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Letting Go of God

DVD

4.8 out of 5 stars 155 customer reviews

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(Nov 21, 2008)
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Editorial Reviews

Review

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

None.

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 155 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B001J21JRQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #94,068 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
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