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on December 31, 2014
Format: Paperback
Matthew Paul Turner tells his story of growing up in a fundamentalist church, but this story is not the typical anti-fundie, bitter rant. Rather, he tells a light-hearted humorous story that will make you laugh without feeling disrespectful. He shows how his upbringing helped him love Jesus despite the many foibles of the fundie culture. I imagine that every church contains the types of characters that cross his path, and if you were conservatively “churched”, you may find you know these people too. Somehow he manages to tell his story in a light but profound manner, humorous without sarcasm. His giftedness with penning words to his journey is exceptional and his writing style is delightful.

My favorite part of this book was the surprise of the last chapter, his ‘benediction’, where he gives a too-brief summary of his journey of leaving fundamentalism, dabbling in Calvinism and non-denominational churches, a brief stint in Catholicism, and finally landing in a community church – one that is not perfect, but a group of people where he can fit as he grapples with being a different kind of Christian. If he puts this part of his journey in a sequel, I’ll be the first in line to buy it!

I received a complimentary book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
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on December 20, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Matthew Paul Turner is known for his humorous takes on Christian culture, so before I tell you anything else about this book, keep that in mind. In Churched, Turner tells the story of his childhood in a fundamental Independent Baptist church, including stories of getting a "Baptist" haircut, door-to-door evangelism, and "the bad part" of the movie Ben-Hur. (Disclaimer: I recieved a free copy of the book from Waterbrook Multnomah through the Blogging For Books program in exchange for my review.)

I found the stories comical and wondered if they were a bit exaggerated through Turner's lens of humor. But knowing that his writing is based in humor, I didn't take everything at 100 percent face value. Nor do I think that's necessarily the point.

Turner's stories of fundamentalism through a child's eyes needs humor in the telling because some of his experiences are so ridiculous you can't help but laugh. Still, it's not all laughs. Turner wrestles with some serious themes like hell and death and salvation. Churched doesn't tell the entire story of Turner's spiritual life but chronicles his rocky relationship with church. I appreciated the concluding chapter that gives us an idea of what church is like for him now as an adult.

Churched is an interesting (and short) read. Fans of Turner's blog will enjoy his stories, as will anyone who grew up in a similar environment and has now left it. I don't know if it's a book I would recommend to everyone but it is a good illustration of how church can be hard, even for someone who was raised in it.
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on November 6, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I don't read much of religious memoir, but I thought I'd give this one a try. As someone who also grew up in church, I thought that I would relate to this story somehow.

The author, Matthew Paul Turner, shared the story of growing up in a fundamentalist household. They had very strict rules about what they could and could not do.

Even though I grew up in church, my experience was not even close to his. I found myself chuckling a few times. The author covered a lot of the stereotypes of fundamentalism, and I can say that I learned a lot more than I thought I would.

It opened up my eyes to how children are raised in some religions. Although humorous, there are some serious things happening in churches that I wish could be stopped.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 12, 2014
Format: Paperback
Turner occasionally hits the mark in this memoir of growing up in an independent fundamentalist Baptist church. Within fundamentalism, rules regarding correct Christian living and judgmental attitudes towards those who don't measure up predominate over Christ-like love. Those readers who used to sit in fundamentalist pews will appreciate some of Turner's observations. Unfortunately, the author would have the reader believe he was a savvy and cynical prepubescent who was already quite wise to the hypocrisy, arbitrariness, and pharisaism of Christian fundamentalism. In today's culture it's quite popular to portray children as wry cynics and adults as complete idiots. "Churched" is another example.

The reader is left wondering whether Turner actually did find Christ in his journey through the "Holy Mess" of fundamentalism. He certainly doesn't give the impression he has accepted Jesus. Actually, this "edgy" pundit sounds as if he's on the verge of throwing Christ out the window along with his fundamentalist baggage. I was a member of an independent fundamentalist Baptist church from 1983 until 1991. I was so sickened by the manipulation and judgmentalism that I walked away from the Lord for 23 years. Thanks to God for leading me back to Him and to a caring Evangelical congregation this past Spring.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 2014
Format: Paperback
Churched: One Kid's Journey Toward God Despite a Holy Mess is the true story of Matthew Paul Turner and his ups and downs with the fundamentalist church.

