Matthew Paul Turner is something else. He's funny and can be sarcastic, sometimes to the point of edginess and sometimes beyond. He's iconoclastic, and takes on a host of Christian sacred cows, no matter how sacred (check out some of the funny pictures of Jesus on his blog). And he can have a theological bite.
All of these qualities are present in "Churched: One Kid's Journey Toward God Despite a Holy Mess." It's about growing up in a fundamentalist Baptist family and church (and not a Southern Baptist church, mind you, those liberal heretics!). And after the first two chapters I stopped counting how many times I laughed out loud.
Turner covers it all - attending the church for the first time; fighting to stay awake during the sermon (not only a fundamentalist problem); getting his first Baptist haircut; attending the church school; home visits by the pastor; the trials of a Sunday School teacher who's asked if God wears clothes; eating Jesus cookies. It's all there.
"Fundamentalism made me weird," Turner writes. "I wasn't alone. It made lots of people weird. But I believe some people at my church believed that was the point, that somewhere in the Bible, Jesus declared, `Blessed are the weird.' Our weirdness was a form of obedience unto God."
As weird as it may have made him, fundamentalism also shaped him in other ways, and it was surprising to see what emerges from behind the humor and the edginess: tenderness, caring and affection. You see this most directly when he talks about his parents. There's a lot of love there.