...a trickier book to bring off for someone whose natural voice is one of comedy. Butler-Gallie (now assistant curate at Liverpool Parish Church) relishes human foibles in those who have taken holy orders. He loves a jolly, fat priest who guzzles his food and drink, or a nun who chain-smokes, and he celebrates all these types here — but the next thing you know, they’re dying at Auschwitz or being shot in a ditch. It requires a skilled writer to walk this tragicomic tightrope. I think Butler-Gallie does bring it off, as long as you don’t mind his slight tendency to sermonise. He proves it true that comedy and tragedy run side by side, and that some of the most unlikely people turn out to be saints and martyrs. The subtext of both of his books is his disdain for the culture of grey, clone-like dullness that threatens to overwhelm all institutions, including the church. We need our oddbods who refuse to keep their heads below the parapet when evil regimes take over.