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Letting Go of God

139 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


FINDING GOD'S FUNNY BONE By Rob Kendt Religion is just too easy a target for mockery. Seen from the outside, any supernatural belief system can seem absurd. You drink your God's blood? You could be a gnat in your next life? You can't eat what? Which is why Julia Sweeney's brave, hilarious, ultimately moving new solo show "Letting Go of God" is a gale-force breath of fresh air, into the mostly politic dialogue about religion in our time which liberals of every faith have largely ceded to fired-up fundamentalists. The humbly sage Sweeney has needling questions that can't be swatted away with the laughing, lukewarm tolerance we typically afford faith-based humor, as if to say: Gosh, people believe funny things, but don't we all? We shouldn't laugh so dismissively, Sweeney insists, at others' beliefs or our own assumptions. While she scores some easy, flawlessly deadpan laughs at the expense of Mormonism, Deepak Chopra, astrology and Catholicism, the tradition she says she was happily raised in, she is after much bigger game than cheap disdain. As she says to an imaginary God she's at last parting with near show's end: "It's because I take you so seriously that I can't bring myself to believe in you." Looking very at home with herself, on a set dressed like a study rife with religious books and artifacts, Sweeney delivers her monologue with her trademark blend of ironic confidentiality and best-friend candor. Believers of all stripes and intensities, as well as nonbelievers who may scoff a little too facilely, will be challenged and disarmed with stick-in-your-throat laughter by Sweeney's utterly uncynical, blisteringly honest testimony. --The Los Angeles Times (this review if for the stage show)

ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT'S ME, JULIA Sweeney lets go of the Lord and takes hold of the world By PATRICK CORCORAN While Bill O Reilly and his fellow right-wing bully boys were busy defending Christmas against the creeping secular threat to Western civilization by saying Happy Holidays, they should have taken a side trip to Hollywood, where a self-deprecating Irish former Catholic has been happily demolishing the entire edifice of Christianity. In Julia Sweeney s monologue Letting Go of God, her particular crisis of faith is prompted, paradoxically, by two Mormon missionaries, who bring her up short with the question Do you know that God loves you? She d always felt God s love, she tells us, but the query prompts her to explore for the first time, rationally, what she knows about God. Naturally, she heads to the source, the Bible, and that s where the trouble starts. Rather than being an inspiring document of God s love and a blueprint for a holy life, the Bible she discovers is an internally inconsistent, blood- and depravity-soaked indictment of a vengeful, jealous tribal madman. As poetry, it s a psychedelic nightmare; as philosophy, it s an incoherent mess; as the literal word of God, it contradicts itself about the origin of Adam and Eve in the first two chapters of Genesis. Sweeney s priest tries to guide her, but the answer always comes down to faith. Religious historian Karen Armstrong advises in her writing that the Bible isn t literally true, but is psychologically true. So are The Iliad and The Odyssey, or any number of foundational myths, Sweeney argues. What makes this one true? Wherever she turns, she s advised to ignore what s before her eyes, or to see it through faith. Here is Sweeney s great rebellion: She simply cannot accept short-circuiting her reason in order to believe. As poignant as her quest is, it s mercifully filtered through her neighborly, self-effacing charm. She finances a spiritual trip to Nepal through the humiliating experience of filming the straight-to-video sequels Beethoven 3 and 4 I hate to wave my credits around. She explores self-pleasuring as a teen under the dreamy gaze of a matinee-idol portrait of a blue-eyed Jesus. She does a wicked Hayley Mills imitation. Her family is a source of warmth and trepidation. She tells her mother she s been reading the Bible, and the unexpected response is, Why on Earth would you do that? When Sweeney informs her she doesn t believe in God anymore, Mom wants assurance Julia s not leaving the church. Her father wishes she had instead announced she was gay: At least that s socially acceptable. But acceptance, if not understanding, does come. The moments Sweeney chooses to dramatize are the highlights of the piece, no matter how short. The tight-lipped disapproval of church busybodies at her father s funeral suggest entire worlds in a few deft strokes. Whether skewering Deepak Chopra in a phrase that ought to be stitched onto a pillow, imagining a public apology (for pretty much everything) from the Pope, or ripping up the intellectual sloppiness of intelligent design compromisers, her sweet-faced air of being constantly on the verge of public embarrassment takes the edge off material that s profoundly challenging to a vast majority of her fellow citizens. But, most of all, Sweeney is gently hopeful. Looking into the howling abyss, she feels, not despair, but wonder. Lacking a God to seek out to heal the world s ills, she feels a sense of responsibility. It s our world, and welcome to it. --Los Angeles City Beat (this review is for the stage show)

About the Actor

Julia Sweeney is best known for being a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1989 to 1994, and for her popular character, Pat. She is also known for her other monologues, all of which she has performed in Los Angeles and New York: God Said Ha!; (which was made into a film) and & In The Family Way; (which is available on CD.)

