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Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything,…

Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make… (2012)

by Francis Spufford

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
Fed up with the attacks of Richard Dawkins et al. on a faith he doesn’t recognize, and knowing that he can’t assert the truth of religion on an atheist’s terms, Francis Spufford (author of 2017’s top novel Golden Hill) sets out to explain the way Christianity can satisfy the needs of an intelligent person in the modern age. Spufford writes like the somewhat more serious cousin of Nick Hornby, speaking his truth as your most articulate friend might speak it over a pint. Pointed sarcasm is not unknown here. Exasperation is honestly expressed. Arguments are made carefully, and begin with a well-nigh undeniable presentation of sin, or as Spufford calls it, the Human Propensity to F*** Things Up — HPtFtU.

The book did not quite bring me back into the fold. A maybe-yes maybe-no Christian, religious but baffled, I concede the immense attraction, conceptual power, and (yes) intellectual rigor of the faith, without quite being able to assent to enough dogma to fit into an organized community of believers. Ultimately, the keystone to Spufford’s emotional connection is the power of the forgiveness offered by the Christian conception of God; this doesn’t resonate with me. But I’m glad to read such a smart, nondogmatic, passionate defense of a belief system that sorely needs defenders these days. And I highly recommend it to anyone, religious or not, who can say the word “Christianity” without giggling, sneering, or cringing. ( )
  john.cooper | Jan 29, 2018 |
I am very much not the target audience for this book.

In fact, I suspect that, in general, very few reviewers of apologetics are the target audience for apologetics; they are likely to be regular, if not professional, churchgoers. The best one can do is assess the book against one's own knowledge and experience.

From that perspective, Spufford comes off fairly well. His narrative - and because he is providing an experiential and emotional appeal rather than a logical argument, it is a narrative - matches up fairly well with a reasonable mainstream Anglican position. (I can't assess how it would seem to somebody outside the church, having been more or less continuously involved in active parish life - choir member, server, member of synod, subdeacon - since my confirmation, and Spufford's description of experience from outside I have no parallel knowledge to compare with.)

I would tweak a few things theologically - the place of hell, for example, has been radically downgraded in the past few decades (see, for example, Hans Urs von Balthasar's Dare We Hope That All Men Be Saved? With a Short Discourse on Hell) but, being a final bulwark of radical free will, has not been expunged - but what he deals with is generally solid, if rather basic.

I picked this up because of Spufford's skill as a writer, and he does not disappoint.

As a modern example of lay apologetics this is worth reading. The niche Lewis and Blamires filled for the C of E has been vacated by the passage of time (both start to show very much where they took specific traits of their age as universal) and this book stands up well as a successor. ( )
  jsburbidge | Nov 13, 2016 |
This is not a Christian book although it claims to be. The author writes proudly that he did not do any research for this book and that all of the words came straight from his head. That is evident in the reading of just the first few pages which are a jumble of confused thoughts and ideas, some of which are offensive to a Christian.

He later writes

“No, I can’t prove it. I don’t know that any of it is true. I don’t know if there’s a God. And neither do you, and neither does Professor Dawkins, and neither does anybody. It isn’t the kind of thing you can know. It isn’t a knowable item.”

I wonder if the author will say this to God when he appears before Him one day and is asked to give an account for the way he has lived his life and the way he has influenced others....it's really very sad.

I'm glad I got this from the library and didn't pay money for it. The langauge was also shocking and I gave up on reading the F word. I noted that one reviewer commented that the author defends his use of swearing in the Preface. My version doesn't have a Preface, probably just as well. Once again I'm appalled by the numerous 4/5 star reviews by professing Christians......

Don't buy this book!!

For further comments on why Christian authors shouldn't swear see here;

http://christianmissionaryuk.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/why-its-not-okay-for-christi... ( )
  sparkleandchico | Aug 31, 2016 |
Mostly unhelpful ranting, but in the midst of the guff, there's a totally brilliant chapter about Jesus, and a very powerful ending. ( )
  AnneBrooke | Jan 6, 2015 |
British Christianity just isn’t the same as our American brand. It’s funnier, raunchier, and more real … that is, if Spufford, a self-proclaimed Christian, is a legitimate example.

We’re not likely to hear Spufford’s take on Christianity from the pulpit, but I wish we could. I really do. This book is a must-read. This is Christ and Christianity down off its pedestal, down in the mud and the blood. This is Jesus the way he really lived and died. It is Christians today, with our human doubts and fears and needs, the way we live and die in the real world. This is life; therefore, this is God.

The kicker? Despite everything, despite the HPtFtU (Human propensity to f— things up) Christianity does still make surprising emotional sense.

Francis Spufford is first and foremost a writer, as becomes evident in the opening paragraph, which is a good thing. Set aside a few hours for a captivating, picturesque read.

Harper One, © 2013, 213 pages

ISBN: 978-0-06-230046-1 ( )
  DubiousDisciple | Nov 3, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
One function of the rhetorical fireworks is to draw out a point often lost on the forces of militant atheism, namely that religious commitment is a way of life that comes into focus as the believer advances along a spiritual path, not a matter of assenting to 101 incredible propositions before breakfast. Of course a faith such as Christianity makes truth claims, which (among other things) should not be incompatible with modern science. But you don’t think your way into a new way of living: you live your way into a new way of thinking. The emotional and practical elements of faith are indispensable.
Spufford likens the experience of being a Christian to listening to the adagio of Mozart's clarinet concerto. This "very patient piece of music" has been described as conveying the sound of mercy because its quiet beauty does not deny the horrors of life but admits they exist and yet insists there is more too. It is as if, running through the mess, there is an infinite kindness, or gentle forbearance, or what Dante called a love that moves the sun and stars. Reason cannot decide whether that is true. The feelings that deliver closer, insider knowledge of human experience can.
added by eereed | editGuardian, Mark Vernon (Sep 12, 2012)
It is a refreshing response that highlights the most striking feature of contemporary atheism - its invincible incomprehension of actual human beings. For atheist evangelists, practically everything wrong with the world comes from irrationality. In contrast, Spufford argues plausibly that Christianity deals with "the human propensity to f--k things up". HPtFtu - as he abbreviates this central fact of life - denotes "our active inclination to break stuff, 'stuff' here including moods, promises, relationships we care about and our own well-being and other people's."
added by eereed | editIndependent, John Gray (Sep 8, 2012)

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Francis Spuffordprimary authorall editionscalculated
Klaveren, Karl vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Suitable for believers who are fed up with being patronised, for non-believers curious about how faith can possibly work in the twenty-first century, this title presents an argument that Christianity is recognisable, drawing on the vocabulary of human feeling, and satisfying those who believe in it."--www.whitcoulls.co.nz… (more)

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