Five Spiritual Memoirs of Losing Faith and the Search to Find it Again

If you’re someone who’s struggled with your faith background, or know someone who has struggled,  you will find some good companions in these books.

I own at least thirty memoirs by writers who have wanted to document their struggle to stay engaged in the religion of their childhood but had to find a new path of some kind. Interestingly, a lot of the covers of such books include pictures of the authors as children. It’s evidence that our early upbringing, our first experiences with faith, have a life-long impact. Those experiences become your first language of faith, through which you learn any other language. Throughout life, you’ll always be able to trace a line back to those early moments when you first said yes to God and religion. I’ve collected these books over the years, and still do, as I’ve tried to be a good student to the personal journey of faith, and these books are one incredible way to learn about the journey. The below grouping are memoirs that, once I read them, I couldn’t forget them. Most of these have been around for quite some time, but that’s because they are the ones that remain as examples of what happens when we lose faith, and then perhaps find it again, or sometimes not at all. The stories relayed are sometimes typical, other times quite harrowing (be warned), but each of these writers somehow capture the poignancy of their journey. They include what we often miss in faith in the US: a sense of sadness, of loss, and the steps we take forward after a loss. If you’re someone who’s struggled with your faith background, or know someone who has struggled,  you will find some good companions in these books. Or if you’re someone looking to understand how we might better create a shared faith community in a way that’s healthy and life-giving, these books will offer clues. We live in a time when a lot of us are losing our connection to our communities. We don’t know what to do, and there aren't easy answers. But I do know there’s always hope. This might sound glib, but there is much good that comes from change. These books can help chart the way. And if there's one not here that you've always liked, please let me know below.

The House Where the Hardest Things Happened: A Memoir about Belonging Kate Young Caley, Doulbeday, 2002.

Fleeing Fundamentalism: A Minister's Wife Examines Faith Carlene Cross, Algonquin, 2006.

Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith Barbara Brown Taylor, HarperOne, 2006

Growing Pains: Learning to Love My Father's Faith Randall Balmer, Brazos Press, 2001.

Home Is Always the Place You Just Left: A Memoir of Restless Longing and Persistant Grace Betty Smart Carter, Paraclete Press, 2003.

David R. Morris

I'm a husband, dad, accomplished publishing executive, and a long-time student of the personal journey of faith in the United States. This journey has informed and shaped what I’ve been able to do and be in all areas of my life . . . .

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© 2020 by David R. Morris