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