Signing Bibles and Sweating to Avril Lavigne: An interview with Matthew Paul Turner

Matthew Paul Turner is a blogger, speaker, and author of Churched: One Kid’s Journey Toward God Despite a Holy Mess, The Christian Culture Survival Guide, and several other popular books. His latest, Hear No Evil: My Story of Innocence, Music and the Holy Ghost, was officially released yesterday by Waterbrook Press (read the review here). Turner attended Nashville’s Belmont University, where he received a BBA in music business, and is the former editor of CCM magazine. Turner has written for Relevant, HomeLife, Christian Single, and other magazines.  

Online, he’s perhaps best known for his blog, “Jesus Needs New PR,” where he regularly pokes fun at some of the more silly aspects of the Christian subculture, as well as his running commentary on shows like The Bachelor and American Idol on Twitter. Love him or loathe him, Turner gets people’s attention (and a laugh while he’s at it).  

Today’s a special day, because he’s joining us over here for an interview, and I’m giving away a copy of Hear No Evil (provided by Waterbrook Press)! The giveaway details follow the interview. Enjoy!  


 AA: I’m not from a Christian background, so it’s been interesting/bizarre to read about your experiences in such a conservative setting. Because you’ve quite obviously gotten out of the bubble, how do you navigate the tendency to “overcorrect” that can happen?  

MPT: Though it might come across this way to some, I don’t write in hopes of “pro-actively” correcting my past (though it has helped me heal), I write to simply tell my story. Of course, that’s not to say that some people don’t read what I write and “see” that written in the context. I suppose if I’m tempted to “over correct,” it’s in my desire to not exclude anybody from God’s story. And to protect and defend those who most often get excluded. I spent years hating a lot of people and excluding them from God’s story, and I’m certain I probably go too far once in a while in hopes of making that right.  

Did you seriously have people sign your Bible?  

Yes. Mostly evangelists. After they would speak, there’d be long lines of people waiting to get their Bibles signed.  

Have you ever found an answer to why Dylan has a career?  

Sure. He’s a fantastic thinker, poet, and champion of ideas… but I still don’t think he’s a good singer. :)  

What’s the weirdest song you have ever seen co-opted for a church service?  

Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated”– to make it worse, there was a guy who was interpreting the song with sign language. And I am not lying, when the girl finished singing and he finished signing, HE was covered in sweat. Forehead, shirt, armpits–all wet from attempting to translate a Christianized version of Avril’s song to the three hearing impaired people who were at church that day. [Read more…]

Book Review: Hear No Evil

Title: Hear No Evil: My Story of Innocence, Music and the Holy Ghost
Author: Matthew Paul Turner
Publisher: Waterbrook Press

“Should I know who Dylan is?”

This question (and the scorn that followed) taught Matthew Paul Turner, author of Hear No Evil: My Story of Innocence, Music and the Holy Ghost, an important lesson: He couldn’t continue to shy away from music and movies. Raised in an “ultraconservative Baptist church where emotion and honesty were even less compatible than Christian fundamentalism and self-worth” (p. 8), Turner had some hangups about music—if it sounds good, it must be bad for you.

Alternate Reality Living

Reading Hear No Evil was, in some respects, like reading a sociological study. Turner’s descriptions of his childhood life read like an alternate reality. I wasn’t raised in a Christian family nor have I ever been a part of a church that is particularly restrictive in terms of entertainment (aside from use wisdom and don’t violate your conscience). No doubt we’ve all seen news stories relating to “fundamentalist” churches that seem to lack joy and hope in Christ, but it’s another thing to read the story of a man who grew up in the middle of it.

Particularly fascinating is this idea that music with good rhythm was of the devil, and if you were caught listening to Sandi Patty or Amy Grant, there’d be hell to pay. (Now, to be fair, when I was growing up, if I was listening to Amy Grant there’d have been some trouble in my home, too, just for different reasons.) [Read more…]

Help Haiti Live Feb 27 – Benefit Concert for Earthquake Relief

One month following the 7.1 earthquake that struck Haiti, an all-star cast of musicians is gathering for Help Haiti Live, a two-city ticketed concert event taking place on February 27th, 2010 to benefit Compassion International ’s Haiti disaster relief fund. The concerts are sponsored by Gaylord Entertainment Company, They will be ticketed and also streamed live at HelpHaitiLive.com.

With extraordinary need still existing in the devastated country, Alison Krauss & Union Station (featuring Jerry Douglas), Amy Grant, Big Kenny, Mat Kearney, Jars of Clay, Rebecca St. James, NEEDTOBREATHE, Brandon Heath, and a to-be-announced special headliner will participate in two concert events, live from Los Angeles at the historic Wiltern Theater and at Nashville’s famed and Gaylord-owned Ryman Auditorium. Produced to inspire live concert and on-line audiences to financially support the relief work of Compassion International in Haiti, all talent and production fees have been donated, along with streaming services (Livestream.com), allowing proceeds to go toward Compassion’s disaster relief fund.

