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Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense
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Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense

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3.99  ·  Rating details ·  1,443 ratings  ·  257 reviews
Francis Spufford's Unapologetic is a wonderfully pugnacious defense of Christianity. Refuting critics such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and the "new atheist" crowd, Spufford, a former atheist and Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, argues that Christianity is recognizable, drawing on the deep and deeply ordinary vocabulary of human feeling, satisfying those who b ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published September 1st 2012 by Faber & Faber
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Natalie Vellacott
Jun 19, 2016 rated it did not like it
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, an
...more
Gerard Kelly
Mar 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is an extraordinary book. Alive; wriggling; surprising, it seems to come from a place no book has ever come from. Spufford writes as one who knows atheism from the inside; grasps its inner logic; is not unsympathetic to its causes, but who also now has the same insider knowledge of faith.

His claim, in a nutshell, is that the one is no less emotionally viable than the other. Intellectually, it is impossible to come to a final ruling on the central questions posed in the atheism vs faith conf
...more
Caroline
May 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Yet another book on my wobbly journey to discover if some sort of faith or spiritual practise could be part of my life.

This book is like sitting in a washing machine, with the temperature at very hot and the rotations set to breakneck speed. Spufford's style is vaguely stream of consciousness, and rather florid. He gallops along, tossing everything up in the air and chomping his way through various aspects of Christianity, embracing difficult issues with gusto.

From his perspective, belief in God
...more
Ian Smith
Oct 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Is it possible this glorious book was largely written at the corner table by the window in Costa Coffee, Sidney Street, Cambridge, as the author claims? Surely not. For how could coffee inspire such a vigorous stream of consciousness, such a tsunami of words, such a font of creativity, such reverently unshackled irreverence? Where in Cambridge could you possibly expect to hear the words 'auto-sneer' and 'sodomitical', and the acronym 'HPtFtU'?

It's simply a masterpiece, and like any great maste
...more
John
Oct 24, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
I picked this book up from a random recommendation online. It sounded intriguing—an articulation of Christian faith from the inside—from a well-regarded British and Christian writer. It sounded worth my time, considering it is a short book at 220 pages.

Unfortunately, I discovered the book is far from Chesterton’s Orthodoxy, and it is certainly far from the genre. On page 21 he 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,
...more
Jon
Jan 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
Nick Hornby called this book: "...an incredibly smart, challenging, and beautiful book, humming with ideas and arguments." The annoying title almost made me put it back on the library shelf until I read that blurb. As usual, Hornby is right. The book has come in for some flack from some Goodreads readers, mostly, I think, conservative Christians and Biblical literalists. But I felt as though it was written specifically for someone like me (liberal American protestant). There was hardly a sentenc ...more
Elly
Jan 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I think I would actually give this 6 stars if that were possible. I have read too many books about religion written by overly militant, overly conservative Americans and this book filled a hole that they always miss. 'Unapologetic' describes the particular breed of liberal yet traditionalist Anglicanism which permeates much of the UK - part of the reason why I loved it, yet I suspect also part of the reason why those of a more American/Baptist persuasion may hate it.

Fast-paced, irreverent, comi
...more
Edward
Feb 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This highly personal account written by a Brit first raises the question of why many Christians are indeed apologetic today. Lots of reasons – they are accused of being needy, foolish, old-fashioned, and worst of all, humorless. Politicians prefer to avoid mentioning any commitments. When Tony Blair was asked a question about his religious views, his press secretary said, “We don’t do God.” And this is not to mention recent scandals involving homophobia, misogyny, and child abuse.

