O Me of Little Faith

O Me of Little Faith

18 True Confessions About My True Confessions

I have posted real-life confessions in the past on this blog. Actually, several times. But you’d be surprised. I’m not some serial confessor in real life — I don’t just start admitting to things in face-to-face situations — but when I’m typing this stuff just comes out. Something is wrong with me.

So because this is the official release week for O Me of Little Faith: True Confessions of a Spiritual Weakling, I figured that I should celebrate with another round of confessions (mostly) related to the contents of the book.


Here they are:

1. Some people have spoken or written about OMOLF as if, finally, I had written a real book. Oh. Thanks. I’m not sure how to take this backhanded whatever-it-is, because let me tell you: the Pocket Guides were WAY harder to write and research than this one. I get a little defensive.

2. In some ways, OMOLF feels like my first real book.

3. In certain other ways, OMOLF sounds like a dirty acronym.

4. In chapter 5 (“Reverse Bricklaying”), I tell a story that only three people in the world knew about. Literally. And one of them is my wife. That’s the most vulnerable I’ve felt in print. Even more vulnerable than the start of the book when I admit that, on some days, I’m not sure I believe in God.


5. I love footnotes, because I think they have the potential to insert a lot of humor into the book without getting in the way of the content or narrative flow. My favorite footnote is #11 in chapter 2. The one about the preferred spelling of Occam’s Razor. If my arms were long enough, I would still be patting myself on the back for that one.

6. How to tell if you’re a history/theology nerd: you are unreasonably proud of a joke you made about Occam’s Razor. For crying out loud.

7. In the 8th grade, I once killed a hobo on a dare.


8. Chapter 6 is titled “Insanity at 900 Feet.” This is in reference to an illustration that opens the chapter. It’s related to a thrill ride atop the Stratosphere in Las Vegas, and introduces some thoughts about context and doubt. But in the first draft, the chapter was titled “Ravaging the Fetal Pig” and opened with a completely different story about when I had to dissect a fetal pig in biology class. It’s a horrible little anecdote, and a couple of my early readers told me that the story wasn’t necessary. It wasn’t adding anything to the chapter, and it was mostly kind of disgusting. I realized that I probably wanted to tell that story simply because I liked the phrase “Ravaging the Fetal Pig” and thought it would make a provocative chapter title. So I wedged it into my book outline. How dumb. After a lot of deliberation, I scrapped the pig metaphor completely, replaced it with the Insanity one, and retitled the chapter. This was a very good decision.


9. No, I won’t tell you the fetal pig story.

10. Number 7 is a lie, just in case my friends in law enforcement are reading this.

11. Number 7 is also a theft, but one made in honor of my friend Shuey.

12. On p. 83, in a jokey footnote, I connected atheists with Satanists in a thoughtless and unfortunate way. This was a poor decision, and friendly atheist (and OMOLF endorser) Hemant Mehta called me on it. He’s right. Not a good joke, and definitely a regrettable juxtaposition. I should show more respect to atheists than that, and I am totally serious.


13. There are religious people who will think I’m an idiot for the apology I just made in #12 because who cares if atheists get offended anyway? You know what? I care. I confess to having a bad attitude about the kinds of religious people who would say that.

14. When I talk to other writers about how to use blogs and social media to build an audience, I always tell them that they can’t only use it to promote themselves and their books all the time. They have to balance it out with thoughtful content and meaningful interaction and generosity toward others. Without this balance, it’s like being the guy at the cocktail party who wont stop talking about himself or his business, and no one wants to hang around that guy any longer than necessary. Yet in the weeks surrounding a book release — like these last few days — I feel like a total hypocrite, because I am recklessly ignoring my own rules and shilling all the live long day for my own book. I’m one of those sketchy kids selling magazines door-to-door so they can win a trip. Quit bothering me, kid.


15. It didn’t occur to me until the second draft of the book that my middle name, Thomas, was the same name as the Bible’s most famous doubter. Duh. My brother reminded me, so I worked it into the first chapter. How did I miss that?

16. My editor and I both worried that the long section on Zoroastrianism (and its relationship to the Christian doctrine of hell) that ends chapter 6 was too theologically and historically dense and might be a turn-off to casual readers. But we couldn’t figure out a way to get through that stuff more succinctly. So we just left it in. I’m glad we did — all that “evolution of hell” stuff remains a major stumbling block for my faith — but I still worry about how much real estate it takes up in the book.


17. I was weirdly enthused that I found a way in OMOLF to mention Mictlantecuhtli, the skeletal ruler of the Aztec underworld (p. 145). I love his name. In fact, I may try to insert his name into all my books from now on, like how Alfred Hitchcock made a winking cameo appearance in most of his films. Only instead of inserting myself into the narrative, I’ll insert a blood-spattered death deity who wears a necklace made out of human eyeballs.

18. I have no right to compare myself to Alfred Hitchcock. Forgive me.



Now it’s your turn. Confess your own sins, failures, and annoying hang-ups in the comments. I’ll randomly select one commenter to receive a free copy of O Me of Little Faith.

