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207 of 218 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully written account of personal discovery
I've just finished reading three books on a common theme: losing one's (Christian) religion and becoming an atheist. All three are excellent, but each approaches the topic from a very different perspective. I thought I might review them all together, and post the combined review on each book at Amazon. I don't know if this is consistent with the Amazon review policy, but...
Published on January 4, 2009 by Geoff Arnold

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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Didn't quite fulfill the hype
Perhaps I take publicity too literally, but I was expecting more with William Lobdell's "Losing My Religion." I was expecting a man whose religion really shaped his worldview and one who was seriously into his religion to the point where he proposed and wrote a religion column for one of the major newspapers in the country (Los Angeles Times).

Instead, what...
Published on May 26, 2009 by Donna Di Giacomo


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207 of 218 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully written account of personal discovery, January 4, 2009
By 
Geoff Arnold (San Jose, CA, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America and Found Unexpected Peace (Hardcover)
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I've just finished reading three books on a common theme: losing one's (Christian) religion and becoming an atheist. All three are excellent, but each approaches the topic from a very different perspective. I thought I might review them all together, and post the combined review on each book at Amazon. I don't know if this is consistent with the Amazon review policy, but never mind.

The first book is Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists by Dan Barker. I was slightly put off by the subtitle: "How an evangelical preacher became one of America's leading atheists." After all, one of the key points about atheism - and one that we have to keep reminding theists about - is that atheism is not an organized body of belief, it's no more a religion than "bald" is a hair colour. So how can anyone be a "leading atheist"? Who's being led? However if one substitutes "prominent" or "influential" for "leading", we can let that pass. And Barker is certainly influential: he's co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which is one of the most active groups working to uphold the Constitutional prohibition on church-state entanglement, and seeking to counteract the negative image of atheism in this country.

The second book that I considered was William Lobdell's Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America-and Found Unexpected Peace. Lobdell is an award-winning journalist who covered religion for the Los Angeles Times. After writing about many aspects of religion for many years, he finally decided to write about his own journey.

The last volume in this trilogy was Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity, by John Loftus. Like Barker, Loftus was also an evangelical preacher, but although the arc of his experience was similar to Barker's, the result is a very different kind of book.

Let me begin by saying that each of these books is really good, and deserves a place in the library of anyone who is interested in the contemporary debate between religion and atheism. I hesitate to rank them, or recommend one over another; nevertheless I find myself compelled to do so. Of the three, Lobdell's "Losing My Religion" is the most essential, for two reasons. First, he is an excellent writer, and his prose is simply a delight to read. Secondly, he concentrates on his personal experience in a way that I haven't encountered before in books by atheists. Both Loftus and Barker set out to tell their story and argue their case, albeit in different ways, and each draws on writers as diverse as Dennett, Wells, Price, Martin, Shermer, Carrier and Nielsen in setting forth their arguments. Lobdell just wants to recount his own story, and what he has learned from it. He's not interested in converting anyone, or scoring debating points. As he writes, "To borrow Buddha's analogy, I've just spent eight years crossing a river in a raft of my own construction, and now I'm standing on a new shore. My raft was made not of dharma, like Buddhism's, but of things I gathered along the way: knowledge, maturity, humility, critical thinking and the willingness to face the world as it is, and not how I wish it to be. I don't knopw what the future holds in this new land. I don't see myself crossing the river back to Christianity... [or] adopting a new religion. My disbelief in a personal God now seems cemented to my soul. Other kinds of spirituality seem equally improbable. Besides, I like my life on this unexplored shore."

For Lobdell, the thing which provoked his crisis of faith was people: the yawning gulf between the ideals of a religion and the lives of those who practice and - especially - lead it. The horrific abuse of young people by Catholic priests, and the way it was covered up, refutes the claims of religion in many different ways. In particular, it challenges believers to justify theodicy (the "problem of evil"), as well as the Dostoievskian idea of religion as a bastion against the chaos of amorality. In contrast, for Barker and Loftus, the unravelling of their fundamentalist faiths was due to ideas: to the incoherence of religious dogma, and its incompatibility with science and reason.

