The cover to Matthew Paul Turner's Hear No Evil: My Story of Innocence, Music, and the Holy Ghost is slightly deceptive. First of all, the young man on the cover looks like Rivers Cuomo, and is holing up a vinyl record. The bit about the holy ghost is in small type, and fairly much overshadowed by the Away We Go/Juno/500 Days of Summer/Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist font used for the title. By all accounts, this is a hipster book.
Not a chance. While Turner is a very hip person, he's hip in terms of Christian music, which is decidedly unhip. The book is a story of Turner's life in Christian music, and those artists who had great impact upon him. Some of them you've heard of: Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant, on one hand, with the others, like Sandi Patty, most of you've probably never heard of.
The book dwells on faith, with a semi-mocking tone given to Turner's hearing the voice of God speak to him throughout his life, in a sort of head-shaking, "Can you believe this?" gosh-golly tone, yet at no point ever treating it as anything other than what factually happened. Religious fundamentalism is given a bit of mockery, such as when two lunch ladies are discussing hearing Sandi Patty's "flith" on the local Christian radio station:
"Oh, I had to leave a message with the receptionist. But I told the girl to write down that I was fuming mad about this, and that I was very serious about never listening again if they played her. She told me she would."
However, Turner plays equally with the situation regarding his turning to Calvinism as a way of rebelling against his parents. Only someone raised Baptist could "rebel" with Calvinism.
However, it's Turner's movements within the world of Christian music that make for the most fascinating and intriguing stories. Unfortunately, his personal experiences, such as his tenure with CCM, the bible of the Christian music industry (well, not the Bible, but you know what I mean) is reduced to one major incident. Granted, the story behind his interview with Amy Grant is fascinating, but he could've written an entire book about the behind-the-scenes details of running the biggest Christian music publication.
The same thing happens with his time at a Christian coffee house, booking bands. While the story of a woman who just can't sing, and is far too into her faith and hope of fame is a funny and eventually touching one, it's the only story. While Turner tells fascinating stories, you just get snatches of what happened at various points in his life, without a chance to really latch onto any particular point. There's no chance to get to know anyone other than Turner, and maybe his parents.
It's a shame, as Hear No Evil is a great book, and I read it through in two sittings. It's difficult to put down, and you'll find yourself drawn into his world. Even if you're not fascinated with the strange world of Christian music as I am, it's still a well-told story of kid growing into his own, and how a childhood dreamed eventually shaped an adult man. I just wish there was more of it.
You can read the first chapter of Hear No Evil at this link.