Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America—and Found Unexpected Peace

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He explored every doubt, every question — until, finally, his faith collapsed. Hear his remarkable story in this lecture based on his new book. This site requires it to function properly. Please turn it on in your browser preferences. Nature of Human Nature. Top Picks by Individual. Losing my Religion, by William Lobdell Code: For questions about your order, please email orders skeptic. As this evidence piled up, he started to fear that God didn't exist. He explored every doubt, every question—until, finally, his faith collapsed.

After the paper agreed to reassign him, he wrote a personal essay in the summer of that became an international sensation for its honest exploration of doubt.


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Losing My Religion is a book about life's deepest questions that speaks to everyone: Lobdell understands the longings and satisfactions of the faithful, as well as the unrelenting power of doubt. How he faced that power, and wrestled with it, is must reading for people of faith and nonbelievers alike. Thanks for signing up! We've emailed you instructions for claiming your free e-book. Tell us more about what you like to read so we can send you the best offers and opportunities.

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International Customers If you are located outside the U. About Product Details William Lobdell's journey of faith—and doubt—may be the most compelling spiritual memoir of our time. HarperCollins e-books On Sale: Play by Play by Verne Lundquist. At the time when the first stories began coming out about pedophile priests and the bureaucracy that covered up their sins, Lobdell was in the midst of converting to Catholicism. It went beyond accepting the fact that men and women were flawed and would sin.

He asked whether or not a truly God-inspired ministry could sink to such depths of greed or sexual depravity. Surely, people called to the ministry would represent the better part of humanity and be able to resist the worst sins that humans were susceptible to. This led to study into the basis of faith and nonbelief and eventually to a repudiation of his own. I felt angry with God for making faith such a guessing game.

I gave them clear direction, quick answers, steady discipline and plenty of love. As he writes in the epilog: I thought I was supposed to get more conservative as I approach senescence? He emphasized the positive activities of all faiths — Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. View all 5 comments. Mar 14, Trish rated it it was ok Shelves: This wasn't as meaty philosophically as I would have liked. The author didn't just turn his back on organized religion, he quit god. Jeez, for that, I would have expected a little more. Yes, organized religions can be barbarous, and, as practiced in many churches of every sect, hideously pretentious and even laughably ridiculous.

What kept me reading was not the author's struggle ho hum , but his recounting once again the horrific revelations about the leadership of the Catholic church as they This wasn't as meaty philosophically as I would have liked. What kept me reading was not the author's struggle ho hum , but his recounting once again the horrific revelations about the leadership of the Catholic church as they strove to hide from their parishioners the abuse their priests wreacked on innocent children. Raised Catholic, I know whereof I speak when it comes to authoritarianism, god rest their merry little souls.

I was interested to read in the last pages that hell isn't mentioned anywhere anymore--churches believe their clientele find it off-putting. Yes, I would think so. Let's hope there is still a little corner somewhere for these men of god to rest their weary little fannies. The author tells us that he decided to write this book when news articles on his de-conversion initiated a huge response from his paper's readers.

That's exactly what Marley and Me author John Grogan said about his decision to write his bestseller. All I can say is that religion is something most of us can talk about from experience, so it does tend to draw an audience. A spokesperson at the Vatican was on television saying that "he's sorry. He won't do it again.

No matter what Catholics got up to in their private life, i. Perhaps he thought after all the forgiving he's done for us, it is time to forgive him. He's only a man, after all. The only thing is that he has not claimed to be "just a man" all these years but something special: Anyway, time to declare if ever there was that emperor has no clothes. I'd forgive him, but not the crime, if there was one. For that, he'd have to pay, just like everyone else.

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Not speaking of this man in particular, but of the abuses in general, I don't think the sanctity of the confessional speaks to criminal activity. Somehow we are back in that sticky wicket: Anyway, just thought I would put these thoughts here since I don't have anywhere else to put it. Oct 14, Kurt rated it really liked it Shelves: I chose this book as part of a series I started assembling when I decided, about a year into the loss of my own faith details in my review of Leaving the Fold , to come out on Goodreads as a new non-Christian and to listen to the experiences and wisdom of those who have traveled this road longer than I.

What I love about Lobdell's book is his peace and maturity as he reflects on his journey. When he writes about his experiences becoming a Christian, he lets himself share what his perspective wa I chose this book as part of a series I started assembling when I decided, about a year into the loss of my own faith details in my review of Leaving the Fold , to come out on Goodreads as a new non-Christian and to listen to the experiences and wisdom of those who have traveled this road longer than I.

