The sacred diary of Adrian Plass aged 37¾ by Adrian Plass. (HarperCollins, 1987.)
For a very long time I just didn’t get Adrian Plass. Other members of my family would be almost rolling around the floor laughing, while I just shook my head in disbelief. Obviously there was something here I was just not getting. So I made my second attempt to read “the sacred diary” determined this time to finish even if I thought it was completely ridiculous. I mean it is only 156 pages how hard can it be? I waded through about the first 100 pages when suddenly Plass said something quite insightful, in the guise of something that happened to him. I was shocked. I was looking for humor, not insight. As I read on I began to find more insight and at last humor. I wondered if the insightfulness was there in the first 100 pages. Maybe I was so locked into my preconceived ideas that I missed it or maybe Plass needed 100 pages to build a framework for his insights. I don’t know, but it gave me a new understanding of the book.
It seems to me that Plass believes most Christians to be completely shallow, self-absorbed and unthinking in their beliefs about God. In order to make his point, Plass describes himself as if he too is like this, which is why I initially had so much trouble with the book thinking – surely no one could be so egocentric. Mind you my daughter’s response, when I pressed her to tell why she found the book amusing was always, “I know people like that”. Scary thought that.
Plass knows getting people to laugh at themselves is often a more effective way of changing their behaviour than confrontation.
Here is a little story from the book:
Thursday May 22nd
Strange moment at work today. Glander came across to me and said sneeringly, “You know that loony mate of yours who was at the party – Thynn, his name is?
“Yes?” I said, surprised.
“Well,” said Glander, “a friend of mine told me that, not so very long ago, he saw Mr. ‘Christian’ Thynn, very much the worse for wear, being peeled off the pavement outside the Plough and Bottle, by a couple of the lads in Blue. I thought as he’s such a good friend of yours and supposed to be one of Jesus’ little sunbeams, perhaps you ought to know about it.” …
I said, “I did know about that, Everett. Leonard’s one of my best friends, so I hear about most of what happens to him. He’s got a problem with drink. I’ve got a problem with getting things twisted up and making mistakes. All of us in the church have got problems. We’re not very good people. But God keeps on forgiving us. Does anyone forgive you for what you do, Everett?
Can’t believe I said all that! Expected Glander to laugh his head off, but he just frowned and grunted and went back to his desk. Came up to me at the end of the day and almost apologized!