Comments read comments(18)
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Nathan Reimer

posted May 4, 2010 at 8:05 am

You almost had me at #7. I was seriously concerned and almost unsubscribed/unfollowed on the spot. Fortunately, I gained my composure and kept reading.Thanks for being so open with all of us. I'm quite reserved most of the time and find it hard to truly express my feelings. More times than not it causes strain in my personal relationships. I'm working on it.

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shawn smucker

posted May 4, 2010 at 8:07 am

confession #1 – i spent about thirty minutes trying to figure out a way to use OMOLF as one of these internet LOL thingies. i am going to start to use it when i want to say "on my own, laughing fiercely." the fact that this took me 30 minutes to come up with is my confession.confession #2 – i recently told my 5 year old daughter "please stop picking your nose." she gave me a certain look, which prompted me to respond, "i know, lucy, we BOTH have to work on that"

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posted May 4, 2010 at 8:09 am

Consider this a confession in advance – I am stealing the name "Ravaging the Fetal Pig" for the name of my yet to be formed death metal band

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Ken Summerlin

posted May 4, 2010 at 8:31 am

My confession: I have "blog envy".

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posted May 4, 2010 at 9:14 am

I have an atheist friend who teaches her children not to say "oh my God" because it is disrespectful to people who believe. We should all have that kind of respect- I think would be a lot more willing to hear us out if they felt like we had a basic level of respect for them.

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posted May 4, 2010 at 11:17 am

I often comment just to get attention.-Marshall Jones Jr.

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posted May 4, 2010 at 11:34 am

Regarding #12; my only thought while reading was that generally, in most organizations the IT department gets the praise/wrath for working/broken things.As for Satanist meetings, it would probably depend if they were Theistic Satanists (a religion) or Atheistic Satanists (a philosophy).Confession… during my hobo years, I almost got killed by an 8th-grader.

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Tess Mallory

posted May 4, 2010 at 11:35 am

Hey JB! So thrilled to see OMOLF out on the streets! Soon people will only be able to get them off the black market because all legitimate copies will have been snapped up! :) Sorry about the "real book" comments. As a romance author, I can relate. Someday, I too hope to write a "real book". In the meantime, don't get defensive, just turn around and say "And how many 'real books' have YOU written, Mr (or Miss) Smarty Pants?" That gets them every time. I confess that I am afraid I have totally started my own blog off on the wrong foot and so am sitting quietly, not writing on it, trying to figure out where I went wrong. Perhaps I did not confess enough. Perhaps I confessed too much. Perhaps I confessed the wrong things. I'm not sure, but I got my free copy of the actual (not just the ARC) of OMOLF and will just have to read it again and get inspired on my confessing. Last confession: I tried to come up with real words for the acronym of OMOLF and the first one was dirty. Hey, you came up with the acronym, so it is partly you're fault. About the hobo and the pig. Title for next book. The Hobo and the Pig. or The Hobo and Fetal Pig I Killed. But that would make the acronym THAFPIK which is actually kind of cool. Sorry — I am awaiting word on how my dear cousin's surgery went. When I get nervous I start blathering. Best of luck, Jason, with OMOLF!!

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Tess Mallory

posted May 4, 2010 at 11:38 am

Final Confession: In my comment above, I mispelled YOUR !!!!!!! Okay, that's the end of my career right there. And last week I spelled "hear" as "here". I am losing my mind. Please ignore. P.S. And not to use this site as a prayer chain, but if anyone is so inclined, please say a prayer for my cousin who has cancer and having surgery today. Thanks!

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Tess Mallory

posted May 4, 2010 at 11:46 am

One more thing — please STOP FEELING GUILTY for promoting your book! You aren't doing it in an egotistical way or in a way that makes people hate you. :) And as an author, if you don't promote your book, I promise, no one will! I hereby GIVE YOU THE FREEDOM to promote your book WITHOUT GUILT! You didn't know I had the authority to do that, did you? Well I do. So there.

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posted May 4, 2010 at 11:46 am

Two Confessions -I did a half marathon on accident and it wasn't that hard at all. So when people do one on purpose and act like it's amazing, I always congratulate them and try to be supportive but really I'm thinking that it's not that big of a deal.I hate talking about labor & delivery, pregnancy and nursing. I feel like the other moms at playgroup want to talk about this exclusively. It annoys me.

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Ryan Paige

posted May 4, 2010 at 2:14 pm

"In the meantime, don't get defensive, just turn around and say "And how many 'real books' have YOU written, Mr (or Miss) Smarty Pants?" That gets them every time. "Unless you're talking to Stephen King.

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John Armstrong

posted May 5, 2010 at 9:14 am

My confession . . . I leave comments on blogs just to win free books. It is a book I am really looking forward to reading though. And I also wish I could sing like Mac Powell.

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Jeff Chapman

posted May 5, 2010 at 1:03 pm

I confess that the hobo murder caused me to pause for a moment but I thought better of you and assumed you meant a hobo spider. Those are nasty looking creatures. I also confess that I only leave comments on your blog with the hope that your visitors will then stumble onto my blog. (I'm only doing what you told me to do at FFW.)

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