Monday, October 27, 2008

I Got Churched

People, I'm so relieved. Because it would have really sucked to write this post if I wouldn't have liked Matthew's book. Lucky for me, it lived up to all the hype. :)


First things first: I love his writing style. There's not a moment of lag during the entire tale, and you see where his active imagination as a child pays off. Without even trying you are in his childhood kitchen as he tries so diligently to avoid the sin of dillydallying, or sitting on the bus as he turns people away from sitting in the seat he saved for Jesus. Matthew is a storyteller through and through. And he manages to find humor in the things most of us wouldn't.

In truth, Matthew and I couldn't have had more different religious upbringings. As a member of the Independent Bible Baptist Church, Matthew's family would have been praying for the souls of my Catholic family in hopes we'd become Christians. While we both went to private Christian schools, my textbooks contained information on evolution and his explained that dinosaurs are extinct because Noah couldn't fit them on the ark.

You know, little differences like that.

I think the biggest difference is that, while I knew that hell and the devil were real, they were the side note during the lessons about how much Jesus loves us, forgives us and wants us to choose right because we love him, too.

As Matthew explained, hell was the major component of the belief system he was raised on. That came through brilliantly in his retelling of the boxing matches between his pastor and the devil in red leggings on the altar of the church... or when the Sunday school teacher pulled out a Barbie and lit her on fire to show them how hot and scary hell would be if they ever sinned or smoked. The fact that he managed to tell those stories in a way that didn't belittle anyone and had me laughing out loud means that Matthew has a gift.

What struck me most is that while we lived such different lives, there were so many ways I could still relate. As kids we all have big imaginations and questions. I had my own rules I was nervous about: like the Sunday morning shortly after I had made my first communion and I came to my mom in tears because there was only 45 minutes until church and I had just eaten cereal... breaking the rule of not eating an hour before communion. I was just lucky to have a mom that helped me figure out that communion was a good half hour into the Mass so I had still met the deadline.

There were times in the book when I was laughing out loud on every page, times when I wanted to reach back in time and put my arm around the kid who was scared something horrible would happen to his mother as punishment for forgetting to read his bible passages that morning, and times I could relate to the confusion of a kid that wanted to do right even when he wasn't sure what right was.

Matthew opened my eyes to a world I have never experienced, and did it in a way that allowed me to relate to him... his transparency and sincerity made this a book that taught me something new, took me back to old memories and reminded me that at the end of the day we all want to do our best... some just go about it much differently than others.

Mostly, it made me grateful that I've gotten the chance to find Matthew's blog, appreciate his family and read his book. And I think you should all do the same. :)


  1. Well, I am adding this to my list of books to buy. You talked me into it. I am sure this will be a delight to read.

    Thanks so much for stopping by and say hello....I was just super excited that you did so. EXCITED I tell ya'. Really. It made my day.

    Good luck.....I will keep my fingers crossed for ya'

    Have a good week....I will be thinking about you. And give Riley a hug....and a treat.

  2. Matthew's book was a fun read, wasn't it? I am glad to know you got a copy. I thought I was going to have to rig a drawing or something. ;o)

    I finally officially accepted your award by following the rules. I used to make a little presentation. It was fun and I am wired for sound.

  3. There is no bigger compliment, I think, than a gifted storyteller endorsing the book of another gifted storyteller... its sorta the "takes one to know one" theory. I shall add the book to my wish list of books and see if santa thinks I've been a good girl!

  4. So glad that you had a good weekend with a good book.

  5. Okay, now I'm going to have to get this book since you're about the bizllionth person to recommend it on their blog!

    After growing up Catholic and attending private schools from kindergarten to high school graduation, I'm certain there will be something in it for me too. I totally forgot about the "not-eating-an-hour-before-communion" thing! When did I stop following that rule? Probably about the time I realized that during Lent, Catholics were given a "free day" on Sundays to binge on whatever it was they gave up during the week : )

  6. thank you for your sweet words about Matthew's book, Sara. It means a lot to both of us.

  7. Wow. Interesting to know that you can so relate, even though from such different backgrounds. Powerful.

    I think this could help many pastors/church planters in how they relate to others.... wow.

  8. I think I will.

    Sounds like Matthew and I had a similar upbringing. We are all so very different, but finding the Lord is a wonderful common denominator to help us look past our differences and focus on Him.

    Hope you're well, Sara!

  9. Okay, I so want to read this now. ;-)

    It made me think of my neighbor friend here. I went over to her house one day, let myself in (as we do), and heard her upstairs yelling at her daughter. Then I heard spanking (which, we spank, but not like this). When she came down she was crying and said "I told her that God tells me I need to punish her when she is disobedient, so she needs to accept her punishment." =O WOWZA!!

    I wonder what kind of book her daughter will write one day? haha! Heck, I wonder what kind of book MY kids will write one day? They'll say I said Jesus is like The Invisible Man and that God says "take a nap." Yeah, we *might* pray that they take good naps. Maybe. Might. ;-) heehee

  10. @bransblahg: that breaks my heart. When I read the bible stories about Jesus showing love and compassion and asking us to take care of the least among us I just can't reconcile when people say he's telling them to be angry and punish. It really gets mixed up sometimes, doesn't it?

  11. Good grief, I think I'm going to have to get this book now too. I grew up Lutheran where the emphasis was the same as Sara's -- on love and forgiveness. Hell was definitely not the focus. And I naively thought that all Christians were like me. After all, my friends basically consisted of Catholics and mainline Protestants. And then I went off to a college that was affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. Oh. My. Gosh. I had no idea what I was in for. I could write my own book on it. I got so tired of people trying to convert me to Christianity. Some would pretend to be interested in being my friend and then they would whip out the "tracts." They couldn't seem to respect that I was already a Christian. I can't understand how the attitude of separation and judgmental-ness is Christian-like. To this day I still feel a wall between me and my college friends due to the religion thing. I see the hatred and vitriol they have for Obama on their Facebook pages, and I don't get it. It makes me wish I had gone to a different college, sadly. Anyhoo, sorry to vent on your blog. Excellent review. Matthew, I will pick up your book the next time I'm out.