When he writes about his experiences becoming a Christian, he lets himself share what his perspective was - without a hindsight judgment. If he says something like, say, "I felt God moving," he doesn't immediately qualify that with, "But it was probably just exhaustion and wish fulfillment. Especially in the epilogue, Lobdell paints an incredibly compassionate picture of his life after religion: I do miss my faith, as I'd miss any longtime love, and have a deep appreciation for how it helped me mature over 25 years I don't know what the future holds in this new land.

I don't see myself crossing the river back to Christianity I don't see myself adopting a new religion. My disbelief in a personal God now seems cemented to my soul. Other kinds of spirituality seem equally improbable. Lobdell presents a beautiful alternative, someone whose faith was genuine and whose loss of faith is just as genuine, but who does not make unnecessary criticisms or judgments of his former companions.

Lobdell very much inspires the direction I tentatively attempt to travel now. Structurally, this book spends some time with Lobdell as a lost young adult, abusing substances and making cruel decisions in relationships. The author then narrates his introduction to Jesus and the huge changes in his life, presented with respect and appreciation. I dropped a star from my review of the book because the stories became a bit repetitive and seemed to stall the personal journey narrative with which I was trying to engage, but that is probably more a statement of my own tastes than objective merit of the book.

In a final, relatively related note, I read a used copy of this book. Some reader before me used a yellow highlighter to draw attention to certain passages, which is part of the fun of buying a used book, but I noticed that this person seemed most interested in Lobdell's harshest moments - when he points to parts of the Bible that don't make much sense, when he relates hard evidence of wrongdoing by faith healers, when he shares some of the more.. I think the reader before me is angry about religion and wanted a more forceful book. The curious part is that this reader had to work hard to find any of that in a book that is otherwise almost entirely gentle and patient, and it serves as a nice reminder to me of just how well Lobdell does at sharing his story and making his points in ways that are patient, gentle, and respectful.

I recommend this book for anyone in the process of leaving his or her faith who is afraid that the only alternative is hostile atheism. Lobdell provides an alternative perspective that I love. Aug 15, Erik Dryden rated it did not like it. Lobdell becomes religious for shallow, selfish reasons, and he leaves religion for shallow, selfish reasons.

He becomes an evangelical Christian because it stirs his emotions. He becomes a Presbyterian because becoming a Catholic is too radical a shift for him at the time. He becomes a Catholic because Catholicism is really old. As a religion reporter, Lobdell never really attempts to learn about the faiths he covers, instead focusing on feel-good human interest stories.

In fact, his Just awful. In fact, his limited descriptions of the doctrinal beliefs of various denominations is laughable. For example, he says that Mormons believe that we all originated in "a crystal orb in outer space," knowledge he apparently gained from reporting on ex-Mormons. He begins to lose his faith once he starts looking into money scandals, child sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other abuses of power by religious leaders. It's beyond me how a reporter who is supposed to have expertise in religious matters did not know before then that religious leaders sometimes use their positions to enrich themselves or exercise power over others.

It amazes me that a man can base his beliefs on the honesty or likability of pastors and priests. View all 7 comments.

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Jun 24, Sally rated it really liked it Shelves: A personal journey from from born-again Christian to doubt to loss of faith. The author doesn't try to convince the reader to think one way or another, but simply recounts his own experiences. As a journalist covering religion, he tells of the impact of investigating the Catholic pedophile scandals as well as religious frauds and deceptions; and of exposure to people of many religious persuasions. He brings forward the satisfactions and benefits of belonging to a faith and believing in a persona A personal journey from from born-again Christian to doubt to loss of faith.

He brings forward the satisfactions and benefits of belonging to a faith and believing in a personal God; the distress and conflict of doubt; and the overriding importance of honesty with oneself. He describes how, while a believer, his interpretation of everything in his life reinforced his faith and notes the selective attention we all apply to evidence and events depending on whether they reinforce or challenge our current viewpoint. To his surprise, he found himself happier and with more peace of mind as a non-believer. He feels his life has become freer, simpler and more precious to him.

Mar 13, Lola rated it really liked it. Interesting, unapologetic and honest look at someone finding religion and then upon closer examination coming to the realization that he no longer has his faith. I enjoyed his description of his journey in coming to believe and his honest explanation of why he no longer believes. He honestly addresses his happiness in finding religion and then as his journey progresses his disillusionment and the reasons he no longer Interesting, unapologetic and honest look at someone finding religion and then upon closer examination coming to the realization that he no longer has his faith.

