BOOK REVIEW on friendship

Real friendship, true friendship – this is not as common as it once was. The pandemic hasn’t helped that one bit. I know that I haven’t been as good a friend as I could have/should have been over the past couple of years. And that bothers me.

So an interest in friendship, along with my widely-known passion for bacon, means that a new book caught my attention right away. It’s called Smells Like Bacon: The Skit Guys’ Guide to Lifelong Friendships (Rocklin, CA: K-LOVE Books, 2021).

Yup. You read that right: The Skit Guys. Eddie James and Tommy Woodard. The zany men best known (at least to me) for their humorous sermon illustration videos. You know this had to be an interesting, if not funny, read.

And it was…even though, admittedly, bacon played merely an illustrative role. (That part was a little disappointing.)

In this book, James and Woodard chronicle the thirty-plus years of friendship they have kindled, and offer some suggestions on how we can be better friends.

Their friendship started in high school. Tommy was instrumental in seeing Eddie come to faith in Christ through a simple invitation to an evangelistic meeting. They have seen each other through the ups and downs of life. Even though they live in different states, and often work together, they still make time for each other and cultivate their relationship with intentionality.

Frankly, though the book is unapologetically and unsurprisingly Christian, even people of another faith or of no faith would find this book inspiring in their relationship building. Some might even be inspired to place their trust in Jesus!

Three things made my highlight reel of principles in this fairly quick read.

First, being open with your friend. One might think it goes without saying, but many friendships, depending on the ‘tier’, are very surface-oriented. And they note, “Openness becomes easier the more open you are with God” (p. 52), citing Psalm 139.23-24.

Second, vulnerability. In the chapter entitled, “Why Don’t You Hug Me?”, they note, “Remember this: If someone is taking the time to say a hard thing to you and has mustered up the courage to say it while bracing themselves for the impact it might have, don’t you think that person must find you valuable?” (p. 83).

Third, the value of interruptions. Using Jesus as an example, the authors note, “He was willing to be interrupted for the sake of connection, of relationship. Jesus didn’t mind people or the constant interruptions…. Jesus knows the secret – that every interruption has the power to be an encounter of eternal significance. But it all begins with a yes. In much the same way, keeping our agenda on a loose leash will allow relational interruptions into our lives. This approach allows us to prioritize people over agendas” (p. 171).

The book is written in a narrative style with the typical interjections one would expect from The Skit Guys. These interjections are in the form of dialogue that usually brings a snicker, and help keep the reader engaged.

This is not an academic book, nor was it intended to be one. It is for ordinary people who want to be better friends. And in these days of physical distancing and ‘screen friends’, anything that promotes real friendship, with deeper bonds, is altogether welcome.

It’s available in hard copy, audio book, or on Kindle. Pick it up and be encouraged.