Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Book Review: Hear No Evil by Matthew Paul Turner

By Lauren Yarger
I picked up Matthew Paul Turner’s memoir with trepidation, hoping it wouldn’t be another offering by a clueless Christian musician who thinks he is God’s answer to secular music or by yet another Christian musician who rebels against the confines of religion and writes about why being of the world really is OK with Jesus…..

Thankfully, “Hear No Evil: My Story of Innocence, Music, and the Holy Ghost” (Waterbrook Press, 2010) is neither, and through a lens of humor, turns out to be a very readable, honest look at both of those types of Christian musicians and much more (ironically, Turner once imagined himself as Christian music’s answer to Michael Jackson).

Raised in a very strict, fundamental Baptist home where singers like Sandi Patti and Amy Grant were considered too risqué, Turner would not have seemed destined to become an authority in the world of contemporary Christian music. Through a series of circumstances driven by an innate love and ability for music, however, the church soloist-turned-Christian-band-singer, turned Christian coffee house manager finds himself covering the beat (and later serving as editor of CCM Magazine).

Turner’s journey through the music world and with Christ is a thoughtful, honest and extremely humorous one. He had me laughing out loud with stories evoking the style of one of my favorite authors, Bill Bryson, who captures the humor of real-life moments. Turner’s account of popping aspirin before enduring the physical pain of listening to the audition of a Christian singer whose “voice once in a while accidentally fell on key” caused me some embarrassment while reading on a commuter train where my constant, loud laughter was not welcome.

While Turner elicits laughs at the expense of those whom he meets along the way, he never adopts a mocking tone. Most of the anecdotes include the lesson Turner himself learned from the experience and real insight into what God thought about it.

Likewise, though he’s scathingly critical of his fundamental upbringing, a love and his respect for his parents comes through very clearly. It would have been nice, though, to have a disclaimer somewhere explaining that not all Christians, or even Baptists, are like the ones described in the book or that breaking away from legalistic fundamentalism doesn’t mean that you have to disregard the bible.

Though the focus of “Hear No Evil” is on Turner’s experiences in the music world, the book will be of interest to those not in the industry as well. His recollections about life at Belmont University, for example, can be enjoyed by anyone who has been to a Christian college. He has an uncanny ability to see everything as a learning experience that can be applied at any stage of the Christian walk. In fact, non Christians and skeptics will find the book engaging and non-threatening as well.

The next time I have some free time for reading, I might just pick up Turner’s earlier works, “Churched: One Kid’s Journey Toward God Despite a Holy Mess” and “The Christian Culture Survival Guide.” Or, if the fundamental part of my faith will allow me a guilty pleasure, I just might laugh out loud all the way through “Hear No Evil” again.

"Hear No Evil: My Story of Innocence, Music, and the Holy Ghost" is available by visitiing http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9781400074723

A free reviewer's copy of this book was provided by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

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Daily Inspiration

The Blind Side

Read about the real life mom from "The Blind Side."

Lifeway: http://www.lifeway.com/article/?id=169816

Guideposts: http://www.guideposts.com/story/sandra-bullock-blind-side-football?page=0,1

Read Matt Mungle's review of the movie at http://www.buddyhollywood.com/.

Lauren Yarger, Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

In 2008 she was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater with a Christian perspective for Reflections in the Light (http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/) and is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection. She also is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com

She also reviews books for Publisher's Weekly and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. She formerly was Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp, a national theater web site bsed in New York and a reviewer for American Theater Web.

She also served as Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. and worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford and the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.

She is a freelance writer and member of the Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association, The League of Professional Theatre Women and The CT Critics Circle.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger lives with her husband in West Granby, CT and has two adult children.

Copyright Notice

All contents copyright © Lauren Yarger 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, contact masterworkproductions@yahoo.com.

Scripture from THE MESSAGE Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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