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Faith and Other Flat Tires: Searching for God on the Rough Road of Doubt Paperback – February 25, 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 84 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


'I did not intend to read this book--but then I started and couldn't stop. What a relief: a young adult faith memoir for people I actually know. Andrea Palpant Dilley is refreshingly, winsomely straight-up without being angsty or impossibly pious. She has questions about God, real questions, bottom line questions, and at the end of the day she leaves room for a faith where everything doesn't have to be tied together with a neat Jesus-y bow. Instead, Dilley raises the possibility--the hope--that honest Christian faith has loose ends, and that God is fine with that. By the end of the book, I wanted more of both God and Andrea Dilley.' -- Kenda Creasy Dean, , Professor of youth, church, and culture, Princeton Theological Seminary, Author of Almost Christian

'Truth. Reality. Meaning. Where do we find these elusive treasures in a skewed, surreal, and often seemingly meaningless world of unspeakable suffering? In this story of her young life, Andrea Palpant Dilley, missionary child and modern woman, struggles with these great life questions in such an honest, literate, and engaging way that the reader is swept into her story as a fellow searcher for truth. Like all of us, she still struggles to find all the answers. But she has learned where 'tires are fixed' on the journey. I believe that in this book we are witnessing the birth of a major contemporary writer.' -- Frederick Dale Bruner, , Wasson Professor of Theology Emeritus, Whitworth University. Author of commentaries on The Gospel

“Andrea Dilley’s literary stroll down her own particular path of faith reminds us that while that way is narrow, it is also, at times, rather curvy and fraught with obstacles. Her winsome recollections are a balm for anyone walking a similar journey.” -- Tracy Balzer, , author of Thin Places: An Evangelical Journey Into Celtic Christianity and A Listening Life.

'Andrea compellingly writes a contemporary conversion narrative mixed with a cultural travelogue, as a representative of a generation that grew up in and struggled with one corner of the Christian landscape. It is written with a story-teller's ear and an English major's eye. For those who work around the church this is a must-read, to see the generation we long to reach.” -- Jim Singleton, , Senior Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Colorado Springs, CO

'With honesty and candor, Andrea Palpant shares her sense of displacement, as a 'third-culture kid' finding her way in America and as a once confident Christian beset with doubt and confusion in a postmodern world. I suspect many readers will find themselves in the questions that drive her away from faith. I also pray that, in her story, they will also see a pathway back. At this time in our culture, and in the church, we are in need of people like Andrea, who do not shy away from their questions and doubts, who do not fear bearing their souls, and who show us a way through to the other side of faith.' -- Dr. Steve Sherwood, , Asst. Professor of Christian Ministry, George Fox University and Young Life Regional Trainer.

“Andrea Palpant Dilley’s bracingly honest memoir serves as an antidote both to the negative view of missionary families popularized by such books as The Poisonwood Bible, and to simplified stories of Christian conversion. Her unconventional story of reconversion, mapped against key events of Pilgrim’s Progress, argues for both the unique trajectory of each individual experience and for shared themes in the long process of transformation. Her own rediscovery and embrace of her identity and community is shown, wisely, to be the starting point for what is “yet a long road in front of [her].” We hope that this fine and passionate young writer will take us along on her journey as it unfolds.” -- Maxine Hancock, Ph.D, , Professor Emerita of Interdisciplinary Studies, Regent College, Vancouver, B.C., Canada; Author, Gol

“After summiting Mt. Rainier, John Muir wrote to his wife, ‘I did not mean to climb it, but got excited and soon was on top.’ That's how I felt when I finished reading Faith and Other Flat Tires during a very busy week. Seldom have I been so touched by the truth and ache of a spiritual memoir. Andrea Palpant Dilley's writing is fresh and clean and direct---you will examine your own soul through hers.” -- Paul J. Willis, , author of Bright Shoots of Everlastingness: Essays on Faith and the American Wild

About the Author

Andrea Palpant Dilley grew up in Kenya as the daughter of Quaker missionaries and spent the rest of her childhood in the Pacific Northwest. Her work as a documentary producer has aired nationally on American Public Television. Her work as a writer has been published in Geez, Utne Reader and the anthology Jesus Girls: True Tales of Growing Up Female and Evangelical, as well as online with CNN, The Huffington Post, and Christianity Today. Her memoir, Faith and Other Flat Tires: Searching for God on the Rough Road of Doubt, tells the story of her faith journey. Andrea lives with her husband and their two daughters in Austin, Texas. For more information, visit www.andreapalpantdilley.com


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (February 25, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031032551X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310325512
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,236,974 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By W. Edwards on February 22, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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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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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.
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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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