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Churched: One Kid's Journey Toward God Despite a Holy Mess [Hardcover]

By Matthew Paul Turner (Author)
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Item description for Churched: One Kid's Journey Toward God Despite a Holy Mess by Matthew Paul Turner...

"Churched" is the compelling narrative of life inside the walls of the local church building, examining what it means to "be" churched--relevant to those who are familiar with the evangelical culture.

Publishers Description
He spent his childhood trapped within the confines of countless bizarre, strict rules. And lived to tell about it.
In this first-hand account, author Matthew Paul Turner shares amusing-sometimes cringe-worthy-and poignant stories about growing up in a fundamentalist household, where even well-intentioned contemporary Christian music was proclaimed to be "of the devil."
"churched "is a collection of stories that detail an American boy's experiences growing up in a culture where men weren't allowed let their hair grow to touch their ears ("an abomination "), women wouldn't have been caught dead in a pair of pants (unless swimming), and the pastor couldn't preach a sermon without a healthy dose of hellfire and brimstone. Matthew grapples with the absurdity of a Sunday School Barbie burning, the passionate annual boxing match between the pastor and Satan, and the holiness of being baptized a fifth time-while growing into a young man who, amidst the chaotic mess of religion, falls in love with Jesus.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Churched: One Kid's Journey Toward God Despite a Holy Mess by Matthew Paul Turner has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Library Journal - 10/15/2008 page 76
  • CBA Retailers - 10/01/2008 page 29

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Item Specifications...

Studio: WaterBrook Press
Pages   240
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.24" Width: 5.56" Height: 0.86"
Weight:   0.8 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Oct 7, 2008
Publisher   WaterBrook Press
ISBN  1400074711  
ISBN13  9781400074716  

Availability  0 units.

More About Matthew Paul Turner

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! MATTHEW PAUL TURNER is the author of sixteen books. He lives with his wife Jessica (, The Fringe Hours) and their three children in Nashville, TN.

DAVID CATROW is an editorial cartoonist whose vibrant illustrations have appeared in more than seventy children's books, including several New York Times bestsellers, such as I Ain't Gonna Paint No More and I Like Myself. He makes his home in Ohio with his wife, Deborah.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Family & Childhood
2Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > General
3Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Leaders & Notable People > Religious
4Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Memoirs
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Fundamentalism

Christian Product Categories
Books > Inspiration > Motivation > Biography & Autobiography
Books > Christian Living > Practical Life > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about Churched: One Kid's Journey Toward God Despite a Holy Mess?

Awesome book, great stories, and lots of funny.  Jan 2, 2010
Churched is extremely easy to read. I read all the way through in about 4 or 5 days. While it may be a quick read, it's an enjoyable, profitable read too. Matthew adds lots of great detail without using obscure wordage. It's a great break from the extreme depth of many books in the Christian publishing world.

I've grown up in what I would call a semi-fundamentalist background. Yes, my pastor graduated from "Fyles Sanderson", as Matthew calls it in the book. Yes, I've read the Sword of the Lord newspaper. Yes, my pastor's sermons are rated in decibels. Yes, we have a bus ministry. But we've managed to keep a bit more sane than the church Matthew describes in his book. We're free to dress as we please, cut our hair as we please, and play with Barbie dolls. And yes, we can even listen to "satanic" Christian rock music. So I'm able to relate to many of the stories Matthew shares in his book, and laugh and be pained right along with him. Anyone who's spent any time with Baptists will relate to Matthew's stories.

However, I'm not entirely as ready as Matthew to discard fundamentalism entirely. In the form he describes, yes, for the most part I am. Yet I also see the value that it does have in some respects. I disagree with his assertion that "fundamentalism has little to do with Jesus." (p. 213) Do I think it needs to change? Absolutely. It can't continue like this. It doesn't reflect Christ's character. But I also know some "fundamentalists" who are the most loving, compassionate people I know.

Matthew's book is unlike any other I've ever read, but in a good way. He approaches his experiences with fundamentalism with a lighthearted yet serious attitude. The book isn't designed to give Christendom "5 Steps to Overcoming Fundamentalism", but to address the situation and let you chew on it. While he's using personal stories, he makes you feel like you experienced the story right along with him. It's got a memoir-ish feel, yet you know you're learning from it.

Overall, I loved Matthew's book. It was great, and he makes great points about Christianity in the end portion of his book. Everyone should have this book on their shelf. When we begin to get too caught up in the "rules" of Christianity, Churched serves as a reality check reminding us to come back to what Jesus is all about: love.
Uncomfortably Funny  Jan 2, 2010
Matthew Turner's "Churched" is an honest, humorous reflection of his pilgrimage through a fundamentalist upbringing. There's no need for Turner to define what he means by fundamentalist; the many anecdotes and characters in the book paint a vivid picture and do the majority of the work. The reader will find enough to justify the "holy mess" of the book's subtitle within its breezy 224 pages. The business of working out an ancient faith in a modern world is often a messy business, so even if your experience differs from Turner's, you will identify with the effort. If you've had similar upbringing, you will laugh out loud at his retelling of some surprisingly common experiences and then, not surprisingly, feel a little guilty for laughing.

