Saturday, August 14, 2010
Losing My Religion (memoir)
Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America - and Found Unexpected Peace by William Lobdell
I came across this title purely by chance; I saw it on a friend's to-read list on goodreads.com. The title immediately struck a chord with me, as I've spent the last few years being somewhat preoccupied with having lost my religion (and faith) and trying to fit in in a community whose vast majority is made up of devout Christians. I wanted to read about someone else's experience going down the path of believer to non-believer.
The book didn't disappoint. In it, William Lobdell (who has a great blog) recounts how he became "born-again." Delving headlong into his new found faith, he prayed and prayed for a job covering the "religion beat" with the Los Angeles Times. After a number of years, his prayers are answered. But covering religious stories showed the author the ugly underbelly of organized religion - particularly in the Catholic church, but in all major religions as well - including horrific sexual abuse against children by the clergy and the church's not only covering up the crimes but vilifying the victims, mass abuse of donor funds, and fraudulent faith healers, among other things. Most of all, what Mr. Lobdell witnessed over time was the fact that the vast majority of people who profess to walk in the light of the Lord talk the talk but don't walk the walk. They don't regularly practice acts of Christian charity, tolerance and compassion, statistically they do not live morally superior lives to those of their unbelieving counterparts, they commit the same crimes of law, ethics, and morality, and they have the same struggles as everyone else. In other words, believing in God and professing to live according to the laws of the bible does not generally improve the quality of anyone's life; generally speaking, God is not making a difference in people's lives - not even devout Christians' lives - because God doesn't exist.
These observations finally led the author to the conclusion that there is no God, that God is only a myth and a fantasy created by people. At first the revelation is frightening and painful to him, but eventually he discovers a new found peace, knowing that this short life here on earth is our one and only shot, and we should make the most - and the best - of it.
Although my journey from belief to non-belief was far less dramatic than the author's, so much of what he lays out in this book resonates with me. This is a very compelling read, for believers and non-believers alike.
I read this on my iPad, so can't pass it along, but go buy yourself a copy!