Both Loftus and Barker were preachers. There are many distinct aspects to being a preacher: the performance artist, leading a collective act of worship; the scribe and teacher, explaining and interpreting the texts and practices of the faith; and the counsellor and confessor. All of these roles have roots in the shamanic and magical. As a believer, Barker was a performance artist, and he remains so in his newly found unbelief. He encourages the closeted skeptic, and fights fiercely for the rights of the non-religious. Loftus is a scribe: the apologist, the teacher. He was the defender of faith against its critics, and with the detailed knowledge that he acquired in this role, he has become the sharpest critic of religious apology.. Each of their books reflects the way that they interpreted the role of preacher.

Both Barker and Loftus seek to encourage those who seek affirmation of their skepticism or unbelief. Barker concentrates on the emotional, the social: "you are not alone", "you are not a bad person". Loftus focuses on the ideas, the dogma: the Bible is riddled with inconsistencies, the supposedly biographical accounts in the New Testament are demonstrably fictitious, the attempts by contemporary theologians to construct a coherent interpretation of the contradictory mess are failures, and so forth. If you have read some of the authorities that Loftus cites - Mackie, Martin, et al - I would still recommend his book, because he pulls all of the threads together in a compact and accessible manner. If you are unfamiliar with the literature, Loftus may be all you need. (Add Hitchens for spice, of course!)

I recommend all three books.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Losing My Religion tells it like it is, December 7, 2008
This review is from: Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America and Found Unexpected Peace (Hardcover)
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I enjoyed this book immensely. William Lobdell is an award-winning journalist for the Los Angeles Times, and formerly covered the "religion beat" for that paper. In this book he tells his personal story of moving, over a 20-year period, from becoming a "born again" Christian at age 28, through gradual disillusionment, and ultimately to complete unbelief. In doing so, he draws heavily upon interviews and research he conducted during that time as a journalist reporting on religion-related stories. These stories revealed aspects of religion as actually practiced in America, uncovering behind-the-scenes activities that are less-than-flattering, to put it charitably.

Lobdell begins his book writing "By age 27, I had screwed up my life." If not as poetically expressed as the opening of Dante's Inferno, he has still set the stage for a personal odyssey through Christian faith, slowly increasing doubt, and ultimate abandonment of those beliefs. At this personal low point at the beginning, he met an old friend who told him that what he needed was God. Lobdell promised to go to church. He had been exposed to Christianity and church as a child, but had been turned off by the vengeful nature of the Old Testament God, and he abandoned religion as a teenager. Now, perhaps out of desperation to salvage his life, he found a home at a southern California megachurch, where the message was much more positive and life-affirming. Still, it took him a year to really begin to feel at home there and get into the spirit of the worship services, the music in particular. At about this time, some good things began to happen to him, such as becoming the editor-in-chief of a local newspaper, and improved health. The tipping point for Lobdell came at a spiritual retreat he went to at the urging of a friend, where in a moment of emotion he accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and savior. Things really began to take off in his personal and professional life after that. The most remarkable event was receiving a $45,000 check from a former boss, whose conversion to Christianity made him realize he had probably cheated Lobdell out of a fair share of his magazine company when he sold it. What made it seem amazing was that Lobdell had prayed to receive that amount of money, and now God had apparently answered his prayer!

The real break, which he also attributed to God's intervention, was a job as religion writer that was created for him at the Orange County Edition of the Los Angeles Times. He interviewed many people of faith and documented how their lives had been transformed by the miracle of God's love. Some of the selflessness of his subjects rubbed off on him. He began tithing. He was inspired by those whose faith in God was not diminished by personal tragedy. His personal fortunes increased again when he became the full-time religion writer for the Los Angeles Times.