He honestly addresses his happiness in finding religion and then as his journey progresses his disillusionment and the reasons he no longer has faith. I think those who believe and those who don't can equally learn something from this book. May 04, Michelle rated it liked it. I tend to shy away from books about religion, or even atheism or even, for that matter, nonfiction. I'm not religious and I don't need to have my atheism reinforced and yet I was attracted to this by a NYTBR that made the point that it wasn't pedantic.

The author is a journalist and an excellent writer and he writes about his journey to religion and back with great empathy. There were maybe 3 paragraphs I couldn't read a long letter from a religious leader trying to woo him bac I tend to shy away from books about religion, or even atheism or even, for that matter, nonfiction.

There were maybe 3 paragraphs I couldn't read a long letter from a religious leader trying to woo him back to the fold. He also includes a couple of really great Mark Twain quotes which are now torturing those who email me and one other great quote, from the author, on what happes to people who lose their religion, rebutting the notion of "spiritual suicide": It would be natural causes--the organic death of a belief system that collapsed under the weight of experience and reason. Apr 07, Rushabh rated it really liked it. An excellent book by a journalist about his journey embracing Christ, investigating the Catholic Church and eventual parting of ways with religion in general.

It really is a book in 3 distinct Acts: Act 1 - From arreligious to an evangelical to almost a Catholic: Its unclear whether Lobdell was an atheist to begin with I think not , but he clearly was not a practicing Christian. A rough patch in his life led him to turn to God and seek support and solace in the Church.

He has nothing but good wo An excellent book by a journalist about his journey embracing Christ, investigating the Catholic Church and eventual parting of ways with religion in general. He has nothing but good words for the church that he joined and the people he met.


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All of them come across as very rational, yet very devout. They support him and help him get on the road to becoming a devout Christian. Act 2 - Investigating the Catholic Church: Lobdell was the religion reporter for the LA Times when the Catholic child molestation scandal broke.

He investigated various such allegations and returned disgusted as what he saw as a fundamental breach of trust - the priests were supposed to be spiritual shepherds for their congregation and they abused this trust to permanently mess up the very children that they were trying to teach. What made him even angrier was systemic failures in the Catholic Church to expose known child molesters; instead the Church treated it as an internal matter, merely dismissing priests or even worse, moving them to other parishes where the pattern of abuse continued.

The Church used its might, money and lawyers to squelch any complaints or protests whatsoever from the children that had been thus abused. Act 3 - Embracing Atheism: Investigating the church really seemed to cast a shadow upon Lobdell's faith. This led him to dig deeper and investigate the underbelly of the Christian faith - televangelists, preachers who claim to faith heal, the Trinity Broadcasting Network largest Christian TV station in the world and look at the economics of what was going on.

Again, what seemed to make him really angry was not the millions that the preachers or their churches were making but the straightforward duping of the congregations and complete abuse of their trust. He notes stories of quadriplegics and terminal cancer patients given false hopes that they would walk out of church, healed they weren't. What's even more heartbreaking is that people would put their faith in God and the faith healers and stop taking drugs thereby making things worse and in some cases dying.

Lobdell talks about how it was hard for him to let go. He had a difficult time dealing with death - what happens after and if he was going to hell for abandoning God. He talked to friends and preachers about his loss of faith and certain qustions about God that had been bothering him - and didn't get any answers that he considered good enough.

Its unclear if this was so because he had already made up his mind and was talking to these preachers almost as "due diligence" or out of a genuine need to resolve things.

On a personal note, the third act of the book really resonated with me. I went through something similar when I left the Jain fold around Its hard to deal with the fact that there is this life and then that's that - ashes to ashes, dust to dust. But if you come to terms with that, it makes life really nice. The worst that can happen to you is death. Every moment past is never coming back, so enjoy it to the fullest.

Doing something you don't like to do is a monumental waste of time. I don't have internal conflicts about being an engineer doing science by day and talking in an unknown language to beings whose existence is unprovable at night. I don't have to come to terms with reconciling faith and evolution or having to deal with things that I cannot measure or view someone's measurement of the same. All in all, a great book. Nov 08, Rod rated it really liked it Shelves: This book is very accurate: William indeed lost his Religion.