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Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Julia Sweeney
  • Directors: Julia Sweeney
  • Format: Multiple Formats, NTSC, Surround Sound
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Studio: Indefatigable, Inc.
  • DVD Release Date: November 21, 2008
  • Run Time: 130 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (139 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001J21JRQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,697 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Letting Go of God" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

93 of 101 people found the following review helpful By S. W. Helms on December 14, 2008
Format: DVD
I've watched this amazing show evolve over the years from a "work in progress" presented as "The God Monologue" to the Skeptics Society, to a one-woman show on the stage, to an audio book, and now culminating in a well honed DVD. There's a reason Julia Sweeney has received such praise from people like Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher short, this is a work of sheer comedic genius! The woman has a savant-like ability to find the humor in pain and tragedy (e.g., "God Said, Ha!"), and she's done it again in "Letting Go of God."

Who else could take a personal journey of becoming an Atheist (which required the painful realization that there is no god, no afterlife, no heaven, no family members waiting on the Other Side, etc.) and make it into a side-splittingly funny monologue?! My favorite part is young Julia's outrage at learning about the "Age of Reason" (the age at which Catholics believe god begins keeping track of your sins) only AFTER she was 7 and her grace period was over! Hilarious! And although her journey began with Catholicism (and Catholics will laugh the hardest!), it's a story we can all relate to in our struggles with life's big questions.

Whether you're a Believer, an Atheist, a Humanist, or just someone who hasn't really thought about it, this DVD will pull at your heart strings, make you pee your pants laughing, and best of all, make you THINK.
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49 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Was2Be on December 2, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a very well done show. While not spectacular in terms of cinematography, or even production, what is really impressive is the writing/organization of the soliloquy. It's dense, yet understandable, it's funny, and it's educational. Definitely thought provoking. Julia Sweeney gets a bit melodramatic at times, but does a excellent job of conveying her sincerity and portraying the honest conflict in herself as she experienced it originally (as opposed to reminiscing about it from the point of view of her current "self"). This comes across better in this video version than from the audio-only version: Letting Go of God. Julia can really draw the audience in. And all of this is especially impressive because it was filmed "live" during a single performance. This is a very moving story that will stimulate a lot of thought and conversation.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By William F Harrison on May 31, 2009
Format: DVD
I never heard of Julia Sweeney until I was introduced to her story yesterday afternoon. Living here in Arkansas, truly "God's Country", one doesn't get much of an opportunity to hear sermons like her's very often. I frequently have been disappointed in the stridance of the voices of many other atheists. Having lost my faith in god at a much younger age than Ms, Sweeney, I remember exactly how painful it was to eventually throw away that tradition. Like Julia's experience, my loss of faith came about from reading the Bible. At age 12, my mother had her children still at home, read the sermon on the mount for 30 days. After this exercise, I thought like the good little Methodist boy I was, "this is the word of God. I should not only read these 3 chapters, I should read the entire bible and remember every word in it." So the following night, I started at Genesis and eventially ended at the last word of Revelation. And then, because I was so shocked by what I had just read, I did it again. At the end of that exploration of "God's" universe, I had no idea what I was, or what I belived in, I just knew that the God of the Bible was not any sort of God that I wanted or could believe in. Like Julia, I prayed many a night to have my faith returned to me.

Her story is sometimes excruciatingly funny, sometimes tearup sad. But it is never for even one second boring or embarrassing or insulting. It is always respectful and loving, Never snarky, even when she is speaking of snarky priests and nuns. It is a wonderful piece of work. I am inviting a group of friends, some still religious, most not, over to watch and discuss as soon as I get the DVD.
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46 of 50 people found the following review helpful By P. J. Sander on November 7, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I saw the stage show as it was being filmed for this DVD. Ms. Sweeney's insightful, mildly irreverent look at religion in her life, as well as world religions, allows the audience to question what beliefs they may have as they enjoy the humor from her life. To say, "I laughed, I cried," would be a cliche. But... I did! The performance is simply stunning.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By caliboy on February 21, 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I saw Julia do this show a couple a years ago at the tiny (and unfortunately named - o but for an "e") Ars Nova Theatre in mid-town Manhattan. I was wowed then - I am wowed now. Julia injects her story of how she "lost" her faith with such humor and humanity that one often forgets just how dire and dour this story must have been - and must be - for Julia herself. Unlike the polemic of Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins - or the cool, scientific candor of Jonathan Miller and his 'Rough (Brief) History of Disbelief' - Julia's story seems to me to be much less divisive than the above mentioned authors managed to produce. For all its charms, it is every bit as incendiary as that of Dawkins, Hitchens, Miller et. al. but far subtler - as subtle as the "b" in subtle. Take another look at the last scene in the monologue between Julia and her daughter. I lived off that scene for days after I first saw the show in NYC and was struck again upon viewing the DVD - just how perfectly written and radical - yes, radical - that scene actually is. Good on you Julia - you are brave, honest and true and one of my heroes. In a world so consumed by superstition, hucksterism and nonsense - you gave us your truth - a remarkable gift and yet another voice to join the ranks of so many others - especially today - who aren't (and weren't) afraid to tell it. Such bravery should be noted and commended.
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