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Looking Good, being Bad – Adrian Plass

Looking Good, Being Bad : The Subtle Art of Churchmanship  Adrian Plass, Authentic Media, Milton Keynes, 2009  Hardback, 206 pages

This wry book is in the form of a church seminary annual report, but the content is a cross between the Screwtape Letters, and… well, um, Adrian Plass, actually.  The College of Churchmanship deals with all matters involving, well – better quote the book jacket :

“Have you ever wondered how and why the body of Christ is constantly tripping over itself to derail its mission and ward off the world?  Or have you ever marvelled at how those less spiritual than yourself can be in positions of leadership?  Have you ever had the niggling sense that some other force was at work in that committee meeting?  You are not alone.  All is revealed in this annual report from Churchmanship Headquarters in Great Malvern, the training ground for all who would carry on the noble tradition of thwarting the work of the gospel among us”.

With sections covering prayer (eg faking tongues) communication (creating dodgy sermons or Christian poetry on the fly), stepmanship (how to get out of tedious jobs whilst looking spiritual and selfless), causing chaos with a smidgeon of theology, how to ruin a church weekend away or distract a preacher, and so much more for both clergy and laity, with examples from star ‘churchmen’ in congregations ranging from High Anglican to Brethren and Charismatic.

After I read this book, an awful lot of situations that appear to have been engineered by the students of this faculty came to mind.  I may even have been affected – I think I might be a dab hand at the ‘aggressive apology’.  This is where ‘I’m sorry, but I simply cannot see my way to agreeing with what you say…’ translates roughly as ‘I’m not sorry, and you’re an idiot’.  Anyway, if you want good tips on how not to do church, and have fun doing so, read this book.  See how many examples of churchmanship you’ve come across….starting with yourself!