In November 2000, Lobdell first learned of a lawsuit against a Catholic priest, Fr. Michael Harris, who was accused of sexual abuse. At the time, the story did not seem particularly like something he wanted to pursue. He was busy interviewing people like billionaire Henry Samueli and Pastor Rick Warren. He also wrote feature articles on the Chabad-Lubavitch movement in Judaism, and was impressed with their single-minded dedication to God. But he also wrote about corruption in Christian author Hank Hanegraaf's radio ministry.

He felt himself moving in the direction of Catholicism as his faith deepened. But even as this was happening, the case of Fr. Harris reared its head again as a settlement was to be announced. As Lobdell studied the documents and interviewed people, a picture began to take shape of widespread sexual abuse by Catholic clergy, the cover-ups by the Church, and the blind loyalty (or avoiding cognitive dissonance) of parishioners who refused to accept that their priest could do such things. He considered this story a "spiritual body blow" whose effect on his faith he would not feel until later.

Lobdell also felt attracted to Mormons, because they "believed deeply in their faith despite its challenges to rationality," a position with which he could empathize. He realized that the Bible itself, with its apparent contradictions and inaccuracies, was itself a challenge to rationality that could be overcome only by a heavier dose of faith. But at the same time, he got to know some ex-Mormons, and learned how severely they had been ostracized--cast into outer darkness--by the LDS church. He thought that wasn't a very Christian thing to do.

As a result of going deeper and deeper into the Catholic sex scandals, Lobdell began to have doubts about religion. These were first manifested by his deferring the decision to become a Catholic, and by ceasing to attend church regularly, then by not going at all. Why was it so hard to hear God's "gentle whisper" and follow His ways in the face of doubt? But in the midst of this doubt, he began also to obsess about Hell and the thought that he might be headed there--even though he wasn't quite sure that Hell exists at all. He was more certain of Satan's existence and his influence in the world. He began to think that God wanted him to become a healer of the Church--through his investigative reporting, he would force the Church to face up to the corruption within.

In 2003 Lobdell met Ole E. Anthony, a man of strong faith whose life passion is exposing fraudulent televangelists. Lobdell also interviewed one of the biggest (and wealthiest) of the televangelists, Benny Hinn, and investigated the Trinity Broadcasting Network, which programmed the Hinn shows. The story he wrote about Hinn, however, did nothing to tarnish the latter's reputation or income. And his hope that the TBN expose would bring needed reforms also came to nothing. As a result, he came to the conclusion that God had in fact not called him to root out the church's corruption. Lobdell was beaten down by people who couldn't allow the truth to weaken their blind faith in their religious leaders, and by people who were so deeply entrenched in their organizations that they risked their livelihood if they were to speak out.

Even after all this, Lobdell still wanted to salvage his battered faith, and against his better judgment allowed his best friend of a dozen years to talk him into attending a men's spiritual retreat. But it didn't help--amidst the testimonies, prayer, and music, he felt like a stranger in a strange land. Still searching for ways to rekindle his faith, Lobdell considered recreating some of the spiritual journeys of saints; but he would not do so before finding some evidence that Christians as a group were "measurably different" from other people. To his surprise, he learned that they are not. He also learned that well-conducted studies show that prayer doesn't work. This led him to consider--I think for the first time--that perhaps the reason God doesn't regenerate limbs, heal the terminally ill, prevent natural disasters, etc., is that He doesn't exist!

Lobdell tells of three more events that drove the final nails into the coffin of his Christian faith. The first was a visit to St. Michael Island, Alaska, where Joseph Lundowski, a Catholic missionary, systematically abused all the Alaskan Native boys in the town over an 8-year period. Following this, Lobdell realized that he no longer believed in a personal God, but he faced an abyss without the comfort of God and the church to bolster him up.

