Monday, March 23, 2009

On the bookshelf

Thanks to my recent travels, I've been getting a lot of reading done. And probably not coincidentally, a lot of it has been about religion.

First up was The Believers, Zoe Heller's new novel about the family troubles of a gaggle of radical leftists. One of the most affecting subplots is about a daughter who begins to move toward Orthodox Judaism, much to her aggressively secular socialist mother's dismay. I loved it.

Then came William Lobdell's Losing My Religion, a suspenseful and sad memoir about the conversion then backsliding of the Los Angeles Times religion reporter, who found himself unable to maintain his faith in the face of the Catholic clergy sexual abuse scandals. I couldn't put it down.

And now I'm reading The Unlikely Disciple, Kevin Roose's account of a semester at Liberty University, where he finds the student body generally inspiring and the spiritual tone uplifting, but the atmosphere of absolute certainty (and gay-bashing) impossible to acclimate to. I'm stealing moments during my day to devour it.

Maybe it's that I, too, feel like I'm living in the cracks between faith communities. But these tales of the religious bonds forged among us and the religious differences that wedge us apart are deeply moving to me. I recommend all three of these books, no matter where you find yourself on the spectrum of faith.

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