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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Travelogue for the Melancholy Christian
So many memoirs about faith are surprisingly materialistic. Author is raised as a believer; X happens; author looses faith and plunges into horrible life of secularism. Y happens and author regains faith and becomes fully functioning member of society. She rides off into a doubtless sunset. In those memoirs, there is no room given to the gray area between faith and...
Published on February 22, 2012 by W. Edwards

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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Writing, Little Hope
Andrea Palpant's Faith and Other Flat Tires is a personal memoir about the doubts about God she developed as a missionary child in Africa. There were a lot of things I liked about this book. For example the writing was incredible. Being a writing instructor myself, I always get a little giddy when I come across a Christian book that actually shows some knowledge of the...
Published on August 17, 2012 by spporter


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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Travelogue for the Melancholy Christian, February 22, 2012
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This review is from: Faith and Other Flat Tires: Searching for God on the Rough Road of Doubt (Paperback)
So many memoirs about faith are surprisingly materialistic. Author is raised as a believer; X happens; author looses faith and plunges into horrible life of secularism. Y happens and author regains faith and becomes fully functioning member of society. She rides off into a doubtless sunset. In those memoirs, there is no room given to the gray area between faith and secularism, no mention to how the author dealt with doubts in the mind and griefs of the heart.

If those books are external memoirs (everything is on the surface), then Faith and Other Flat Tires is an internal memoir. It is a book by a bright, introspective woman who finds problems with religion in all manner of ways. An Eric Clapton concert is as likely to raise tough theological questions as does having to bury a childhood friend. Dilley's memoirs outline how she grew up a missionary kid and then became a 'melancholy Christian' before leaving the church. She eventually found that the same questions that drove her away from God ended up driving her back to faith once again. She returns to God hesitantly, with battle wounds and hope and also - get this - without all the answers.

As a memoir, this book is funny and honest. Dilley doesn't paint herself as a victim or a saint. She's awkward at times, painfully aware of her flaws and she bravely lays her selfish moments and bad choices along with her honesty and courage. She acknowledges that her tale is not a 'my life was the worst life ever' story. Rather, it's a tale of how a person can loose faith while still maintaining a 4.0 - how even the seemingly 'good' kids can find themselves stomping out of the church and slamming the doors behind them (literally) because their questions are not being answered.

As a spiritual book, Faith and other Flat Tires walks a very different line than others spiritual books I've read. (Thank God.) For one thing, it's not at all preachy. For another, it's wicked smart. Dilley knows her stuff - her theology, her church history, her convictions about social justice. When she takes a swing at the church, she's got the intellectual and emotional equivalent of a heavyweight behind her fists. This is a woman who has heard all the "good Christian answers" and yet can't reconcile that with the suffering she's seen in the world and the loneliness she's felt in her own heart. Dilley paints a clear picture of loss and bewilderment, of standing inside a church and a faith that feels like it's crumbling.

Christians who don't want to ask hard questions about their faith will likely be troubled by this book. It doesn't hold back. So also, people who want to walk away from the church forever may take issue with Dilley's refusal to settle for easy secular answers as well as easy religious ones. But for folks who are seeking for Truth with a capital 'T,' yet feel like they're out of place among the doughnuts-and-coffee-and-small-talk-after-church crowd, this book will come as a welcome read. I kept thinking, 'Man, I wish I'd been able to read this as a teenager.' At that time, the dichotomy of perfect Christian girl and 'other' seemed so stark in my mind.

Finally, as a work of non-fiction, this book is a delight to read. Dilley is a fantastic writer, and her flowing, conversational style deftly draws the reader from one striking metaphor to a vivid scene from her unusual life to a heady theological point, and then back again. The writing is funny, earthy, and philosophical in turn - sometimes all at the same time. The only complaint I could level at the book is that the references to Pilgrim's Progress that cropped up now and again felt strained to me. Maybe that's because I was forced to read that book as a kid and hated it. Dilley's simple, honest style sometimes seemed like it broke stride to side-step Bunyan's overwrought metaphors. This was a small enough thing not to detract from the point of the book, but I didn't care to hear about Bunyan's fictional journey when Dilley's real journey was going on.