The second was seeing Julia Sweeney's monologue "Letting Go of God." As he listened, he felt that he truly had been through many of the same mental and spiritual struggles that Sweeney had. The words that hit home the most to him were when Sweeney said that ultimately she had to accept "what was true over what I wished were true." The play had changed his perspective from one of irreconcilable loss to the serenity of being free from an illusion.

But he was still a religion reporter. Following his last story, on the trial of Father Uribe, he realized that he could no longer find fulfillment in religion reporting, even of the investigative type. This was the final straw. He started to work on getting a new job with the paper.

One thing remained--how to tell his story? That is the subject of the final chapter.

For me, the book was a very honest look back on Lobdell's entry into Christianity. It describes his early successes and feelings of growing in his faith and continues through the beginnings of doubt and his attempts to dispel it. It climaxes on the final crumbling of his belief system and the void it left until he realized that, like Julia Sweeney, he need not feel empty as a human being without God at all, but rather liberated from the bonds of an illusion. While at times I wanted him to cut short the narratives about sexually abusive priests and phony evangelists, I understand that those narratives are important to him and were necessary to flesh out the picture of his 20-year journey from believer to non-believer.

This is an important book that both believers and non-believers can learn from. Thanks, Bill.
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106 of 120 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Memoir of Losing Faith on the Religion Beat, November 24, 2008
This review is from: Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America and Found Unexpected Peace (Hardcover)
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Losing My Religion is William Lobdell's memoir of becoming an evangelical, then a Roman Catholic, then a reluctant atheist. It is an engrossing and quick read. And unlike Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens, Lobdell is not vicious. He disagrees with believers, but he does not despise them.

Lobdell is an award-winning journalist who covered the religion beat for the Los Angeles Times. As a one-time resident of Costa Mesa, California--where Lobdell lives--and a former reader of the Times, I personally know some of the people Lobdell reported on, and I remember reading some of his stories. His reportage on the sins of Paul and Jan Crouch and their Trinity Broadcasting Network sticks in my mind even to this day.

The book begins with Lobdell's life in a mess. A friend tells him he needs God, and he ends up going to Mariners Church, an evangelical megachurch pastored by Kenton Beeshore. As he matures in his faith, he switches to St. Andrews Presbyterian, pastored by John Huffman. Eventually, however, he finds himself drawn to Catholicism, and he and his wife enroll in catechism classes.

At about the same time, he begins to cover a clergy sexual abuse scandal in the Orange Diocese, involving Father Michael Harris, the longtime principal of Mater Dei High School. In 1996, a one-time student at Mater Dei named Ryan DiMaria sued Harris and the Diocese and won a judgment of $5.2 million dollars. DiMaria also successfully forced the Diocese to reform the way it handled clergy sexual abuse cases.

Lobdell was disheartened at the way the episcopal hierarchy covered for abusive priests and vilified their victims, using strong-arm legal tactics to silence them. Even more, he was utterly shocked by how pliant congregations rallied to the side of their abusive priests rather than to the side of the children those priests had molested. As he began reporting on clergy sexual abuse in other dioceses, Lobdell saw the same pattern of cover-up, vilification, and strong-arm legal tactics play out over and over again. This pattern delivered a "spiritual body blow" to Lobdell's faith, which never recovered. (And despite completing catechism, Lobdell decided not to join the Catholic church after all.)

Losing My Religion is memoir, not apologetic. Lobdell narrates his story of "de-conversion" rather than offering airtight arguments for disbelief. Nevertheless, the corruption of the Catholic church, not to mention the sinfulness of television evangelists, is the main reason he offers for his loss of faith. If the Christian God exists and does what the Bible says he does, surely Christians should be better than they are. He raises additional objections based on the problem of evil, the ineffectiveness of intercessory prayer, and the hard-to-believe stories of the Bible.

As the pastor of an evangelical church who is trained in both philosophy and theology, I find Lobdell's arguments less than convincing. They are the standard objections to Christianity for which the standard replies suffice, at least in my opinion. But as I wrote above, Lobdell's narrative is engrossing. I cheered his initial conversion and mourned his (hopefully not final) apostasy. I'm quite sure that Lobdell's story is the story of many a parishioner who wants to believe but can't because of the sins of the church.

