Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Book review: "Losing My Religion"

There is a long tradition of spiritual autobiography. Until recently nearly all told a story of coming to God and faith. As his title implies, William Lobdell's Losing My Religion tells the reverse tale. Recently there have been a number of best-selling books promoting atheism or agnosticism and attacking the evils of religion (e.g. God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens). Lobdell's book is different. It is not a polemic but rather a remarkably honest story of his personal spiritual journey from faith to doubt to disbelief.

Lobdell spent many years as a religion reporter for the LA Times and Losing My Religion is the story of how his discovery of religion's unsavory underbelly made faith an impossibility. Reporting on sexually abusive Catholic priests, the bishops' cover-up, and charlatan TV evangelists take a collective toll on Lobdell's ability to either believe in the over-all value of religion or in the God religion claims to serve. With commendable frankness Lobdell details the step-by-step deterioration of his once-robust faith and church involvement.

Losing My Religion deserves a wide reading in the church as it asks all the awkward and uncomfortable questions that are often ignored but are usually just beneath the surface for even the most active members. With church membership falling steadily, Lobdell articulates what is undoubtedly an experience many people can appreciate today.

No comments: