Turner recounts many humorous incidents throughout his growing up years in Eastern Maryland. Most of the episodes focus on his time in the culture of fundamentalism. The themes focus on the traditional, outward acts that many fundamentalists confuse with true piety. Turner recounts many situations where he did not understand the reason behind specific behaviors and teachings, but instead simply focused on the outward acts (like repeatedly "asking Jesus into my heart" just in case).
Hell is a big theme in the book. One of my favorite passages tells of a Sunday School teacher burning a Barbie Doll's feet in order to show what Hell is like. As the Sunday School room filled with toxic smoke, all the kids scrambled out of the room.
Another favorite comes from part of a single sentence. Turner writes on page 149, "When Mrs. Snover (another Sunday School teacher) finished teaching us about Jesus' miracle of turning water into Welch's grape juice..." Priceless.
Although the book is a quick and funny read, it is also serious and somewhat sad in its message. As I was reading along, the thought struck me that Jesus was hardly mentioned in the book at all. I found out why toward the conclusion. Turner writes on page 213, "Fundamentalism has little to do with Jesus." This is the crux of the book. Turner's stories show that fundamentalism focuses on outward acts of separation from the world that give a message of works-based righteousness.
The only problem I had with Churched was that Turner lumps some things in with fundamentalism that do not belong. An example of this is the infallibility if scripture.
In the end, this book is a good read. Not only is it enjoyable and well-written, but it acts as a good warning to all of us to watch out for falling into the trap of works-based righteousness.
While fundamentalism has little to do with Jesus, biblical Christianity is all about Him.
(I received this book for free through the WaterBrook/Multnomah Blogging for Books program.)