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My Faith So Far: A Story of Conversion and Confusion

My Faith So Far: A Story of Conversion and Confusion

Patton Dodd

ISBN: 978-0-787-99788-5

Jun 2007, Jossey-Bass

208 pages

Select type: E-Book



In this frank, funny, and often challenging memoir about life in and out of the church, twenty-something Patton Dodd reveals his quest for an authentic experience of God. On his journey he attempts to pinpoint and justify his belief in God, first with the fervent absolutes that characterize a new believer’s faith but then with a growing awareness of the cultural complexities that define his faith and encompass his understanding of Christianity. 

When a spiritual awakening in his last year of high school wrenches Dodd out of his rebellious party days, he embarks on a quest for God. He exchanges pot smoking for worship dancing, gives up MTV for Christian pop, and enrolls at a Christian university. Soon, however, he finds himself ill at ease with the other Christians around him and with the cloying superficiality of the Christian subculture. Dodd tells his story in contradictory terms—conversion and confusion, acceptance and rejection, spiritual highs and psychological lows. With painstaking honesty, he tries to negotiate a relationship with his faith apart from the cultural trappings that often clothe it. 

Dodd’s moving story paints a nuanced and multilayered portrait of an earnest quest for God: the hunger for genuine faith, the bleak encounters with doubt, and the consuming questions that challenge the intellect and the soul. This is a story that will resonate with the emerging generation of young adults attempting to break new ground within their own faith tradition.

Prologue: Throat Clearing—The Who and the What and the Why.

1. Conversion, As Best As I Remember It.

2. God’s Music.

3. The Spiritual Exercises.

4. Megachurch, Megafaith.

5. Go Ye Therefore.

6. The Categorical Imperative(s).

7. The God Who Is Where?

8. Charismania.

9. The Fall(out) of the Holy Spirit.

10. Arrested Development.

Epilogue: The Never-Ending Story.


The Author.

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. (Nov.) (Publishers Weekly, October 11, 2004)