Monday, June 27, 2011

Book Review: Losing My Religion By William Lobdell

Title:Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America and Found Unexpected Peace
Author: William Lobdell, newspaper reporter
Publication Year:2009
Borrowed From the Library
Similar: Letter to A Christian Nation by Sam Harris, god Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens

Losing My Religion : How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America and Found Unexpected Peace by William Lobdell is a testimony of how the author improved life through faith-- only to became disenchanted with religion.

As a born-again Christian, William Lobdell begins to pray for God to use him in his profession- journalism- to spread a more positive image of believers. His prayers are answered when he lands a chance to write a religion column.

Preferring the inspirational stories about believers overcoming obstacles and giving back, Lobdell instead found himself covering the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal. Later he engaged in a two year investigation of Trinity Broadcasting Network and faith healer Benny Hinn. He started re-thinking his faith.

Lobdell noticed that when it came to the Schwarzenegger sexual harassment accusations, newspapers printed actual quotes, cleaning them up only by substituting more 'clinical' terms for the slang words. During the Catholic Church's sex abuse scandal, the phrase 'child molestation' was used.
The Church called it 'boundary violation' and 'inappropriate conduct'.

When Lobdell found were stories of a priest inserting a religious object into a girl's vagina and a little boy hiding his bloody underwear from his mother, he shunned the "bad touching" type euphemisms for accurate terminology.

He called it what it was: rape. Sodomy. And those words were edited out of his reports.

"The media's terms 'sexual abuse' and 'molestation' were far too neutral to describe what happened to most of these people," Lobdell writes "I tried in vain to get my editors to use more accurate and graphic descriptions[...]. They were considered too graphic for a family newspaper."

These euphemisms left the image of a passing touch, easily misconstrued, a view that let many molesters off the hook in the public imagination.

I doubt this book will make people re-think their views on religion unless they are a part of the institutions that Lobdell so clearly exposes (maybe not even then).

It's almost as if William Lobdell is a non-believer by default. He eliminated these other viewpoints and what's left is a kind of optimistic deism. Which is just fine, if it suits him, but leaves me feeling that the book is not entirely convincing to a believer.

There's room left to argue that Lobdell confuses the bad behavior of humans with God himself. He might counter by asking why people should accept what they're told about God, if the people telling them are manipulative and greedy?

Losing My Religion is not the best argument for religious skepticism--but it is a story that anyone interested in religion should read.

1 comment:

Michele Emrath said...

Wow. That's heady stuff. The imagery in just this post alone is enough to make me angry. I can't believe how we let these horrible childhodd killers--b/c that's really what they do--off with only a warning.

But as to your take on the book...Journalism is a disheartening field. I have written stories on children beheaded by their parents, covered police funerals and child abductions...and you start to wonder, "Why?" Every time you put one story out there, another one quickly chases it. Are we doing any good? Is God listening?

Tough questions.

Great post.

Southern City Mysteries