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.
"You Need God"
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
By age 27, I had screwed up my life. I had married my volatile high school sweetheart five years earlier, mostly because it seemed easier than breaking up. When I left her, I didn't follow through with the divorce. Dealing with her in court would be messy, so I just bailed. In the meantime, I happily jumped into an adolescence delayed by my fidelity to the first girl I'd ever loved. Before long, I managed to get a girlfriend pregnant. I loved my newfound bachelorhood, and I was petrified by the prospect of another marriage and my first child (leaving aside the fact that my divorce to my first wife couldn't be finalized for at least six months).
I ran away as fast as I could, concluding that I had only a few months left in the wild before the baby arrived and a lifetime of ...
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).
Full Review (1148 words).
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 recent survey, while membership in most religious groups has fallen during the last two decades, 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 ...
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