Saturday, 17 February 2018


I had heard about this book and saw some lines from it (maybe on Doug Wilson' blog) which seems to have some smile value, the thing was, every time I had a Koorong voucher I couldn't find in any of their stores. My wife, knowing this, bought it for me for my last birthday.

I did like this book on one level and on another, it was a bit of a "meh". I enjoyed the pros and the metaphors and allusions. The overall story is an amusing one and there are good almost overly cynical one-liners throughout. But past that, I realized that about halfway through this story I didn't really care much for the characters and I wasn't worried how it was going to end. I wasn't hooked on the story as much as I was just looking for the next amusing situation. One of the minor characters, Johnny Quinn, who is a youth minister I found to be quite amusing but has pretty much nothing to do with the story. We follow his path pretty much just for the giggles, which is fine unless you want a tightly crafted story, in that case, you don't need this guy at all. The same goes for disgruntle and clueless church employee Charles Peaborne who has started a blog about the mega-church and is trying to bring it down with useless scandals such as the waste of money they spent on the paper in the photocopiers and other inane nitpicking.

The story revolves around a mega-church pastor, Chad Lester, who has been accused of sexually assaulting Robert P Warner. Chad is innocent, and most people know he is because Chad definitely doesn't swing the other way, instead he has had countless other flings with other women. These include two women on the executive and his personal assistant. Despite Chad being quite an immoral guy, the characters are talking about how he can be accused of such false allegations. Most of the other characters involved with the mega-church are not great people, the finance guy is on the take, there is an affair going on in the executive team (not including Chad) and the assistant minister, Michael Martin, the one who ends up taking over Chad when he is voted to leave the church amongst this scandal, is the real molester of Robert P Warner.

The real moral compass is from John Mitchell who is paster of a small church in the same town. He is the only character who struggles with his sin and tries to always conduct himself in a worthy manner, by forgiving those who have hurt him and by asking forgiveness when he has wrong people. He also gives Chad a black eye.

Some detectives are called in to see if there is anything to this sexual misconduct claim, and they represent the outsider's view of this mega-church machine. Sometimes they are slow on the uptake because there is so much Christianese in the issues some of the characters face that when it comes down to it, are quite silly and have nothing to do with any crimes. For example, the youth pastor thinks he had committed the sin of Achan by sleeping with his girlfriend which is why these false claims have been brought against the lead pastor Chad. He needs to repent of his sin because it affects the whole community.

I read this on holidays, it was a book that I didn't have to think too much, except when some characters were mentioned, I had to try and think who they were and all the connections they were involved in. The book has its moments and some good lines. I can see why it did win the 2012 Christian fiction book, pretty much because it was funny and probably holds a mirror up to some church scenes in America.


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