, by Andrea Palpant Dilley, ’00
Forrest Baird, Whitworth Professor of Philosophy (Amazon.com review):
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. 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!
F. Dale Bruner, Whitworth Theology Professor Emeritus (book endorsement):
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.
Linda Hunt, '78, Whitworth English Professor Emeritus (Amazon.com review):
For other young adults filled with thoughtful and compelling questions about faith and doubt, Andrea Palpant Dilley's first book will feel like fresh air. She recalls vivid tales of growing up as a young child in Africa in a medical missionary family, her sense of awkward displacement returning to American suburban life, countered by positive experiences in a healthy church community during adolescence. These provide the contrasting backdrop for her twenties, when doubts rage. She wrestles with all she's been taught to believe, with candor and keen intelligence. Chapters, with titles such as "Why Can't God Be More Like Eric Clapton?" raise the significant theological questions that trouble her, like the silence of God. Her story also illustrates how important mentors prove to be. Through them, she recognizes not only the suffering in the world, but the goodness she sees and experiences. Without needing complete answers to her questions, one senses she is a pilgrim on a living adventure of faith. I suspect this will be the first of many books from an exceptional writer.