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Exploring the emotional view from within,
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This review is from: Unapologetic: Why, despite everything, Christianity can still make surprising emotional sense (Hardcover)
So, just what the world needs, another book in the ongoing faith vs. atheist war of words. Except this isn't. Several people will be wrong-footed by seeing Francis Spufford's name attached to a book supporting Christianity. As one of the UK's most erudite writers of `factual' fiction and most respected reviewers of science fiction it will come as a shock to find he has published a book which brings to bear his full powers of argument in favour of Christian belief.
However, 'Unapologetic' is not a case for the defence, indeed it's almost the opposite, it's a deeply personal exposition on the effect that Christian belief has had on Spufford at an emotional level. Quite rightly he has not sought to provide proof or evidence for the existence of God, it is simply a report from inside the mind (and possible soul) of a believer and the writer is fully aware of what this means in the context of his previous work.
Francis Spufford is no fool; his previous works are the result of meticulous research, feverish enthusiasm and a precision in writing that is a joy to read. Whether he is getting inside the minds of polar explorers or imagining the possibility of how the Soviet economic dream might have worked, he is never short on detail, wit and supporting knowledge. 'Unapologetic' is different insomuch as it appears to be written `from the heart' and as such it feels a little like the follow up to 'The Child That Books Built'. Whereas that book explored the constructs created from the borrowed world view of authors this book concerns itself with the personal effect of faith and more importantly the effects on ourselves of our self-awareness when we fail and let others down.
For the most part, 'Unapologetic' focuses on that most un-evolutionary of feelings - guilt; that sensation that we have let everyone down, the dreadful realisation that we have not made the best of our lives and that we might well have squandered years of possibility. It homes in on those terribly dark nights when we lie awake knowing that, not to put to fine a point on it (and Spufford doesn't) we have f***ed up everything. Where do we go from there? How do we, when faced with our failing selves alone, begin again? What do we do when we have alienated everyone, how do we begin to re-build our emotional selves?
And there are no easy answers. This is one man's response and as he states, `God is not a get out of jail free card', but it is God's call to arms that spurs us onto making the soul wrenching changes that enables us to move ourselves slowly but surely away from the pit of our own making.
`Unapologetic' puts up an elegant two fingers to the acolytes of Dawkins et al by saying you cannot possibly know how I feel and you have no right to guess. Emotions and feelings cannot be measured (yes, temperature changes, sweat production and pupil dilation can but that's subtly different to the causes of these physical changes), and as Spufford states in the footnote on page 68 `you can't disprove the existence of a feeling'. That's the crux of it really; when we are honest with ourselves we feel things that cannot be explained and which only make sense in the context of something bigger, something outside of ourselves, all these soul consuming emotions and feelings which have no place or purpose in the blind continuity of our genetic code actually exist. We feel guilt, we feel love, we feel regret and none of them can be satisfactorily explained away by any evolutionary-biological explanations about group bonding or societal strength. They are the dark silt that clogs our mind and which only a cool draft of giving into something `outside' can wash away.
A final comment, this is by far the sweariest `Christian' book ever published and as such should prove an interesting challenge to church goers as it does to non-believers!
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 27 Nov 2012 18:57:12 GMT
S. J. Payne says:
Posted on 12 Dec 2012 20:00:28 GMT
Giles Penfold says:
In reply to an earlier post on 27 Dec 2012 19:07:20 GMT
Timothy Hooper says:
Dear Mr Penfold, I think it would be difficult to write a book about personal feelings and emotions (on any subject) without referencing the 'me, me, me'.
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