Do you remember the first album you ever bought? I do. I remember the anticipation, 12-year-old me eagerly going to the music store’s CD rack, picking up the shiny black jewel case, and handing over my birthday money for… R.I.O.T. By Carman.
Yeah. I wish I could say in 1995 I was listening to The Bends or Jagged Little Pill (now classic albums I didn’t discover until last year, actually). But no, my memory is forever going to be Carman of the black leather, that rebellious, Jesus-loving Italian dude with cheesy music videos and “take-back-America-for-Christ” messages that were subtle like a roundhouse kick to the head. But hey, this was my world of an evangelical kid looking for music I could believe in. And that’s part of the reason I really can appreciate Matthew Paul Turner’s new book Hear No Evil. Because he gets it and laughs with you… not at you.
Hear No Evil is a collection of honest, funny stories with music as its backdrop. Matthew grew up in an ultra-conservative Baptist church where famous preachers signed your Bible and being a Sandi Patty fan was a dirty little secret. The stories follow his life with music, from feeling called to be a Christian Michael Jackson at a Sea World otter show and adjusting to life at Belmont College, to working for CCM Magazine and learning to reconcile faith and love for R.E.M. and Joan Osborne. It’s a quick-paced, lighthearted book that makes you laugh and think, and — for me, anyway — reads like a mirror of recognition.
What I love most about MPT’s writing is that he can be edgy and sarcastic, but not without affection for his fellow Christians. Of course he’s going to pick on the church of his youth, but there are plenty of other eccentric characters along the way: Belmont’s artsy Calvinists, “famous in West Virginia” Southern gospel brothers, and wannabe Christian rock stars (in one funny exchange, noting that a identifying a “Christian rocker” could be the Holy Spirit, but is probably “more like gaydar.”)
Together, the stories tell a greater story of grace and growth, with moments of poignant reflection. In fact, the best story in the book is the chapter “Chasing Amy,” where he recalls interviewing Amy Grant for a CCM cover story that almost didn’t happen… and casts a revealing look at the places where faith, fame, and forgiveness collide with heartbreaking compassion and some of his best writing yet.
This is a quick read with plenty of laughs and sometimes touching, sometimes crazy stories. It’s a conversational memoir, so don’t expect deep theology or life lessons of it, but simply the story of one man’s ongoing faith journey and his soundtrack along the way. Read, laugh with recognition, and if you were an evangelical child of the 90’s, enjoy a little dose of nostalgia. It doesn’t profess to have answers, but in the bittersweet, last chapter, there is “just me and a song and hope.” And sometimes, that’s enough, right?
Hear No Evil is available now! Download the first chapter for free here, and for more info and to purchase, visit RandomHouse.com or MatthewPaulTurner.com
Uber-Important Disclaimer: This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.
About the Author:
Matthew Paul Turner is a blogger, speaker, and author of Churched: One Kid’s Journey Toward God Despite a Holy Mess, The Christian Culture Survival Guide, and several other popular books. After a childhood in rural Maryland, Turner attended Nashville’s Belmont University, where he received a BBA in music business, and was the editor of CCM magazine before leaving to pursue writing as a career. Turner has written for Relevant, HomeLife, Christian Single, and other magazines. He and his wife, Jessica, have one son, and live in Nashville, Tennessee. Visit his website: www.matthewpaulturner.com.
Are you still reading? Good! Because I have an extra copy that the publisher was kind enough to donate, and I want to pass it on to you! To enter, just leave a comment with the following…
1) An answer to this question: What was the first album you ever bought? Even if it’s totally embarrassing, like mine. (You can always play the “but I was *insert age* card. ;))
2) An e-mail address, Twitter name, blog link, or some other way to contact you if you win.
Bonus entry for sharing this link on Twitter! Just include @jen_rose so I can find and count it. :)
Random.org will pick a winner on Friday, February 26th.