Religious memoirs are not usually my favorite to read but I found Turner’s story very relatable. Like him I struggle with much of what the churches say and would rather focus on the bigger story rather than what they think is “Godly”. It was also refreshing to see hints of humor within the story but it was still a painful slow read for me.

I was provided with a free copy of this book by Waterbrook Multnomah. I was not required to give a positive opinion.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I grew up in a Independent Fundamental Baptist Church. Many of the stories Matthew told I could relate. I laughed so hard and times, yet it gave me an uneasy feeling by bringing up old emotions. I had always been afraid of end times, until I went to an Evangelical Church and found out Christianity does not have to be scary or judgmental. I cannot wait to read his other books. The only thing about the book that I disliked is the ending...I wanted more, but it just ended abruptly.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2013
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed the book. I debated between 3 or 4 stars.. I guess I'm just feeling a little stingy with the stars today. It was a quick, steady read. I chuckled a few times. I grew up Catholic, not Baptist or fundamentalist, but I could certainly relate to a lot of things he wrote about. I feel he was pretty even handed, I get the impression that he has great affection for his parents, his siblings, and God.
I do think he sugar coated some things.. glossed over others. I also found the book rather anti-climatic . But all in all, an okay read.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Matthew Paul Turner is a great writer. He has a gift for character development and profiles the essence of the people displayed in his narrative with a great and succinct style. I think he has the mark of a great writer, and this book fulfills the promise that I read in the flawed but enjoyable HEAR NO EVIL; this book displays far better focus than that book, and in both the humor hits the mark at every pull of the bow. This is a very capable coming-of-age book; it captures that feeling when one becomes self-aware, when the scales fall off the eyes about PEOPLE.

I had to pick up the book via an Amazon.com purchase, though I'd tried with some local bookstores (the "regular" kind; only Christian bookshop in these parts for not-the-locals is WAY across town near the prison. I'm a secular outsider to both warring religous factions with smiles on their faces throwing rocks at each other...). The store clerks who picked up my phone calls were baffled when I asked them to look up the author--couldn't find mention of Matthew Paul Turner even in their we'll-order-it-for-you databases--rats, I wanted to put my paws on a physical copy in the store. And that realization (Christian niche market-only availability, where a guy like me feels like "food" for hungry predators roving the bookstacks) caused me to take a closer look at the reviews posted here and see a trend....

A considerable number of the reviews show free promo copies via Multhomah Publishing, and it looks like a 50-50 split for and against within their own reviewer ranks--civil war: Six 5-star, ten 4-star, five 3-star, seven(!) 2-star, and one 1-star. This effect suggests us/them in the Christian publisher's target market, like the political shots on something like Charles P. Pierce's IDIOT AMERICA, HOW STUPIDITY BECAME A VIRTUE IN THE LAND OF THE FREE trench warfare, where reviews are hand grenades thrown back and forth. M. P. Turner's publisher may well wish to take a look at his marketing; the reviewing list suggests a circular firing squad.

Great book, great writer, a great comment on U.S. culture.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2013
Format: Paperback
He spent his childhood trapped in a prison of strict religious rules, and he lived to tell the tale.

In "Churched," Matthew Paul Turner shares a selection of stories about an American boy growing up in a fundamentalist household where growing hair that reaches to his ears was an abomination, and even contemporary christian music was "of the devil." Women couldn't wear pants. And a pastor of a church couldn't preach one sermon without a good dose of hellfire and brimstone. In this autobiography, this now grown adult grapples with the absurdity of all of it.

This book was very intriguing. Religiosity really does scar a lot of people, so I was very curious to read Matthew Paul Turner's accounts of his own experiences. At some points it was super hard to get through and take in. Personally, not having grown up like that, it's baffling to think that it really happened and that such things still happen. It makes me sad that kids grow up fearing church or any kind of authority. For the most part though, it wasn't relevant to my own life and hard for me to associate with. This book would be most effective for people who have had similar influences on their lives, or who were raised in similar conditions. They are bound to find tons of parallels in Turner's life.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 2012
Format: Paperback
Great book! It reflected my own experience growing up in a conservative church. And it reminded me that though sometimes I am embarassed about where I come from and some of my own experiences in the church, it has made me into the Christian I am today.

I recommend this book!

**I was provided a copy of this book by Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review of the book.
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