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On Religion (Thinking in Action) [Paperback]

By John D. Caputo (Author)
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Item description for On Religion (Thinking in Action) by John D. Caputo...

John D. Caputo explores the very roots of religious thinking in this thought-provoking book. Compelling questions come up along the way: 'What do I love when I love my God?' and 'What can Star Wars tell us about the contemporary use of religion?' (are we always trying to find a way of saying 'God be with you'?) Why is religion for many a source of moral guidance in a postmodern, nihilistic age? Is it possible to have 'religion without religion'?
Drawing on contemporary images of religion, such as Robert Duvall's film The Apostle, Caputo also provides some fascinating and imaginative insights into religious fundamentalism.

Citations And Professional Reviews
On Religion (Thinking in Action) by John D. Caputo has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Books & Culture - 11/01/2006 page 39
  • Library Journal - 05/01/2001 page 91

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Routledge
Pages   147
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.79" Width: 5.1" Height: 0.48"
Weight:   0.4 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 23, 2001
Publisher   Routledge
ISBN  041523333X  
ISBN13  9780415233330  

Availability  0 units.

More About John D. Caputo

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! John D. Caputo is Thomas J. Watson Professor of Religion and Humanities and professor of philosophy at Syracuse University and the David R. Cook Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Villanova University. His most recent books are The Weakness of God: A Theology of the Event and Philosophy and Theology.Gianni Vattimo is emeritus professor of philosophy at the University of Turin and a member of the European Parliament. His books with Columbia University Press are Christianity, Truth, and Weakening Faith: A Dialogue (with Rene Girard), Not Being God: A Collaborative Autobiography, Art's Claim to Truth, After the Death of God, Dialogue with Nietzsche, The Future of Religion (with Richard Rorty), Nihilism and Emancipation: Ethics, Politics, and the Law, and After Christianity.Jeffrey W. Robbins is associate professor of religion and philosophy at Lebanon Valley College.

John D. Caputo has an academic affiliation as follows - Villanova University.

John D. Caputo has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Indiana Series in the Philosophy of Religion (Paperback)
  2. Thinking in Action

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > Religious
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Philosophy

Reviews - What do customers think about On Religion (Thinking in Action)?

What Do I Love When I Love My God?  May 3, 2007
I wish this site had a search engine that would automatically redirect the general reader interested in religion to this book. Not the graduate student who nods intelligently to the puns made by French philosophers in their original language, not the tenured professor who ponders whether she should include this reference in her class reading list, but the plain, average reader who doesn't know much about philosophy but who likes inspirational lectures dedicated to lifting his or her spirit out of the ordinary.

Such a reader may be puzzled at first with the author's peculiar sense of humor. For John Caputo, people of the impossible, as he defines religious people, are also impossible people: "A good part of the problem with religion is religious people (without them, religion's record would be unblemished)". His religion borders on the atheistic, and he finds as much inspiration in a Star Wars episode as in Luke or Matthew. But his love of God is sincere when he echoes the prayers and tears of St. Augustine or records the story of the annunciation to the Blessed Virgin--who actually spoke French, we learn incidentally.

Actually, readers will find many sentences that would fit in a Sunday predication or an Evangelist's bestseller. "We are not supposed to earn a comfortable living off the Crucifixion, we are supposed to be crucified to the world." "God cannot simply spend six days creating the world and then throw the tools on the truck and drive off for a long week-end. We require God to be on the job around the clock." "When the love of God calls, we had better answer". "Religion is for lovers, for men and women of passion, for real people with a passion for something other than making profit." Even the parts that deal with deep philosophical issues are presented in a humorous and accessible manner ("There is no way to know The Way, no way that I know, anyway").

Readers may or may not agree with the precepts of a "religion without religion" that the author spells out at the end. Nor is his attack on established churches bound to earn him much support among the parish folks. But it is not so common to find a book that is at the same time inspirational and challenging, full of enthusiasm and slightly agnostic, easy to read without being an insult to the reader's intelligence.
Same old, same old  Oct 11, 2006
Caputo is simply one in a long line of typical post-modern thinkers. It must be said that his writing style is both engaging and entertaining, some lovely wordsmithing. His thoughts on and critiques of religion can be useful if viewed from a "soft post-modernism" standpoint, but as soon as he delves into post-modernism as a foundational worldview ("hard post-modernism," as it were) he falls into the same traps that ensnare virtually all post-modernists: self-centeredness and self-contradiction.

