Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hear No Evil by Matthew Paul Turner - REVIEWED

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

If you’ve ever had the opening bars of a song transport you back in time or remind you of a pivotal spiritual moment, Matthew Paul Turner’s honest—and frequently hilarious—musings will strike a chord. Straight-forward and amusing, Hear No Evil is Turner’s “life soundtrack,” a compilation of engaging personal stories about how music—and music’s ability to transform—has played a key role in his spiritual life.

Groove along on his journey as young evangelical Turner attends forbidden contemporary Christian concerts, moves to “Music City” Nashville, and dreams of becoming the Michael Jackson of Christian music.

Cosmic and compelling, keen and funny, every page is a new encounter with the people, places, and experiences that have taught the music-editor-turned-author some new things about God, forced him out of his comfort zone, and introduced him to a fresh view of grace along the way.

You can purchase your own copy of this book HERE today!


Hear No Evil appealed to me as a review opportunity, because I feel ignorant about much of the Christian music industry, and based on the preview of the material, it sounded like I might learn something. Well, I did and I didn’t. Let me tell you what I found.

I love music, and I know what it’s like for music to be a HUGE part of your life. My dad was the song director of a small, independent Baptist church, and my aunt directed the youth choir. I’ve been around a LOT of music! I’m almost nine years older than the author, Matthew Paul Turner, but the church of my childhood is one he would apparently have no use for in his adult life. That makes me sad. Yes, there was legalism in that small Baptist church of long ago in my life, but that exists everywhere…inside and outside of all of our hearts and that is no excuse to write a book that sarcastically derides the faith that many hold dear. There is no useful good that comes from that.

Apparently Turner is curious about the faith of whomever crosses his path. During college he tried on religious practices like one would try on clothes in a department store. (lots of snarky comments about Calvinism vs. Armenian beliefs – and I don’t think he ever understood either) I’m not convinced he has found any satisfying answers for his soul yet today, because he is too busy being snarky about his childhood. My gut reaction to this book…grow up! Forgive. Move on. This was neither funny nor entertaining to me. It exploited a lot of people along the way, made fun of others and never led me to believe that Matthew Paul Turner has any spiritual peace in his life. That was sad to me too.

Maybe I missed the message. Maybe I’m too old to appreciate the nuances of this book. Maybe I’m too Baptist. Either way, Hear No Evil offered no take away value for this reader. You make up your own mind.

Today, Turner, 34, is the author of ten books and a contributor to several others. He is also the former editor of CCM, a popular Christian music magazine, and a past contributor to Yet of all his essays, books and articles, Turner’s latest—Churched: One Kids Journey Toward God Despite a Holy Mess (Waterbrook Press, 2008)—is the work he points to as being the most authentically connected to who he is as a writer. That’s because the book—more a collection of essays than a standard memoir—delves into his painful experiences with fundamentalism and how they affected who he is today. “Faith involves every aspect of your life. Even the most shallow person becomes changed by it, hurt by it, or finds freedom in it,” Turner says. “And I was a kid who felt everything and wore my emotions on my sleeve. I soaked everything in.”

Turner—who, unbeknownst to much of the reading public, is a deeply sincere, painfully thoughtful person—is best known for his Jon Stewart-caliber sarcasm, and Churched has it in full measure. While he hopes that his tongue-and-cheek style never glosses over the painful realities of life, Turner says humor is “a healing thing, and also something that you can combat fear with.” It seems to be working. After growing up in a environment so legalistic that Turner recalls smokers being relegated to hell by his fellow church members, he now says it’s no longer God he’s afraid of, but rather “the god with the copyright trademark, the manufactured god we’ve come up with in America.”


Mocha with Linda said...

Excellent review. I suspected this book would be like that, so I passed on the opportunity to review it.

Andi said...

Kim - I applaud you! I didn't get past page 5 and his chapter on Chasing Amy was ridiculous. I am very dissapointed in Waterbrook for publishing it. Kudos to you my dear!