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 believe in it by offering a ruthlessly realistic account of the grown-up dignity of Christian experience.
Fans of C. S. Lewis, N. T. Wright, Marilynne Robinson, Mary Karr, Diana Butler Bass, Rob Bell, and James Martin will appreciate Spufford's crisp, lively, and abashedly defiant thesis.
Unapologetic is a book for believers who are fed up with being patronized, for non-believers curious about how faith can possibly work in the twenty-first century, and for anyone who feels there is something indefinably wrong, literalistic, anti-imaginative and intolerant about the way the atheist case is now being made.
Unapologetic rhymes with splenetic, and that s one aspect of British writer Spufford s (Red Plenty) rhetorical tour de force, in which he not only takes on the new atheists but also the secularism of his own culture (6% of Britons regularly attend church, the author notes early on). Spufford stakes out ground for arguing the value of Christianity that is neither ontological, teleological, or any-ological. God, he asserts, is the ground of being, experienced emotionally, as one might experience Mozart s Clarinet Concerto. Having moved the boundaries of the argument, Spufford has at it, swearing, skewering, and bringing a sense of humor to bear on the question, Why bother to be Christian? A gifted writer, the author is closer to the American William James, who grasped the psychological payoff of religious belief, than he is to fellow Englishman and revered Christian apologist C.S. Lewis. The rhetorical pileup is wearing at times, as are so many contemporary arguments about religion. Spufford s style is as bracing as a cup of real English breakfast tea strong enough to satisfy believers.