July 27, 2009

Losing My Religion

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This may sound odd coming from someone who blogs about religion: I don't like books about religion.

The scholarly books tend to be dry. The books that try to prove God exists don't prove anything. And I know all the atheist arguments.

I enjoy reading about the history of religion and newspaper articles about religion. I just want the facts.

Losing My Religion by William Lobdell is different. Lobdell is a former religion reporter for The Los Angeles Times. So the writing won't put you to sleep. In a nutshell, he chronicles his journey from not being religious, to being born again, to losing his faith. It is almost a psychological analysis of someone falling into and out of religion.

As I suspect is common in a lot of cases, Lobdell was at a low point in his life when he started going to church on a friend's suggestion. This lead to a born-again experience at an all-men's weekend religious retreat. His belief in Christianity was later re-enforced by fortuitous events in his life that Lobdell attributed to prayer.

Lobdell's fall from grace came because of his profession. About three years into his beat as a religion reporter, the Catholic priest pedophile scandal broke in Los Angeles. The denial, the lies, the cover-ups and the slandering of the victims by the church hierarchy led to Lobdell's crisis of faith. As New York Times reviewer Mark Oppenheimer put it: "School systems and Little Leagues don’t defend molesters as tenaciously as the Catholic Church did." (In an odd twist, Lobdell was studying to convert to Catholicism while covering the scandal).

Lobdell's falling out with Catholicism led him to look at other religions and eventually to a re-evaluation of his deeply held belief in Christianity.

If you don't have time for the book, read his 2007 LA Times article about losing his religion.

If you really, really don't have time listen to his 2007 NPR interview about the article.

If you buy the book (or better yet get it from the library), at least read chapter nine about Mormonism. In looking at things that could be easily disproved about Mormonism (such as DNA evidence that Native Americans really come from Asia, and not from the Middle East as Mormons believe), he came to realize that Mormonism is no odder than traditional Christianity.

Here is William Lobdell's website.

Click here for the full New York Times review of his book.

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1 comment:

Lucy@zocalopublicsquare.org said...

Check out today's front page article from LA web magazine, Zócalo Public Square, titled "Losing My Religion: Confessions of a Guatemalan Mormon Who Grew Up in the Hood". Zócalo intern, Brenda Yancor, describes her courageous religious resignation: http://zocalopublicsquare.org/thepublicsquare/2011/08/31/losing-my-religion/read/apostasies/