Patton Dodd grew up in a good Christian home with good Christian parents. But, like many other teenagers in good Christian homes, his adolescent years saw a certain falling away from the faith, not to mention indulgence in sex, drugs, and rock & roll.
In his senior year of high school, through the ministrations of his older sister, Dodd found himself attending a charismatic megachurch ("The exterior of the church looks like a Wal-Mart with half a paint job: a blue-and-light-blue concrete box surrounded by acres of parking"), and there, one Sunday, he answered an altar call. He confessed his sins; prayed with a tan, mustachioed pastor; and signed an informational card where he indicated he wanted to "accept salvation" and "renew my commitment to Jesus Christ."
Then Dodd walked out of the church, ready "to begin my life anew. Voila."
If this were an evangelical book of the old school, the altar call would come in the penultimate chapter, or perhaps even the last chapter. But Dodd's altar call is the beginning, not the climax, of this wonderful, rollicking memoir, and Dodd recounts his conversion in chapter one. There's some backsliding, and a lot more pot-smoking, and a good measure of existential angst before the story's through.
My Faith So Far is not just a spiritual memoir, charting the interior life of one pilgrim. It is also cultural commentary, with Dodd navigating the twists and turns of the evangelical subculture. Dodd dissects the social landscape of the megachurchjust as there are cliques in the high-school cafeteria, here too are preppies, granolas, punkers, all of whom happen to be baptized. He invites readers to peek in on his quiet time. And he leads us through the wacky world of contemporary Christian music, ...1
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