A few weeks ago I was in the mood for a little atheist literature, but not the combative, in your face New Atheist variety. Still not knowing exactly what I was looking for, I took a stroll along the shelves at my public library where not only the atheism stuff can be found but also books written by various defenders of (the) faith like Christians and those of other religious persuasions. One book caught my eye. It looked vaguely familiar but for the life of me I couldn’t remember where I’d first seen it. Had I previously spotted it at the library? Had I seen it advertised a few years back in the Quality Paperback catalog? The more I looked at the book, Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America and Found Unexpected Peace
Published in 2009, Losing My Religion is Lobdell’s religious journey. Raised in a mainline Protestant tradition of nominal religious intensity, later in life as a struggling young professional he found himself dealing with a difficult patch in his marriage (his second) and sought solace in the world of evangelical Christianity, thanks to the efforts of a well-meaning mentor. Immersed in his faith while at the same time disappointed in the overall quality and quantity of religious journalism, he eventually landed a job covering the religion beat for a southern California newspaper. While covering of the wide spectrum of religious life in the populous and diverse greater Los Angeles area found himself drawn towards the Catholic Church. He began the required regimen of preparatory classes and prepared to embrace his new faith.
Then things changed. What started as a trickle of clerical sex scandals soon became a raging flood. Entrusted as a journalist to cover the enfolding scandals, he began to question his decision to join the Catholic Church. Putting those plans on hold, he continued his work as a religion reporter. However, as he started to see more and more corruption and hypocrisy within not just the Catholic Church but other religious institutions, he began to also question his religious beliefs. After a great deal of personal reflection, investigation and dialog he abandoned his belief in God. According to Lobdell, after shedding his belief he never felt better.
I enjoyed reading Losing My Religion. How he came his conclusion was a slow, sometimes painful but intellectually honest process. Lobdell came across to me as a fair and decent man with high moral standards. (I’m half tempted to call him an atheist with a soul.) He’s written a wonderful book and I have no hesitations recommended it to readers of any, or no faith.