Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America

Dear Friends,

Most of you who are getting this newsletter e-mailed me some kind words after my story in the Los Angeles Times ran last year under the headline, "Religion Beat Became a Test of Faith," which chronicled my spiritual journey from devout Christian to reluctant atheist.

For whatever reason, my essay hit a nerve -- I think because serious religious doubt isn't talked about with a great deal of honesty these days. At any rate, the story generated thousands of e-mails and many new friendships. Last fall, HarperCollins asked me to expand the material into a memoir.

Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America" is finished and will hit the bookshelves in February. This newsletter is designed to keep you up to date on the book, the book tour, appearances and signings. You can pre-order the book from Amazon (at a 34% discount!) by clicking here.

I also have ambitious plans for my website, www.williamlobdell.com, where I think an open and honest discussion about religion and doubt can emerge.

I'm very proud of how the book turned out (I think it's much richer and more compelling than the article that spawned it), and I think you'll enjoy it. It's already getting some very nice endorsements from believers and nonbelievers alike.

Thanks for listening.

William Lobdell

Click here for an NPR interview with Lobdell.

Click here
for another excellent article on Lobdell.


Blue Sunshine said...

Sounds like it is right up my ally. Can't wait to read it.

Jim Claunch said...


I listened to the NPR radio interview and read the article and behind it all is a deep grief and genuine experience of disillusionment. The church does not give both sides of the issue but only that which supports the tradition and the institution. A great deal of money is tied up in the faithful keeping the faith these days. We are a long way from the "Kansas" of the idealistic troop of Jesus and the disciples. Luther exposed the institutional church's departure from New Testament Christianity and pointed to Scipture as a foundation for less corrupt authority and a force for renewal. The Enlightenment and thoughful critical Biblical scholarship exposed the Scripture has having massive contraditions and a worldview most unrealistic in an age of science and reason. Supersition melts before Science. There is great tension today between the forces of Reason in the 1st world and and faith in the third world. Faith in authority as authority is a hold over from the Middle Ages. Is Truth the Authority or is authority our truth. Fact vs Faith is the big deal clashing in all cultures in the modern world. You might enjoy the first part of http://www.zeitgeistmovie.com/ and if you think the priest sex scandal is harsh look at www.hiddenfromhistory.org and read of Kevin Annett who is a Canadian Ghandi. The MP2 courses on that website will take anyone to school on the specifics of history that c make possible genocide and mass murder as we have known it so often in the "Christian" west. How did we get from Jesus' pascifism to the Christian armies destroying all in their way to take the world by sword for God? HOW could Christian nations like Germany even consider genocide of the Jews? How could a Pope send the crusaders to butcher the Turks in the name of Christ? There is an historical philosophical underpinning that will flat out amaze anyone that will take the time to track it. Few study history today and thus have no clue. Kevin the force behind www.hiddenfromhistory.org is a true hero standing up for 60,000 native Indian children killed in the residential schools run by the church in Canada. Really? Could this actually be true? This 60,000 is a small number compared to the millions of native Americans killed by the Conquestadors taking the New World for Christ who slaughtered tribes in South and North America. The poor non souls who were first declared "non persons" by the Christian authorities, Pope and King together and then wiped out so Christ (and king and pope of course) could have the land. It is really an eye opener. Oh well...how sad that just as in the gospels the "good" was found outside the religious institutions...it still is. Gosh the Televangelists are little more than game show hosts for God. Only those brain dead can take them seriously. The cartoon God so many have today is possible due to Duns Scotus the theologian who said God has a like "being" with creatures. His intention was good thinking this would be a way to connect God and man. Man with finite being and God with infinite being but both sharing that same being. The problem we see today is as an ordinary "being" God became knowable and defined as any other creature and thus a Cartoon God. Reason will in time reject that silly little God. Tillich tried to correct this and said rightly that God is not only unknown but also unknowable. God is not just a being but instead the very Ground of Being. Having said that, it is then impossible to know if Tillich's God exists or does not exist because to exist at all would be to exist like any other created thing. It is really a heresy to say God exists in the way any creature exists. It is better to say God does not exist like THAT. So athism toward this Cartoon God is the right theological position! Ironic! SO today we are left with an existing Cartoon God the mascot of most every church. Catholics have images all around the church and Protestants have images in their heads. Their images are limited clearly seen CREATURES and thus certainly not the Creator. Religion is an idol factory. How very sad. So it is GREAT to be an atheist toward such as silly Cartoon God. I KNOW Zeus does not exist and it is no different with the silly Cartoon God so many believers know all too clearly. It might be wise to be an agnostic toward the greater understanding of of Tillich's God. THAT God will have no truck with the institutionalism and Entertainmentanity of modern religion. So "God bless" the religious atheists today! Thank the "Lord" for spiritual agnostics who have said NO to the 1,2,3,4 step got the formula 'God". I will eat with those publicans and sinners every time rather than the holy club that is so "right" but so wrong. You know these atheists and agnostics those who have a "God" with no image at all!!! They simply can not believe because they do not have an idol cartoon god to accept or reject. They have said NO to the Cartoon clear image God. Funny thing is that it is really hard to be an atheist OR a believer when there is no clear image to accept or reject. An imageless God makes it hard for both sides of the debate to get a handle on what to do. I am cool with that. Perhaps such a "theology" will allow ordnary people to care for one another once more no matter what label they may be given by others-theist vs atheist. It is horrible to be in any "tribe" religious or otherwise that defines itself by those it excludes and hates. We need a bigger vision beyond theism and atheism, beyond faith and reason. We need to affirm reason for all it is worth. We need to affirm our need for meaning beyond the facts and data. And God knows we need to respect honesty and truth wherever and whenever it is embraced in religion or outside of it. Good work, William Lobdell and Good courage to your words! Hell, if someone is going to believe they might as well have a BIG BIG outside the friggin box GOD and if someone is going to reject God do not be satisfied by rejecting the pitiful junior high gods that abound all about us. It does not take a genius to know there is a time to turn the Cartoons off especially when they begin to look like a horror show.

