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Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense by Francis Spufford
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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.”
Francis Spufford, Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense
“God doesn't want your careful virtue, He wants your reckless generosity.”
Francis Spufford, Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense
“Taking the things people do wrong seriously is part of taking them seriously. It's part of letting their actions have weight. It's part of letting their actions be actions rather than just indifferent shopping choices; of letting their lives tell a life-story, with consequences, and losses, and gains, rather than just being a flurry of events. It's part of letting them be real enough to be worth loving, rather than just attractive or glamorous or pretty or charismatic or cool.”
Francis Spufford, Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense
“Whatever the "Christian conservatives" in America say, there is no one set of rightful opinions that follow on automatically from your belief. If you have signed up for the redeeming love of God, you don't—you really don't—have to sign up too for low taxes, creationism, gun ownership, the death penalty, closing abortion clinics, climate change denial and grotesque economic inequality. You are entirely at liberty to believe that the kingdom would be better served by social justice, redistributive taxation, feminism, gay rights and excellent public transportation. You won't have the authoritative sanction of the gospel for believing in those things either, of course. But you can.”
Francis Spufford, Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense
“We are supposed to be on the side of goodness in the sense that we need it, not that we are it.”
Francis Spufford, Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense
“You ask for help and you get nothing: on a conscious level you may have decided that there was nobody there to help, but less consciously, since you did ask, it feels as if help was denied. Hence the angry edge that sometimes sharpens disbelief when it’s been renewed by one of these episodes of fruitless asking. In the words of Samuel Beckett, “He doesn’t exist, the bastard!” The life of faith has just as many he-doesn’t-exist-the-bastard moments as the life of disbelief. Probably more of them, if anything, given that we believers tend to return to the subject more often, producing many more opportunities to be disappointed.”
Francis Spufford, Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense
“Peace is not the norm; peace is rare, and where we do manage to institutionalize it in a human society, it's usually because we've been intelligently pessimistic about human proclivities, and found a way to work with the grain of them in a system of intense mutual suspicion like the U.S. Constitution, a document which assumes that absolutely everybody will be corrupt and power-hungry given half a chance.”
Francis Spufford, Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense
“We're the league of the guilty, after all, not the league of the shortly-to-become-good. We are a work in progress. We will always be a work in progress. We will always fail, and it will always matter.”
Francis Spufford, Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense
“It is not for us to know who does and does not manage to accept forgiveness, but if the love really never stops, if God really does long for every lost soul, then in principle God regards as forgivable a whole load of stuff we really don’t want forgiven, thank you. People who use airliners to murder thousands of office workers, people who strut about Norwegian summer camps stealing the lives of teenagers with careful shots to the head, people who drive over their gay neighbor in their pick-up truck and then reverse and do it again, people who torture children for sexual pleasure: God is apparently ready to rush right in there and give them all a hug, the bastard. We don’t want that. We want justice, dammit, if not in this world then in the next. We want God’s extra-niceness confined to deserving cases such as, for example, us, and a reliable process of judgment put in place which will ensure that the child-murderers are ripped apart with red-hot tongs.”
Francis Spufford, Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense
“Some people ask nowadays what kind of a religion it is that chooses an instrument of torture for its symbol, as if the cross on churches must represent some kind of endorsement. The answer is: one that takes the existence of suffering seriously.”
Francis Spufford, Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense
“So when the atheist bus comes by, and tells you that there’s probably no God so you should stop worrying and enjoy your life, the slogan is not just bitterly inappropriate in mood. What it means, if it’s true, is that anyone who isn’t enjoying themselves is entirely on their own.”
Francis Spufford, Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense
“We are supposed to do our fallible, failing best to perceive the other bad people as kin.”
Francis Spufford, Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense
“Churches are vessels of hush, as well as everything else they are, and when I block out the distractions of vision, the silence is almost shockingly loud.”
Francis Spufford, Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense
“It would be a kindness, by the way, and a service to history, if you could please rid yourself of the legend that Christians believed a fairy tale about the origin of the world until forced to think otherwise by the triumph of secular science. Substantially everyone in the Judeo-Christian bits of the planet believed the Genesis account until the early nineteenth century, remember, there being till then no organised alternative. The work of reading the geological record, and thereby exploding the Genesis chronology, was for the most part done not by anti-Christian refuseniks but by scientists and philosophers thinking their way onward from starting-points within the religious culture of the time. Once it became clear that truth lay elsewhere than in Genesis, religious opinion on the whole moved with impressive swiftness to accommodate the discovery. In the same way, when the Origin of Species was published, most Christians in Britain at least moved with some speed to incorporate evolutionary biology into their catalogue of ordinary facts about the world. Bishop Samuel Wilberforce’s resistance to Darwinism was an outlier, untypical. In fact, there’s a good case to be made that the ready acceptance of evolution in Britain owed a lot to the great cultural transmission mechanism of the Church of England. If you’re glad that Darwin is on the £10 note, hug an Anglican.”
Francis Spufford, Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising emotional sense
“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.) But then, like every human being, I am not in the habit of entertaining only the emotions I can prove. I'd be a unrecognizable oddity if I did.”
Francis Spufford, Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense
“...the best that can be done is to love for the sake of it, and to keep sorrow company.”
Francis Spufford, Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense
“When is it that you can say you believe? It’s tricky, since belief is often so intermittent; is so often checkered through or stippled through with disbelief; is so much something come upon, or sensed out of the corner of the mind’s eye, rather than securely possessed. Is it when you feel you’ve found something? Or is it much earlier: when you feel the need that will make you start looking? When you do start looking? When you fail to find anything and yet somehow don’t give up the hope that you might find something some day? Maybe it’s when you hope at all, in this direction.”
Francis Spufford, Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense
“Without faith, there'd be nothing but indifferent material forces at work. It's only when the idea of events having an author is introduced that the universe becomes cruel, as opposed to merely heavy, or fast-moving, or prone to unpredictable acceleration.”
Francis Spufford, Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense
“If Christianity is anything, it’s a refusal to see human behavior as ruled by the balance sheet. We’re not supposed to see the things we do as adding up into piles of good and evil we can subtract from each according to some kind of calculus to tell us how, on balance, we’re doing.”
Francis Spufford, Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense
“For a Christian, the most essential thing God does in time, in all of human history, is to be that man in the crowd; a man under arrest, and on his way to our common catastrophe.”
Francis Spufford, Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense