It’s far from being a comfortable read, though it never ceases to be amusing and thoughtful.
Setting the scene for the book, Skinner, an award-winning comedian, television and radio host, explains: “Imagine someone on a pilgrimage, stopping at churches, martyr-related tourist spots and sacred wells, while dressed in a medieval jester outfit.
“The intention is serious and completely devout, but the pilgrim just feels more at home in the motley than in sackcloth and ashes. He feels jest is an integral part of who he is, and it seems wrong to deny that part.”
Skinner sees his role as a comic as integral to this faith, although some ‘fellow pilgrims’ may be uncomfortable with someone who seems to see humour all around him – and can easily make others laugh.
Yet Frank Skinner raises deep issues in the chapters of this slim volume, including questions that will connect with people both within the Christian faith, and those standing outside.
He describes his prayer life as “a telepathic dip into a long, ongoing conversation with thousands of tabs left open and no helpful ‘new readers start here’ summaries or simplifications for the neutral observer.”
Skinner’s ‘prayer book’ is on my bookshelf alongside ’10 Second Sermons,’ (Darton, Longman & Todd) written by fellow comedian Milton Jones in 2011. Again, the comedian’s quirky view on life brings fresh insights and challenges.
Jones, a master of one-line jokes, describes gossip as “bullying people who are not there,” lust as “rehearsing for a play in which you shouldn’t have a part” and salvation as “like being returned to the factory settings – but you have to admit there is a factory, and that there could be some settings.”
One of my favourites is Jones’s description of the Holy Spirit as “a real person you can invite in. But watch out – in time He will go over, pull the fridge from the wall and say, ‘What’s all this mess under here?’ But at least He helps clear up.”
Both Milton Jones and Frank Skinner are comedians of faith – comedic commentators with a gift of making us see the world with fresh insight. And, as importantly, making us laugh.
Revd Peter Crumpler
Associate Minister at St Paul's Church, Hatfield Road, St Albans
The Link is a monthly publication by members and staff of Morningside United Church.