It Spooks — John D. Caputo


Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 5.34.23 PMJohn D. Caputo, et alIt Spooks: Living in response to an unheard call, Shelter50 Publishing (2015).

“John D. Caputo writes with pointed insight and a smattering of human as he dethrones the dry bones of religious academia and deconstructs our Western understanding of God: a god he suggests does not exist, but insists. In one volume Catherine Keller, Brian McLaren, Peter Rollins, Michael Gungor and a host of others (known and no-mane) academics artist writers photographers and painters offer a broad perspective of responses to Caputo’s contention of a spectral, weak god who has no agent  but you (and me) to enact that which is holy. Prepare to try on the “It Spooks” tautology s you consider the role(s) you play in this world and what it might mean for you to live in response to this unheard call.”   [from the Back Cover]

Caputo’s essay (“Proclaiming the Year of the Jubilee: Thoughts on a Spectral Life”) deals with that which “is always coming but it never quite shows up; it keeps getting postponed.” His observations and insights in this essay are a good introduction to his weak theology — that is, God is weak and is dependent upon us to make God present and active in the world. Some quotes from his essay:

If it spooks, if it is at all spooked, the whole thing — thought, being, God — the one big question I have is how to live with it, with “it,” with whatever’s spooking things. How to proclaim the year of the Jubilee even though it never comes? How to lead a spectral life. (page 14)

Walter Benjamin turned the idea of the messianic inside out and said that we are the messianic generation. … We are the ones the dead were waiting for – which is an eerie thought – to make right what was done to them. … We live in messianic or spectral time… We live in the space between a memory and a promise. (page 21)

He or she or it, I know not what, one or many, real or unreal, saving or dangerous, whoever or whatever this is, will not leave me alone. (page 26)

God is not an entity who answers to the name “God.” but a call calling in an uncertain voice, in and under the name (of) “God,” delivering an obscure message, leaving us restless for something, I know not what, eliciting a desire not just for this or that, but a desire beyond all desire, for a knowing without knowledge, reducing us to prayer, to praying like mad to an unknown God, where we pray God to rid us of God. (page 28)

The year of the Jubilee … is not eternal rest but the restlessness of a call for what is coming that intensiv\fies temporal life to the limit. (page 41)

The 32 responses which follow are refreshing and provocative — poetry, personal reflections, theological essays, paintings. Aaron Murphy describes three things that “haunt” him — his unconscious, poverty, and the future. He also shares his brief prayer to open him to those and other experiences: “

Peel me like a tangerine
Lay me open like a book
Blow through me like a violent breeze,
so I can see what falls out when I’m shook.”
(page 185)

May that be a prayer for all of us! 


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