Lori West Peterson

(For a complete story of my testimony, please refer to my book chapter: "From Agnostic to Evangelical: How an Unlikely Conversion Birthed a Unique Convergence," In R. Ashton and D. Denton (Eds.), Spirituality, Ethnography and Teaching: Stories from Within. Peter Lang Publishers. 2006.) To begin at the beginning: I was adopted as a baby in 1966, and raised as an only-child, in a nice, middle-class Catholic home. I knew Jesus as a child and received the sacraments of baptism, first communion, and confirmation in the Catholic church. As a teen, I went through a typical rebellion, which (among other things!) included eschewing my parents' faith for what I thought were more `cool' beliefs. Basically, I would believe anything as long as it wasn't related to Catholicism! But, I was especially drawn to the mystical & metaphysical, and topics like reincarnation, astrology, tarot cards, etc. When I was an undergrad I found a home of like-minded people at the Unity Church. However, graduate school succeeded in turning me into an even more skeptical postmodernist. By the time I landed my first faculty position at the University of Tulsa in 1995, I was sitting "in the seat of scoffers" (Psalm 1:1) and was a self-confessed agnostic. Before long I joined the local Unitarian-Universalist congregation (along with most of the other University faculty). BUT...there is where things got interesting...and I LOVE telling people that I was "saved" in the Unitarian Church! After a series of life-events, including a near-death experience after giving birth to my twin daughters (which precipitated a bout with terrifying panic attacks), I found myself seated in a pew at the Unitarian Church listening to a memorial service for a young colleague who had lost a short battle with cancer. I became panicked as the minister read my colleague's vita and never once mentioned God, an afterlife, heaven (or, even reincarnation, for that matter!). I left the church that cold, rainy day resolved that I did NOT want to be remembered like that. I went home, dusted off my Bible, and randomly opened to the Book of Ecclesiastes where 12:11b-12 jumped out at me: "...like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings that are given by one Shepherd. Of anything beyond this, my child, beware. Of making many books there is no end and much study is a weariness of the flesh." So, in my desperate weariness, I called my good friend back home in Florida who I had always chided for being a Bible-believing Christian--and I told her I wanted to become a Christian! At my friend's suggestion, I enrolled in Bible Study Fellowship (BSF International ) where I began to delve deeply into God's Word. Now, two decades later, I am still in BSF and have held several leadership positions therein. Perhaps the most wonderful display of God's grace is that I was saved in time to raise my children in a Christian home.

My Life

Favorite Quote

While some academics can make the simplest ideas seem confusing, I strive to make confusing ideas seem simple!

My hobbies

Interior decorating; thrift stores; working out; still being mom to my 3 adult kids!

Fantasy dinner guests

Queen Vashti and all the other cool, feminist women in the Bible. (Jesus is a given!).

My undergrad alma mater

University of South Florida

My worst subject in school


In college I drove

Beat-up Ford Mustang

If I weren't a professor, I would

be an Interior Designer or freelance writer

Favorite books

Well...of course, the Bible, (I like the NRSV, NASB, and the Message); I also enjoy biblical fiction like Diamant's

Favorite movies

Gone with the Wind; Amelie; Fried Green Tomatoes; and many others...

Favorite city

Paris, France; Angers, France

Favorite coffee

I'm a coffee snob and grind my own beans...lots of cream & stevia

Nobody knows I

have a tattoo!

My latest accomplishment

Completed third semester-long study-abroad at our partner university in France. Have also taught at Asia Pacific University in Beppu, Japan

Current Research

"Narrating Midlife: Crisis, Transition, and Transformation" (Peterson, L.W. & Kiesinger, C.E.) (Eds.) . Forthcoming by Lexington Press.