the reader is familiar with philosophy. I found that incredibly refreshing. I don't want to remain stupid. I want to understand. We're thrown into this world and how we think about it determines partly how we experience it and the experiences we form determine how we think about the world. That's a Heideggerian formulation and the author thinks in those terms as well as appealing to Derrida, Kierkegaard, and Hegel and at times Kant.

I thought there were about five different big themes that Caputo was getting within this book. They all lie within this kind of thought: the logos is an event determined by mythos (that's actually a quote from the text); the insistence of the event is the call that leads to the response; Meister Eckart's prayer to make him "free of God since unconditioned Being is above God and all distinction"; latter in the book, Caputo states the same sentiment in a slightly different framing by saying that to understand reality you must first not know the real in order to understand reality because your real causes your experiences and that determines how you understand the real; it's our "meaning in life" not our "meaning of life" that is relevant. A summary to all these themes is that Grace and chance are given to us without any teleological forethought and the world just is. The world worlds. But, within the world, the only one we know, our proper place is to perhaps see the possible of the impossible.

He spoke at length about the Terrence Malick movie "The Tree of Life". Right after I had heard that section, I re-watched the movie. It really did give me insights into what the author, Caputo, is getting at, and it made me appreciate the movie and this book all the more. The possibility that God exist through the insistence of the events and existence that is around us. There is an ontological difference between the subjective and the objective, the word and the thing, the noumenon and the phenomenon; the possibility of the impossible or the insistence (call) of the event can be the thoughts between our thoughts. That's what gives us the perhaps, the perhaps of the possible of the impossible.

Heidegger said that philosophy ended with Hegel. Everything that could be said about metaphysics had been said (Heidegger would say). Therefore Heidegger used that as his starting off point for his reassessment of his post "Being and Time" thought. That is a big driver within Caputo's way of thinking. He takes Hegel and creates an event through the lens of Heidegger and Derrida (and even a little of Nietzsche) and explains being by considering the event that is real. Everything that 'is' comes from our incomplete understanding of the past which was shaped by our extrapolated expectations of the future as formed by our present. There are no promises from the world to us because a promise without a chance of failure is not a promise.

There's a whole lot of the Caputo that I would disagree with, but that's not important in why I would recommend this book. I'm tired of reading books that no longer challenge the reader and usually just consist of a reformation of something I've read elsewhere. This book is bold and takes chances and always assumes that the reader really wants to understand and never dumb down the conversation. When I looked up Meister Eckhart on Wiki for further explication, I saw that Matthew Fox was referenced. My wife really likes Matthew Fox and that made me realize that there were multiple markets for this book. Those, like her, who are nominally committed to their orthodoxy but are not satisfied with its status quo, and for those like me, who likes to see the world from a different perspective while not being talked down to because we really want to understand being qua being.

(Two further comments. 1) yes, this book is not written at a sophomoric level. But, it's a good place as any to start reading challenging books in order to be able to read other just as challenging books. 2) I had no problem whatsoever with the narrator. I thought he did a very good job. Who cares if he pronounces 'Dasein' incorrectly. I knew what he meant).
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- Gary

Complex subject presented

The Insistence of God will be difficult for listeners to appreciate unless they are familiar with Caputo already or well versed in Derridian deconstruction. Without that background, I don't think the presentation will work. The depth of understanding that the listener/reader brings will make this presentation an absolute joy or something seemly trite.
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- Joseph Candito

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-11-2014
  • Publisher: University Press Audiobooks