25/03/2018

Lucas Unleashed (by Jeff Lucas)

I first came across Jeff Lucas’s writings many years ago, when a friend recommended one of his books to me. I had not previously heard of him, but loved the style, the honesty and the self-deprecating humour. I immediately put a handful of his books on my wishlist and was delighted to be given some of them. I acquired more over the years.

I’m currently re-reading books by several of my favourite authors, so picked up ‘Lucas Unleashed’ about a week ago, as I had not read it since 2011. I couldn’t remember what was in it; I quickly realised that this is a book of short chapters, each one no more than three or four pages long. Each one focuses on some aspect of life, with relevance to the Christian faith.

My first reading was long enough ago that I didn’t recall any of the anecdotes in the book, so it felt as if I were reading it for the first time. In the introduction, Jeff Lucas explains that the word ‘unleashed’ in the title doesn’t mean that he’s about to unleash a torrent of insults, nor that he’s unhinged. It means that he writes without worrying about conventions, protocols or blandness.

The book is written for people who love God but often struggle with what goes on in the church, or in the name of Christianity. By looking at incidents in his own life, or those of other people, Lucas gently draws out parallels with his faith. He doesn’t push his points; indeed, sometimes he leaves chapters a bit open, so much so that I would have liked another paragraph or two to round them off. I’m sure it’s deliberate, as he intends to provoke people to think outside the box, to ask questions, and to draw their own conclusions.

Each chapter introduces a different person or situation. We meet, for instance, an elderly person in the sunset of his life, and a minister serenaded by three friendly drunks. There are poignant accounts of children who are sick, or living in extreme poverty, and there are pictures of Jeff Lucas himself in potentially embarrassing situations.

One comment I have kept thinking about, from early in the book, is that Christians are told to be salt in the world, not sugar. Had he spent a couple of paragraphs expounding on this, I would have skimmed and rolled my eyes. As a passing thought in the middle of an anecdote, the word picture was powerful and memorable.

I read a few chapters each day, and while I don’t recall the details of most of them, I hope some of the principles and ideas will have sunk into my subconscious and helped me in my sporadic and often confused journey as a follower of Jesus.

Review by copyright 2018 Sue's Book Reviews

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