I don't for a second think he lost his Christianity. He never had any. Sorry Bill, but if you had a friend who actually reads their Bible carefully maybe they could have explained this to you.

A big waste of time. So why do I state such harsh claims? Very early on YOU stated you could not get past the contradictions in the Bible. It stopped before it even began You placed your trust in MAN and foolish scholarship. You even ended up a Catholic: Which tells us you barely researched the Truth of Christ at all.

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You didn't do your research. And you call yourself a Journalist?! Did you investigate those contradictions. You even lived somewhat close to John MacArthur and his church all the truth you needed. You were so busy with Benny Hinn, the Pope and other pathetic theologians that you never got much truth at all.

MacArthur could have easily answered all your questions - but we know you would NOT accept the Biblical answers God presented. Christianity was never what you were looking for. Your views on homosexuality clearly show us this. Your Jesus was never the Jesus of the Bible. But I really enjoyed the book. No one should ever claim to be an expert on Christianity if they ignore the Bible. It's amazing how easy it is too see where people fail. Just compare God's truthful Word to people experiences. It's black and white.

A real Christian theologian and Bible lover can see a Benny Hinn false teacher and a pedophile Priest lots of those apparently a mile away. Wolves in Sheeps clothing only fool the foolish. Even children are smart enough to recognize evil when they see it. It's the adults that sustain the corruption. William showed us this wonderfully. I loved the authors kind and respectful reflection on his faith journey. I always tend towards the nasty, brutal, truthful reflections. And I hate Howard Stern That you like him tells us alot about your character William.

William Lobdell, Author of "Losing My Religion" (1)

Nov 24, Mikey B. There are really two parallel stories in this book. The writer is a reporter for the Los Angeles Times and he takes some of his coverage on corruption in religion to make one of the stories in his book. They range from the aggrandizement of televangelists to the nefarious pedophiles in the Roman Catholic Church. The author also writes on the isolationism from mainstream society of the Church of the Latter Day Saints Mormons. He intertwines these articles with his own faith that eventually self There are really two parallel stories in this book.

He intertwines these articles with his own faith that eventually self-destructs after witnessing first-hand the hypocrisy and criminality that he is writing of. With each essay he wrote exposing the sordidness of the upper echelons of a Church who are purportedly much closer to the Supreme Being then their flock, his faith slowly evaporated. This second story is the journey of the author having a personal relationship with God this intimate connection has always had a ring of irrationality to it to becoming a non-believer.

Going even further back in time, was not the Protestant Reformation a rebellion against the licentiousness of the Catholic Church? Religious institutions have had hundreds of years of experience in protecting themselves from their own immorality and as Mr. Part of the problem is that we always put people of faith whether they are leaders or just mere believers on a higher pedestal- as if belonging to a religious grouping provides a type of superiority within a community.

Jun 29, Dave rated it liked it Shelves: I heard the author speak about his experiences promoting this memoir on NPR. His story piqued my interest having had a crisis of faith and paradigm shift in my own life. His story was resonant with my experience, I was moved by his faith in God and his faith in, and admiration for, the community or communities, since sects can be divisive sometimes of believers.

People respond to problems with theology, institutional and individual failings and foibles in a variety of ways. It seems to me that I heard the author speak about his experiences promoting this memoir on NPR. It seems to me that the abuses Lobdell observed and reported on in many faith communities eroded his personal faith despite his own concerted efforts to maintain faith in God and separate his shock, indignation and pain at the paradoxical behavior of trusted leaders and earnest or unquestioning believers who deny or fail to acknowledge perfidy of ecclesiastical leaders despite substantive evidence including confessions, from his faith in God.

I feel his memoir is an honest attempt to explain his disillusionment with organized religion as the result of several years of struggle with his own conscience. I do not think his faith was naive, simplistic or weak. Nor do I believe his painful disaffection resulted from unrealistic expectations that truth will out or that all people of faith must be without flaws or sin. I feel Lobdell witnessed a pervasive pattern of malfeasance, taking advantage of believers and an extraordinary systemic anathematizing of earnest, honest people who lost or changed faith in some communities.

Ultimately I interpreted Lobdell's story showing that peace and transcendence can come or be found in unexpected ways and depend on commitment to conscience over belonging to or protecting communities, especially exclusionary communities that sacrifice individuals callously to protect institutional interests.

View all 3 comments. Oct 18, Debbie Mcnulty rated it really liked it Shelves: This is one of those books that you hate to put down and think about whenever you are not reading it.

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