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

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  1,210 Ratings  ·  167 Reviews
William Lobdell's journey of faith—and doubt—may be the most compelling spiritual memoir of our time. Lobdell became a born-again Christian in his late 20s when personal problems—including a failed marriage—drove him to his knees in prayer. As a newly minted evangelical, Lobdell—a veteran journalist—noticed that religion wasn't covered well in the mainstream media, and he ...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published March 17th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published March 1st 2009)
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Books Ring Mah Bell
Another lost my religion, found my religion, lost my religion book. For some reason, I'm unable to look away, there's a magnetic pull to these books. I have no idea why. Really, does it matter why someone believes "x" and some other guy believes "y"? Maybe it's my secret desire for faith. Maybe it's me hoping to find faith so that life is easier... Maybe I just want to understand how people can have faith when there is some horrible shit going on in the world. I'd love an ounce of that faith to ...more
Mar 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a slow-starting but ulitmately riveting spiritual memoir. There are two primary storylines that fascinate: the subjects that the author covers as a religion writer for the Los Angeles Times and the story of the impact that this vocation has on his spirituality. It is both sad and ironic that in finding his vocation he loses his faith, in no small part due to the egregious behavior he uncovers in the supposedly devout. A warning in the spirit of full disclosure: Lobdell sensitively handle ...more
Mar 29, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People interested in religion & belief
I am an atheist.

I figured I would throw that into the ring the first thing so that people reading this review would know exactly the perspective from which I’m writing. For the first 10 years of my life, I had only a passing acquaintance with religion at all. After my parents divorced, my mother began attending church again (St. Robert’s (Catholic) in St. Charles, MO, or – after it was built – St. Elizabeth’s in St. Peters on occasion). Even then, I was never under any serious pressure to believ
Mar 14, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, religion
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
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 ...more
Jun 24, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Mar 13, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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. It is an interesting look in to one man’s journey through religion in America. 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 ...more
Erik Dryden
Aug 15, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Just awful. 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
Apr 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jun 29, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction-read
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
Debbie Mcnulty
Oct 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
I just finished “Losing My Religion” by William Lobdell. This is one of those books that you hate to put down and think about whenever you are not reading it. It started out a little slow but I stayed with it and I am so glad I did. I found Mr. Lobdell’s story was much like mine. He starts out in a mega church and goes through many transformations eventually ending up in the catholic church. Slowly over time the questions become greater than the answers. He starts to feel his belief drift away f ...more
Aug 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Though it's called "Losing My Religion," it starts with the story of how the author found his religion. What struck me about this book is how human it is in every word. It's not a polemic against religion. The author writes with love and empathy towards his past born-again Christian self as well as towards his current agnostic self -- and towards the people he met in his career reporting on religion. (Well, most of them. He had no use for the televangelists.)

I recommend it for anyone in any rela
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. And it wasn't. 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 ...more
As a Born Again Christian turned Reluctant Atheist/Judaism Enthusiast, I find books like this one to be terribly interesting. Lobdell respects those who find comfort and purpose through religion, but struggles with the lack of moral courage in many churches. He decides that he cannot reasonably believe that Christianity and God are real when he has made a career out of discovering corruption in religious institutions and throngs of people scrambling to protect the criminals among them.

I tend to
Rick Harrington
May 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
OK, so I find this really funny: Just yesterday, I was visiting my extremely well-read friend who is just exactly 20 years older than me, and facing not just his mortality, but the fact that he can no longer master things. A cellphone, for instance. Or walking to the library to return a book which friends had so helpfully transported him to borrow. There was some sense of resentment that the return trip, whether by him walking or by the helpmates returning, was never anticipated. Getting old can ...more
Jun 19, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Travel books have attracted me during my life, the literal travel books featuring new places and people, history books taking me to unfamiliar eras of the past, and science fiction books that lift me to new worlds in the future. I also like the type of travel book that shows me a person's journey of changing beliefs, whether religious, political, or social. In my experience, most people inherit the religious and political beliefs of their parents and childhood environment and stray little from ...more
Nov 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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. You embraced Religion...the best and worst America had to offer. A big waste of time.

So why do I state such harsh claims? Because...
Very early on YOU stated you could not get past the contradictions in the Bible. That is where your journey ENDED.
Nancy Kennedy
Feb 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a compelling story of how a respected religion reporter, William Lobdell, a committed evangelical Christian and almost-Catholic, came to lose his faith and today lives as a "reluctant atheist."

