William Lobdell started out in the early 1990s as an average, secular Christian, working as an editor for a paper owned by the Los Angeles Times. But after divorcing his high school sweetheart and accidentally getting his new girlfriend pregnant, he was drifting until someone told him he had a “God-shaped hole” in his life. Lobdell ended up making friends with Hugh Hewitt and going on a Christian retreat with him, where men poured out their hearts to one another, sang, prayed, and had spiritual experiences—Lobdell included.
After this, Lobdell became an evangelical Christian and began attending a southern California megachurch. And his personal spiritual journey led to a professional journey as well; he decided that he wanted to begin writing about religion for the LA Times, and after a bit of a false start that dream came true. He was extremely successful as a religion reporter, attributing that, of course, to God, until several years later he began covering the unfolding stories of Roman Catholic clergy abuse in earnest. Those stories, along with others, would eventually lead to Lobdell’s new memoir, Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America—and Found Unexpected Peace.
One of Lobdell’s most frustrating qualities for me will probably endear him to some readers: he feels instead of thinking—he is a little bit introspective, but more more into going with the flow than seriously analyzing the logic behind what he does. He has a religious experience and begins going to church. He and his wife feel at home at the megachurch and become involved. Eventually they move on a bit spiritually and begin attending Presbyterian services. Finally Lobdell decides to convert to Catholicism (his wife’s natal religion). Throughout, it’s not really clear what draws them to one thing over
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