Thursday, March 26, 2009

Memoir on faith lost

William Lobdell, formerly the religion writer the Los Angeles Times, has written a fascinating memoir about his journey into and out of the Christian faith. I won't spoil his story for you by summarizing it, but rather will share one quote. Near the end of the work, entitled Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America - and Found Unexpected Peace (Collins, c. 2009), Mr. Lobdell writes about getting asked a question for which he was unprepared:

I recently spoke about my de-conversion to a group of students at Biola
University, a Christian college in Southern California. At the end of my talk,
one student asked what had taken the place of God in my life. The question
caught me off-guard because I'd felt no vacuum created by God's exit . . . So
what has taken the place of God in my life? A tremendous sense of
gratitude. I sense how fortunate I am to be alive in this thin sliver of time in
the history of the universe. That give me a renewed sense of urgency to live
this short life well. I don't have eternity to fall back on, so my focus on the
present has sharpened. (275, 278)

I greatly appreciated the complete honesty the author shared about his spiritual life. Regardless of whether or not you draw the same conclusion he has, I recommend it as one of the best books I have read so far this year.


John said...

That sounds like an absolutely fascinating book.

John said...

At the end of my talk,
one student asked what had taken the place of God in my life. The question
caught me off-guard because I'd felt no vacuum created by God's exit

This is somewhat akin to my own experience. I'm no longer sure who or what God is. Or the divine in general. I haven't prayed in months, and don't really plan to start. And I certainly haven't been engaging in any sort of spiritual disciplines like Bible reading or worship. Without the constant reinforcement of the Church, these things fell away very quickly and easily.

And it hasn't been as though God's voice has suddenly become silenced, or that there is a vacuum in my life. Rather, I am increasingly inclined to think that the "presence of God" that I experienced in prayer, worship, and other spiritual disciplines was really just a feeling that I created in myself.

I'm not reaching any firm conclusions, but I feel no emptiness because of my departure from the Church.

The only vaccuum in my life is that of my schedule. I have so much more time and energy now that I'm not spending on various Church activities or spiritual activities that I "needed".

the reverend mommy said...

I have been where you are, John. Eventually and especially as I reached the end of my 30's and on into my 40's, I DID find a vacuum where the God-spot is. I find the re-emergence of my own personal spirituality to actually be strengthened by my journey out of a spiritual life and then back in on my own terms.

I've likened it to the swing of a pendulum, yet dampened. I've experienced life without a sense of God and life with a sense of God -- I prefer life with a sense of God, but not as I perceived God when I was younger. I also will embrace differing spiritualities now, as well. I think that's why I have weathered some of the conflicts I have encountered and came out butter side up -- I've given up all hope of God being found in organized religion. Therefore, when I find God there, it's pure pleasure.