Reviews of Losing My Religion by William Lobdell

Losing My Religion

How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America—and Found Unexpected Peace

by William Lobdell

Losing My Religion by William Lobdell X
Losing My Religion by William Lobdell
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Mar 2009, 304 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

William Lobdell's journey of faith—and doubt—may be the most compelling spiritual memoir of our time. It 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.

William Lobdell's journey of faith—and doubt—may be the most compelling spiritual memoir of our time. Lobdell became a born-again Christian in his late 20s when personal problems—including a failed marriage—drove him to his knees in prayer. As a newly minted evangelical, Lobdell—a veteran journalist—noticed 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 question—until, 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.

Chapter One
"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."
—Jeremiah 29:11

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 ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

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?..continued

Full Review (814 words).

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

(Reviewed by Donna Chavez).

Media Reviews

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.

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.

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.

Kirkus Reviews
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.

Library Journal
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.

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.

Publishers Weekly
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.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

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 Newsday reporter Bart Jones ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Read-alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Losing My Religion, try these:

  • Agnostic jacket

    Agnostic

    by Lesley Hazleton

    Published 2017

    About this book

    More by this author

    A widely admired writer on religion celebrates agnosticism as the most vibrant, engaging - and ultimately the most honest - stance toward the mysteries of existence.

  • God Is Not Great jacket

    God Is Not Great

    by Christopher Hitchens

    Published 2009

    About this book

    More by this author

    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.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search read-alikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

and discover exceptional books
for just $3.75 per month.

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Poet's House
    The Poet's House
    by Jean Thompson
    Seasoned author Jean Thompson's previous novels include A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl, The Humanity...
  • Book Jacket
    Some of It Was Real
    by Nan Fischer
    Nan Fischer is an Oregon Book Award finalist for her previous novels When Elephants Fly and The ...
  • Book Jacket: The Most Precious Substance on Earth
    The Most Precious Substance on Earth
    by Shashi Bhat
    Think of all the worst parts of puberty — all the moments you partially miss or brood about ...
  • Book Jacket
    Lightning Strike
    by William Kent Krueger
    It is the summer of 1963 in Tamarack County, Minnesota. Just outside the small town of Aurora, ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
Oh William!
by Elizabeth Strout
Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout explores the mysteries of marriage and the secrets we keep.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Dirt Creek
    by Hayley Scrivenor

    "A heart-wrenching mystery, Scrivenor's remarkable sense of place brings Dirt Creek to life. A stellar debut."
    —Jane Harper,

  • Book Jacket

    Widowland
    by C. J. Carey

    A thrilling feminist dystopian novel set in an alternate 1950s Britain under the control of the Third Reich.

Who Said...

The dirtiest book of all is the expurgated book

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

I Wishes W H B W R

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.