These are the
...more
Sotiris Makrygiannis
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: internet, comics
I dont care that he is atheist, wanted to read what he is thinking and I guess found nothing much.
He is a marxist so he sees the things from a Marxist point of view that wants to replace religion, priests and bible with the Das Capital, the local Marxist consular and the life story of Stalin, Lenin. The arguments and insults of the book and the religion seem to be educated and with good arguments but he forgets that only 22% of the universe is known in terms of matter, the other dark energy is n
...more
Ken
A defense of Christianity that makes some good points but is defensive more often than not. Of particular interest to me was the theodicy chapter, wherein logical arguments are considered, one by one, as to how there can be a loving God who allows evil in His world. In each case, Spufford admits the defense fails. I was hoping for an argument I hadn't heard before, one that would help me through this admitted problem, but for the most part, Spufford argues for a Christianity despite a, b, c... ( ...more
Dick Davies
Oct 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
A book written for atheists. I was giggling all of the way through. A very sweary book but I think the language helps make his point.

For once we have a defence of faith which is predicated not on nit picking arguments but rather on how it feels to believe, and how it feels right to the author. I identify with him a lot. I love the honesty of his writing. He has no pat answers.

I'm sure many traditional Christians will be offended by this book. And that is sad.

Couldn't put it down. And it is no
...more
Helen Moyes
Well written, except for very long chapters. I generally needed to take a break mid chapter.
The book starts with what can be a common view of Christians:
we advocate wishy-washy niceness; promise the oppressed pie in the sky when they die; that we're infantile and can't do without an illusory daddy in the sky; that we oppose modernity and progress;we're embarrassing; that we get all snooty and yuck-no-thanks about transexuals, but think it's perfectly normal for middle aged men to wear purple dr
...more
Karen
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The most fun I've ever had reading a book about faith in Christ! (And yes, i have read a few). Laughed, a lot, cried, a little and I'm still smiling now! Thank you Mr Spufford, for talking good plain sense, for being honest, and for bothering to write it! You really helped me.....he really did! :) I was particularly chuffed by the few cheeky references to 'The Life of Brian' which is one of the funniest things ever ( and I've never understood why so many 'Christians' don't get that). I also love ...more
Daniel
Sep 28, 2012 rated it really liked it


Very lively and engaging (un)apologetic. Though well written and insightful, it comes across as something written in an almost explosive burst of energy, perhaps created by a pent up well of desire to communicate and frustration with countless misunderstandings and misrepresentations personally felt. It is sweary and personal - and all the better for it.
Erica Clou
The best part of this book is how smart and flippant Spufford is. He's hilarious, rude, and thoughtful all at once. Despite the confusing reviews, this book is definitely in support of Christianity. The reviewers who claim Spufford is an atheist either didn't read a single word of the book or have a super insular view of Christianity. ...more
Pieter Stok
Dec 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: theology
If you like Theme Parks and fast rides you may very well like this manic excursion of Spufford’s heart and mind.

The author takes on the thinking of the New Atheists and others but not by engaging in the “God is dead debate” from a calm, rational, fact and logic perspective (which, incidentally will never work, as both Christianity and Atheism must come from faith perspectives). He tackles it from the heart wrenching depths of the human experience. He looks at God’s encounter with his life from t
...more
Emily
May 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion, nonfiction, 2018
A tweet from Nadia Bolz-Weber brought this book to my attention. Since I like her writing and a lot of her ideas, I thought I’d take it for a spin.
It’s called Unapologetic because he’s writing about his own experience and reason for being a Christian, rather than using apologetics to defend his position. You might see it marketed as an answer to modern atheists like Richard Dawkins—and there are a few snarky footnotes here and there—but it’s less that than his personal experience, understanding
...more
Charlie
Jan 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Unapologetic is not an argument. It is a confession. It is Francis Spufford's confession that, after leaving his childhood faith to become an atheist for 20 years, he finds that life doesn't make sense without Christianity. Unlike many apologists, Spufford's book focuses on the emotional and existential features of Christianity.