“This cause has been something our employees have taken very close to heart in recent weeks, and they’re thrilled for Gaylord to be involved in such an inspiring event. We’re also proud to support the generous efforts of all the artists who are donating their time and talent to make this concert a success,” said Colin Reed, Chairman and CEO of Gaylord Entertainment Company.

Tickets for each event will range in price from $25-75 and can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com and all Ticketmaster locations beginning Monday, February 15th, as well as through The Ryman box office: 800-745-3000 or ryman.com, and through Live Nation for The Wiltern at http://www.livenation.com/venue/the-wiltern-tickets

Nashville/Ryman Auditorium, 7:30pm cst:

Hosted by Big Kenny. Performances by Alison Krauss & Union Station (featuring Jerry Douglas), Jars of Clay, Mat Kearney, Dave Barnes, Matt Wertz, Brandon Heath.

Los Angeles/Wiltern Theater, 7:30pm pst:
Message from pastor Francis Chan. Performances by Special Guest headliner, Amy Grant, Leann Rimes, Rebecca St. James, NEEDTOBREATHE

All money raised in response to the Haiti earthquake will be used immediately to re-equip Compassion’s local support structure and to provide for the immediate needs of Compassion-assisted children and families. Compassion has been meeting the physical and spiritual needs of Haitians for more than forty years and will continue to serve them in this time of extreme need. Already Compassion International has supplied more than 15,000 families with clean water, food, blankets, temporary shelter, medical supplies and counseling.  Donations will lay bricks, feed, educate, clothe, heal and rebuild Haiti for many months to come in Jesus’ name.

Fear the Boom and Bust: A Lesson in Hip Hop Economics

Z shared this video on his blog the other day. Who says learning can’t be fun?

Sing along with the lyrics below: [Read more…]

Amazing Grace for a New Year

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more about “Amazing Grace“, posted with vodpod

Amazing Grace is perhaps the best known hymn by English poet and pastor, John Newton (1725-1807). Although first published in 1779, the hymn was written as an illustration for Newton’s New Year’s Day, 1773, sermon. Its lyrics are a powerful reminder of the mercy of God, who alone offers salvation to ill-deserving sinners—to a wretch like me.

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!

Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
We have already come;
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

We have already come;
And grace will lead me home.
His word my hope secures;
As long as life endures.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.

Happy New Year, everyone.

This is War (A Christmas Carol)

Last Christmas, Dustin Kensrue of Thrice released a Christmas album, This Good Night is Still Everywhere. A particularly thought provoking song on the record is called This is War. Kensrue describes it as a different take on the Christmas story—God declaring war on sin, death and Satan. In a way, it’s seeing Jesus’ incarnation for what it really was.

During the introduction to the video, he reminds us that Christmas is a unique opportunity for us, as Christians, to talk about things that are otherwise considered taboo in our society.

Like Jesus.

Even if you don’t believe what Christians would claim about Him, you have to step back and ask why is this man the most famous person who ever lived? This Galilean peasant who was killed in the most dishonoring and awful of ways. Why still is he the person that a large part of the world still thinks is God in Flesh and why is his impact so large?

Enjoy the video. The song is tremendous:

You can also watch the video without the intro here:

If you’re looking for some great Christmas music, buy the album at iTunes and Amazon.

HT: Ransom.tv

It Makes Me Laugh: The Muppets cover "Bohemian Rhapsody"

I have no words.

Friday Funnies: Ted Kluck's Day-long Rock Bender

Ted Kluck, author or The Reason for Sports: A Christian Fanifesto and coauthor of Why We’re Not Emergent & Why We Love the Church, is working on a new book!

This time, Kluck is delving into the seedy underbelly of Christian music with To Hell With the Devil: 365 Days of Christian Music, from Al Denson to Alice Cooper

“The idea is that I’ll listen to nothing but Christian music (concerts, CD’s, videos) for a whole year.  This will be especially challenging for me since I haven’t listened to Christian music since 1991, when I was 15,” he wrote back in June when announcing the project.

Three months into the project, he succumbed to the siren’s call of rock and/or roll:

It’s October 21 and I just fell off the wagon.  Hard.  If this were a movie I would be Tony Montana falling face-first into a giant pile of blow in Scarface. It’s taken me almost three months into my fast, but I’ve discovered a very troubling, simple truth:  Christian artists can’t write love songs.  There are a few who get close (like Anberlin, “A Day Late,” and Paramore, “crushcrushcrush” and even Stryper, “Honestly”) but for the most part, Christian bands either suck at ballad writing or don’t even try (more likely).  And perhaps the fact that it’s more exciting to hear Sebastian Bach (Skid Row, not the other one) sing about lost love in “I Remember You” than my church’s praise band singing about “Amazing Love,” (about Jesus) says something incriminating about me.  Check that, I know it does.

