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A Mixed Blessing

Hear No Evil: My Story of Innocence, Music and the Holy Ghost by Matthew Paul Turner

Some people like inside baseball books.   Some like inside politics books.   This is an inside religion book which starts off as being very entertaining before it bogs down…

Initially, Hear No Evil reminded me of Don’t Follow Me, I’m Lost (October 2009); Richard Rushfield’s truly hilarious tale of his wild and wooly days at the ultra-liberal arts Hampshire College in the 1980s.   Don’t Follow Me was reviewed earlier on this site and while it started off a bit too agressively, it calmed down and simply remained funny until its final page.

Unfortunately, once this reader was more than halfway through Hear No Evil it began to remind me of Love Is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield.   Sheffield’s real story had to do with his attempt to woo the love of his life via the compilation of just the right music on cassette tapes.   It was cute while it lasted, but it all too soon veered sideways with too much talk of peripheral figures.   I loved it before I became bored with it.   Yes, Hear No Evil is a bit like that.

This one starts off funny as Turner tells us about his desire to be “the Michael Jackson of Christian music.”   And there are some great observations in it – if not necessarily true ones – such as the statement that rock bass players have the emotional maturity of fourth-grade girls.   But there’s just not enough here about music.   Instead we hear talks about The One True God, God’s sovereignty, Calvinism, etc.   Turner himself becomes disenchanted with all of this, “I turned into the punk know-it-all son with a religious ax to grind.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been there and done that.   My second major in college was in Philosophy and Religion, so I once enjoyed rambling discussions about the wisdom of St. Augustine versus one’s favorite existentialist.   But I never thought it would be interesting to write a book about those youthful conversations.

For me, Turner’s latest effort is a miss rather than a hit.

A review copy was provided by WaterBrook Multnomah (WaterBook Press), a division of Random House Books.

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