Saturday, August 24, 2013

Something to say about Unapologetic

So, I did finish Unapologetic: Why despite everything, Christianity can still make surprising emotional sense by Francis Spufford last week. Wow. As a theologian I asked about it a few days ago said “What a terrific (if slightly shocking) read!”. That about sums it up. It’s not for the faint-hearted or the easily offended (beware the language), and the author is disappointingly liberal on some of the usual points. And yet, this is a book I deem worth reading, though that could perhaps depend on who you are surrounded by and who you interacting with.

I especially liked his early argument in response to those who believe “that we’re good underneath, good by nature, and only do bad things because we’ve been forced out of shape by some external force, some malevolent aspect of this world’s power structures”. It baffles me how anyone can actually believe this, but I have come up against this very argument amongst anarchist friends (see here). He goes on:
It’s a theory that isn’t falsifiable, because there always are power structures there to be blamed when people behave badly. Like the theory that markets left to themselves would produce perfectly just outcomes (when markets never are left to themselves) it’s immune to disproof. But, and let me put this as gently as I can, it doesn’t seem terribly likely.
As I read his response to this, I actually felt more convicted of my own “sin” (he gives that concept a good teasing out also) than I have in a long while, and my participation in the general HPtFtU (human potential to f**k things up). I defy anybody to read it and consider themselves "inherently good". The chapter called The Crack in Everything (oh yes, we all love Leonard Cohen for that) was perhaps my favourite.

I also loved his response to the stupid atheist bus campaign that told us that there was probably no God so we should “enjoy your life”, as though our life was a product we could step back from and evaluate. (There’s an abridged version of what he has to say here, about the fourth paragraph down, but there’s more to the argument in the book.)

If you find yourself at times engaged in conversation with people spouting new atheist arguments, or you find yourself in any way disturbed by those arguments, you might benefit from this book.

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