I greatly enjoyed the content of the book while disliking the style. In my opinion, Spufford overshot in his attempt to be straightforward, authentic, and accessible. Th
...more
123bex
Nov 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
DAMN SON WRITE THAT BOOK LIKE WOW

Real talk: if you are not interested in Christian testimonies then don't read this because that's what it is. Also in the interests of full disclosure, the author is one of my PhD supervisors and he taught on my MA and I love him a lot. But also I read this on the train and kept wanting to leap up and boomingly read entire sections to my fellow passengers. This is a GOOD FUCKING BOOK if the subject matter appeals to you in the slightest.
...more
Barry
His language can get spicy, but his writing sparkles. His views are not always orthodox, but his musings are thoughtful and thought-provoking
Paul Dubuc
As C. S. Lewis said in his essay Meditation in a Toolshed, "One must must look both along and at everything." Most Christian apologetic books look at Christianity from a rational, theological perspective. As important as that perspective is, it's often not enough for a serious commitment. Francis Spufford explores the along side view, of what Christianity looks like from the inside. I think he does a good job of debunking some of the more common misperceptions of Christianity held by persons who ...more
Caleb
Dec 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a book that both brilliantly expresses what it feels like to believe in a really fresh and helpful way, but falls short in a number of ways.

What Spufford sets out to do, to demonstrate the dignity and universality of the feelings that underpin Christian faith, is a much neglected approach. This book defends Christianity not primarily rationally, but existentially and emotionally. If this sounds woolly, it really isn't, and deals with tough issues concerning the Human Propensity to Fuck T
...more
Raoul G
Oct 18, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: christianity
For Francis Spufford the Christian faith is "something I came back to, freely, as an adult, after twenty-odd years of atheism, because piece by piece I have found that it answers my need, and corresponds to emotional reality for me. I also find that the elaborated structure of meaning it builds, the story it tells, explains that reality more justly, more profoundly, more scrupulously and plausibly than any of the alternatives. (Am I sure I’m right? Of course not. Don’t you get bored with asking ...more
Roddy
Jun 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
I thought that after hearing Francis Spufford on the Premier Radio "Unbelievable" podcast I was going to be giving this book a 5 star review. Five chapters in and it was looking that way too. As a reviewer on the back cover said, "an effortlessly brilliant book". But then Chapter 6 and Spufford stated that the Gospels were written after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Uh..aaah (quiz show buzzer). Then the remaining chapters moved into liberal CofE territory and I began to feel a dise ...more
Adam Shields
Nov 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Short Review: This was probably overhyped to me, but I still really think it is an important book and it will make my best of 2014 list. The basic idea of the book is that logical reasoning isn't the best way to talk to people about Christianity in a post-Christian world. Instead we need to address the emotional and experiential pull of Christianity. Spufford is primarily talking to a post-Christian UK, not evangelical Americans, but I really resonated with much of what he said. He starts with a ...more
Steve
Oct 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book clearly inspired from a need to respond to some of the recent shock and awe bombardment of the New Atheists and after reading it I thought boy is this going to get them wound up (a subsequent anxious peek at the Guardian blog from behind the curtain confirmed). That can only be a good thing for the Church. Not in the sense that it succeeds or even seeks to confront head on and defeat by will of evidence or argument such attacks but rather that by saying, hey it’s OK, some of us ar ...more
Paul Birkett
Aug 04, 2014 rated it did not like it
Preaching to the converted
I'm on chapter 2. I gave up on chapter 1 halfway through because it was a boring tirade against the imagined criticisms of Christianity (yes, Mr Spufford spends the whole chapter-or at least as much as I could bear to read- putting words into the mouths of critics in a sneering way).
Chapter 2 is beginning to go the same way. Non-religious people are shallow because all they want is enjoyment. Hmmm. Sin is humanity's tendency to f**k things up, which is inevitable withou
...more
Kath
Jan 26, 2014 rated it did not like it
I really disliked this book and would have given it up had it not been lent and recommended to me. The style was like a stream of consciousness with no breaths and it all seemed self indulgent, let alone irrational. A traditional evangelical message (we should all feel guilty etc) was wrapped up in a supposedly modern style complete with swear words; it made me think of a child shouting out rude words just for effect. His version of Christianity is presented as the one with which we should agree ...more
Peter
Aug 30, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion, apologetics
lightweight fluff. occasional insights . apologetics by stealth, by story . contradictory style of god does this and then he doesn't know of there is a god etc. interesting that the only other one star review I have seen in the goodreads site seems to be a Christian ( I think ) who is worried that it might undo some other people's faiths. fwiw , I saw this as a potential strength of the book. if he can just divest himself of buying the magic, the alleged resurrection myth as fact the he might jo ...more
Elizabeth Francis
Feb 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book pugnaciously defends Christianity not primarily rationally, but existentially and emotionally. In my opinion he puts too much emphasis on feelings rather than logic, but if you’re more of a feeler, you’ll do well with this read. What Spufford sets out to do, is to demonstrate the dignity and universality of the feelings that underpin Christian faith, which I do admit is a much neglected approach.
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Madison Mega-Mara...: #83 Unapologetic by Francis Spufford 1 4 Jun 14, 2015 08:28PM  