As an Pentecostal pastor, I recommend reading this book as a spiritual discipline. Christians can be too smug in their beliefs and too self-righteous in their actions to see the incredible evils that are taking place right under their noses within their own churches. And if the church doesn't live according to the Bible, why should it expect anyone else to?
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Didn't quite fulfill the hype, May 26, 2009
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This review is from: Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America and Found Unexpected Peace (Hardcover)
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Perhaps I take publicity too literally, but I was expecting more with William Lobdell's "Losing My Religion." I was expecting a man whose religion really shaped his worldview and one who was seriously into his religion to the point where he proposed and wrote a religion column for one of the major newspapers in the country (Los Angeles Times).

Instead, what the reader gets is someone who jumped from one religious denomination to another in what seemed like a relatively short period of time. In the beginning of the book, he's a member of a mega-church, a Protestant denomination with thousands of members, and then, almost out of the blue, he's training to become Catholic (of which there really wasn't a clear-cut explanation as to why he even wanted to become a Catholic, besides his wife being raised as one).

He spent the majority of the book addressing the Catholic Church priest sex scandal in-depth, which broke when he was in Catholic training, and he addressed the frauds at TBN, but he really went after the former and briefly addressed the latter and I would have liked to see more of a balance there with more investigating of TBN despite their layers of p.r. hounds and bodyguards watching over every little thing people do and say (and, for the record, I don't owe allegiance to any religion).

In all, Lobdell's was a well-written narrative, yet I was underwhelmed with the fact that he just didn't seem to be as much into religion as I thought he should be. He even addressed this issue towards the end of the book, stating that indeed his faith was deep and solid and that his experiences as a religion writer turned him away from religion, but I just didn't get that feeling of solid roots in religion (and that's my problem to contend with).

As a result of this book, I am curious to see Lobdell's farewell column for the Times where he addressed how he became disillusioned with religion after writing about it for so many years. It was very interesting to read about peoples' reactions to that column in the very end of this book.

If I had to definitively say whether this book is worth the read or not, I would say yes, but don't expect too much. - Donna Di Giacomo
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Losing my Religion: A Wrong answer to right questions, July 6, 2009
This review is from: Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America and Found Unexpected Peace (Hardcover)
In this book, Lobdell recounts his spiritual journey. This book is well written, easy to read, though in some places it could have been cut short. He alludes to two main reasons for losing his faith in Christianity.

His first reason is, there is no change in the lives of believers; they behave in the same way as non-believers, in fact, some of them behave worse. Lobdell gives many long accounts of Catholic sex scandal and corruption of faith healers. He concludes these hypocrisies in believers' lives and apparent silence from God points towards atheism. What bothered me was, he selectively focused on bad examples of religion and omitted the good ones. For example, he briefly talks about Rick Warren's integrity and then dives back into his own list of bad examples. Sure! There are people who commit horrendous crime in the name of religion and there is no doubt they should be brought into justice. However, that does not constitute a case for rejecting faith itself. The logic does not hold up. What about those who sacrifice their life to help the poor and needy in the name of faith - we have many examples throughout history - hospitals, universities, charities were and are being built in the name of faith.

Having said that, even though not everyone would come to the same conclusion as Lobdell, I have to concede he makes some good points about the inconsistency between believers' life and teachings of Christ. Though he made a hasty generalization, his concern/struggle/first hand account over the inconsistency is a worthwhile read.