SUMMARY: To keep with the car metaphor laid out in the book, Faith and Other Flat Tires is not a religious tract you found stuck under your windshield. Instead, it is like sitting in the passenger seat with a dear friend, driving through her life, discussing questions about God as you head down the road together.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic story of the complicated journey of faith, February 20, 2012
This review is from: Faith and Other Flat Tires: Searching for God on the Rough Road of Doubt (Paperback)
Andrea Dilley gives a rich, honest and often funny account of her personal and spiritual journey. It is not a simple story of leaving and returning to faith, and as read I wondered what would have happened if the Prodigal Son had stayed home. There never would have been broken relationship with the father or the baggage of his life of sin, but he could have stayed and ended up worse than a starving pig farmer. He could have ended up even worse than his older brother. He could have simply gone into his room and tuned out.

This is no ordinary Prodigal Son story, and apathy towards God was never an option for Andrea. She was a missionary kid who grew up in a loving home and church community, and yet from her early teens she was deeply disturbed with the brokenness of the world, the relevance of church, and the seeming absence of God in the midst of the mess. Of course, taking God and the mess seriously should ideally happen within the church community, but he often allows us to leave home without letting us get too far away from him. We discover that our answers can only be found at home, as we see our Father there from a distance, holding the robe, ring and pair of shoes.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Personal and idiosyncratic enough to be universal, March 18, 2012
This review is from: Faith and Other Flat Tires: Searching for God on the Rough Road of Doubt (Paperback)
Faith and Other Flat Tires is exactly the kind of book Christians and ex-Christians should read. Andrea Palpant Dilley tells the personal story of overcoming the secular/sacred divide and learning to live her faith without hiding her doubts. One of the earlier reviews on this site decried this book as a "downer" and that Dilley is "stuck...just treading water." Nothing could be further from the truth! Dilley refuses to give the triumphalist ending that so many Christian books demand, yet there is a solidity to her commitment that shows her desire to honor God, follow Christ, and serve humanity. For the Christian, Dilley asks for an honesty and shows a path to belief that does not paper-over problems or resort to simple answers. For the ex-Christian, she shows a way back to faith that does not ask someone to pretend they are something they are not. This is what grace is all about, and this book shows it clearly.

One of the paradoxes about a book like this is that in telling a story that is very specific and very personal, Dilley has actually made it more inviting and universal. There were so many places where I thought "oh, I have felt that exact same thing!" even though my college and post-college experience was decades ago and miles away. Dilley has managed to write something that is both very personal yet speaks to a common experience that most Christians (at least if they are honest with themselves) have also faced. One of the things I especially appreciated is that she never put down or demeaned what she was or what other people are...the sort of "I used to think this way, but now I am so much more enlightened" that one frequently finds in this genre. Instead, Dilley tells her story as one pilgrim who has gone along a path and wants to share it with others who may cover some of the same landscape. An amazing first book...I hope there are many more to come!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Writing, Little Hope, August 17, 2012
This review is from: Faith and Other Flat Tires: Searching for God on the Rough Road of Doubt (Paperback)
Andrea Palpant's Faith and Other Flat Tires is a personal memoir about the doubts about God she developed as a missionary child in Africa. There were a lot of things I liked about this book. For example the writing was incredible. Being a writing instructor myself, I always get a little giddy when I come across a Christian book that actually shows some knowledge of the craft. Palpant's background in Communications definitely shines in this book and makes it an enjoyable read.

Her story is also fairly typical of God's grandchildren, a.k.a. kids who grew up with true believing parents that wanted nothing more than to serve God with all their heart. These kids usually don't really get their parents or the God they serve but have a hard time finding any contentment in the world. Until they really give their lives to God and have their own relationship with them, they also can't find contentment in the church, so they end up thrown all over the place in their beliefs.

Been there, done that.

The major drawback of the book is that she structures it around John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress and the journey that Christian takes, but she definitely focuses more on Christian's pratfalls, then on some of the elements of Bunyan's metaphor that exemplify God's part in our walk like Help, Goodwill, Faithful, Hopeful, The Shining Ones, the Lord of the Hill, etc.

The lack of these characters' traits shows through in Palpant's memoir as well. Even in the grand climax where she returns to church, she doesn't necessarily do it because she finds much hope there, but just because it's better than the other options. There's no relationship with Jesus, no revelation of God in her life, just a meandering fall back into church community. It's a lot like Ignorance stumbling up to the City on the Hill in Pilgrim's Progress. It doesn't go well for him.