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Spufford began as a writer of non-fiction, though always with a strong element of story-telling. Among his early books are I May Be Some Time, The Child That Books Built, and Backroom Boys. He has also edited two volumes of polar literature. But beginning in 2010 with Red Plenty, which explored the Soviet Union around the time of Sputnik using a mixture of fiction and history, he has been drawing ...more

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“He cannot do anything deliberate now. The strain of his whole weight on his outstretched arms hurts too much. The pain fills him up, displaces thought, as much for him as it has for everyone else who has ever been stuck to one of these horrible contrivances, or for anyone else who dies in pain from any of the world’s grim arsenal of possibilities. And yet he goes on taking in. It is not what he does, it is what he is. He is all open door: to sorrow, suffering, guilt, despair, horror, everything that cannot be escaped, and he does not even try to escape it, he turns to meet it, and claims it all as his own. This is mine now, he is saying; and he embraces it with all that is left in him, each dark act, each dripping memory, as if it were something precious, as if it were itself the loved child tottering homeward on the road. But there is so much of it. So many injured children; so many locked rooms; so much lonely anger; so many bombs in public places; so much vicious zeal; so many bored teenagers at roadblocks; so many drunk girls at parties someone thought they could have a little fun with; so many jokes that go too far; so much ruining greed; so much sick ingenuity; so much burned skin. The world he claims, claims him. It burns and stings, it splinters and gouges, it locks him round and drags him down…

All day long, the next day, the city is quiet. The air above the city lacks the usual thousand little trails of smoke from cookfires. Hymns rise from the temple. Families are indoors. The soldiers are back in barracks. The Chief Priest grows hoarse with singing. The governor plays chess with his secretary and dictates letters. The free bread the temple distributed to the poor has gone stale by midday, but tastes all right dipped in water or broth. Death has interrupted life only as much as it ever does. We die one at a time and disappear, but the life of the living continues. The earth turns. The sun makes its way towards the western horizon no slower or faster than it usually does.

Early Sunday morning, one of the friends comes back with rags and a jug of water and a box of the grave spices that are supposed to cut down on the smell. She’s braced for the task. But when she comes to the grave she finds that the linen’s been thrown into the corner and the body is gone. Evidently anonymous burial isn’t quite anonymous enough, after all. She sits outside in the sun. The insects have woken up, here at the edge of the desert, and a bee is nosing about in a lily like silk thinly tucked over itself, but much more perishable. It won’t last long. She takes no notice of the feet that appear at the edge of her vision. That’s enough now, she thinks. That’s more than enough.

Don’t be afraid, says Yeshua. Far more can be mended than you know.

She is weeping. The executee helps her to stand up.”
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“God doesn't want your careful virtue, He wants your reckless generosity.” 10 likes
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