This might also be an uncomfortable read; the kind where you feel like you're eavesdropping on a journal about old friends by someone who no longer associates with them. There doesn't appear to be any subject deemed out-of-bounds or sacred. He erases a lot of lines that separate belief from unbelief. If we go along, which is only fair to the writer, we can admit that, yes, some denominational lines appear hastily sketched, drawn too dark, and perhaps with too many local colors. Granted. But, is our God not a god of mercy and grace and who reveals himself to us in many ways outside of our own inherited forms, be they Baptist or Methodist (or Catholic or Orthodox, for that matter)? Albeit imperfect, are these various forms still sufficient? Can we still not hear that still, small voice? The fact that Turner can look back and write about his "holy mess" with good humor and faith is evidence of that.

Who is Turner's target audience? I suspect it is the fellow pilgrim with a similar background who looks back on earlier years through the Forest Fundamental and wonders why he now feels (but doesn't want to admit) more estranged from the church and less estranged from the world. Turner tells his story without bitterness and without the condescending "when I was child, I thought like a child" retrospective that fills the been there--done that shelves of other dispossessed types, who, too easily dump the baby and keep the bathwater. Theirs is a white-washed tomb. Turner's is different. There's more left to tell, but we're not allowed to see behind that curtain, yet. The benediction leaves you hanging.

I hope that Matthew Turner has the perseverance to write that next book--the harder book--since it may be the one that does more work; the asserting of one's present faith, adorned or unadorned (whatever that looks like), rather than just critiquing an inherited faith. We must ask, is his critique the problem statement that begins his larger work or is his critique the headstone to a recently buried faith? Again, I hope it's the former. It was not sufficient for G. K. Chesterton to stop with his book, Heretics. He was challenged to offer up an alternative in the wake of his critique. His answer was his book, Orthodoxy. In the introduction, Chesterton writes:

"This book is meant to be a companion to Heretics and to put the positive side in addition to the negative. Many critics complained of the book called Heretics because it merely criticised current philosophies without offering any alternative philosophy. This book is an attempt to answer the challenge. It is unavoidably affirmative and therefore unavoidably autobiographical. The writer has been driven back upon somewhat the same difficulty as that which beset Newman in writing his Apologia he has been forced to be egotistical only in order to be sincere. While everything else may be different the motive in both cases is the same. It is the purpose of the writer to attempt an explanation not of whether the Christian Faith can be believed but of how he personally has come to believe it."

I make the assumption that Churched is Matthew Turner's problem statement, and therefore not a complete or finished work. It will offend because he states in unequivocal terms that his upbringing was a problem, not an aid, to authentic faith. If you agree, you'll likely enjoy the book. If you don't, you probably won't. I'm probably reading way too much into this and focusing on object of the work rather than its content, which is a memoir that is genuinely funny.

Context? I could see it on a shelf in a college dorm, or on a personal bookshelf, but not on a coffee table at home. It's not the kind of book you'd read aloud to your kids or in mixed company (at least without some qualification) because they may mistake Turner's critique of a particular form of Christianity for a critique of Christianity itself, and that would be a mistake. Read it for what it is, enjoy his sense of humor, and decide for yourself.
funny  Dec 20, 2009
This is a short book and a quick read. I loved it. It's kind of a David Sedaris for the Fundamentalist Baptist crowd. While funny and satirical, I felt he still appreciated his parents and childhood.
Something Behind the Edgy Humor  Nov 19, 2009
Matthew Paul Turner is something else. He's funny and can be sarcastic, sometimes to the point of edginess and sometimes beyond. He's iconoclastic, and takes on a host of Christian sacred cows, no matter how sacred (check out some of the funny pictures of Jesus on his blog). And he can have a theological bite.

All of these qualities are present in "Churched: One Kid's Journey Toward God Despite a Holy Mess." It's about growing up in a fundamentalist Baptist family and church (and not a Southern Baptist church, mind you, those liberal heretics!). And after the first two chapters I stopped counting how many times I laughed out loud.

Turner covers it all - attending the church for the first time; fighting to stay awake during the sermon (not only a fundamentalist problem); getting his first Baptist haircut; attending the church school; home visits by the pastor; the trials of a Sunday School teacher who's asked if God wears clothes; eating Jesus cookies. It's all there.

"Fundamentalism made me weird," Turner writes. "I wasn't alone. It made lots of people weird. But I believe some people at my church believed that was the point, that somewhere in the Bible, Jesus declared, `Blessed are the weird.' Our weirdness was a form of obedience unto God."

As weird as it may have made him, fundamentalism also shaped him in other ways, and it was surprising to see what emerges from behind the humor and the edginess: tenderness, caring and affection. You see this most directly when he talks about his parents. There's a lot of love there.

It wasn't all weird.
An Honest if Not Slightly Exaggerated Memoir  Nov 19, 2009
Matthew Paul Turner is a fantastic writer with a sardonic sense of humor. In Churched, he writes from the depth of his own pain and the inconsistencies he saw growing up in the church. As a lifelong Christian, I sympathize with some of his experiences and laugh-out-loud moments of church life. Still, I wonder if he hasn't exaggerated his outlook and in doing so perhaps cast a broad brush on the fundamentalist church movement. Its an easy thing to do: to take some of the more extreme and outlandish aspects of a particular branch of the evangelical church and stretch those out as if that entire wing monolithically follows those patterns. In this way I think Turner's work may be tinged by lingering bitterness over his childhood experiences.

Still, this is a good and fascinating read, a funny sort of look at church life. Christians do indeed need to be willing to laugh at themselves and some of the crazy things they do.

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