My dearest author, Adrian Plass, is quite probably the funniest man on earth. While we lived in Australia in 1990, this book was published and I saw it there first. However, I was at first unimpressed as it reminded me of some book I had heard of by Adrian Mole, which I know nothing about, but was unimpressed anyway. That is, I was unimpressed until I cracked open the cover of the book.
The cast of characters (below) is just chock full of loveable humans. But Adrian himself is the piece de resistance. He does amazing things in his quest to be a good Christian, including (but not limited to) attempting to make a paper clip move on his desk, in response to the verse about being able to move a mountain if you have the faith of a mustard seed.
Greg and I read this book to each other even now, 18 years later. Adrian has a wonderful way of capturing the foibles and wonderfulness of us imperfect Christians. I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone, although someone who has been in the evangelical "culture" will certainly get a lot more of it.
Do yourself a favor. Read this book. You will love it. Guaranteed.
* Adrian Plass appears as himself as the main protagonist. * Anne Plass, Adrian's wife. * Gerald Plass, Adrian and Anne's son. His quirky and teasing sense of humour frequently offends the religious sensibilities of some of the more staid and conservative members of the church (notably Doreen Cook and Victoria Flushpool), and he has a minor obsession with anagrams, frequently announcing entertaining rearrangements of the letters in the names of various notable Christian personalities. * Leonard Thynn, a close friend of the Plass family, whose eccentric personality and tendency to misunderstand social situations are a frequent source of both entertainment and frustration for the other members of the church. He struggles with alcoholism and lives at home with his elderly, deaf and similarly eccentric mother, Mrs Thynn. * Everett Glander, Adrian's nemesis - a non-Christian who works at the next desk to him at work. He is constantly telling dirty jokes, about which Adrian admits to feeling guilty about the fact that he finds them funny. * Victoria Flushpool, a rigid, doctrinaire and intimidating woman who considers balsa wood models to be evil on the grounds that the number of letters in "balsa wood" is a factor of 666, the Number of the Beast. Towards the end of The Theatrical Tapes of Leonard Thynn, she is brought to repentance and becomes much friendlier and more approachable. She and her husband later go to Africa as missionaries. * Stenneth Flushpool, Victoria Flushpool's long-suffering husband and closet balsa wood modelling enthusiast. * Edwin Burlesford, the patient and wise pastor of the church. * Elsie Burlesford, Edwin's teenage daughter, an obstinate, headstrong character who considers the mildest, most tentative constructive criticism imaginable to be akin to Romania under Nicolae Ceauşescu. * Andromeda Veal, the rabidly feminist seven year old daughter of a Greenham Common woman. * Richard Cook, a staunch and literally minded but enthusiastic church member, who frequently shares surreal "visions" and "pictures" with the rest of the group. * Doreen Cook, Richard's equally staunch and rather more doctrinaire wife who insists that everything must be evangelically correct. * Charles Cook, an enthusiastic Bible College student who manages to quote twelve Scripture verses for each word of "I hope you get better soon." * Vernon Rawlings, a friend of Charles Cook with grandiose visions of himself in ministry and a habit of peppering his prayers with "really just". * Frank Braddock, the Plass's laid-back, pipe-smoking next door neighbour. * Percy Brain, the Plass's next door neighbour on the other side: a lonely, retired thespian who views himself as another Laurence Olivier.