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My Faith So Far: A Story of Conversion and Confusion 1st Edition

12 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0787968595
ISBN-10: 0787968595
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Too much pot. Too many beers. Tired of lying to his parents, Patton, 18, is ready to come clean. He goes looking for God at a charismatic megachurch where people are "unabashedly excited about Jesus," and his life turns around. He speaks in tongues, dances spontaneously during worship services, enrolls at Oral Roberts University. And he prays incessantly: "My prayers cover the nation, the world. They pour out of my mouth and gush through the air, rumbling up the foothills of Pikes Peak and leaping into the sky, splashing down into the plains and rushing across into the towns and boroughs and metropolises, seeping under people's windowsills and covering their entire homes like a film that won't come off." Now a grad student and contributing editor to the webzine, Dodd engagingly recreates two years of passionate faith and excruciating doubt, weaving historical notes and sociological observations into his personal narrative. Though his experience as a fanatically "evangelical, Bible-believing, chest-pounding Christian" was short-lived, Dodd's tone is sympathetic as well as wryly humorous, and his analysis is usually kind: "ORU is not a place of insincere devotion; it is a place of extreme devotion sincerely and frequently expressed." This lively coming-of-age story succeeds both as literary memoir and as an intimate look at a popular variety of American religious experience.
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From Booklist

There is nothing new about the crisis of faith that afflicts adolescents as they question and rebel against the religion, or lack thereof, of their parents. What is new is what Dodd brings in this personal, sometimes embarrassing, always pithy and articulate account of his own journey through the valley of doubt. En route from his Southern Baptist roots, he gave up pot smoking and philandering, plunged headlong into the evangelical charismatic movement, chose to strengthen his faith by attending Oral Roberts University, but then dropped out, only to pick up his education later at a secular university. In an engaging writing style that allows him to be both protagonist and dispassionate observer, Dodd stands outside himself and, with insight and humor, presents a young man's search for God, piety, and the answers to all life's imponderables. In conclusion, "the only honest way for this story to end," he says, "is for it to come to silent rest right in the middle," where he has found two out of three. Donna Chavez
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (November 12, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0787968595
  • ISBN-13: 978-0787968595
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,585,191 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Patton Dodd is the executive editor of Bondfire Books and a contributing editor at large for Patheos. He is the author of The Tebow Mystique: The Faith and Fans of Football's Most Polarizing Player and My Faith So Far: A Story of Conversion and Confusion. His writing on religion and culture has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Newsweek, Slate, Financial Times, Christianity Today, Cineaste, Books & Culture, The Shambhala Sun, and The Revealer. Patton taught writing, literature, and film at the United States Air Force Academy, and holds a Ph.D. in religion and literature from Boston University.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By mars hill brandon on November 18, 2004
Format: Hardcover
My Faith So Far is a brilliant, close-up look into the life a conflicted, but well-intentioned young man. It's the sort of book that allows you to examine your own experiences and how you might have handled those offered by the writer. Mr. Dodd's ability to mix nostalgia, razor-sharp-wit, and an honest, even painful self-appraisal make this one of the best memoirs I've ever read.

The book centers on 2 years encapsulating his experiences in college and life as they pertain to the building and deconstructing of his world-view. It's whimsical and sardonic at once and has, at least for me, a great contemplative feeling.

You won't read too many books from Christian authors that have this depth of honesty. And the rawness with which he handles his emotional/intellectual experiences is the real treasure found in the pages of MFSF. An author's ability to connect with the reader via memoir is closely linked to his ability to be transparent, Patton Dodd allows you to feel what he feels, examine what he thinks, and come to your own conclusions about faith,life and God.

If you're trying to:

a. Get a grasp on your belief system,

b. Understand contemporary Chrsitian culture,

c. Have a good read before you go to bed at night,

Then this book is for you.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By L. J. Barker on January 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
With rare honesty and at times gut-twisting vulnerability, Patton Dodd presents a unique perspective on wrestling with one's faith. His experience touches on the nearly universal longing to believe, a longing wrought with the fear of placing one's faith in something that doesn't warrent such whole-hearted commitment. As he gives himself over to what he hopes will be a life-changing conversion, he soon learns that nothing comes easily. And as life becomes littered with doubts, he finds himself wondering what to do with the faith that remains. Dodd's thought-provoking, often-humorous account of his faith journey thus far will resonate with all those who have abandoned their faith over similar doubts, those who cling to their faith despite their doubts--and those who have yet to admit such doubts, even to themselves.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By J. A. Porter on December 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Patton Dodd does a fantastic job pulling away the curtain from a very curious American subculture--Charismatic Pentecostal Evangelical Christianity. For many of us whose history has touched this subculture, My Faith So Far helps put into words many of the feelings and anxiety that repelled us from it and, in some cases, from Christianity entirely. Patton provides a hopeful story about the struggle to find or at least journey toward authentic faith.

While most readers probably won't identify with Patton's over-the-top, radical, other-worldly embrace of Charismatic worship, his critique of the Charismatic culture will resonate with anyone who has earnestly observed this brand of Christianity and walked away scratching his/her head.

My Faith So Far is a very brisk read and easy to get through in one or two sittings. It's not a scholarly read, but it does put the Charismatic movement into context and may help lead readers into a deeper discussion about the oddities of faith and the struggle to become authentically Christian.

This would be a great book for high school youth groups, especially evangelical youth groups.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Martyn A. Oliver on November 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
"My Faith so Far" is an intoxicating read, full of humor, insight, wisdom and compassion. If you've ever struggled with your faith--and no matter how it turned out for you--you'll find this book hard to put down. In every chapter I found myself thinking, "Yeah, that's exactly how I felt," even if the details were different. But the real pay-off comes with the author's analysis and ability to bring historical context to bear on his own spiritual struggle. And no matter your place in life, you'll find this memoir to be to be a real window on the hearts and minds of so many of today's young Americans. Buy it, read it, recommend it to a friend.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By grrlpup on August 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
If you're of the opinion that autobiographies should wait until the author's twilight years when he's lived his life and figured out what it means, this is not your book. My Faith So Far covers the author's high school and college years, and the end of the book is a confession that the questions and doubts the he had then are still kicking around inside him.

We get to follow Patton's trip through the culture of evangelical/charasmatic Christianity in Colorado Springs and then at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa. He writes much of the book in present tense, which sometimes makes it hard to tell whether he's describing beliefs he had then or ones he holds now, but which also give his story immediacy. I was with him as he struggled with listening to Christian music, which was often second-rate, versus secular music, which made him feel guilty. He's the real deal, not a tourist--he speaks in tongues, prays for hours, testifies to unbelievers--but he still questions himself and what the church is telling him. I loved the tour of Oral Roberts University, where the students have a dress code and prayer circles take up most of Technical Journalism class. Patton shows himself and other students making fun of the excesses of Christian culture, but he never loses the earnest desire to find out what Christianity is for him.

As a secular person, I found nothing in this book to offend me--no thoughtless slams or assumptions-- and much to fascinate me. Patton's philosophizing and angst were sometimes skimmable, but it was an accurate portrait of the thoughts and conversations of someone that age. I will definitely check out any future books of his.
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