But here’s the thing:  When I hear “I Remember You,” I think about things, places and people that I actually remember.  I do remember yesterday, walking hand in hand, love letters in the sand, and all of the stuff that Bach sings about.  It’s cheesy, yes, but it’s also the kind of thing that evokes – that makes a person feel.  Ditto for Warrant’s ballad, Heaven, which they probably intended to be less about the real heaven, and more about sleeping with some chick.  (Keep in mind, this is the band that brought us such lyrical poetry as “Cherry Pie.”)  But still, I love it.  It reminds me of driving my tan GMC pickup truck around Hartford City in 1993, wishing I had the courage to talk to girls.  Is there much that’s more romantic than having a “picture of your house, and you’re standing by the door, it’s black and white and faded, and it’s looking pretty worn”…and later, “I’ve got nowhere left to go, and no-one really cares…I don’t know what to do (cue guitar riff), but I’m never giving up on you.”

So I spent the majority of the day in my office with huge, cushy headphones on, belting out the lyrics to ballads that I should have waited until next year to dust off.  And it’s as good as I’ve felt in a long time.

You can click through to read a detailed account of Ted’s rock bender.

Nothing but Christian music for a year? That’s more than I suspect most could endure.

Pray that he survives.

Ripe for Co-opting

Today’s post contains no serious content. It does, however, contain rock music videos. Reader discretion is advised.

Have you ever noticed that there are certain songs that just seem ripe for co-opting? Songs that have something that sound vaguely spiritual—like they could be talking about God, but could just as easily be talking about a girl.

 

U2 is an obvious (and easy) example, particularly with their new record. Check this song out:

 

Now, in all fairness, Bono and the band do profess faith in Christ (true story), and many songs do have some pretty overt spiritual content. There are even a lot of churches that are already playing their stuff during their corporate worship (including some Anglican ones, I believe). But, it just seems, I don’t know, a bit weird to me. Maybe it’s just me.

While listening to the radio this week, I found that there are actually quite a few songs that, if you thought about it hard enough, you could probably co-opt for a Christian worship service.

And I was even more surprised when I realized that one is the newest Our Lady Peace single, All You Did Was Save My Life: [Read more…]

Music Review: Rain City Hymnal

rain_city_hymnalI’ll be honest: I don’t really like Christian music—and I really don’t like a lot of modern “worship” music. Some songs have very God-centered lyrics and theology being espoused, but there’s far too much that (to borrow a phrase) is Christless expounding on nothing.

But I really like old hymns. I enjoy them more every time I listen. This is, in part, because of my theological bend in addition to never having heard them (beyond Amazing Grace in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan). I don’t know what it is, but classic hymns like Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing bring joy to my spirit like nothing else.

So when Re:Sound released Rain City Hymnal last week, I was exceedingly pleased.

The album is a collection of 12 classic hymns from centuries past with updated music to better communicate “an ancient message of truth in music for a particular people, time, and place, ” says Pastor Tim Smith of Mars Hill Church.

So how’d they do?

In short, outstanding.

The Christ-exalting message of every song shines through in a whole new way on Rain City Hymnal. While every track is extremely well done, I want to highlight just a few: [Read more…]

RE:Sound – Rain City Hymnal Now Available

UPDATE: Read my review of Rain City Hymnal (Posted 06/18)

Rain City Hymnal, the first release from Re:Sound is now available.

Tim Smith writes at the Resurgence blog:

[Rain City Hymnal is]  a collection of modern arrangements of 12 hymns by 5 different Mars Hill bands and represents our most ambitious project to date. These old songs represent the essence of our task in corporate worship: combining an ancient message of truth in music for a particular people, time, and place.

ReSound Launches with Preview EP

ReSound, the Resurgence’s new record label, has made available a sampler EP for download.

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more about “ReSound Preview Available for Download“, posted with vodpod

Head over to ReSound.org and download before June 11, when the site officially launches.

Thursday Night Hymnal: Psalm 25

Some music for a Thursday night; enjoy.

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more about “Thursday Night Hymnal: Psalm 25“, posted with vodpod

Sunday Shorts (04/26)

The Gospel Coalition 2009 Conference Online

The Gospel Coalition’s 2009 conference messages are now online. Give them a listen as you can’t go wrong with Tim Keller, John Piper, and more.

22 Essential Words for Writing Cheesy Christian Pop Songs

Guest blogger Josh Harris provides us with the essentials of cheesy Christian pop lyrics at Abraham Piper’s blog. The comments are even better than the actual list (check out Abraham’s song in comment 7).

Matt Svoboda’s take on Mark Driscoll

Matt at Evangelical Village posted a very helpful letter he sent to his pastor regarding Mark Driscoll in light of the recent kerfuffle surrounding him. Here’s an excerpt:

I am not here to beat the drum of Mark Driscoll, but it would sadden me to see people disregard his ministry for inappropriate comments and occasionally taking things further than Scripture permits.  His ministry is gospel-centered as he always points people to the cross.  As you and I would say, he is ‘Our Kind of Calvinist.’  He is theologically and missionally as solid as anyone I know.

Aaron’s on Twitter

I caught the Twitter bug while watching all the hip cool marketing folks at ad:tech this week. Next week I might write haikus.

If you’re on Twitter, you can follow me here.

And in honour of this, I once again (ironically) present, The Twouble with Twitter: