First of all – HBD, MPT. Today is Matthew Paul Turner’s 35th birthday. I almost remember my 35th birthday oh so many years ago. Even as I’ve been reading CHURCHED (copyright 2008, Waterbrook Press), I’ve been considering my own childhood memories, my own journey through the cliches and stereotypes of church in the South. As Matthew reaches this milestone age with what I would call a milestone work (he’s written a few others, too), I think he’s got something to be proud of.
Having said that, I hate Matthew Paul Turner. Not really, but yes, I do. For this one line:
"When writing became dull [during sermons to stay awake], I organized the contents of my mother’s purse, a task akin to introducing fidelity to The Love Boat." (p.99)
Why didn’t I write that? Why didn’t I get a chance to use an obscure Spelling TV reference in my writing?
CHURCHED is the story of young Matthew growing up as a fundamentalist child of the 80s right-wing silent majority movement. Rock and roll is bad for you forward because backward it worships Satan, and the world revolves around Sunday morning and evening and Wednesday evening church. His memories of hellfire and brimstone, of Sunday School teachers with out of whack teaching methods, the over-instance on the right answers, the right thoughts, the right rules, doing the right things and not-doing the right things – all of these things come at the reader in short well-written vignettes with reality and humanity. I sit it on the shelf next to John Fischer’s Saint Ben, except this one has the added benefit of auto-bio-memoir with the flourish of imagination that comes with time and healing and forgiveness.
But I still don’t like him for coming up with that line before he’s even turned 40. That’s not fair.