What's Tony Thinking

Have Fun!


The young blonde attendant at the gym I go to always says, “Have Fun,” as I head off for my hour of stretching, aerobicizing and weight-lifting. I think, “what could be ‘fun’ about this?”

But there are some things that I do find to be fun. One of them is reading the book that is the subject of the upcoming webinar which begins in two weeks on February 7. It is, for me, a lot of fun to read Spufford’s book Unapologetic.

Now that may only be a further proof that I’m a weird dude. But should you chose to join in on the experience of reading and chatting about Unapologetic, I hope that you too will “have fun” doing so.

Spufford is a Brit. He devotes “The Preface to the U.S. Edition” (which I encourage you to read) to explaining some significant differences between the U.K. and U.S. contexts vis a vis religion. He then launches into his venture aware that for the vast bulk of people religious belief is more or less inexplicable and frankly kind of embarrassing. Here’s Spufford.

“And so what goes on inside believers is mysterious. So far as it can be guessed at — if for some reason you wanted to guess at it — it appears to be a kind of anxious pretending, a kind of continual, nervous resistance to reality. It looks as if, to a believer, things can never be allowed to be just what they are. They always have to be translated, moralized — given an unnecessary and rather sentimental meaning.

“A sunset can’t just be part of the mixed magnificence and cruelty and indifference of the world; it has to be a blessing. A meal has to be a present you’re grateful for, even if it came from the Tesco and the ingredients cost you $7.38. Sex can’t be the spectrum of experiences you get used to as an adult, from occasional earthquake through to mild companionable buzz; it has to be, oh dear oh dear, a special thing that happens when mummies and daddies love each other very much. Presumably, all of these specific little refusals of common sense reflect our great big central failure of realism, our embarrassing trouble with the distinction, basic to adulthood, between stuff that exists and stuff that is made up.”

And on he goes, delightfully, making the point that believers are, or appear to be, those whose “fingers must be in our ears all the time — lalalala, I can’t hear you — just to keep out the plain sound of the real world.”

But then he reverses field, writing,

“The funny thing is that to me it’s exactly the other way around. In my experience, it’s belief that involves the most uncompromising attention to the nature of things of which you are capable. It’s belief which demands you dispense with illusion after illusion, while contemporary common sense requires continual, fluffy pretending. Pretending that might as well be systematic, it’s so thoroughly incentivized by our culture.”

See what I mean? This is fun. Having a conversation with a witty iconoclast who doesn’t take himself too seriously.

So join me, and the Crackers and Grape Juice team, for the fun of it. (Registration information for this free webinar is in the side bar). And come prepared to have fun.

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