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Open Features: Hallelujah In The Back Of My Mind

Adrian Plass is a writer and speaker who has produced over thirty books in the last twenty years. The best known of these is probably The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass, a gentle satire on the modern church, which has sold hundreds of thousands of copies worldwide. This and other books have travelled to other countries and are translated into a number of foreign languages.

Other books include biography, novels, short stories, a fictionalised account of the author's experiences as a residential child care worker, and collections of poems and sketches.

Adrian has been in demand as a speaker in venues as varied as prisons, schools, churches, festivals, literary dinners and theatrical settings. His work also includes contribution to national and local radio and television. Live presentations combine humour, poetry, and story telling, largely revolving around his own inadequacies and struggles as a Christian and a human being.

Here is a poem read by Adrian and his wife Bridget at recent public performances.

Adrian readily gave permission for the poem to appear in Open Writing.

I take my problems to the altar, but my steps begin to falter,
And I feel as if I'm starting to fall
For it's hard to recollect the proper way to genuflect
Upon arrival in a Pentacostal hall.
And I really want to share it, but know they'll never wear it.
And the question in my head is underlined.
But just as I am saying "Who on earth invented praying?
Hallelujah in the back of my mind.

There are some who have you kneeling, there are those who hit the ceiling,
There are others who insist on a smell.
There are some who keep their hats on, and a very few are bats on
Having serpents in the service as well.
There are those who call you sinner if you dare enjoy your dinner.
And Gomorrah's in a half a glass of wine, (and need I add Sod'em}
But just as I am sure I can't survive it any more,
Hallelujah in the back of my mind.

Well, they say "Oh you may do what you feel because it's real
And everybody must be perfectly free,
And I'm happy to advise you, not a soul will criticise you,
Just as long as you are copying me.''
So I take it and I shake it and I really try to break it,
And I think I can leave it behind.
But just as I've dismissed it, there's a sound I can't resist it,
Hallelujah in the back of my mind.

There's a man who when I'm sickly says, "You very, very quickly
Should be starting to get better, not worse.''
And he tells me that he sees I'm needing longer on my knees,
And there will always be a relevant verse.
But some say if you suffer, then your spirit will get tougher
So you'd better find a will and get it signed.
But just as I'm refusing to go on, it's so confusing,
Hallelujah in the back of my mind.

There are many, many people who rely upon a steeple
To remind them that they're aiming at God,
While some discover Zion under corrugated iron,
And they none of them believe they are odd,
For they know the congregation in their own denomination
Is the nearest thing to heaven you can find.
But when I say "That's it! Oh Lord, I know I'll never fit,''
Hallelujah in the back of my mind.


Adrian and Bridget are currently working at Scargill House, which is set within the Yorkshire Dales National Park, a Christian community committed to warmly welcoming all guests. Scargill offers conference facilities, retreats and holidays with a Christian ethos, providing a safe place in which to meet with God and other people.



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