Matthew Paul Turner’s book Hear No Evil brought back memories of numerous things I’ve seen and experienced during my several-year foray into the evangelical Christian cultural bubble.
Hear No Evil is his recollections of a series of personal episodes from childhood through the present day that will resonate for many who grew up in the Christian subculture, or for those like me who were immersed in it after becoming Christians.
Here’s a sampler of what Turner, and I, experienced:
- being told that contemporary Christian music is of the devil
- accountability groups
- encountering Christians who were convinced that the Holy Spirit told them everything to say and everything to do – including bizarre, nonsensical things (Turner’s example involved a man who stopped his sermon to squat down and waddle and cluck like a duck. Thankfully, neither the Holy Spirit nor the impressions I mistook for the Spirit ever told me to do this).
- meeting some rather peculiar people (like Turner did when he managed a Christian coffeehouse).
Now I can’t relate to his love of Amy Grant, and my experience with the Christian music industry never went beyond helping set up for a Carman concert years ago here in town (as well as attending concerts, and buying hundreds of cassettes and CDs). But I think I share somewhat with Turner a love for good Christian music, and I enjoyed reading CCM Magazine (including when he was its editor several years back).
The most important chapter, in my mind, was an episode during Turner’s editorship of CCM. Turner was told by his publisher that Turner must go to Amy Grant and demand she apologize for her divorce three years earlier from Gary Chapman (that chapter was excerpted on Patrol Magazine’s website). The publisher is portrayed as quite arrogant and convinced of his utter correctness on what to him was a black and white issue, and rather willing to twist the facts to fit his agenda.
Turner of course asks the question in a more humble (and apologetic) way, but the article he submits with her answer turns out not to be the one that runs in the magazine.
It shows a snippet of the dark side of the Christian music industry and indeed of the church, of men who would rather twist the truth to accomplish moralistic aims than to address complex life situations in truth and with a lot of grace for people in the process of becoming like their Savior.
Thankfully, such outrageous behavior is rare in Hear No Evil, as Turner’s experiences with the various idiosyncracies of the Christian world are more likely to make one laugh, either at his experiences or how they compare to the readers’ own recollections.
Turner may be not quite as conservative as some would like, but he’s rooted in the Christian world, and sometimes it does a soul good to laugh at the quirkiness of it.