shakeitup said...

I almost didn't click on "Religion beat became a test of faith" embedded in your posting. Good thing I did. Your story and your courage to share it are inspiring. I do not use the word courage lightly. I'll bet there are many here that saw insanity and didn't have the courage to say something. I'm one of them.
As I recover my strength, I try to speak out more. Brave men and women like you inspire me to do so.

brothernate said...

Good evening,

As one who claims Christ, I wish to respond to a few things. Firstly, to say that this matter is to me very much worth discussing in a respectable manner.

Secondly, with regard to Mr. Claunch's comment... I don't see how an age of science and reason at its best, nor the testimonies of failure at its worst, such as those that William gives in his works, could overthrow the aim and fruit of the gospel; which is the fullness of relationship both with God, and with each other. Neither do I in the devices of science and reason find value for human affirmation in such measure, nor the mechanism to meet that value with such capacity and capability so as to answer the very fullness of even a single human life with regard and care of a depth worthy of that individual.

Science and reason can be said to claim many things, but neither can claim to affirm nor reject human life in theory or in effect on the basis of human dignity. This is to say that if anyone does affirm another without precondition, they do so on a basis other than science and reason. Affirmation of human dignity in its truest sense can only be universal in scope; unconditional affirmation cannot be reasoned.

Whereas knowledge of merit or worth is met with affirmation insofar as it can be reasoned, God's affirmation both previous to, and in the fullness of knowledge of an individual. The universality of this affirmation is demonstrated in creation, through Christ crucified, and the gospel preached - Godly affirmation is reflective of these truths.

Christ demonstrates that God is most assuredly big, and well outside of the box; which, as you say, is right where He ought to be.

Pageviews this week: