10/02/2014

The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass, Christian Speaker, aged 45 3/4 (by Adrian Plass)

I have loved Adrian Plass’s writing since the first time I was introduced to his original ‘Sacred Diary’, at least twenty years ago. It was one of the few books that made me laugh aloud, yet was deeply thought-provoking at the same time. I read with almost as much enjoyment the two sequels (not in diary form), and was delighted when he published another ‘diary’ style book. I last read it in 1999.

‘The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass, Christian Speaker, aged 45 ¾’ continues the diary format of the first book, this time charting January through April in a year in which Adrian (the fictional one) has started to do quite a bit of public speaking, following the success of his books. Anne, Adrian’s wife, is wise and supportive, while Gerald, now in his early 20s and living at home for a while, is pondering his future. He still has the wacky and satirical sense of humour of the previous books, but with a more serious slant at times.

I’m sure at least some of the anecdotes are loosely based on reality, but the real Adrian Plass has a wife called Bridget and four children, none of whom is called Gerald.

This book features - among other things - a support group being set up for Adrian and his new ministry as a speaker, a disastrous children’s talk, and a wonderful trip to Australia. To say much more would be to give spoilers. Favourite characters from previous volumes reappear, in particular the somewhat gormless Leonard Thynn, and the astute pastor Edwin. Adrian continues to display his faults in a controlled way to those around him, while suffering from feelings of inadequacy and wishing he were more spiritual.

The first three books were - to coin an over-used cliché - a breath of fresh air when they first appeared, in the early 1990s. Plass spoke honestly into a generation of young people who had grown up in evangelical circles, but were starting to ask open and sometimes difficult questions which the leaders were reluctant to answer. Modernism was giving way to post-modernism in the West, but the church in general was failing to keep up. Plass encouraged us to laugh at ourselves, and to poke gentle fun at some of the foibles of the church from within, while - at the same time - focussing more closely on the God who loves us despite everything.

I had been concerned that this sequel, published in 1997, would prove a disappointment, but was delighted to be proved wrong. I smiled in many places, and chuckled few times, and found myself thinking about the contents at odd times long after I had finished.

Re-reading in the last couple of days, in preparation for reading Plass’s latest ‘Sacred Diary’ book, I enjoyed it afresh, and yes, despite knowing most of the punchlines and the general outcome of the stories, I still found myself laughing out loud more than once. I could hardly put it down at times.

Highly recommended, although it makes the most sense to read this after at least the first and preferably all three of the original Sacred Diary Trilogy. I am delighted to see that it is still in print on both sides of the Atlantic, although it can often be found second-hand.

Review by Sue F copyright 2014 Sue's Book Reviews

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