So I'm torn. I really liked the book, but in the end I'm not sure where Palpant stands when it comes to faith. Did she decide to follow Jesus or not? I hope that I'm just missing something and the answer to that question is "yes". But I certainly wouldn't recommend the book to anyone struggling with their faith. It's just as likely to turn them away from God, as turn them back to Him. On the other hand, she paints a really good picture of the struggle of faith that every child who grows up in it will undoubtedly walk.

And it's well-written. Let's not forget that.

Ultimately, I'm on the fence with this one. I liked it, and I didn't like. I'd recommend it, but I'd also not recommend it. I guess you could say that Palpant's confusion about how she feels about faith has left me feeling confused about how I feel about her book, which I'm sure leaves the reader confused about this review. And if you're wondering if this is the book for you, all I can say is `maybe'.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own. This review was originally published on Manifest Blog.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For the person who is not afraid to say they have doubts, March 31, 2012
This review is from: Faith and Other Flat Tires: Searching for God on the Rough Road of Doubt (Paperback)
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I have read three books in the past year about a person raised a Christian, who then began asking tough questions and doubting their faith. All 3 books have been wrote by young women. The first two, "Evolving in Monkey Town" and "Raised Right" were excellent but this third one "Faith and other flat tires" may be the most satisfying of all as the author comes full circle. Andrea not only begins to have doubts, she actually drifts quite a long ways from her Christianity. There are many moments in the her journey that became symbolic. When she scraps off the Ichthus fish off her bumper sticker, she writes that she was not rejecting Jesus but the sort of Christianity that produced things like wearing your faith on a bumper sticker. That thinking really impressed me. Her journey was not only about asking tough questions but being weary and embarassed of some of the people who share the same beliefs as ourselves. If you are the kind of person like Andrea and me who cringe when at a restaurant with Christians, someone says a long winded prayer over the meal while the poor waitress stands awkwardly by waiting to deliver the ketchup bottle, then her book is for you.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nailed it., April 26, 2012
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This review is from: Faith and Other Flat Tires: Searching for God on the Rough Road of Doubt (Paperback)
If you are going to spend time reading a book this week, read this one. As a skeptic and a non-christian who's all too familiar with the stereotypical faith memoir format , I was initially very hesitant to crack this book open. It was nothing like I expected- in the best possible way.

Faith and Other Flat Tires serves not as a series of quick answers to hard questions or a touchy-feely argument for blind faith, but as a memoir to offer solidarity in the ongoing struggle of the human condition. Andrea Palpant Dilley's struggle is written with brutal honesty without ever seeming caricature or distanced. Reading this book felt like sitting and hashing out the meaning of life with a close friend. She's hilarious, vulnerable and fearless in her questioning. From the first chapter, it's obvious that this is a real person, with a real struggle who's not trying to sell you a sugar coated worldview.

With memoirs I often feel like the degree of resonance between my personality and the author's determines how much I will like the book, but the force of the story was in the resonating description of her internal struggles. I've recommended this book to a handful of friends with varying philosophical and religious backgrounds, but so many have finished having found solace in its description of the search, the longing for God, and the feeling of space left by doubt.

While reading, I kept waiting for the decisive "ah hah" event that would usher the author back into the church or the easy-way-out decision to wholly embrace God and be peachy keen afterwards. I can't tell you how relieved (and moved) I was when that moment never came. Like talking with a friend, the subtle grace of this book really lies the honesty of the exchange and the power of questions unanswered. After reading so much and searching so hard, talking to so many people and thinking myself in circles about faith, experiencing someone else's struggle and knowing that they continue to grapple with the same questions gave me peace in a significant way.