His second reason is suffering and God's apparent silence to prayers of those who suffer. Lobdell asks good questions; He points out, how can God be praised for answering someone's prayer for saving him from tsunami, but at the same time prayers of many went unanswered? Why there is no miracle of God healing amputees by growing parts of the body? If God exists, why does he make it hard to believe him? For these questions, he stumbles upon answers like free will and hiddeness of God. The concept of "hiddenness of God" is not a new issue to Christianity. Believers have been asking these questions for ages. For example, Mother Theresa and John of the Cross had gone through dark times in their spiritual life when they did not feel God's presence. Lobdell hastily dismisses these answers as inane by equating them to the answers his parents gave for his questions regarding Santa when he was young. He is not sincere in dealing with these core issues of theism, but simply dismisses them. I am not sure if he is aware of the works done on "Coherence of theism", "theodicy", etc by scholars like Richard Swinburne, Lane Craig, NT Wright, etc! In choosing to apply Occam Razor's principle, he made a simplistic choice in dealing with these important issues. In saying that, I am no way diminishing the intensity of his struggle, but by acknowledging our innate limitation to see "only dimly", I wish he had stayed longer to analyze/research the issues little deeper. Is it that easy to declare there is no God?

In conclusion, "why there is no change in believers life?", "why is God silent in regards to hypocrisy of believers and suffering of innocent?" are the two main questions that drove Lobdell to disbelief! Reading his book, I get an impression that he gave up the struggle (both rational and emotional) prematurely because he could not hold the emotional battle (problem of suffering and failure in believers) any longer; his de-conversion is more of an emotional one than rational one! Lobdell has found a wrong answer to right questions.

It is a good book to be read by both believers and non-believers. It will challenge the believers to rethink their faith and its implication in their life if it is lived out as taught in the Scriptures. However, I would not recommend this book for those who are in the borderline trying to make a decision regarding faith; since this book does not cover all the issues thoroughly, it may further confuse those who are in the borderline.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For people who've had their hearts broken by the Church, December 2, 2010
Several years ago, my pastor was abruptly removed from our church. Six months later the media broke that it had been a sexual scandal. I was devastated. My church had become my life - I worked there, I was personal friends with the priest and his mother, I gave my time and money to multiple ministries, and had just sponsored my husband in RCIA. At first, I kept up my church attendance and continued to pray, but as the months wore on, I lost my faith. I never chose to stop believing, I never wanted to stop believing. I know I was happier as a practicing Catholic, but the inspiration within me had died as I saw diocesan officials lying, people not caring, and my own prayers for the health of the parish come to bear the opposite fruit I had hoped for. One night, I googled "how I lost my faith" to try to find stories of others who had been devout but left their church heartbroken. This book came up as one the first hits. I checked it out of my library and read it in 48 hours. Lobdell's spiritual autobiography is gripping because I recognized so many of my own emotions in Lobdell and in the people he interviews. This book is not an atheist manifesto filled with logical arguments or mocking of Christians (most of the Christians who appear in the book are notable for their thoughtfulness and virtue). Lobdell traces his journey into the Christian faith and then discusses the many events and questions that chipped away at his faith. Lobdell does not write the book to convince anyone or to judge anyone who is still Christian, but to be a voice for people who have had their hearts broken by the church and woke up to find themselves "reluctant atheists."
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vulnerable, honest, and brave, March 6, 2009
By 
Lupa (Portland, OR) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America and Found Unexpected Peace (Hardcover)
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To be honest, I was expecting this to be a much more cynical book, a tirade against the evils of religion and the delusions of religious people. Instead what I found was one person's deeply honest revelation of his own vulnerability in questioning, and then leaving behind, his faith. William Lobdell was immersed in religion in all aspects of his life for many years, to include in his professional life. It took the Catholic abuse scandals in the first half of this decade to shake, and then dissolve, his faith. In the duration of this process, he asked a lot of difficult questions, ones that perhaps many Americans have asked, but have been afraid to admit even crossed their minds. While I don't expect that everyone who reads this book will become a hardcore atheist, I do think that there will be some people who, like me, read this and find ways to question why we believe what we believe, to create at least a more self-examined spiritual path.

