My take on “Churched” by Matthew Paul Turner

It was about 8 months ago…I was becoming slowly addicted to twitter.  Someone that I didn’t really know in person “retweeted” something from the handle @jesusneedsnewpr.  It was pretty funny so I checked it out.  The guy’s name is Matthew Paul Turner.  His blog always consisted of hilarious pictures of Jesus with great subtitles. They were always a great pick-me-up on days when I could really use one.

A few months back-we ran into some financial struggles but I really wanted to read “Churched” by MPT.  I decided to take a shot in the dark and emailed Matthew to see if he had any extra copies lying around he could let me borrow.  He was gracious enough to send me an Advanced Readers Copy.  So in exchange, I thought I would write down my thoughts on the book.  So in my first book review, here are my thoughts on “Churched” by Matthew Paul Turner.

His childhood consisted of pastors teaching him that you don’t get into heaven through Grace, Love, & Forgiveness but through doing everything you’re supposed to to avoid going to Hell.  His stories, while being at times very frightening and scary, were hilarious.  I can relate to a lot of the stories growing up Catholic…definitely not to the extent but I got a good chuckle reading this book as I was reminded of my checkered journey to Jesus.

Growing up, I hated going to Church.  Being raised in a Catholic household wasn’t easy.  There was a lot of guilt and structure, but it didn’t seem like there was an abundance of grace.  On Sunday mornings, my late grandmother, bless her heart, would bribe me to go to Sunday School with the promise of pancakes, eggs, bacon, and an ice-cold Coke in front of WWF wrestling upon my return.  I never missed a good breakfast 🙂

A hot button topic with me that Turner hits on is perception and the truth.  I am a very out spoken man, almost to a fault.  It’s just who I am.  My heart is on my sleeve.  One line that struck me was “How people viewed you was much more important than how you actually were.  Truth didn’t matter.”  Some people may look at me and think I’m rough on the edges and am far from Christ.  A lot of the time, I am far from Christ.  But I know Him.  I love Him. He will always live in me. People may not always see this.

One moment in the book I fell in love with was when Turner was describing his mother and how she became who she was.  I don’t know if his mother was jealous of his ability to dream, but when she tried to dream, she never felt too comfortable with it.  So she stuck with what she knew best, security & structure and the fundamentalist baptist family provided that for her.  The way he describes this was very tender.  I look at my past and how my mother raised me in the church–while I love my mother dearly, I wish she would have invested as much as Turner’s mother did.  While he says that growing up fundamentalist made him “weird,” he had parents who genuinely cared and did what they felt was best.  You can definitely feel that in his descriptions of them. That made me happy.

My favorite part of the book came from the same chapter when Turner makes a deal with Jesus that he will always save Jesus a seat on the bus if Jesus helped him not to “dilly dally.”  I think this is what most of us “Christians” miss.  We want to always be cool, we want acceptance from friends, family, etc…but Turner, knowing he would look as cool as “Jan from the Brady Bunch,” kept his promise to Jesus to hold Him a seat.  He did so because he know that Jesus didn’t care how cool he looked and would never walk by Him with his nose in the air.  That is Faith in it’s purest form.

As Turner grows older he’s noticing more things about his “Religion” and the feel of the book begins to change.  It moves from angry preachers who yell, threaten eternal damnation, and burning barbies in front of little kids to a dad who keeps badgering a young farmer about Jesus because he knows that no one else will, to a 50 year old catholic woman who says it’s ok not to be afraid  because God doesn’t give us fear, but gives us hope.  He see’s that the church was more about numbers than about Faith.

In the last chapter, you see a different side of Turner.  He comes out of his shell…he begins to create his own path on the journey towards God.  He finds a pastor who weeps when he talks about the Love of Jesus.  He finds that it’s ok to not be afraid.

Many see Turner as “liberal,” but I don’t see that.  I see someone who isn’t afraid to tell it the way it is.  That’s why I appreciate him and know that what I see is what I get.  This was a fantastic read. This book was unlike any other book that I’ve read.  It was honest, hilarious, and real.  I don’t know if you will find anyone who will give it to you the way it is like Turner will.  If you can, pick up “Churched” by Matthew Paul Turner.  If you can’t afford a copy, email me and I will send you mine.  That’s how I received my copy…it’s the least I can do, because he did the same for me.

“Regardless of where it comes from, someone else’s hope is difficult to devalue.” Matthew Paul Turner


5 thoughts on “My take on “Churched” by Matthew Paul Turner

  1. Hello!

    I enjoyed your review. At some point I will need to read this book, since i enjoy his blog and tweets quite a bit. But I had one question (and anyone can answer, just not the author):

    above you state “Many see Turner as “liberal,” but I don’t see that.” Now I have noticed that alot of churches or christians seem to bant about the word “liberal” as if it is some sort of insult (I’m not saying that you are doing that here, rather it seems that you are just quoting what other people seem to use as an insult/) Here’s the thing. I just can’t see how that can be an insult. Maybe it is a generational thing, I’m only 32. But I would never take insult to being called a liberal. I always viewed liberals as the party of the poor, the opressed, the laborer, and all the other people that the bible seems to celebrate.

    So if someone can tell be how it is an insult, I’d love to know.

    Again, thanks for your review. I enjoyed it quite a bit. I will read some more of your posts and enjoy them!