Dilley manages to treat some of our most painful, complicated human emotions with clarity and fairness. The journey is straightforward and gritty, but beautifully written. Parts of this story wore me out, others reminded me to breathe. Overall, the book reinforced the fact that I have a lot of growing to do and more ground to stand on than I think. I can stand a little taller knowing that there are other pilgrims straddling the line between faith and disbelief and that their doubt and searching, as well as my own, can have significance in and of themselves. A profoundly good read that will definitely stick with you. I recommend it to anyone!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Thought Provoking, March 22, 2012
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This review is from: Faith and Other Flat Tires: Searching for God on the Rough Road of Doubt (Paperback)
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I am neither a Christian nor a person in a religious crisis, but I found this to be a honest, thought provoking memoir that anyone can relate to. The part about growing up in Kenya and transitioning to the USA was interesting on a cultural level. I thought the incident of having a religious crisis initiated by watching a concert on tv was very real. I liked that it never felt preachy. I think there is a lot of room here for a seeker to ask questions, accept or reject the authors conclusions and come away with different opinions than he or she started with. It's hard to write a book about the search for truth, God or meaning without ending in a position where the author is exalted and the reader is just a peon who could only wish for such wisdom, but this book succeeds. It's human, and I find that very attractive.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Learning to see the world differently, May 2, 2012
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Andree G. Robinson Neal (Southern California, United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Faith and Other Flat Tires: Searching for God on the Rough Road of Doubt (Paperback)
Ms. Dilley provides what I would describe as an honest assessment of her experiences with faith. As the daughter of Christian missionary parents, she wrestles with life, faith, and meaning in a grounded way. She asks the questions many Christ-followers have thought but were afraid to ask. I found myself laughing out loud at the clarity with which she put my questions on paper and nodding my head in solidarity with her search. If you want a good read that is not beyond the reach of anyone because of hermaneutics or doctrine, this is the perfect choice.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting journey, July 26, 2012
This review is from: Faith and Other Flat Tires: Searching for God on the Rough Road of Doubt (Paperback)
This was the first book of its kind that I have read penned by someone my own age. It was odd reading about someone's faith journey who experienced life in my very generation. As I read this memior, there were many times that I had to put it down. Perhaps my empathy, perhaps my vivid imagination; I felt her despair, I felt almost hopeless for her. As I finished this book, I was reminded of all those I have known over the years that have had similar journeys. Dilley is very candid in describing how she grew up in the church, walked away filled with doubts and deep questions, and walked back in ready to bring her questions with her.

I was reminded of why I loved being a camp counselor many years ago, why I enjoyed working with Young Life, and why I enjoyed my years working in Student Affairs at a university. One summer as a camp counselor, after some good conversation around the campfire with my middle school campers, one young girl thanked me for allowing her to ask all the questions about God that she was afraid to ask her parents or sunday school teachers. My heart was filled with joy that God could use me in such a way. Dilley felt that same way, that her questions ought to take her out of the church. I am very thankful that I am part of a church that doesn't make people feel this way. We ought to welcome questions, and help one another to grow in grace and knowledge, rather than allowing these questions to draw people away from our fellowship (a sad day to see someone going through what 1 Timothy 1:19 describes).

Dilley is very candid as she describes the community she surrounded herself with, they ways she sought out answers to her doubts, the rebellion that stirred within her, and how she ultimately realized her questions were part of her journey of faith. I don't agree with all of Dilley's conclusions, but this is a good story of faith becoming more real, and more solid, as honest answers are sought.

I would like to thank Handlebar Marketing for providing me with a copy of this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where have you been all my life?, June 20, 2012
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This review is from: Faith and Other Flat Tires: Searching for God on the Rough Road of Doubt (Paperback)
Jerry Sittser, author of A Grace Disguised, said this book is "so carefully and seamlessly crafted that, though I began the book thinking about her story, I ended it thinking about my own" (from the preface). I suppose that's the sign of a book worth picking up twice or more. Other reviews have already mentioned how laugh-out-loud funny the book is, so I won't belabor the point too much. I will say, however, that it is a rare thing to find a modern memoir so free of existential angst. Dilley has given her readers enough room to breath and, therefore, to laugh.
Smart, fluid, and lyrical, Faith and Other Flat Tires went down like mint ice cream on a summer day. Never have I so enjoyed reading such a journey through pain and bewilderment. This is not a how-to book (an overly loved genre of the evangelical mind), but a sincere narrative that cuts no corners. Dilley provokes more questions than she answers, liberating her readers to explore her narrative and their own in light of God's work and Word. Like Dr. Sittser, I found myself thinking about my own narrative and I'm convinced that anyone who picks up this book will find in it fertile ground for self-reflection. If my response is anything remotely typical, readers will close the book and ask, "Where have you been all my life?"
I loved the overlap with Pilgrim's Progress. It was never stilted and, in fact, it gave to her story a sense of history and universality. Her story, like so many throughout the history of Christian faith, is a meandering one. I close with only one negative. A friend of mine is fond of saying that if a book is worth having, then it's worth having in hardback. So that's my only criticism: Where's my hardback edition?
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Faith and Other Flat Tires: Searching for God on the Rough Road of Doubt
Faith and Other Flat Tires: Searching for God on the Rough Road of Doubt by Andrea Palpant Dilley (Paperback - February 25, 2012)
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