Francis Spufford's first book—The Chatto Book of Cabbages and Kings: Lists in Literature—was published in 1989, the year he turned 25. "Not surprisingly," Spufford wrote in the introductory essay, "the first response to a good list is often one of undifferentiated delight at the apparently universal reach displayed, at the pyrotechnical aspect of a device that can marshal so much so concentratedly." Much the same could be said of Spufford's subsequent career as a writer: each book a surprise, unpredicted by its predecessors, yet the whole hanging together, defying probability.
His latest book, Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense, was published in the United Kingdom in 2012 and in the United States in the fall of 2013, earning a 2014 CT Book Award in the Apologetics/Evangelism category. On his U.S. book tour, Spufford visited the offices of CT for a conversation with Books & Culture editor John Wilson.
When CT editors first suggested this conversation, it was framed as a debate between American apologist William Lane Craig and you. I was happy to moderate, but my reaction was, "What are they going to debate about?" It seems to me that you and he are doing different things. There are people whose job it is to get up and debate Richard Dawkins and such; that's a good thing to do, and Craig does it superbly. They're bringing a certain toolkit that's different from your toolkit, but you're not saying to them that their brand of apologetics has passed its sell-by date. Was I right about that?
Yeah. I'm not here to say, "From now on, apologetics shall be conducted in this wishy-washy ...