I started reading The Laughing Jesus today, and have also placed a hold at the library on a few other books by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy. (Thanks to Peter at the excellent The Seer blog for introducing me to them!)
The book helps differentiate inner and outer truths of Christianty, first going through the outer truths about Jesus and early Christianity, and then the inner truth of the early gnostics and gnostics, or mystics, anywhere. The basics of both is familiar to me, but it is presented in a very clear and insightful way, have some angles that are new to me, and is a joy to read.
In terms of the outer truths of Christianity, it shows the parallels between the early gnostic stories of the God man and the life story of Jesus, the lack of historical evidence for Jesus ever having existed in flesh and blood, and examples of the literalist interpretation of Christianity came into being through the usual politics.
(From the little I know of mainstream scholarship on this subject, it seems that their basic thesis is not too far off, but I am sure there are different takes on many of the details. This is not a book for those interested in exact and nuanced scholarship, and that is not the point of the book either.)
The inner truths of Christianity is that of mystics anywhere and any time, and I am reminded of Douglas Harding and the headless experiments in the simple and elegant ways Freke and Gandy write about it.
Finally, the book is a reminder of looking for the inner truth of any spiritual or religious story, independent of its outer or historical truth (or, most often, lack thereof). The historical truth has historical interest, which is well and fine. But the inner truth is about who and what we are, here and now.