Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Yet Another Unreadable Review of a Very Readable Book

Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America-and Found Unexpected Peace Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America-and Found Unexpected Peace by William Lobdell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
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 really make a person cranky, don't I know.

Well, of course, I offered to return the book along my way, since I would be walking right by the library. But, well, you know, I glanced at the book, and decided I might like to read it. Despite the lines of people no doubt more justified in their desire than I am in mine, queued up in orderly fashion as the computer can now arrange.

I wasted no time, and am only now an hour and a half beyond the library's opening, so I don't feel too bad. Nor, for that matter do I regard it as a terrible sin that my friend had once pilfered some hundreds of dollars in library fines proffered him in a part-time job he once held as a college student, when he realized that there was quite literally no accounting for the fines. I guess it weighed enough on him to tell me. I guess my own sin of stealing a read from this book weighs on me that much. So I'm confessing it publicly, dear reader, to you. Yes, I secretly read books about religion. Off the record. Privately.

Anyhow, I was just dying to see how this story would unfold. I was glad to find the author not overly intellectual. He is honest in his telling, and skilled as the celebrated journalist he actually is. I could easily get away with this without any worry about any accounting. Ordinarily a somewhat painfully slow reader, I do find that I can be extraordinarily quick if the read is of merely professional interest. I guess that's the case with this one.

I mean, I've differed from Richard Dawkin's take on religion, suggesting that he throws the baby out with the bathwater, to make an utterly atrocious pun on Jesus. This one disappoints me for mildly different reasons. And those, if you are a careful reader, have already been embodied in what I've written to this point here and now. It seems that baby Jesus has now been placed in some sort of limbo. And it's hard for me to get past the pure coincidence of the book landing in my hands.

Well, it would be if there were any program to my reading at all.

The book ends with a kind of celebration of Howard Stern. I must say that just as the movie "8 Mile" did for me on behalf of the rapper M&M, I may have to take another listen to Howard Stern. I'd rather thought him to be a celebrant of gross and crude, which of course, he is, and, you know, I'm in favor of better taste than that. But there seems to be something about honesty and openness that I'm missing.

Well, until you see what's generally hidden by attempts to distinguish, by rules of civility, the ranks of us radically equal humans, I guess you don't really know what gross is. Which it is the burden of this book to expose. Not just the evil of the Church or churches of whatever denomination, but the evil more generally of the fictions we pose for ourselves. The fictional postures we make of ourselves. The fictional narrative we try to fit ourselves to. Etc.

But, you know, ultimately if playing out a role in public makes me somehow less than good, I'd like to see the gutsy person I'm meant to be. Or rather, yuch, no I wouldn't! A bit of taste is a good thing. I've never cared very much for Howard Stern, but then again I never really considered him very different from lots of priests I've known. They just cloak it better. Sorry.

So yeah, no personal God for certain. But not quite random either. Now, I've gotta go see a Man about a Book. It's the decent thing to do. Plus, I wouldn't want to be accountable for my friend's fines. Oh. I meant I've gotta go see an institution about a book, silly. There's just no accounting for Capitals in English.

Confused? Me too. But I can say this about religion. Get lost! You're in the way of my life, which has always been partly truth and partly fiction. I think the author agrees with me. Maybe.

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