I just finished reading Matthew Paul Turner’s book, Churched. He tells the story of his childhood growing up in a fundamentalist Baptist church and school. First, I have to tell the author something. You better be glad you are older than me and beat me to this book, because if you didn’t write it I would have!
I related to almost every story in this book. I felt the uneasiness Turner feels growing up trying to “win” souls for Jesus all the while trying to live the perfect life so we won’t be punished. (In Turner’s case, hoping his mom wouldn’t die in a car accident because he sinned)
Stories from his school days also echoed my experiences. I still remember the time in 2nd grade when I cheated on the spelling test bonus word. It was “firefighter.” I knew I had all the other ones correct, but wasn’t sure on this one. So I slid my spelling word list out of my book and looked at how to spell “firefighter.” I got a 105 on the test. I took my sheet, with smiley faced sticker attached, to my mom who was waiting in the car to pick me up. For some reason, I still have no idea why but I imagine it had to do with God killing us all on the way home, I told her that I cheated. That didn’t go over well. The next day, I was crying in my teachers arms telling her that I had cheated on the word “firefighter.” My 105 was crossed out and I only got a 100. My sticker was also taken away.
This book had me laughing out loud at some of the experiences the author had. Everyone’s journey is different, but I felt a connection with this story. I vividly remember the “wheat and the tear” preachers that came through my church and knew it was time for the entire congregation to get saved again. I remember the music minister calling a meeting with me to tell me that I wasn’t allowed to hang out at youth group hangouts at his house because he could tell by looking at me that I wasn’t living “right.”
As you can tell, this book took me down memory road, but it also allowed me to get a better sense of my own journey. How I got to where I am and how thankful I am that I found out who God really is to me. Also, the style of writing in this book draws you in from page 1 and you can clearly picture every situation that is presented. It was a nice break from the usual Christian(ish) books that we tend to find ourselves reading.
From burning CD’s for Jesus (I’m still happy I burned New Kids on the Block) to walking door to door to tell people they are going to hell, Turner goes from the a mess of rules and regulations to falling in love with Jesus. I recommend this book to anyone, but especially for those who grow up “Churched.” It offers a humorous look into one person’s childhood and transition from a “God of Punishment” to a “God of Love.”
Also, even though I have yet to met the author, I do go to church with him and that’s always pretty cool. I still can’t believe Pete doesn’t have highlights…