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TheBookofJules

TheBookofJules

"You must become so free that your very existence is an act of rebellion." -Albert Camus

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Review: On Religion

On Religion (Thinking in Action) - John D. Caputo

This book had an interesting philosophical view. Caputo is attempting to destroy the concept of traditional religion - or rather, he is arguing that such a destruction has already occurred and we now need to learn what the word "religion" truly means. He has a lot of progressive views, but it also feels like a "let's-please-everyone" philosophy. Philosophy is radical and, oftentimes, offensive. This text felt convoluted, watered down and like I was barely scraping the surface of what he was trying to say.

Caputo is arguing that religion is not a set of structures. It is not a hierarchical structure as it touted by all major religions in the world today. It's imperative to understand that the God Caputo is referring to is not the Judeo-Christian God or anything else. In short, God is love. 

"By religion, therefore, let me stipulate, I mean something simple, open-ended, and old-fashioned, namely, the love of God" (Caputo, 1). [Emphasis is my own.]

"Religion, we must always recall, is our doing, not God's, and we should avoid confusing religion or ourselves with God" (Caputo, 93).

"God is a question, not an answer" (Caputo, 117).

(He is very clear that he does not believe that any religion is better than the other, and there is no "true" religion -- however, he also quotes the Bible multiple times, but only the quotes about love. Nevermind that Jesus spoke more about Hell than anyone else in the Bible. Caputo picked and chose his Bible verses from a book that touts itself as the end-all of religion while claiming there's no true religion. It was a contradiction that he either didn't notice or passed over.)

Therefore, religion is loving God, but it is also loving a question. So, religion is loving the unknown. I think what he meant was that religion is just love in general. No matter what you love, the act of loving is God. It is not that God is love, which is what he was saying. I think that the "God is love" argument is not where he was going and he missed his own point. God is the act of loving. Which means religion and God, according to Caputo, are the same thing. Once again, beautiful concept, just poorly presented. 

All in all, if this had been a bit more glossed over, a bit more edited and a bit more thought-out, I would have enjoyed it quite a bit more. As it stands, I feel as if his argument was all over the place and I just flat-out disagree with everything he said. It was not strong enough to make me even consider it for a moment. From what I've read, this was supposed to be an almost colloquial version of his philosophy, so I would be open to reading a more academic version. I think his point was interesting, just not well-defined.

However, I did come across this gem that I think can relate to all of us in terms of reviews and opinions:

"... we have the right to say what we think, to think what we want, to publish what we think, to think or publish or doubt or believe anything, without fear of censorship, excommunication, exile, or execution. The only limits on such rights are the rights of others to do the same and to enjoy the same freedoms" (Caputo, 62).