A Hill on Which to Die

I still remember it like it was yesterday.  I was at the Southern Baptist Convention in New Orleans a few years ago.  A good friend of mine (who was more excited about the conservative resurgence than I was) had convinced me to tag along and soak in the atmosphere.  He had a contact with Judge Pressler and several others in the movement and we were invited to sit in and hear about the lives of these men, the battles they had fought, and absorb the atmosphere.

To be honest, I went for the bookstore.  The Alabama Baptist Convention used to have a fantastic bookstore at each of its meetings with great deals on books.  I was hoping for some of the same kind of interaction on national level.  However, I was quickly disappointed to learn it was just a Lifeway store set out on tables.

The Highlight of the trip came however when we had the opportunity to tag along on a trip with Judge Pressler to Cafe Dumonde.  We sat in on the conversation, asked our best questions, bought Cafe Dumonde mugs (to remember the occasion) and consumed beignets and hot chocolate.

We were blessed to be able to interact with Judge Pressler that night and throughout the convention.  I was amazed at the character and grace of a man who was both very loving and very kind to most everyone he encountered.  He talked with grace about the years of the conservative resurgence and I was surprised to later hear all the things he was accused of saying or doing.  Quite simply the accusations didn’t line up with the man I had met.

His book A Hill on Which to Die: One Southern Baptist’s Journey is his side of the story concerning the Conservative Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention.  It is a very straightforward, orderly account of his life, the issues that lead to the resurgence, and the account of how things took place.  It is a great book for anyone looking to hear the conservative side of the resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention.  I give it 5 stars.

I picked up my copy several years ago when Pressler came to speak at UM and I got a copy autographed.  Recently I had the opportunity to pick it up again and actually read it.  I wish I had read it much sooner.

Hear No Evil by Matthew Paul Turner (Book Review)

Hear No Evil: My Story of Innocence, Music, and the Holy Ghost by Matthew Paul Turner comes out Tomorrow (February 16, 2010).  Turner grew up in a fundamentalist Independent  Baptist church and fled to the edge of the music scene in Nashville.  He describes in vivid detail how his fundamentalist upbringing and his earnest desire to be part of the Christian music industry collided.

To be fair, Turner is a very gifted writer.  His writing style is engaging, comical, and pointed all at the same time.  He has a way of pulling the reader into his story and challenging them to see things through his eyes.  This book was very well written.

However, though the book was engaging, in the end it really lacked substance.  All it ended up being was a tirade against various forms of Christianity.  Turner exposed the flaws of fundamentalism, the extreme edge of Calvinism, held a sad reflection on Pentecostalism, and exposed the underbelly of Christian Music Industry.  But to what end?  Why?  What was the point?… That is it.  There was no strong way forward.  There was no call to abandon Christianity.  There was no call to move to the center.  There was no call to say, “Hey, we are all messed up.”  There was no challenge to find the real Jesus.  In the end it was just a well written book on what is wrong with the world of fundamentalism and a few other branches of Christianity.

In the opinion of this blogger, it is a little late for that.  It’s tired.  There are enough former fundamentalist writing out their angst against their parents religion.  Why are they still being published?  Lets push forward and provide some answers, clarity, and direction.  There are two ways to embrace a theology.  One is to be so repulsed by a theology that you back into one, the other is to open both eyes and examine the evidence for yourself.  Hear No Evil is a great example of backing into a theology.  If you are looking for a way forward check out Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris.  It is written in a similar style, but provides a clearer way forward.

I would really only recommend this book to former fundamentalist who are still full of pent-up angst against their parents and are looking for someone to agree with them.   The retail price of Hear No Evil: My Story of Innocence, Music, and the Holy Ghost is $14.99 (Paperback), and is available at places like Amazon.com for $10.11 I gave it three stars.

You can also get more information about this book from the publisher or purchase it here.

Disclaimer:  This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.  There was no requirement to give the book a good review.  Just to review it and tell you what I really think.