Hear No Evil – Review

Written by Joel on February 15th, 2010

hearnoevilThis book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Matthew Paul Turner is the author of Churched and blogs over at Jesus Needs New P.R.

Hear No Evil is Matthew Paul Turner’s musical autobiography. It begins with his upbringing in a fundamentalist Baptist Church which calls rock music the “devil’s excrement.” He takes the reader up through and beyond his college years when Matthew bursts his musical bubble. Matthew’s first hand accounts are always told with a healthy dose of humor.

The stories are told in chronological order and in the present tense. In the narration, however, it is clear that Turner is providing valuable critique on those past events of his life. He is able to both explain his thoughts, feelings, and actions in the moment while at the same alluding to his present opinions and perhaps disappointments on what was.

Matthew’s childhood church only blessed music which explicitly referred to Jesus and was free of syncopated beats. Music not measuring up was black-listed. Having a Christian label did not mean it was safe in his church, especially not for the “sinister” Amy Grant.

As Matthew begins to discover an entire world of music (beyond simply the Christian variety), his dream of being God’s Michael Jackson also begins to fade. Hear No Evil challenges Christian musicians to be authentic and not to simply baptize modern culture in Christian language. Music, for Turner, is not something that can be prescribed by religious ideals. It is something that speaks to each individual in deep, soul-stirring ways.

The first half of the book focuses primarily on Matthew’s own journey through music, while the later half recounts times when he witnessed how music profoundly affected others. The turning point appears to be when Matthew accepts his “wannabeness” and finally lands his first post-college job.

In the later half, an enlightened adult Turner introduces some rather controversial issues (almost as a side point) including divorce, masturbation, and homosexuality. I presume Matthew’s point in including these issues was to point out how music supersedes such issues in the church. While I found these asides distracting, I do appreciate his honest approach to the reality and sometimes contradiction of Christian living. The book concludes somewhat abruptly (presumably because Matthew Paul Turner still has a lot of living left to do) with an adult Matthew reflecting on music at an Easter Sunday service.

I found the book to be a quite enjoyable glimpse into (what is for me) the foreign world of a Fundamentalist Baptist upbringing. Turner’s sarcastic and descriptive humor is right up my alley. His critique of mainstream Christian music is pointed and challenging. I would certainly recommend this book to any Christian artist, those who love Christian music, and anyone who wants to rediscover the meaning of music.

You can purchase Hear No Evil from Random House here.


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