Faith and Other Flat Tires is actually a book I had difficulty putting down. Ms. Dilley’s story of doubt and struggle was deep and personal, and she doesn’t hold much back in terms of honest struggle in her writing. She makes mention often of Pilgrim’s Progress by Bunyan, even naming the eight stages of her journey to coincide with the stages of Pilgrim’s journey in Bunyan’s work. The book focuses primarily on the struggles she has with God in general and Christianity in particular, with raw and honest story-telling from her own life. I found her story captivating and intriguing, truly difficult to put down.
She does a fantastic job of identifying her faith struggles and in explaining how some of her actions related to these larger issues – something many people can’t seem to grasp (that idea that our day to day decisions are often the result of deeper conflicts within us). She spends the majority of the book sharing what her life was like as she went through her rebellious (for lack of a better term), or searching, stage in life. This part of the book was magnificently written, offering a glimpse into the life of someone who not only struggled with her childhood faith but also with wanting to resolve that struggle.
My difficulty with the book comes in the fact that I wanted a much clearer resolution, but one was not given. Without giving away the book I’ll just say that I saw less of a change in belief and more of a change in action as I progressed through the book. Perhaps it is just me, but I wanted to see how she answered the questions she was raising throughout the book – at least in a deeper way than she did. It’s not that I disagreed with her answers (because it’s not my place here to agree or disagree with them, so I’ll hold those opinions to myself), it’s just that I found her answers somewhat shallow for someone who demonstrated such depth of thought in her questions.
Overall, the book was enjoyable to read and it was refreshing to read the honest reflection of someone as they struggle with their faith. Too often in Christian circles we tend to hide behind an image that “we have it all together” and, by-and-large, Christians are unwilling to share their struggles and doubts with others. But doubt is part of the Christian walk (faith, by it’s nature, requires us to believe in something we naturally will doubt), and to see this doubt expressed so clearly in this book is a refreshing change from what I find in most Christian writing. In this respect I compare her writing content with Phillip Yancey’s, though the book is much easier to read (and does not require the concentration or reflection) than Yancey’s work. I’ll give the book 3.5/5 stars and would recommend it for anyone who doubts and is looking for a fellow traveler along the way. Just don’t limit your reading to this memoir because I’m not sure you’ll find the resolution you are looking for (or need). The book would also be a great gift to a friend or family member who struggles with doubt – or even wandering after becoming saved.
For the record, I received a free copy of the book from the publisher for an honest, though not necessarily favorable, review. For a free sample of the beginning chapter or two, please click here. I also have one free copy of the book to give away (no, not the one I read, a second copy given to me to award to a reader of my blog!). To be eligible to receive this copy you need to post a comment to this review and tell me the story of one of your faith struggles, or the struggle of a friend or family member you’d like to give the book to as a gift, and what you hope to find by reading the book (or hope your friend/family member finds) – as short or long as you like. I’ll accept posts and responses throughout the month of July, which means that all responses submitted prior to July 31, 2012 at 11:59pm will be eligible. After reading through them I’ll select one (solely at my discretion) and contact that person via email (so please make sure you include your email when asked so I can contact you if you’re the winner. I’ll post the name of the winner in early August.