William Lobdell's journey of faithand doubtmay be the most compelling spiritual memoir of our time. Lobdell became a born-again Christian in his late 20s when personal problemsincluding a failed marriagedrove him to his knees in prayer. As a newly minted evangelical, Lobdella veteran journalistnoticed that religion wasn't covered well in the mainstream media, and he prayed for the Lord to put him on the religion beat at a major newspaper. In 1998, his prayers were answered when the Los Angeles Times asked him to write about faith.
Yet what happened over the next eight years was a roller-coaster of inspiration, confusion, doubt, and soul-searching as his reporting and experiences slowly chipped away at his faith. While reporting on hundreds of stories, he witnessed a disturbing gap between the tenets of various religions and the behaviors of the faithful and their leaders. He investigated religious institutions that acted less ethically than corrupt Wall St. firms. He found few differences between the morals of Christians and atheists. As this evidence piled up, he started to fear that God didn't exist. He explored every doubt, every questionuntil, finally, his faith collapsed. After the paper agreed to reassign him, he wrote a personal essay in the summer of 2007 that became an international sensation for its honest exploration of doubt.
Losing My Religion is a book about life's deepest questions that speaks to everyone: Lobdell understands the longings and satisfactions of the faithful, as well as the unrelenting power of doubt. How he faced that power, and wrestled with it, is must reading for people of faith and nonbelievers alike.
One way I can tell whether a nonfiction book has met its goal is if, after finishing it, I want to call the author and invite him/her to lunch. I have to say that nothing would make me happier than spending a quiet spring afternoon sipping a nice sauvignon blanc and chatting with Bill Lobdell. I feel just that close to him. More than that, I feel we are kindred spirits; battered souls on a quest to make sense of a confusing world. Better yet, I think there are more people who have a lot more in common with Lobdell (if truth be told) than might be ready to admit it. Because who among us does not have a personal story of love gained and lost? And what is religion if not organized love targeted toward a spiritual entity? In view of that, who has sought enlightenment and something to believe – really believe – in, only to feel sand-bagged when the recipient of our faith turned out to have feet of clay? (Reviewed by Donna Chavez).
Los Angeles Times - Heather King
I understand that Lobdell's heart is broken, as all human hearts must be broken if for no other reason than that we must die. I sympathize down to the bone with his hunger for the world to be holy without quite being able to be holy himself. But I can't help wondering what would have happened had Lobdell stepped out of his journalist's role. I wonder if he would not have discovered that even the best of us contribute to the suffering of the world. I wonder if he would not have discovered that conflict, uncertainty, paradox, doubt are the beginning of faith, not the end of it. I wonder if he would not have realized that an anonymous author wrote a variation of this story 2,600 years ago -- about a man named Job.
Dallas News - Sam Hodges
Lobdell lost his religion but found a good story: his own. The modest, heartfelt way he tells it should win over many readers, including those praying for him.
Christian Science Monitor - Jane Lampman
In this soul-searching autobiography, Lobdell raises deeply significant issues about what constitutes a genuine Christian life. While others might find different answers to some of the challenges Lobdell recounts, it would be difficult to bring more integrity, modesty, and honesty to the struggle.
If Christians are no more ethical than atheists, why belong to a church? It's a curious utilitarian argument that sounds more like a rearview explanation than a revealing account of loss of faith.
Lobdell's heartfelt account is probably closer to the experience of many Americans whose doubts overwhelmed them, leading them - reluctantly and after much soul-searching - to disbelief.
It's not a cheerful conclusion, but Lobdell's honesty and self-effacement make it persuasive. An important wake-up call to people of faith.
Shelf Awareness, Harvey Freedenberg
This intellectually and spiritually challenging memoir leaves us with the distinct sense that Lobdell's intriguing journey is far from over.
Sex Abuse and the Catholic Church The tide of sexual abuse cases against Catholic Church officials took its toll on
William Lobdell, causing him to abandon his faith altogether. Surprisingly,
however, this may not be a widespread effect. According to a
while membership in most religious groups has fallen during the last two
the Catholic Church - whose halo was severely tarnished by the scandals - lost
fewer members than mainline Protestants* and Baptists.
The Church may not have suffered significant losses in the number of faithful
who call themselves Catholic but, almost a decade since news of that first
lawsuit hit the headlines, they are still being hit where it hurts - in the pocketbook. As Newsday
reporter Bart Jones
just recently, "In Los Angeles, the Roman Catholic archdiocese cut its central staff in half
and sold its 12-floor headquarters. In Tucson, the diocese sold 85 pieces of
property in the Arizona desert. In Davenport, Iowa, church officials posted a
'for sale' sign on the bishop's...
A portrait of the diversity of religion in modern America, complete with engaging characters, fascinating stories, the tragedy of misunderstanding and hatred, and the hope of new friendships, offering a road map to guide us all in the richly diverse America of the twenty-first century.
Hitchens frames the argument for a more secular life based on science and reason, in which hell is replaced by the Hubble Telescope's awesome view of the universe, and Moses and the burning bush give way to the beauty and symmetry of the double helix.
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