The author has achieved an amazing feat. While he no longer has any belief in God, he is able to chronicle his life of faith, and his experiences as a Christian, as though he still believed. That is, he doesn't look back with a cynical eye and belittle his blossoming and maturing faith. This fealty
Apr 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lobdell's faith journey is not that different from mine. He embraces Christianity, jumps into it with both feet and has powerful emotional experiences. He feels that nothing will ever change his mind about Jesus and that he will always be loyal to his faith. He believes that God is calling him to be a reporter for the religion section of the newspaper – previously, he did other work at the paper. When he gets the job, after trying for about a year and a half, he sees it as validation from God.

Sep 26, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Much as I try, I have a very difficult time wrapping my mind about faith. I understand that it is significant and meaningful to many, yet I have never experienced it. In an attempt to learn more about the nature of religion and faith, I read Losing My Religion.

Lobdell starts out as a young man heading down a not-so-great path, but finds comfort as a born again Christian. As he becomes an evangelical Christian, he also pursues journalistic writing on topics of religion. Then, he and his wife star
Jun 18, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When William Lobdell began covering religion for the LA Times, he thought he had been called to that position by God. A recent convert to Christianity, Lobdell dove into inspirational stories of how faith affects people's lives. At the same time, in his personal life, he moved from an Evangelical church to a mainline one and nearly converted to Catholicism.
Then he saw the dark side of religion: the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests, and the inner workings of Trinity Broadcasting Network
Sep 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Be prepared to witness the child stepping forward to announce, "The Emperor has no clothes!" It was a VERY important book today in America and should actually replace the Giddean's (sp.??) Bible in every hotel room dresser.

As You read, you watch William become a man of devout faith. Then, as he reports during his career as a journalist on the Religion Beat, you observe his powerful deconversion. His faith goes out in a puff of smoke, like a bright flame atop a candle that goes out and leaves a t
May 23, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Initially, I found that the most exciting thing about this book was the title. As I progressed through the book, I found myself drawn into the writer's struggle to reconcile his faith with the many tragedies he observed. I could relate to his struggle. I found his descriptions of survivors of Catholic priest sexual abuse scandal heartbreaking. This isn't a book I would read again, as I found much of the sexual abuse scandal descriptions difficult to read, but I would definitely recommend it to a ...more
Apr 14, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I appreciate the way Lobdell describes his experience of conversion to Christianity and his subsequent life in the church before telling his de-conversion story. It's apparent from this portion of his story that he was as sincere and committed a Christian as I've ever known, and I could really relate with a lot of his thoughts and experiences during that time. I think it's an important thing for Christians to see how people just like them can actually come to point of leaving their Christian fai ...more
Matthew Rodela
Feb 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very engaging read about a reporters struggle with faith. I appreciate that the author is a reporter because it gives him the ability to really investigate his own feelings and look at them honestly and objectively. Also, the chapters detailing some of the more sinister and reprehensible activities of the Catholic church were pretty jarring and tough to read, simply because of the fact that they actually happened. I was a little disappointed by the superficial nature of the catalysts for the a ...more
Mar 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful and beautifully written book that describes Lobdell's transformation from an Evangelical Christian to a Catholic convert to a reluctant athiest. It's a masterful account of how reporting on the heinous abuses of the Catholic Church, both from the priests' physical abuse and the far worse practices of the bishops who hid their crimes. Lobdell also delves deep into the world of evagelical charlatans as well and the false hopes that they project into the faithful. He also tries ...more
Laura Laramore
Oct 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book won't be published until February 2009, but I got an advance copy of it (yay for librarian perks!). It's a tough book to read but a great conversation starter. The author goes from being essentially non-religious to a born-again evangelical Christian to what he calls a "reluctant atheist." His loss of faith is not a decision he makes lightly, nor does it seem to be motivated by anger or frustration. As a reporter, he covers the breaking Catholic clergy sex scandal story, but it's not t ...more
Jul 23, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very thoughtful book. It was interesting to read about the author's journey from someone who didn't really think very much about religion, through his religious conversion (he was actually "born again", so to speak), and then to his realization that he couldn't really believe in the Christian God. I found it a little surprising that he lost his faith mainly because of the Catholic sex scandals and televangelists, and not based on the contradictions and immorality pushed in scriptures (although ...more
Feb 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the most important book I have ever read. I know I've said that before but this one is even more important but it's not for everyone I guess.

If you have ever struggled with or had doubts about faith or religion in general then this book is an absolute must read. It's also very informative if you want a more in depth view of problems in the Catholic church. The author became a Christian and planned on becoming a Catholic until he ultimately lost his faith so he spends a lot of time on th
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