Caputo pejoratively lumps religions together as "creedal faiths" (despite beginning the book by saying that "religion" is too diverse to exist in the singular), then goes on to expound upon his own set state of beliefs and religious methods -- i.e., Caputo's CREED. He critisizes those who claim to have "The Answer" by saying that "The Answer is no Answer" -- thereby giving Caputo's version of "The Answer"! The entire book is all about YOU, what YOU should do, how YOU should live, how religion can make YOUR life better, how YOU can do justice and live love. It's never about the neighbor, never about God -- never actually about religion.

Post-modernism is an interesting facet of, and useful critique upon, Modernism. But (as its very name implies) it is an anemic worldview which cannot stand on its own. Caputo speaks of a world entering "post-secularism" -- which many "secular" reviewers have lambasted here on this site -- but what Caputo should really look into is the academic world's backlash-entry into POST-post-modernism.
Fun, personal, but still some gaping flaws  Mar 25, 2006
This is a great read --it is smooth, conversational, and accessible. Three cheers for that (most philosophy of religion books are impenetrable). I like that the author puts his heart into this book. Its pages are passionate. I felt like it was more of an expression of agnosticism ("There is no Secret! There are no answers! No one knows!") than a work of religious faith/Christian theology. The author clearly fashions himself a religious person though, and he adores Christianity, and he never uses the word "agnostic" at all. I thought that was odd.
Some criticisms:
1. The author suggests that we are in a "post secular" age -- that secularization is over and done, and religion is triumphantly "back." Of course, as a typical philosopher, he provides no actual DATA for this otherwise sociological claim. I guess such things are easy to say -- but harder to prove or substantiate. But in such a fun diatribe, who cares for things like evidence, right?
2. Oh wait -- the author does offer one tid-bit of data (!). He says that religios is clearly here to stay because 95% of Americans claim to believe in God, and since Americans are "the most prosperous people the world has ever known" well, then so much for secualrization. Hm. Clearly he has not read the latest stats on poverty in the USA. The current level is over 12% -- the higest rate of poverty in teh western industrialized world. he clearly does not realize that over 40 million Americans have no health insurance. He clearly is unaware that among African Americans, nearly half of children live in poverty. Oh, and that the gap between rich and poor is the largest in the USA than in any western industrialized country. In sum, the USA is so religious for all the reasons we woudl expect - life is still precarious for the bulk of Americans, who have little job security and live from paycheck to paycheck. The turth is, where life is truly propserous for the majority of the people (North westren Europe), religion is dying. Seee Steve Bruce GOD IS DEAD and Norris and Inglehart's SACRED AND SECULRAR.
3. On page 136, the author refers to certain forms of spirituality as "poppycock." This was a true shock to me. Why is belief in a virgin birth grand, and a belief in God simply wonderful -- and yet The Celestine Prophecy poppycock? The author reveals a deep double-standard here. A real flaw.
4. I thought the entire chapter on Star Wars was silly.
5. The author quotes I John 4:2 that those who say "I love God" and yet hate their brothers or sisters are liars. I guess the author hasn't ever read Luke 14, where Jesus says that if you DON'T hate your brothers or sisters, you aren't worthy of him and the Kingdom of the Lord (d'hoh!)

In sum, a fun read and a thoughtful, funny diatribe.
What a fun read!  Dec 4, 2003
We've just read this book for a theology class and it was a joy to read. The author writes beautifully in a conversational style that is very easy to understand. It is refreshing to read theology that ignites a passion for life and a passion for God. The content of the book might not be completely new but the delivery presents the material in a very palatable form. There are points in the book that I actually laughed out loud and I think that its the first time I've ever done that with a book on religion. Nonetheless, you will find enough content to make you think without spoon-feeding you any answers. There is definitely lots of salt in the book and I would highly recommend it for anyone searching for meaning in their lives.
Doing the impossible  Dec 2, 2003
I've just finished reading On Religion and thought I'd make use of cyberspace to say how much I enjoyed it. I continue to be part of a formal religion (Christian/Anglican) but constantly wonder why; frustrated and angered by blinkered thinking and knowing that I do not believe-as-fact most (any?) of the 'doctrine'. And yet, and yet.....I know it gives shape to
something which is somehow fundamental to existence. My normal reaction to this chronic uncertainty is anxiety, so I found Caputo's idea that the very impossibility of knowing is something to be passionate about a really inspiring one. Worrying about the love of God makes it impossible to do the love of God.

And it was very good to read a book on religion which flew along, was full of passion and made me laugh.


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