Searching for Faith: A Skeptic's Journey

SKU: 1-932559-30-2

W. Ross Winterowd

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1-932559-30-2 (paperback; $19.95); © 2004 by Parlor Press. 189 pages with notes and bibliography

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1-932559-31-0 (cloth with dustjacket; $43.95) ISBN 1-932559-32-9 (Adobe eBook; $12.00)

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Faith is not rational, in the sense that through a chain of logic I can prove that my beliefs are true. However, it is not irrational to believe in an omniscient, omnipotent deity—though some of the conclusions based on that belief are clearly mad. I think—and I am not alone in this—that the quest for the ultimate, for the faith that there is a power of some kind controlling destiny—a final answer (perhaps never to be found)—is inevitably human. The person who denies that quest, or finds it “irrational,” silly, vain, and nugatory does not participate fully in the adventure that is humanity.
— W. Ross Winterowd


Searching for Faith: A Skeptic’s Journey is intended for the general reader. It is not a scholarly book; however, it is the result of a decades-long interest in how readers read and how texts convey their meaning, leavened by a very personal commitment to the quest for faith. It explores timely questions that must concern anyone who thinks about faith, particularly insofar as faith is based on the Bible.

Readers are invited to join the author in thinking about faith and the individual’s own history; the nature of prayer; the problems of reading scripture; the nature of sin and guilt; the apparently insuperable enigmas of the Bible; conceptions of God; the “messages” that the Bible conveys; and capitalism and Christianity.

Finally, Searching for Faith offers a view of faith based on the great poetic and pragmatic traditions of the United States: the philosophy of William James and John Dewey and the poetry of Walt Whitman and Wallace Stevens. Written in a graceful, accessible style, Searching for Faith is an introduction to faith that rational people can embrace.

About the Author

W. Ross Winterowd is the Bruce R. McElderry Professor Emeritus, University of Southern California. He has authored, co-authored, or edited 22 books, including The English Department: an Institutional and Personal History (1998), The Rhetoric of the "Other" Literature (1990), The Culture and Politics of Literacy (1989), The Contemporary Writer (3rd, 1989), Composition/Rhetoric: a Synthesis (1986), and Rhetoric and Writing (1965). He has also authored numerous essays, reviews, and poems appearing in such journals and magazines as College English, College Composition, and Communication, Journal of Advanced Composition, ADE Bulletin, Pre/Text, and Plainsongs. He planned and founded the influential doctoral program in Rhetoric, Linguistics, and Literature at the University of Southern California, where he directed the program for twelve years during its period of tremendous growth.


1 Prelude
2 Prayer
3 Seeking Faith: Scripture
4 Saint Augustine Learns to Read Scripture
5 Sin and Guilt
6 Augustine’s Sin
7 The Bible: The Enigmas
8 Conceiving God
9 God: The Message
10 Christianity and Capitalism
11 A Pragmatist’s Faith

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