Looking Good, Being Bad (by Adrian Plass)

I do like Adrian Plass. Some of his writing is so clever and funny that I laugh aloud - he's probably the only writer who has ever been able to make me do that consistently. Others of his books are moving, bringing a tear to my eye. Most of them are thought-provoking, using either humour or story-telling to make important points.

'Looking Good, Being Bad' is different from all his other books, although in a sense it's classic Adrian Plass satire. The idea is that he supposedly came across a document outlining the annual report from the College of Churchmanship.

The book goes, chapter by chapter, into such topics as Prayermanship, Distractmanship, Weekend Awaymanship, and much more. It's basically advice, written in serious vein, on how to be a comfortable, even popular 'churchman' (or woman) without any of the discomfort of the Christian faith.

I found it amusing in places, thought-provoking, and slightly disturbing in others since - as the author intended - I recognised some of the negative traits not just in other people, but also myself.

It reminded me, very slightly, of CS Lewis's Screwtape Letters in the way it made many important points in satirical light humour. It wasn't the greatest book I ever read, and it's not something I could have sat down and read straight through. It didn't make me laugh, nor did it make me cry.

But I certainly smiled several times during the book, and thought it extremely clever. Definitely recommended to anyone who has anything to do with the church.. but be prepared to recognise yourself at times, and to become rather cynical about some of the 'pillars' of the church we meet from time to time!

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 20th August 2009

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