review: hear no evil

DISCLAIMER: I received this book in the mail for free to review. I wrote in the margins and dog-eared the pages. I will not be sending it back.

I’ve got a special shrine/shelf set aside as my homage to the Collected Works of Matthew Paul Turner. I now need  new slot for his latest, HEAR NO EVIL (copyright 2010, Waterbrook Press), where Thew is able to capture a part of his eye-opening faith-stretching encounter with contemporary Christian music and culture.

All kidding aside (well, most kidding aside), I’ve enjoyed Matt’s writing over the years and this book continues the appreciation for me. This time we’ve been invited to join him on the journey from fundamentalist no-rock-and-roll-or-syncopated-beats-in-this-house-young-man to wow-there’s-more-out-there-than-hymnals-and-polyester. I’m a few years ahead in my own CCM learning curve, but the artists and music Matt draws from are near and dear to my heart as well. More than that, though, it was interesting to see that this book wasn’t so much about the music as it was about the cultural changes Matt lived out in discovering himself and discovering music along the way. Someone tweeted that he needed to have a HNO Mix on iTunes – a good idea I agree, but for the most part, there weren’t lots of songs pulled or named after the first few chapters. It was more of a vibe, more of an awakening going on in Young Matt, with music being both a seed and the soil for the growth he’s trying to transcribe.

I’ve always liked Matt’s turn of phrase, and have found that he’s one of the best contemporary authors for pulling completely random contextless quotes that are chock-full of meaning and snark:

  • “You don’t get to have crabs very often” – p30 [tweet]
  • “For a lot of Christians, their imaginations are liabilities, like the five senses and genitals” – p51 [tweet]
  • “But there was one consistent thread of grace in our lives, a trail we could follow all the way back to when our memories began: music. Music reminded us that we could trust God even when ‘his people’ failed us.” – p201

The sentiment of that last quote runs deep throughout the book, but I’m most grateful that it appears in a chapter on Amy Grant that so closely parallels my own walk through those waters (wow, this post is almost six years old)… it gave me yet another touchpoint to Matthew and his life growing up and discovering grace. The book as a whole works, but that chapter for me took it to another plane, and really makes it stick out in the Matthew Paul Turner catalog for me.

Most joking aside (again), if you’ve spent time reading CCM magazine or rushing to your local Christian Book & Music store each week for the latest releases or you’ve worked as a DJ at a low-powered AM radio station in mid-market Columbia, SC – then this book will feel like someone’s telling your story. Different characters, different scene locations, but the same soundtrack.

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