Thank you, Mr. Lobdell, for being brave enough to put this piece of yourself out there.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Insight into one interpretion of religion - and its loss, November 30, 2008
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This review is from: Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America and Found Unexpected Peace (Hardcover)
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William Lobdell's loss of faith is an interesting contrast to that of Chet Raymo in When God Is Gone, Everything Is Holy: The Making of a Religious Naturalist. While Lobdell has the more gripping story, Raymo is more convincing philosophically.

Lobdell's view of religion is, to my ear, too self-centered; he becomes religious because of what he can get out of it. He uses his expectations to provide evidence of its falsity. I suspect he is representative of the typical American religious view - on boths sides of the "God-fence". Some examples of what I see as poor logic but very understandable reactions:

1) Lobdell refers to study which show that a Christian's behavior is no better than the "general public." This is probably true and is to be expected from Christian theology. Christian theology places most moral law in the category of "natural theology", that which humans can learn from their own efforts without divine revelation. Yes, we all hope that our particular slice of religion performs better than everyone else but realistically what Lobedell observes is what is to be expected.

2) In discussing the legal proceedings growing out of the inexcusable sexual abuse by Catholic clergy, he objects, quite rightly, that the perpetrators and the hierarchy did not live up to their responsibility. But he augments his case with examples of their living up to their responsibility with regards to the sanctity of confession. Good logic? No. Reasonable gut reaction? Yes.

What Lobdell fails to recognize is that religion in it's most fundamental sense is a search for truth (justice, beauty, permanance ...). It is searching among the religious icons of one's faith for what motivated them, seeking what can move one forward in one's search for the absolute. Lobdell is clearly familiar with many of Chistianity's icons - Mother Teresa, St. John of the Cross, St. Therese of Lisieux. But his narrative does not include a serious questioning of them in terms of the motivation for their belief - the piece he needs to retain his own faith.

Lobdell writes in a honest and straight-forward manner. The reader feels as if they understand both what drew Lobdell to religion and what pushed him away. For one like myself who struggles to understand the evangelical mind-set, this is no small success. If personal stories of religious development intrigue you, add this to your reading list.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling nd Powerful, March 4, 2009
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N. Paccione (Los Angeles, CA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America and Found Unexpected Peace (Hardcover)
This is an excellent book--seamless, concise writing with a page-turner quality that is usually reserved for mystery and suspense novels. From the beginning, we know that Mr. Lobdell has lost his religious faith but first we learn how he became a believer and then read in suspense as he reveals his personal awe-inspiring journey to "atheism" or something like it. The objective reader will enjoy the journey no matter what faith or lack thereof that they bring to the table. Every word feels honest and completely authentic. For those of us who believe in God, there is nothing offensive about Lobdell's heartfelt account. He acquits himself beautifully even if you wish he might reconsider and at least come to believe in "the God that Thomas Jefferson and Albert Einstein believed in--a deity that can be seen in the miracles of nature, the complexity of DNA or the wonder of physics."
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable journey, well considered, March 22, 2009
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This review is from: Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America and Found Unexpected Peace (Hardcover)
I purchased this book as a person who has found himself struggling with questions of faith and values for many years. What bothers me about many books in the "lost my religion" genere is the tendency for writers to go off and insult those individuals of faith, question how anyone can believe in religion, etc. Major turnoff. Despite any doubts or concerns I may have in this area, I believe everyone has their own path to take to self awareness and development.

What makes this book a standout in my mind is the way the author handles both his conversion to a church goer, and his falling out of faith. Despite his fall from religion, he continued to see the good in all sides, and did not become "better than thou" in his conclusions.

I admire the maturity of his reasoning and views that he did not feel it necessary to attack those with opposing views, and that he was very truthful in discussing his own personal struggles.

Having said that, I started the book on a Friday afternoon, and completed it by 2am Saturday morning. Not that it's a short book, but I just wanted to read this story, to understand his thoguht process, and to see how it ended up. I think this is a remarkable book that has much to offer.
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Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America and Found Unexpected Peace
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