“The Human Propensity To Fuck Things Up”

Or HPtFTU, for short.  That’s what Francis Spufford renames the Christian doctrine of original sin in his recent book, Unapologetic. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry praises the rhetorical move, writing that it presents “an old, and much-maligned, idea in a fresh new light”:

Casting original sin as HPtFTU shows how all our sins are somehow connected.

It allows, as Spufford masterfully writes, to realize how, on some level, my selfishly, dumbly cutting remark to my wife is, in its fundamental meanness and selfishness, the same thing as beating up a homeless vagrant, is the same thing as defrauding your employer, etc. It forbids us from casting the evils of others as “other” and therefore beneath us, and it reveals the important truth that all of the infinite panoply of human evil, despite the great diversity of its commission, ultimately has the same source.

Casting original sin as HPtFTU shows how original sin makes us all equal before the eyes of God, and shows that our HPtFTU means that none of us can ever think that we are better than any other, because all of us are fundamentally broken and equal in our brokenness. Therefore, casting original sin as HPtFTU shows that, contrary to the legend of sin as an instrument for enforcing guilt-ridden terror, the recognition of original sin is the first step on a path of love, because once I see in you the same brokenness that is in me, I am moved to love you. Casting original sin as HPtFTU, therefore, lets us enter into the properly Christian dynamic of, recognizing ourselves as broken, moving both towards God—since only He, and nothing of this world, can heal the HPtFTU—and towards our fellow man—equally fallen and, therefore, equally crying out for love.

Previous Dish on Spufford here, here, here, and here.