    Hope your financial troubles have cleared up. Just remember, after the storm comes the sunshine. no matte how hard it is to believe at the time (speaking from experience)

    • hey-thanks for reading. I appreciate the kind words. I don’t see MPT as liberal, just straight forward. If you follow him on twitter, you’ve seen him drop the F bomb, you’ve seen him mock some peeps. I think in the eyes of the conservative christian front-that’d be pretty extreme. I personally don’t have a problem with it…because sometimes that’s the only way you can get someone’s attention to the issue, but a lot of the time the person gets upset about the use of the word instead of the context in which it was used. I don’t see it as an insult at all…but it maybe one coming from the person using it 🙂

      my financial issues are still there…but now we are addressing them instead of ignoring! All part of living a better story! Thanks for reading!

  2. I’m not the writer of this blog obviously, but I can def see both liberal and conservative as being an insult.
    Liberal can reference a certain political party, but it can also reference any turn from what’s considered “the norm” or “sticking to the rules/status quo.”
    So if you’re talking about Christians (and this can be fundamentalists, other Protestants, or Catholics) referencing one another as “liberal” like it’s a bad thing, what they are implying is that the liberal isn’t sticking to “the rules” or their perceived notion of the rules. Sometimes this DOES get pretty heated, especially if you claim those rules to be straight from Jesus’s mouth.
    It becomes a slippery-slope argument, like, “Oh, well, he’s okay with hanging out with THOSE people, pretty soon he’ll BE one of THOSE people,” or, “He had a drink. He had one drink and next thing you know he’s going to be an alcoholic.”
    Saying something like, “Hey guys, maybe the earth wasn’t physically created 6000 years ago,” could be considered “liberal” because it can lead to something like, “Hey guys, maybe Jesus didn’t mean what he said” or something else that might make someone choke on their own spit.
    It can be like calling someone an almost-heathen.

    And to the writer of the blog:
    You’ve made me want to pick up a copy even more than I did before.

    • Thanks for the comment Mandy-For me, it’s been tough to get out of the Donald Miller cycle I’ve been in…but MPT definitely brought me out of it…I can’t wait to pick up “Hear No Evil.” I think you’ll enjoy it.

      I don’t know if it’s just me Mandy-but it almost seems like lately the “cool” thing to do is to bash the church because they are too “conservative.” What do you think?

  3. Oh it’s definitely the cool thing to bash the church, whether its Catholic or Protestant.
    The REAL counter-culture now is going to a church and staying in church.

    Of course, I think the hottest issue right now is gay marriage, which is a really sensitive subject, but because so many churches have been very against recognizing gay marriages within the church itself, they’re seen as denying rights, which is a state issue. The church is just saying that a marriage between two men or two women isn’t capable of entering the sacramental union as far as the church understands it, and thus it can’t be recognized by the church itself.
    (My personal opinion on that issue: The “right” regarding marriage belongs to the state, and the state can call something marriage which the church doesn’t recognize. And it may offend or hurt some gay couples to not have their church recognize their marriage, but if they (or their very outspoken supportive friends) want to “bash” someone for the current legal status of gay marriage, it should be the state.)

    Something I think all churches, regardless of denomination, Catholic or Protestant, will have to examine is the role of women. The teachings I’ve been hearing lately have been incredibly disappointing.
    Other issues differ among various denominations, like approaches to drinking, dating, and dancing, but the main point, I think, is that ALL of the churches have tried to stifle human nature in an attempt to reach something holy. The reaching something holy part isn’t wrong, of course, but what about its don’t-you-ever-talk-about it attitude towards sex, and it’s pretend-you-don’t-have-it approach to sexuality? Recent publications like “Rescuing Sex from the Christians” and even Pope John Paul 2’s “Theology of the Body” are pretty “liberal” or even “revolutionary” in their approach to sex.
    I’m not Catholic (I’m exploring) but I took a course on Theology of the Body last summer, and I was the youngest one there. I’m 22, and I’m in discussion groups with women in their 60s, who are telling me that they wish the church had been willing to discuss sex and sexuality when they were my age. They had struggled with shame over something that we were created for, and sometimes the backlash for that is, to use an example from the course, Hugh Heffner’s reaction. And now sex, sexuality, porn, etc, are everyday topics of conversation in our culture. And the church is viewed as trying to stifle that, like its trying to go all the way back to the “hush, we don’t talk about that” attitude of the 40s and 50s.

    I have close friends who are gay, atheist, Muslim, Jewish, whatever, who are totally fascinated by me because I am totally fascinated by Christianity. “How can you be so interested? How can you believe in that? Don’t you know…”
    I don’t understand how anyone can not be interested in a 2000 year old phenomenon. Sometimes I wish I didn’t believe in it. And yes. I do know the horrible things that church as a whole has done over the years to believers and non-believers alike.
    I also know that half the time when we are told not to do something, we try it, get a huge thrill out of doing something we aren’t supposed to be doing, and then later realize why we should never have done it. Sometimes we really do need to be “liberal” and do some reform, change our positions. And sometimes, even when it looks appealing, we should stay “conservative.”

    So, sorry for the novel-length response. I know I tend to ramble my way around issues, the words “concise” and “precise” mean almost nothing to me.

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