UNAPOLOGETIC by Francis Spufford


Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense
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A highly personal—and unconventional—defense of belief in Christian doctrine.

Well, not defense of doctrine, exactly, but defense (the root meaning of apologia) of Christian emotions and their “grown-up dignity.” Besides, writes Spufford (Red Plenty, 2012, etc.), going on to the second meaning of the term, “I’m not sorry,” even though as an Englishman writing about religion, “I’m fucking embarrassed.” Spufford’s language isn’t exactly Aquinian or Augustinian, but it gets to the point—to several points, in fact. One, bouncing off the trope of the messages emblazoned on buses in Britain to the effect that since there probably isn’t a God, we should all just try to be happy on our own, gets Spufford’s dander up sufficiently to mount a crusade fought in naughty words: “New Atheists aren’t claiming anything outrageous when they say there probably isn’t a God. In fact they aren’t claiming anything substantial at all, because really, how the fuck would they know?” Yes, and vice versa: What’s the ontological proof? Spufford is short on arguments that would cause Christopher Hitchens to budge an inch from the position of nonbelief, but his cause seems more personal than all that: He’s explaining his belief in the context of what he brightly calls “the human tendency, the human propensity to fuck things up”—that is, to lay waste to all the things that matter and then spend the rest of our lives either trying to patch them up or trying to pretend that it doesn’t matter. “I don’t care about heaven,” he professes. “I want, I need, the promise of mending.”

C.S. Lewis might not approve of the language, but he’d surely approve of the sentiment. A thought-provoking entertainment.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-06-230045-4
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: HarperOne
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2013


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