Hunting the Divine Fox was written by Robert Capon. He uses many interesting and often humorous descriptions to illustrate problems within in the church and how Christians should truly act and think.
Robert Capon (1925-2013) was an Episcopalian priest and author. He served at a congregation in New York from 1949 to 1977 when he was forced to leave because he divorced his first wife. After leaving the church, Capon wrote many books about theology and cooking and did some freelance writing for newspapers. Capon’s books often challenge theological ideas and practices, and his unique analogies and descriptions encourage the reader to think about things in a different way. This is the case with Hunting the Divine Fox, in which Capon addresses words, knowing, and problems with the Christianity and the church. In the end, Christians are always hunting the Mystery which can never be caught.
Hunting the Divine Fox is divided into three main sections: words, problems with the Christian faith, and problems within the church. First, Capon talks about words. Anytime God is described it is with human language. He says, “…no words of ours can ever be trusted to mean the same things when predicated of ourselves and God” (248). Human language cannot do justice to just how miraculous and awesome God is, but this is all humans can use to describe God. Christians need to recognize and be aware of this problem. Words also separate humans from the rest of creation. “The uniqueness of the human mind lies in simple apprehension – in our ability to form concepts, to extract essences, by means of words” (260). Finally, Capon describes the two types of discourse used in the Bible: straight and bent. Straight discourse is literal. Bent discourse is figurative, such as analogies, metaphors, or images. Capon says, “The Word of God, when God most reveals Himself, speaks with a bent tongue” (267). Christians must realize this difference and carefully interpret everything in the Bible.
In the second section, Capon wrestles with some problems in the Christian faith. The first problem he describes is with God’s will and how Christians have twisted it to mean something it does not. Next, Capon addresses theology. Theology is about the Mystery of God’s relationship with the world. Capon describes how humans are God’s priesthood, and He is the goal of creation and inside humans making sure they know He is the goal (295). Christians, theologians, are on a never-ending hunt for the Mystery.
The final section of Hunting the Divine Fox deals with problems inside the church. Many Christians turn Christianity and specific practices in the church into a transaction. The truth is that Christianity is not a transaction. Salvation is a gift from God and there is nothing humans can do to earn or deserve that gift, they can just receive it.
Capon uses many different analogies and descriptions to illustrate his ideas. For example, when describing humans trying to understand God, Capon uses the analogy of an oyster trying to understand what a ballerina is and does when they have very little knowledge of what the ballerina is. Another analogy Capon uses is a plaza with many different streets leading off it to illustrate interpreting the Bible. There may be multiple routes that can be taken, but some will lead to dark alleyways, while others will lead to light and understanding. Christians are described as hunters searching for the Mystery. The hunt is exciting, but the Mystery will never be captured or killed, thus it is a never-ending expedition. Capon’s descriptions were different than anything I had read before, which caused me to think differently about the questions. They were often funny and even caused me to laugh out loud at some points.
My favorite chapter in Hunting the Divine Fox was Chapter Six, “Willing”. This chapter discussed God’s will and how many Christians have twisted it to mean something that it is not. Will could mean decree or command, but Capon suggests that, in this case, will means desire or wish. Many times, God’s love for His people is described as a father loving his children. However, more often the Bible describes God’s love for the church as the love a groom has for his bride. God’s will for humans is to love Him and spend eternity with Him in heaven. Capon describes it as, “…the longing of a lover for what the beloved is… The will of God, seen this way, is not in order to something but because of someone” (273). I had never heard God’s will and love described this way before, but I thought it was a beautiful illustration and honestly makes a lot of sense.
Although there were things I disagreed with in Hunting the Divine Fox, for example Capon’s description and belief in evolution, overall it was a very enjoyable read and caused me to think differently and harder about many religious topics.
Capon, Robert Farrar. “Hunting the Divine Fox.” The Romance of the Word. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eermans Publishing Co., 1995. 239-373. Print.
Vitello, Paul. “Robert F. Capon, Who Wrote of God and Food, Dies at 87.” 14 September 2013. The New York Times. Web. 31 October 2016. <www.nytimes.com/2013/09/15/nyregion/robert-f-capon-who-wrote-of-god-and-food-dies-at-87.html>.