I first heard John (Jack) Caputo at an Emerging Church conference in the early 2000s. He was on a panel discussing theology and the challenges facing Christianity. I was interested in what he had to say but I was already working through some ideas of my own and I didn’t fully register everything he was saying. My own faith reappraisal and my journey to reframe my thinking about pretty much everything was consuming me at the time and my ears were a little deaf to the world at that time. My journey eventually led me to the works of Gianni Vattimo, the Italian philosopher, I had been particularly inspired by his notion of weak thought. The idea of weak thought offers a new understanding of the role of philosophy based on language, interpretation, and limits rather than on metaphysical and epistemological certainties. It occurred to me that there was something deeply theological about this notion and with Vattimo’s direct references to the words of St. Paul I wanted to see what could be made of this idea in my own theology. So I googled ‘weak theology,’ just to see if anything came up and there it was, The Weakness of God…by John Caputo! A couple of years after I first heard him, he landed smack dab in the middle of my own faith deconstruction/reconstruction. Since then Jack and I have become friends, spoken at conferences together and he has become a bit of a mentor and a theological inspiration for me.
Jack, as he likes to be called, is a philosopher who merged his interest in Jacques Derrida with his theology. A lifelong Catholic, Jack has wrestled, like many of us, with what it means to have faith in times like these. In recent years, after he retired from academia, Jack has turned his attention more directly towards the church and has continued to develop his theological ideas, committing himself to doing whatever he can to help those who are seeking to renew, reframe or rethink their ideas of faith and belief.
He has written a series of deeply theological works for a more general audience, What Would Jesus Deconstruct?, The Folly of God and Hope Against Hope are just some of the books he has aimed at the church seeking to renew itself. Jack’s theology is ultimately a theology of hope. Hope that calls us to stay open to what stirs within the traditions, rituals and structures of religion, to what is found in the name of God. Hope that is a weak force, but an excessive one that calls us beyond the usual, to hold out as he often says, for the possibility of the impossible.
He is one of many theologians that we are in dialog with at Hatchery LA and he will be our theologian conversation partner for our next series on Future and Faith launching November 13th. If you want to hear our conversation with Jack click here to get your unique link and tune in as we talk with Jack about what is possible for the future when it comes to god, community and, of course, faith.